SUMMERSIDE — A revamped home schedule and fewer travel costs were the biggest news for P.E.I.’s professional franchise following the recent National Basketball League of Canada owners’ meeting.
Owners of the seven teams met over two days in Toronto to discuss finances, personnel matters and expansion.
Summerside Storm owner Duncan Shaw said the team is close to finalizing its 2012-13 regular-season schedule with the league after receiving a selection of possible dates from Credit Union Place.
The biggest issue was negotiating game days with the various other users of the facility, especially the Summerside Western Capitals’ junior A hockey team, which normally plays Sunday afternoons.
Shaw, who co-owns the team with Darren MacKay, said the Storm also want to avoid playing home games on both Thursday and Friday nights like they did throughout the league’s inaugural season.
“Our predominant date will be Friday night,” said Shaw. “We really didn’t want back-to-backs. Just the logistics of getting a pro team into town, getting a pro team out of town, getting the volunteers for two nights in a row.
“We went in with the attitude of sharing everything with the Caps, and they’re pretty adamant about Sunday dates.”
The owners approved an addition of four games to the regular-season schedule, which will add two home games for each franchise. The league’s second season, which begins Nov. 1, will be a 40-game schedule for each team.
Part of the reason for the change was the owners’ approval of an eighth franchise in Windsor, Ont., which means there are now four teams in two distinct regions — the Maritimes and central Canada.
The upcoming schedule will allow for more regional play, leading to reduced travel costs for the teams.
“Putting a (six-foot-eleven) guy on an airplane isn’t the most fun thing, so the local travel is easier on the players, as well as controlling the cost,” said Shaw.
“Windsor, by far, was the strongest applicant (for expansion). It really has to be a good combination of strong support from the arena, strong support from the municipality and strong support from the owner.”
With the league in the process of finalizing its schedule, all that’s left for the Storm owners and coaching staff is to solidify their player roster.
Shaw and MacKay have said the team’s main goal on the court for this coming season is to make the playoffs.
While Canadian Chris Cayole is the only player to formally commit to the Storm for next season, team officials are trying to lock up other key players like Mike Williams, Eric Gilchrese and Al Stewart.
Head coach Joe Salerno attended a player combine in New York, and plans to visit a July basketball festival in Las Vegas to scout potential players. The Storm also has the luxury of five picks in the league’s three-round draft this fall.
The owners also voted at their meeting to increase the requirement of Canadian players on each team from two to three.
“It’s a strong testament to how well the Canadians played in the league last year, that we owners felt like going up by another Canadian on the roster won’t hurt the caliber of play,” said Shaw. “You look at (Cayole) on our team, Joey Haywood in Halifax — these guys are as good or better than anybody in the league regardless of what their passport said.”
Storm summer camps start Monday
SUMMERSIDE — Summerside Storm head coach Joe Salerno will be at Westisle Composite High School in Elmsdale today to help young Prince Edward Island basketball players improve their skills at the first of four Storm Summer Basketball Camps, presented by Rogers Communications.
The Westisle camp runs from today to Thursday while the next three camps will operate from July 23 to 26 at Birchwood Intermediate Junior High in Charlottetown; Aug. 6 to 9 at Three Oaks Senior High School in Summerside, and Aug. 20 to 23 at Souris Regional High School.
Each Storm camp features players going into Grades 4 to 7 in a morning session from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Players going into Grades 8 to 11 will participate in the afternoon sessions from 1:30 to 5 p.m.
Salerno enters his second season as head coach of the National Basketball League of Canada team, and his fourth season coaching at the professional level.
Previously, he was the head coach of the Vermont Frost Heaves of the Premier Basketball League. During the off-seasons for the last three years, Salerno has been head coach of Vermont’s prestigious Lone Wolf AAU national travel team — a team comprised of the top college prospects in the state of Vermont.
In 2008, Salerno led a team of college prospects from all over the United States to a fourth-place finish in the Youth Friendship Games in Amsterdam, Holland, where he was voted to coach the United States All-Star team against the European All-Stars. The United States won that game for the first time since 2004.
In addition, Salerno has conducted basketball camps and clinics all over the state of Vermont, and has been an instructor at some of the top basketball camps in the Northeast.