Basketball takes city by Storm in inaugural season

Stephen Brun
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SUMMERSIDE - While it was an up-and-down 36 games on the court for the Summerside Storm, the team's owners consider its inaugural season a business success.

The Summerside Storm's Louie McCroskey dunks during a March 2 NBL of Canada contest against the Oshawa Power at EastLink Arena. Looking on are Storm players Eric Gilchrese, 3, Mike Williams, 7, and Al Stewart, 10.

Despite finishing sixth in the seven-team NBL of Canada with a 12-24 (won-lost) record, Storm fans consistently flocked to EastLink Arena to watch professional basketball.

The ever-increasing attendance figures culminated in a record crowd of 4,064 for the Storm's final home game on March 2.

Now heading into the off-season, the biggest unanswered question about the franchise is whether it will call Credit Union Place home for a second season.

Duncan Shaw, who co-owns the Storm with Darren MacKay, said he couldn't say definitively that the team would play its home games in Summerside next year.

"We're still negotiating with the city," he said.

"Really all (the tickets) we've started selling is people who want to renew their seats who had them this year. We'd like to open up the rest, but we're still negotiating."

As those negotiations continue, the NBL of Canada's top four teams will be battling to be crowned the league's first champions.

With the Storm on the outside of the playoff picture, head coach Joe Salerno's focus now shifts to improving the team for next season.

While Salerno was pleased with the team's competitiveness, he said there are some missing pieces that prevented the team from winning consistently.

"Out of the 36 games we played, we had a shot at winning probably 30 of those games. On the downside of that, when you're in those ball games you want to win them," he said. "It was clear that we were lacking in a couple roles. Mike Williams is a presence inside, but I think we really need another player to compliment him down in the post, both defensively and offensively. It's no secret that we really lacked perimeter shooting."

Salerno will spend time scouting players at various combines in the U.S. this summer, while the Storm's owners have plans to hold team combines in Baltimore, Memphis, and the Bahamas to begin generating a player stream.

Shaw and MacKay said they'd like to have both Salerno and assistant coach Mev Bahonjic return next season, with the possible addition of one or two other assistants to lend some experience.

"Joe is planning on coming back... as long as the Celtics don't offer him a job or something," said Shaw. "He's a young guy with a tremendous knowledge base. Joe will get offered opportunities... and we're not going to stand in his way, but I think after this year he'll be back, and we're really excited to have him back."

Both the owners and coaches will try to retain a core group of players with contracts for next season, but said some changes will always occur.

Something that won't change, however, is the Storm's involvement in communities across the province and the team's charitable work.

Fans and sponsors seemed to return that giving spirit through their support of the team this season. 

"It's beyond what we ever thought we could do," said Shaw. "Next year you will see as much or more charity work, so we'll probably give away more. Because we're doing so well bringing in people from Charlottetown right now, that opens up a different sponsorship market... and now the sponsorship realm has to expand and really be an Island-wide effort."

 

sbrun@journalpioneer.com

 

Organizations: NBL, Credit Union Place, Celtics

Geographic location: Canada, Summerside, U.S. Baltimore Memphis Bahamas Charlottetown Iceland

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Recent comments

  • Another Storm Fan
    March 07, 2012 - 09:24

    Just want to say that my family thoroughly enjoyed the season. We went to just about every game and yes we did pay for our tickets. Hope to see the team back in Summerside next year.

  • corey warren
    March 06, 2012 - 15:31

    The city would be crazy to not bring the storm back after all they done for the community and province as a whole. the attendance figure should prove to council that it will be successful as the attendance grew as the season went on even though people knew the playoffs were out of the question...Don't put another blemish on councils record. Bring back the storm!!!

  • Spectator
    March 06, 2012 - 10:51

    I'd like to know asap if the games will be in Summerside or not, that will be the deciding factor on if i re-buy my season tickets or not.

  • Storm fan
    March 06, 2012 - 10:38

    After working so hard to buildup the fanbase here in Summerside, it would be a shame if they aren't able to work something out with the city and end up in Charlottetown.. I, for 1, will be very disappointed

  • gussy
    March 06, 2012 - 05:59

    And lets ask the city what the cost was completely for the storm to play here.Surely they will be transparent in regards to letting the taxpayer know what it was just like the Elton concert and the Mike tribute concert................. a financial p and l would be welcomed.

    • WRONG FACTS
      March 06, 2012 - 10:16

      Just to clarify on your 'facts' I agree with your two points regarding cost but the Elton John was no cost and no risk. That was a promoter who came to the city and essentially rented out Eastlink arena for a cost. Same as Steve Miller, Jerry and same as the upcoming Bryan Adams show. If they sell out or sell 20 tickets it doesnt matter. The promoter has to take the hit.

    • Just Me
      March 06, 2012 - 10:49

      How much do they chip in for the Caps?????