The franchise is in the midst of its first P.E.I. training camps at Slemon Park in preparation for the second National Basketball League of Canada season.
With only three players returning from the 2011-2012 season – Al Stewart, Chris Cayole and Islander Doug McKinney – the Storm’s coaching staff is hoping that core threesome can provide leadership for the new hopefuls.
“You can certainly build a bond off the court that can transfer to on the court,” said head coach Joe Salerno after two rigorous training sessions on Monday.
“Last year we lacked a little bit of veteran leadership, and Al (Stewart) has done a great job of that coming into this season. He’s really grasped his role and what we expect of him.
“We have a nice mix of veterans and some youngsters, and I think that makes for some good chemistry.”
Salerno and assistant coach Mike Leslie held a four-day tryout camp earlier this month in Manchester, New Hampshire, where they cut the field of players from 20 to the current roster.
Monday was spent instilling team philosophies, along with offensive and defensive strategies.
Even though Cayole and Stewart only joined the rest of the players for the final day in New Hampshire, Salerno said some of the sought-after chemistry has already started to translate to the Island camps.
“You go through two practices a day for four days, you start building a little bit of a bond and some chemistry, and we’ve certainly seen that carry over to P.E.I.,” he said. “Al Stewart and Chris Cayole only played on Friday in New Hampshire, so having those two back out here…you can see on the first day some of the chemistry building with those two vets that we have.”
The team also announced a new signing on Monday that could improve their offensive fortunes. Greg Plummer, who played more than a dozen games for the Saint John Mill Rats last season, has signed over to the Storm.
“Greg is a big piece for us,” Salerno said. “We really lacked perimeter shooting last season and Greg is one of the best in the league. With guys who can really shoot the ball like Greg and Chris Cayole, it makes it extremely tough for teams to help defensively. When you have a quick and shifty point guard like Al Steward getting into the lane this can really wreak havoc on opponents.”
The team plays its first intra-squad game on Thursday at Westisle Composite High School. Tip time is 7 p.m.
After that, it’s the first test of the pre-season as the Storm travels to Halifax on Sunday to take on last year’s league finalists, the Rainmen.
“I want to be four days better than we are today (Monday),” said Salerno. “The guys we have here in camp are so competitive that they’ll try to win at everything they do. Halifax will be a measuring stick for us on Sunday as to how far we’ve come along and how much we have gelled as a team.”