Storm signs versatile Bertrand, releases Otieno

Jason Malloy
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The Island Storm wanted to get bigger, more athletic and better from three-point territory.

Head coach and vice-president of player personnel Joe Salerno said he thinks he’s achieved all three with Tuesday’s signing of Joseph Bertrand.

“Joseph kind of hit on all of those,” Salerno said. “I think he’s a piece we’re lacking. I think he’s going to be a great fit.”

To make room for Bertrand on the roster, the Storm released guard Kenny Otieno, a Canadian who had been with the team all season.

“It kind of hit a lot of the guys on our team pretty hard. We all love Kenny. Kenny is a great guy,” Salerno said. “He’s done everything that we’ve asked of him this year.”

The signing occured on the final day National Basketball League of Canada teams were allowed to make transactions.

Bertrand is about six-foot-seven and 210 pounds. He primarily plays the small forward position, but Salerno said Bertrand could see time as a power forward in a similar role that Brent Jennings has had success in late this season.

Bertand started the season with the Halifax Hurricanes before pulling a muscle in his hip. Salerno said he’s now 100 per cent healthy.

In Halifax, Bertrand averaged nine points per game and shot 36 per cent from three-point territory. He started more than half of the 14 games he played.

“I really liked what I saw out of him,” Salerno said. “I really liked his IQ. When I watched him on tape (and) in games against us when he played earlier in the season, he just seemed to understand how to play the game.”

The Sterling, Ill., native, who played at the University of Illinois from 2010-11 to 2013-14, was expected to arrive Tuesday night and be in the lineup Thursday when the Storm hosts the Saint John Mill Rats at 7 p.m. at the Eastlink Centre.

Salerno said it remains to be seen where Bertrand fits in the team’s rotation, but the coach expects him to initially come off the bench and contribute.

The Storm (10-15) has won three of its last four games. It has 15 games remaining in the regular season.

Terry Thomas was expected to have his cast removed Tuesday and be re-evaluated. Salerno said he doesn’t expect to add a player as his injured reserve designate. It leaves the team with 11 active players and the minimum four Canadians on its 12-player roster.

Organizations: National Basketball League of Canada, University of Illinois, Eastlink Centre

Geographic location: Sterling, Ill.

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