Salerno is “thrilled” to return for his second season as head coach of the Summerside Storm, and the native of Barre, Vermont, is anxious to put an improved product on the court for the team's growing fan base.
“I’m very, very excited for this season,” said Salerno, 30. “Last year, being the first season for this organization, I think we did a tremendous job.
“For me to have the opportunity to come back here and have another crack at things is extremely exciting, and one I’m really looking forward to.”
Storm co-owner Duncan Shaw said he is pleased to have Salerno re-signed.
“Joe is a very bright, talented young coach,” said Shaw. “He fits us as an organization because he wants to be involved year-round, he wants to be here long term and he’s a very exceptional basketball mind to take us to the next level.”
In the league’s inaugural campaign, Salerno led the Storm to a 12-24 (won-lost) record, and a sixth-place finish in the seven-team league. Windsor, Ont., was recently added as the league’s eighth franchise.
“Our record obviously wasn’t what we wanted it to be last year,” admitted Shaw. “This year, we’re looking for a better performance on the court. . . I feel the continuity is important to build the on-court part of the franchise going forward.”
Salerno, who joined the Storm in August 2011, is actively recruiting players throughout North America this summer. In fact, he is attending a combine in Memphis this weekend.
“This off-season I’ve really been looking for some players who played professionally in different leagues, as well as guys who are a little more athletic,” said Salerno. “One of our weaknesses last season was having that IQ to close out games, and win some of those games that were close when we always seemed to come up on the short end of things.”
Athleticism is another area Salerno wants to improve.
“I really think we were probably one of the least athletic teams in the league (last year),” said Salerno. “We were still extremely competitive, but I feel having that little extra bit of athleticism is going to help us long term.”
Although Salerno expects there will be a lot of roster turnover as the Storm aims to compete for a championship, he confirmed one returnee will be six-foot-eight and 215-pound forward Chris Cayole, who was limited to 16 regular-season games last year with injuries.
“Joe is a very bright, talented young coach. He fits us as an organization because he wants to be involved year-round, he wants to be here long term and he’s a very exceptional basketball mind to take us to the next level.” - Storm co-owner Duncan Shaw
“We’re thrilled to have Chris Cayole under contract – hopefully a healthy Chris Cayole,” said Salerno. “We are certainly hoping to have at least two to three other guys back.
“But some of these guys had good seasons last year, and there are certainly opportunities for them in other leagues. . . We want guys who have played for us to move on and get the best jobs that they can, but at the same time we’d love to have some of those guys back.”
Returning to camp
Salerno confirmed forward Doug McKinney of Charlottetown will be competing for a roster spot at training camp. McKinney played in 20 games with the Storm last season.
“Doug has done a tremendous job this off-season,” said Salerno. “Doug has lost probably 20 pounds of bad weight, and probably put on about 10 pounds of good weight.
“Doug has been working very hard. He really came on late last season. It took him a while to adjust to the physicality and speed of the game. But coming into January and February of last season, I thought he had some pretty good minutes for us. I’m looking forward to having Doug back in training camp this year.”
Along with scouting players, Salerno is also in the hunt for an assistant coach. Mev Bahonjic, who held the position last year, will not return this year due to family commitments.
“I’ve met with a few different people,” said Salerno. “Just as we’re looking to improve our roster, I’m looking to improve our coaching staff.
“Certainly looking for a coach or two that is going to give another basketball opinion, and be another basketball mind on the bench. I have never been a coach to turn down any feedback or opinions from other coaches. It’s important to get a look from all angles.”