MONTREAL - Much like the Concordia Stingers, the McGill Redmen have tipped off the university basketball season, and like Concordia, McGill has also been forced to start the year without a key player.

Arguably the most valuable member of the squad, Simon Bibeau suffered a season-ending knee injury in mid October, forcing the Redmen to open the regular-season without the sophomore guard.

"When we went down with his knee injury, it was a real blow to our team. He had to make some adjustment and rearrange some positions. We're just starting to learn to play without Simon and how to be successful without Simon," said head coach David DeAveiro.

The loss of the teammate has been trying, said third-year forward Tristan Renaud-Tremblay.

"For sure it's a loss. We can't lie about it and say it's not. It is… but some guys are stepping up, and we're adapting and adjusting to that," he said. "But we're putting things together for a great season."

Another challenge awaiting McGill this season is the team's lack of experience.

There are 10 new faces in the lineup and only one returning senior player. In the ultra-competitive Quebec University Basketball League, leadership has proven to be vital.

I have to step up every game. If I have a lull the team seems to have a lull, so there is more pressure, and at the same time with Simon's injury I have to step up more and other guys have to step in and help out," said team captain Winn Clark.

Fourth-year forward Nicholas Nishikawa said he's not worried about the challenge.

"There's not a lot of pressure, (but) I'm trying to teach the young guys what I know before I'm gone," he said

The McGill Redmen face the UQAM Carabins Friday night at UQAM in an effort to improve on their 1-1 record.