SLEMON PARK – There is Prince Edward Island representation at the Summerside Storm training camp this week.
© Jason Simmonds/Journal Pioneer
Doug McKinney checks out his options during a drill at the Summerside Storm training camp in Slemon Park.
Doug McKinney of Charlottetown is one of four Canadians and 17 team hopefuls competing for the 12 roster spots on the National Basketball League of Canada club.
“It’s been a little bit since I’ve played some structured basketball, so it’s nice to be back at it,” said McKinney following Wednesday morning’s session at the Canada Games Sports Centre.
The league will begin its inaugural campaign in late October, with the Storm scheduled to open the regular season at EastLink Arena against Quebec City on Thursday, Nov. 3.
McKinney, a graduate of Charlottetown Rural, played five years with the UPEI Panthers from 2002 to 2007. After graduating from UPEI, McKinney played in Lebanon.
“Really, once you are done university, until now, if you wanted to keep playing you had to leave the country,” said McKinney. “I coached a little bit and was playing in the senior men’s league last year (in Charlottetown). That stuff is fun, and I’ve always been playing.”
However, the opportunity to attend the Storm camp was one McKinney did not want to pass up.
“Coach (Tim) Kendrick, coming into his first year at UPEI, was nice enough to let me jump in with those guys for the first five weeks of their season,” said McKinney, who turns 27 on New Year’s Eve. “Basketball is something I’ve always enjoyed.
“It was an easy decision to try and get back into shape, and hopefully earn a spot on this team.”
NBL of Canada teams must carry a minimum of two Canadian players. There are currently four Canadians in the Storm camp.
“Doug is working hard,” said Storm head coach Joe Salerno. “I actually went last week to see Doug workout with the Panthers at UPEI. . .
“It’s basically grown men who do this for a job. Everybody is strong, everybody is athletic. . . I don’t really have any expectations. I just want to come out, play hard, try to learn the systems, sweat as much as I can every day and show that I’m willing to work. Everybody, one through 17 here, is willing to work and fight for a job and a contract.” Doug McKinney
“We’re happy he’s here, and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens at the end of camp.”
McKinney’s primary position so far at training camp has been power forward.
“In this league, I think I may be a little undersized for centre,” he added. “Once you get up to 6’10”, 6’11”, that’s a big difference than 6’8”.”
McKinney used the word “tough” to describe the competition level.
“It’s basically grown men who do this for a job,” said McKinney. “Everybody is strong, everybody is athletic. . .
“I don’t really have any expectations. I just want to come out, play hard, try to learn the systems, sweat as much as I can every day and show that I’m willing to work.
“Everybody, one through 17 here, is willing to work and fight for a job and a contract.”
Summerside Storm notebook:
The Storm will play an inter-squad game at Westisle Composite High School on Saturday. Game time is 7 p.m.
Rogers Communications will supply all minor basketball players with a complimentary ticket to the Storm’s pre-season game against the Saint John Mill Rats at EastLink Arena on Wednesday, Oct. 26. To reserve a ticket, call 432-1234.
The Storm will host the Halifax Rainmen in a pre-season contest at the UPEI Sports Centre in Charlottetown on Friday, Oct. 21.