Tense is the best way to describe the feeling in the Scotiabank Centre during last season’s Atlantic University Sport semifinal game. Dalhousie University was playing against Acadia University.
Acadia was up by one point with 16 seconds left and had the ball.
It looked like they were going to spoil Dal’s chance to win their third straight AUS championship. However, Tigers’ forward, Sven Stammberger stole the ball and went on a break-a-way and slam-dunked the ball to give Dal the lead with 12 seconds left – lifting them to victory.
Stammberger is clutch on the court – just one of the reasons why he’s been named co-captain of the Dal men’s basketball team, along with Cedric Sanogo.
“He’s the type of person you want the younger guys to be around and emulate,” said Tigers’ Head Coach, Rick Plato.
His captaincy wasn’t a surprise; Stammberger is the longest serving member of the team, the only consistent starter back from last season, and has been a starter for three of Dal’s AUS championship teams.
He can do anything asked of him on the court. He can hit a jump shot or use his 6’6 frame to score near the basket. He can also defend against most players and is a good rebounder.
Stammberger has had to work for everything he got on the Tigers basketball team. He originally joined the team in the 2012-2013 season as a redshirt. He was only dressed for one game that season. He played a little more in the next season by coming off the bench, but he broke his wrist mid-January and missed the rest of the year.
It wasn’t until the 2014-2015 season that he was a consistent starter for Dalhousie and he’s stayed in that role since.
“He just – through hard work and perseverance, made himself to an excellent player,” said Plato. “He is an excellent student; he is probably the most honest, respectable decent young men I have ever come across.”
Stammberger believes his experience being a redshirt and developing into a starter gives him first-hand experience of everyone’s role on the team, so he’s able to relate to most of the players which helps with his ability to lead.
“I know where they’re all coming from,” said Stammberger. “I think I do a good job relating to what they’re feeling, whether it’s frustration or them not knowing what they should do to kind of increase their role. I have talked to a number of guys on how they could increase their intensity or learning the plays better to increase their role on the team. I think definitely having come from the bottom basically, and coming up to a starter and captain’s spot has definitely given me good perspective.”
Last year, Stammberger wasn’t needed to be a main leader on the team because there were already four senior players. The biggest adjustment for him being a captain this year is he has to be more vocal, especially with the younger players.
“It’s a little bit of a step up from last year,” said Stammberger. “We had three good captains, I didn’t really need to be the guy to get into guys at practice for not playing hard or making mistakes and that’s the one thing that I find really different for me … I think it’s something I definitely can do.”
Second year player, Alex Carson, says Stammberger has done a great job leading so far. Carson says Stammberger helps players learn plays they are confused and works hard to improve even though he is a fifth-year starter and a former playoff All-Star.
“Him still working that hard just shows rookies and guys coming up that they have to work hard to get that (starter) spot and continue to work hard to keep it and even get higher than that,” said Carson.
Carson has looked up to Stammberger since he joined the team. They are both the same size: Carson is 6’5, Stammberger is 6’6. Carson has an opportunity, similar to Stammberger, to be a leader for this team in a few years. He explains that Stammberger is such a great leader because he is able to lead in three areas: basketball, academics and life.
“You can look up to him as a basketball player, as a student or just as a person in general”, said Carson.
“He is a great basketball player, so you can see what he does on the court with preparation to get better. You can always go to him for school advice because he is a great student; I’ve gone to him a number of times with economics stuff. As a person he is just a real good guy and a great person to look up to.”
On the court, Stammberger has taken a step forward this year. He’s averaged about 13 points per game the past two seasons. This preseason he won the MVP in tournaments at University of Queen’s and Concordia University as well as dropping north of 30 points twice.
Plato believes Stammberger’s game has gone to another level.
“I would like to have a whole team of Svens. He never complains,” he says. “In a game of 100 possessions he’ll have 95 great ones and 5 yo-yo ones like ‘what the heck are you doing’ but it’s going to happen. I wouldn’t trade him for anybody. To be honest, I wouldn’t trade Sven Stammberger for any player in the country.”