At home against Quebec Kebs on Thursday night
SUMMERSIDE -- The Summerside Storm is anxiously awaiting the start of the regular season in the National Basketball League (NBL) of Canada.
© Stephen Brun/Journal Pioneer
Mike Williams, 7, of the Summerside Storm grabs a rebound during a National Basketball League (NBL) of Canada pre-season game against the Saint John Mill Rats in Summerside recently. Also in the photo are the Storm’s Louie McCroskey, 1, along with Saint John’s Marc Egerson, 1, and Sani Ibrahim, 32.
"Now is the real deal," said Storm head coach Joe Salerno. "I'm excited for it and can't wait."
The Storm, coming off a 1-3 (won-lost) showing in the pre-season, hosts the Quebec Kebs in the team's regular-season opener on Thursday. Game time at EastLink Arena is 7 p.m.
"We have a lot of talent," said shooting guard and small forward Louie McCroskey. "It's a matter of us clicking and playing hard for Coach Salerno.
"The sky's the limit for us, but we have a good test on Thursday."
Quebec won its first two regular-season games over Moncton and Oshawa last weekend.
"This will be a good first test for us, because Quebec is not a slouch by any means," added McCroskey, who is from the Bronx, N.Y.
Looking for strong start
Power forward Mike Williams, who is from Camden, Alabama, said the Storm is focused on starting the regular season on a strong note.
"We have a very tough team -- a team that's going to grind it out and do whatever it takes to win," said Williams.
The Storm will remain home to face the Saint John Mill Rats on Friday at 7:30 p.m. Williams feels it is an advantage to open with back-to-back home games.
"No matter what, it's always good to start off playing at home," said Williams. "Your home fans always support you, always have your back and always cheer you on.
"It's good to get that feel from the start."
Guard Al Stewart of Chicago was impressed with the Storm fans during last week's pre-season game against Saint John before a near-capacity crowd at EastLink Arena.
"Now is the real deal. I'm excited for it and can't wait." Storm head coach Joe Salerno
"They are very loyal, I will say that much," said Stewart. "The kids enjoyed the game, the parents as well.
"Even in the neighbourhood, they (fans) see us they know who we are. There is stuff we have to work on, and I think we've done that in practice (this week)."
Doug McKinney of Charlottetown rejoined the Storm on Tuesday after Michael Dale was released.
"We're excited to have Doug back," said Salerno. "Doug was one of the last cuts we made.
"Unfortunately, Mike had a couple of off-the-court issues here, and we had to get it taken care of."
What role does Salerno see McKinney playing?
"Pretty much for all the guys who come in, there are certain expectations," answered Salerno. "Realistically, they kind of make their own role.
"I'll look for Doug to be a role player, a guy who can come in and give us some minutes off the bench. But, then again, if Doug is earning his keep in practice, we play the guys who are going to produce in games.
"Whether you are from the University of Kentucky or are from Prince Edward Island, if you are producing you are going to get minutes."