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Banged up, but Storm will be ready to go

Island Storm point guard Kemy Osse, left, prepares to use a pick to get by teammate Andre Stringer or find the open man during Wednesday’s practice.
Island Storm point guard Kemy Osse, left, prepares to use a pick to get by teammate Andre Stringer or find the open man during Wednesday’s practice. - Jason Malloy

Island's NBL squad won’t use injuries as excuse as it prepares for first game with Riptide tonight in Saint John, N.B.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Some ailing body parts have the Island Storm’s roster up in the air for tonight’s game in Saint John, N.B.

The Storm travels to the Port City for a 7 p.m. National Basketball League of Canada contest against the Riptide with forwards Marcus Bell (thumb), Torrence Dyck Jr. (hyper extended wrist) and Brad States (foot/ankle) questionable after missing practice time this week.

“I would think we’re not going to have at least one of those three,” head coach Tim Kendrick said after Wednesday’s practice.

And some of the players who dress tonight will likely not be 100 per cent. Trenity Burdine, who is on the team’s inactive reserve, could draw into the lineup tonight if one of the Americans (Bell or Dyck Jr.) is unable to go.

While the team will play by the same principles the coaching staff has been preaching since Day 1, if guys are out of the lineup it might mean a different look. For example, Chris Johnson has been practising a bit as a four this week in case the team has to play with a smaller front line. and the rotation of players in and out of the game would change with guys injured.

And while Kendrick won’t use the injuries as an excuse or a crutch, he did acknowledge the absences have impacted preparation for tonight’s game.

“It’s not easy,” he said. “We’re looking at who’s in and who’s out. We’re trying to run certain things we’ll use Friday.”

The Storm (5-4) and Riptide (4-3) have yet to play each other despite the season being a month old.

“They have a number of real good players, but they have two great players,” Kendrick said. “We have to make sure we’re aware of where they are all the time. We can’t let the best players beat us.”

Gabe Freeman leads the league in scoring at 26.7 points per game while teammate Malcolm Miller is putting up 17.6 a night.

The Storm has relied on a more balanced attack this season. It doesn’t have a player in the top-10 in scoring, but four guys (Andre Stringer, Franklin Session, Du’Vaughn Maxwell and Johnson) are ranked between 13 and 21 and are putting up between 18 and 15.3 points per game.

The Storm is looking to get its offence going after a couple of stretches during the past couple of games when it had a tough time scoring.

The key, Kendrick said, is ball movement, spacing and limiting long dribbles where the offence becomes stagnant with the ball stuck in one player’s hands for too long.

“We have guys who can score, we have guys who can shoot and all that stuff, we just have to keep the basketball moving so they get open more,” he said. “We have to keep our poise and make our offence work for us.”

Need to know

A look at what teams the Island Storm has played during the first month of the National Basketball League of Canada season:

Opponent    Number of Games

Moncton                    4

Halifax                       2

St. John’s                  1

Cape Breton              1

Niagara                      1

Schedule

The Island Storm’s schedule to close out 2017:

Tonight

7 p.m. – Island Storm at Saint John Riptide.

Tuesday

2 p.m. – Moncton Magic at Island Storm.

Saturday, Dec. 30

7 p.m. – Island Storm at Saint John Riptide.

Sunday, Dec. 31

2 p.m. – Halifax Hurricanes at Island Storm.

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