© Guardian Photo By Jason Malloy
Doug McKinney tries to get past Greg Plummer and to the hoop during the Island Storm’s practice on Monday.
NBL of Canada team hosts the Rainmen tonight
Two things flavour the National Basketball League of Canada.
First, there are no easy games despite a team’s record. Second, revolving lineups are typical in the circuit.
The Island Storm (10-8) has tasted both as the squad lost two games over the weekend to the league cellar-dweller Moncton Miracles (4-15) and welcomed a new guard, Canadian Antwi Atuahene, who’s replacing the released Ashton Graham.
It’s the latest in a series of moves designed to solidify its lineup.
Since the season began in early November, the Island squad has swapped point guards, Adrian Moss for Derek Coleman, added big forward Jeremy Williams after Antoine Tisby left and brought in centre Steve Tchiengang to counter the release of big man Nick Evans.
Doug McKinney, Charlottetown native and three-year member of the Storm, knows the brew is part of life as a pro.
“It’s the nature of the beast. Every team has guys that can play at a really high level. You have to be ready to play or you lose,” said McKinney, the second of three Canucks on the Storm roster, after practice Monday. “On a personal level, (seeing guys go) it’s definitely tough. You’re spending a lot of times with these guys, working with these guys on a daily basis. It kind of comes down to goals. New guys have to buy into what we’re trying to do as a unit.”
Tonight, the Storm hosts the Halifax Rainmen (4-15) at 7 p.m. at the Eastlink Centre, and the season series mirrors what McKinney said.
The Storm lead the series 2-1, but two of the games were won by two points or less and the third game the Storm won by eight points.
“They’re a big, strong athletic team. They rebound well offensively and defensively and make our bigs work. They put a lot of pressure on us,” said McKinney, 29, who’s averaging one rebound a game as a reserve. “Rebounding, defensively, is going to be the key (to winning) because offensive rebounds are another chance.”
The other Canadian player with the Storm is Dwayne Smith.
Tonight’s game is the first of three Atlantic Division games for the Storm. It travels to Saint John Thursday to face the division-leading Mill Rats (7 p.m.) and to Moncton Sunday to face the Miracles (2 p.m.).
u The Storm is 1-4 in games the team trailed at halftime and 1-5 when being out-rebounded.
u The Storm has kept the opposition below 100 points in five of the past six games.
u The Storm shot 34 per cent from the floor is a recent loss against Moncton. It was the third time this season that the Storm has shot less than 40 per cent and all three games were losses.