CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Reports of the Island Storm’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, the National Basketball League (NBL) of Canada club is a solid 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the Atlantic Division.
Not so shabby for a team full of new faces, just Brad States and Wayne McCullogh returned to the roster this season, and led by rookie NBL head coach Tim Kendrick.
Chris Johnson, the Storm’s second-leading scorer, isn’t totally surprised, however.
“There was some talk around the league that we’d be last in the conference. I think that motivated the players to come together sooner rather than later,” said Johnson. “We’re just playing together right now, playing fast. Trusting each other, playing defence and quick to get to our offence.”
The veteran small forward, a native of North Preston, N.S., has a long pro profile after a stint with the Niagara River Lions of the NBL and stops in Great Britain, Germany and Portugal.
His 16.8 points per game is second to Franklin Session’s 18.4 per contest. More importantly, defence has anchored the Storm’s two-game winning streak as it held division mates the Cape Breton Highlanders to 101 points and the Moncton Magic to 85 points in consecutive games.
The Storm gets another shot at the Magic (3-3) tonight in Moncton. Game time is 7 p.m. That’s followed by Sunday’s contest in Halifax against the Hurricanes (3-3). Tip off is 2 p.m.
It’s the fourth meeting between the Storm and Magic this season with the Island squad leading the series 2-1. Sunday’s matchup is the first of eight tussles with perennial power Halifax.
Atlantic Division road games aren’t easy so Johnson isn’t taking either lightly despite the Storm’s recent success.
“We’re pretty much trying not to look ahead. Halifax is going to be a hard game. They’re a little down right now, but we’re trying to be the team they don’t get into a rhythm against.”
It will be a homecoming for Johnson, guard Tyler Scott and Kendrick, who coached the Horton Griffins in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley and the provincial Canada Games team in the past.
A bit of a flu bug has affected States and Du’Vaughan Maxwell and both missed practice time this week. The two along with Marcus Bell, who recently had minor dental surgery, will be game-time decisions whether they play.
“I love it. For an offensive player like myself there’s lot of freedom, a lot of chances to read the defence and other players, a lot of chances to make decisions.”
Chris Johnson, Island Storm small forward, on working in the Storm’s free-flowing offence.
Need to know
A quick look at the Island Storm’s numbers after five games.
Divison – 3-1.
Home Record – 3-1.
Road Record – 0-1.
Points Per Game – 100.4 (9th)
Points Allowed Per Game – 102.8 (4th)
Field-Goal Percentage – 42.5 (9th)
Opponents Field-Goal Percentage – 42.9 (2nd)
Total Rebounds Per Game – 45 (5th)
Rebound Margin Per Game – -12.2 (9th)
Assists Per Game – 20.6 (5th)
Turnovers Per Game – 16.2 (7th)
Steals Per Game – 11.8 (1st)
Blocks Per Game – 4.8 (4th)