Many new faces as Storm prepares to start 2014-15 season

Charles
Charles Reid
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Get a program when the Island Storm opens the 2014-15 season today at home versus the Saint John Mill Rats because there aren’t many familiar faces on the National Basketball League of Canada club.

One player, Charlottetown’s Doug McKinney, remains from last season’s championship runner-up squad.

And only centre Nick Evans and forwards Mike Williams and Brandon Robinson previously played with the franchise. Williams and Robinson were with the Storm in Summerside before the move to Charlottetown last season.

That doesn’t mean the team is rebuilding, however.

If anything, it might prove deeper and more talented than the group which reached its second straight NBL final.

Game time is 7 p.m. at Eastlink Centre and Storm watchers will notice a beefed-up squad.

The additions of six-foot-11, 290-pound centre Renardo Sidney and the six-foot-10 Evans, and Canadian big forward Cordell Jeanty teaming with the six-foot-eight Williams and six-foot-six Canadian small forward Olu Famutimi make it so.

All are moves made to gain the elusive title. That’s the big goal.

A smaller one is replacing leading scorer and rebounder Antonio Ballard, who drained 21.6 points per game and grabbed almost 10 rebounds per game last year, and the 20-plus points two-guard Nick Okorie averaged. Both signed with clubs in Europe.

But Williams, a former NBL all-star with the Storm’s Summerside version, isn’t worried.

“There’s no extra pressure. I’ve been doing this so long it’s second nature,” said Williams, who played in Argentina last season. “I’m here to do what the coach (Joe Salerno) asks of me, be an (inside presence) or pick it up on the defensive side. That’s what I’ll do.”

Okorie’s departure should be lessened by the acquisition of slick shooting guard Johnny Mayhane from the Moncton Miracles. Last season Mayhane went for 20.57 points per game, led the NBL in three-point shots made per game (3.13) and finished fourth in league scoring.

This year, the Storm’s pegged him for the same role.

“Coach brought me here to knock down shots, play defence, (face up) against the two-guards,” said Mayhane, an NBL all-star last season. “This year the league is better, like they say this year no nights off.”

Other changes include a turnover at point guard. Sammy Zeglinski and Myron Strong are in, Adrian Moss (released) and Al Stewart (not re-signed) are out.

The other Canadian is strong shooter Alex DesRoches, also a former Miracle.

A look at the NBL in 2014-15.

Teams - *Eight

Divisions

Atlantic – Moncton Miracles, Saint John Mill Rats, Island Storm, Halifax Rainmen;

Central – Windsor Express (defending NBL champ), London Lightning, Brampton A’s, Mississauga Power.

Schedule – 32 games overall split into 24 divisional games (12 home, 12 away) and eight versus other division.

2013-14 Division Champs

Atlantic – Saint John.

Central – Windsor.

*Down from nine in 2013-14 as the Ottawa Skyhawks won’t play this season.

 

Island Storm season-opening roster.

Point Guards - Sammy Zeglinski, 6’1”, University of Virginia; Myron Strong, 6’2”, University of Texas-El Paso.

Shooting Guards - Johnny Mayhane, 6’4”, Tulane University (NBL all-star); Rashad Whack, 6’2”, Mount St. Mary; Alex DesRoches, 6’4”, University of New Brunswick (Canadian).

Shooting Forwards - Brandon Robinson, 6’6”, Clayton State (NBL all-star); Olu Famutimi, 6’6”, University of Arkansas (NBL all-star, Canadian).

Power Forwards - Mike Williams, 6’8”, University of Cincinnati (NBL all-star); Cordell Jeanty, 6’5”, SIU-Edwardsville (NBL all-star, Canadian); Doug McKinney, 6’9”, UPEI (Canadian).

Centres - Renardo Sidney, 6’11”, Mississippi State University; Nick Evans, 6’10”, University of Southern Illinois.

Organizations: National Basketball League of Canada, Eastlink Centre, University of Virginia University of Texas-El Paso.Shooting Guards Tulane University University of New Brunswick University of Arkansas University of Cincinnati Mississippi State University University of Southern Illinois

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Summerside, Evans Argentina Saint John Mount St. Mary Clayton

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