© Guardian photo by Heather Taweel
Island Storm head coach Joe Salerno instructs point guard Adrian Moss during opening day of training camp Monday in Charlottetown.
Doug McKinney has this National Basketball League of Canada training camp stuff down pat.
After all, the Charlottetown native is in his fourth camp with the Island Storm.
He’s made the roster the three previous years, but this year the squad boasts a potential much-improved lineup as the two-time NBL championship runner-up opened camp on Monday at UPEI.
“It’s a fresh start for everyone. Some who have been here four year or others like Sammy Zeglinski who has never been here before,” said McKinney after the first of two practices on Monday. “I think that we’re deeper than at any other point. Four guys at all five positions. Everyone’s fighting for a job.”
In the off-season, the club brought in snipers like Johnny Mayhane, all-rounders like Olu Famutimi and big men in Shamus Ferguson and Renaldo Sidney, as well as welcomed back former all-star Chris Cayole, in hopes of pushing the club over the title hump.
Not to mention returnees point guard Adrian Moss, forward Jeremy Williams and shooting guard Shawn Vanzant.
So it will make for an ultra-competitive camp as 20 men are competing for 12 spots.
In another twist, NBL clubs are required to field four Canadians.
The Storm have five (Alex Desroches, McKinney, Famutimi, Dwayne Smith, Ferguson) on the training camp roster so one will have to go.
But that’s part of the professional basketball life.
As is the competition and the uncomfortable notion a player is never really safe in his position. That, said Storm head coach Joe Salerno, marked the opening practice.
Salerno yelled at his players when they made a mistake and praised when they didn’t, pointed out mistakes, taught small techniques which can make a big difference, as he and his players walked a fine line. There’s a getting-to-know-you process because only five players remain from last year’s squad.
“A lot of jitters. The effort was outstanding,” said Salerno. “The line that’s difficult to walk is that (players) are more worried about the guys they’re competing against than they’re own game. But we saw some good things. (The trick is) getting the guys on the same page.”
Salerno said the first cuts of three to four players are expected Friday. The team plays its first inter-squad game Thursday at Westisle Composite School in Elmsdale. Start time is 7 p.m.
Camp continues today with practices at 8 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Other camp dates are: Wednesday, Oct. 22, 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; Saturday, Oct. 25, 10 a.m.; Sunday, Oct. 26, 10:30 a.m.
All are at UPEI and are open to the public.
The second inter-squad contest is Sunday, Nov. 2, in Montague beginning at 1 p.m.
The Storm play a pre-season game versus the Saint John Mill Rats on Tuesday, Oct. 28., at Three Oaks High School. Tip-off is 7 p.m.