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A Swiss swish: Storm's Rashad Whack glad for chance to play in Europe

Island Storm guard Rashad Whack keeps the basketball in motion after a recent practice. The 26-year-old returned to Storm earlier this month after a season with BC Winterthur of the LNAM in Switzerland.
Island Storm guard Rashad Whack keeps the basketball in motion after a recent practice. The 26-year-old returned to Storm earlier this month after a season with BC Winterthur of the LNAM in Switzerland.

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Rashad Whack isn’t the first b-baller to play overseas and he won’t be the last, but the Island Storm guard wouldn’t trade the experience.

“Switzerland is a beautiful country. The culture is nice, (you’re surrounded) by mountains, you can drink the water from anywhere,” said the 26-year-old Whack. “We had housing, transportation and it was a good, competitive league.”

This season, after two years with the Storm, Whack chose to sign with BC Winterthur of the LNAM and led the league in scoring with more than 22 points per game in a 20-game regular season. Winterthur though finished 2-18 in its second year in the first division and then lost two placing games.

Whack said it’s a different style of game in Switzerland, more execution of plays and less run-and-gun and isolations to exploit mismatches.

Quarters are 10 minutes instead of 12 in the National Basketball League (NBL); games are once a week instead of sometimes three a week in the Canadian circuit and often on consecutive days.

Whack said he felt that when he returned to the Storm for his first game April 7.

“It was tough. I found myself a little winded. And the back-to-back games, I had to get used to (that again),” he said.

Tonight, Whack looks to help the Storm (13-18) versus the Niagara River Lions (10-23). Game time is 7 p.m. at Eastlink Centre. 

The six-foot-three Whack joined the Storm in 2014-15 as a rookie fresh out of Mount St. Mary's University in Maryland. After a solid first campaign, in which he scored a respectable 12.5 points per game, the Washington, D.C., native won the NBL rookie of the year. 

In Year 2, Whack upped that to 13.8 points per game and bettered his three-point percentage to .413 from .374.

But after the season he decided to go across the pond for a year and even took a pay cut to do it.

“I wanted to play in Europe, wanted to take advantage of the opportunities and build my resumé over there.”

When his season ended with Winthur, he was without a team until Storm head coach Joe Salerno came calling and Whack agreed to a deal with a familiar team and system.

“Coach Joe reached out and said the Storm needed another shooting guard. I’m not here to step on anyone else’s toes, I just want to help the team anyway I can,” said Whack.

There are just nine games remaining in the Storm’s regular season before the playoffs. Whack is focused on that, but does have an eye for a return to Europe at some point.

“I never close the door. P.E.I. is like a second home, a home away from home, and I love the fans, but I do want to explore different opportunities as well.”

And maybe get a pay raise given the cost of Swiss gas, which hovers around $1.92 per litre.

“(One day) I put $40 in and only got half a tank,” Whack said with a smile.

Tonight is the first time Nick Okorie returns to the Link as a member of the River Lions. The shooting guard was traded to Niagara for Canadian forward Mike Allison after violating a team rule.

P.E.I. nurses can attend Saturday’s home game versus the Cape Breton Highlanders for free as part of the club’s nurses appreciation game. All registered nurses, resident care workers and licensed practical nurses can show their workplace ID at the box office for an adult bowl ticket.

Game time is 7 p.m. at Eastlink Centre. The box office is open weekdays 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and opens Saturday at noon.

By The Numbers

A look at Island Storm guard Rashad Whack’s professional career.

2014-15 – Island Storm, 12.5 points per game, .414 field-goal percentage, .374 three-point percentage, .783 free-throw percentage.

2015-16 – Island Storm, 13.14 points per game, .409 field-goal percentage, .413 three-point percentage, .701 free-throw percentage.

2016-17 – BC Winterthur, LNAM (Switzerland), 22.8 points per game, .380 field-goal percentage, .320 three-point percentage, .840 free-throw percentage; Island Storm (two games), 8.0 points per game, .385 field-goal percentage, .250 three-point percentage, 1.000 free-throw percentage.

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