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Birdson, Smith rejoining NBL of Canada squad
The Island Storm is looking for the winning combination.
The 1-4 National Basketball League of Canada team released point guard Myron Strong and centre Renardo Sidney Tuesday and signed Avery Smith and Louis Birdsong to fill their spots.
“We’re not in the business of losing games here and we had to make some changes,” coach Joe Salerno told The Guardian on Tuesday.
While the coach said the two players released weren’t the main reason for the slow start the team saw things it needed to address.
“I think we tried to go a little too big this year,” Salerno said.
“After seeing a lot of the teams in the league, they certainly went a little more athletic at the four-five this year.”
Releasing Sidney allows the team to play Mike Williams as a centre as opposed to a power forward. Birdsong, a six-foot-seven forward who went to George Mason University, was cut late in training camp.
Salerno said centre Nick Evans, who is averaging 13 points and seven rebounds per game, has been playing tremendous this season and the move would create more opportunities for him.
The Storm was excited about Sidney when they announced his signing in September. The six-foot-10, 290-pound centre from Jackson, Miss., was a McDonald’s All-American in high school and averaged nearly 12 points per game and 6.5 rebounds in two years at Mississippi State.
He averaged 9.4 points and about five rebounds in about 17 minutes per game for the Storm.
Salerno acknowledged Tuesday it was tough releasing him given the upside, but they needed to make a move more so defensively in the guard-oriented league with lots of defensive rotations and ball screens.
“We need to get smaller and quicker inside,” Salerno said. “Your big guys have to be able to get out there and move and defend in multiple ways.”
Strong had a strong training camp after being out of the game for two years. Salerno said he struggled a bit during the regular season and when Smith became available they decided to act.
“We need a spark right now,” Salerno said. “Avery can be a big time spark coming off the bench for us.”
Strong averaged 2.4 points while shooting 27 per cent from the field and had more turnovers (10) than assists (7).
Smith, who played at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, suited up for the Storm in 2012-13 and averaged more than nine points, 3.5 assists, and 1.5 steals per game as a backup point guard.
Salerno said the moves “were 100 per cent basketball decisions.”