The National Basketball League of Canada squad announced the move Monday, hiring the former UPEI Panthers’ men’s head coach as the franchise’s second-ever bench boss.
Kendrick said he’s ready to roll even if there’s a learning curve.
“It’s the top league in the country, a step up in calibre, intensity,” said Kendrick, who had five winning seasons in his years at UPEI. “Basketball is a game that lends itself to go from one level to another.
“But there are things I’ll have to get used to. Players are a little older, games are longer.”
Kendrick replaces longtime coach Joe Salerno, whose contract wasn’t renewed with the Storm. Salerno, the NBL’s winningest coach, took the head coaching gig with the fledgling Moncton Magic for this season.
Similarly, Kendrick’s contract with UPEI wasn’t renewed after last season’s sub-.500 campaign. He guided UPEI to a 113-88 mark in the Atlantic University Sport conference and was a measly three points away from winning the AUS title in 2016. But all that wasn’t enough keep his job.
Players are premium on Kendrick’s list as the first major combine looms in October. The Storm protected Mike Allison, Jahii Carson, Akeem Ellis, Alex Richter, former Panther Brad States and Terry Thomas, a standout collegiate player at St. FX and Ottawa.
But Carson, the team’s leading scorer last year, signed with Koroivos of the Greek league, as protected players can sign with other leagues, while 2016-17 point guard Al Stewart signed with Moncton and his old coach.
So it leaves Kendrick with a few holes to fill for what’s likely to be a team built like his AUS teams.
“We’ll be an attacking type of team on both sides of the ball, play fast, play hard I think it will be a very exciting brand of basketball,” he said.
Kendrick’s been talking to players and agents to get a feel for the job and admits it’s been fun learning as he goes. But, despite the differences between the pro and university game, he sees likenesses, too, he can exploit.
“Basketball players are unique in many ways, but similar in that they want to play well and do well for their teams,” he said.