CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – The Island Storm infirmary is open for business, thanks to a wave of injuries, ailments and maladies flooding the National Basketball League (NBL) of Canada squad’s training room during the last 10 days.
Likely out for tonight’s game versus the Cape Breton Highlanders are guard and leading scorer Andre Stringer (elbow), forward Chris Johnson (wrist) and his 16.2 points per game, new big man Meshack Lufile (ankle) and versatile forward Brad States (upper chest infection).
Game time is 7 p.m. in Sydney, N.S., and it’s only the first stop in a three-game-in-three-night stretch.
The Storm lands in Halifax Saturday to face the Hurricanes before hosting the Saint John Riptide on Sunday, at 2 p.m., at Eastlink Centre.
So right now Storm head coach Tim Kendrick can only shake his head and hope they heal on the fly.
“None of them have practised,” he said before Thursday session.
“I’ll be surprised if they all make it into the lineup. We haven’t practised 5-on-5 all week,” Kendrick added. “I’m hoping as the weekend goes along those that can’t dress Friday can dress Saturday. Twenty-four hours can make a big difference.”
Not all is woe, however.
Despite nagging issues, guards Franklin Session, who’s second in the NBL in rebounding at 9.4 boards per game, and Tyler Scott should be available. Power forward Du’Vaughn Maxwell (18.8 points, 5.8 rebounds per game) is healthy. New big man Travis Elliott is ready to go and reserve Trenity Burdine draws into the lineup.
And Kendrick is secure about his bench anchored by Kemy Osse and Torrence Dyck Jr.
“I have great confidence in our young guys… great confidence in our bench. You have to look at who’s there and not who’s not there. We have to do what have to to squeeze out a tough one on the road. Cape Breton won’t feel sorry for us,” Kendrick said.
The Storm (8-6) sits tied with Halifax for the Atlantic Division lead, but has lost two straight games and four of its last 10. Cape Breton (5-10) is last in the Atlantic, but has won five of its last 10 after an 0-5 start.
Kendrick faced the injury bug in his final year with the UPEI Panthers men’s basketball team when five of his top nine players were out for extended periods and he never had a full roster to work with.
He said the Storm situation is a little better as the players, aside from Lufile, are day-to-day or game-time decisions and could return to the lineup at any point.
So Kendrick is quick to credit the team therapist.
“Colin Moore has done a great job for us,” Kendrick said. “Injuries are injuries, everyone has to deal with them. It’s the next man up philosophy like the (NFL’s) New England Patriots. You dwell on who’s here.”
Sunday is the Storm’s annual teachers game where those who work in public or private schools on P.E.I. (kindergarten to Grade 12) can receive one free adult bowl ticket. Free tickets can be picked up at the Eastlink Centre box office open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. The box office opens Sunday at 11 a.m.
Need to know
A peek at the Island Storm and Cape Breton Highlanders this season.
Cape Breton 5-10, last in Atlantic Division
Island Storm 8-6, tied for Atlantic Division lead
Storm lead season series 1-0.
Cape Breton – Duke Mondy, 21.1 points per game.
Island Storm – Andre Stringer, 19.1 points per game.
Cape Breton – Tydran Beaty, 8.3 per game.
Island Storm – Franklin Session, 9.4 per game.
Top 3-Point Shooter
Cape Breton – Duke Mondy, 49.4 per cent.
Island Storm – Chris Johnson, 49.1 per cent.
Top Free Throw Shooter
Cape Breton – Duke Mondy, 84.6 per cent.
Island Storm – Andre Stringer, 87.2 per cent.