Storm makes final cuts heading into 2016-17 NBL season

Shawn Vanzant, Ryan McCoy, Ephrem Davis released on Wednesday

Charles Reid creid@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on December 21, 2016

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CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – It’s a 12-man crew now as the Island Storm made its final cuts ahead of opening day in the National Basketball League of Canada.

Point guards Shawn Vanzant and Ryan McCoy, and centre Ephrem Davis were released on Wednesday.

Joe Salerno, head coach and vice-president of player personnel, said he’s happy with what’s shaken out after a two-week camp.

“A lot of times in training camp it’s not what a player isn’t doing, it’s what other players are doing,” he said. “McCoy, Davis and Vanzant are absolutely good players that can play in this league. But we had some surprises.”

Salerno pointed to forwards Al Richter and Wayne McCullough as players who impressed, as well as the squad’s new point guard.

“Jahii Carson has been as advertised,” he said.

Salerno said he’s learned from past years to be more focused on players who fit the kind of game he wants to play.

In the past, he’s brought in the best players he could find and tried to shoehorn them into a system.

This time, he said, he’s brought in guys who better matched his ideals of how a team should play.

“I think we’re finding out we’re a big, athletic team that can control the glass and start our transition. We’ve got guys with high (basketball) IQs and high characters. And selfless, being selfless, we’re going to pride ourselves on that. We think that that’s a recipe for success.”

The Storm opens the season versus the Saint John Riptide at home on Boxing Day. Game time is 2 p.m. at Eastlink Centre.

Here’s a look at the team’s roster.

Backcourt

The cuts leave the Storm with point guards in newbie Carson and veteran Al Stewart, who returns from last year. Stewart started with the team in Summerside and moved with it four seasons ago to Charlottetown. He spent 2014-15 with London and part of last season with Saint John.

Shooting guards are Canadian Terry Thomas and sniper Nick Okorie, who’s in his second stint with the team.

Jackson Trapp is on the injured reserve with a broken bone in his foot.

Frontcourt

Up front is 2015-16 returnee Tirrell Baines, Canuck Ryan Christie, the aforementioned Richter and McCullough, former UPEI Panther Brad States and fellow Canadian Demitri Harris, while centres are new players Leon Gibson and A.J. Stewart.