Canadian Import - Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes

Jan. 2, 2006

A Canadian kid playing a strictly American sport. Sounds kind of funny to hear.

With only Steve Nash (Phoenix Suns) and Jamal Magloire (Milwaukee Bucks) as Canadians active in the National Basketball Association and a handful of Canadians playing at the NCAA Division I level you might identify with the lead statement.

However, for historians of the sport of basketball, that statement in itself is not exactly true. After all, the sport many of us Americans love was invented by a Canadian. Dr. James Naismith was born in Ontario, Canada, in 1861 and attended several universities in Montreal before inventing the game of basketball at Springfield College in Massachusetts.

So it should come as no surprise that things have come full circle when you see Pierre Marie Altidor-Cespedes, a kid from Montreal, playing for the Gonzaga Bulldogs at the highest level of collegiate basketball.

PMAC, as many of the Zag faithful have come to call him, has adjusted to life with the Bulldogs playing a game that he has grown up with his entire life.

"I watched all the East Coast teams when I was a kid," stated the sophomore guard. "I didn't have any favorite players I just liked to watch the way they played the game."

Since joining the Bulldogs last season he has indeed learned how Americans like to play basketball. Last year he appeared in all 31 games with four starts against the University of Washington, University of Massachusetts, Washington State University and the University of San Francisco. PMAC played just under 15 minutes a game as he adapted to the Gonzaga system.

"One of my biggest adjustments was adapting to the aggressive style of play at this level," Altidor-Cespedes added. "You have to learn how to value every possession and play hard for 40 minutes to make sure your team wins."

This season Altidor-Cespedes has made the necessary adjustments to contribute to the Bulldogs success. He has started every game this year and his minutes are up to just over 21 a game as he has served the roll of a defensive stopper for the Zags to start the year. Altidor-Cespedes has also had to make some adjustments off the court as he is coping with life nearly 2,700 miles from home.

"It was hard to be away from my family when I first came to Gonzaga last year," said the 6-0 guard. "My family has always been there for me and has been real supportive. It's hard to go out on your own for the first time but I have learned how to do it."

Altidor-Cespedes came to Gonzaga after a solid prep career at St. Champlain School in Montreal. He led his team to an 18-3 record his senior season with 19 points a game. His squad advanced to the Canadian National championships where they won their opening game before dropping the next two. That success caught the eye of the Gonzaga coaching staff and after a visit, PMAC knew GU would be a good fit.

"The good, solid style of play Gonzaga has really attracted me to the program," said PMAC. "The fact that Gonzaga is a great academic school as well as athletic school is an added bonus."

PMAC and the Bulldogs are looking to bring yet another bonus to the city of Spokane as Gonzaga looks to make another deep run into the NCAA Tournament.

Not a bad deal for a kid from Canada playing an American game.


 

 

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