Islander hopes to get more court time

Marcel Vander Wier
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With the Summerside Storm battling the injury bug, the franchise's only Islander, Doug McKinney, is expected to get a shot at some big minutes tonight.

Despite a very limited presence on the floor with the first-year National Basketball League of Canada franchise, the 27-year-old Charlottetown product continues to portray a team-first attitude.

"I try to contribute every day in practice," the power forward said. "It's just one of those things . . . you kind of just have to accept your role, work as hard as you can, and be ready to hear your name called."

Beginning tonight against the 19-6 Halifax Rainmen, the 6-foot-8, 225-pound McKinney is expected to hear his name called more often.

Game time is 7 p.m. at Credit Union Place.

Summerside (9-16) is expected to dress just nine players, after both Mike Williams (dislocated shoulder) and Julian Allen (lower back strain) were both felled by injuries in Sunday's 113-99 loss to Halifax.

The duo joined teammates Chris Cayole and Eric Gilchrese on the shelf.

Williams leads the team with 16.7 points and 8.7 rebounds per game and the star power forward will be difficult to replace.

"Mike's shoes are big ones to fill," McKinney told The Guardian. "I don't think it's so much about me. I'm not going to approach it any differently. I'm just going to work as hard as I can when I'm out there."

Head coach Joe Salerno said he liked McKinney's five-point, six-rebound effort versus the Moncton Miracles in Monday night's 110-95 loss.

"No one on this team showed any quit and a lot of fight, including Doug," he said. "He rebounded the ball well and was aggressive defensively.

"Hopefully, he can carry some of that momentum over to Thursday's game."

McKinney, a graduate of Charlottetown Rural High School, went on to star with the UPEI Panthers from 2002 to 2007.

He then enjoyed a short stint with the Lebanon Feytroun, a first-division club in the Middle East.

McKinney admitted that in hindsight, he wishes he had "stuck with it a little more" while in Lebanon.

As one of two imports with the Feytroun at the time, he carried much of the weight and pressure to succeed.

After a few months, McKinney returned home to P.E.I., where he coached basketball and played in Charlottetown's senior league.

Then came his opportunity with the Storm.

McKinney was a late cut from training camp but was brought back by the Storm prior to the start of the season.

"It's been great to have the support from everybody in P.E.I.," he said. "People come from all parts of the Island to watch us play. That's a good thing for sure. Win or lose, we have a strong core fan base. I want to thank everybody for their support, especially my two biggest fans, my niece and nephew, Anna and Aiden Maas."

As for his tenure with the Storm, McKinney's keeping it in perspective.

"At the end of the day, this is a very high-calibre league and I've got a chance to play at home," he said. "The reality of this kind of level is it's a sport, but it's also a business."

He currently lives with his teammates at a Summerside hotel.

"On a side note, it's great to see my Panthers doing so well," McKinney added.

Prior to entering training camp with the storm, he spent five weeks on the hard-court with his alma mater at UPEI.

The UPEI men's basketball team is 9-3 and currently first overall in the AUS standings.

Organizations: National Basketball League of Canada, Credit Union Place, The Guardian Charlottetown Rural High School Summerside hotel

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Halifax, Middle East Lebanon Iceland

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