CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. – Brad States heads a long line of Island Storm players anxious to get iced.
States sat out the latter part of Wednesday’s practice with swollen feet and watched head coach Tim Kendrick run the team through its offence. The others had their own aches and ailments for Storm trainers to ice down afterward.
But States is in for tonight’s home game versus the Moncton Magic. In fact, not much would keep second-year pro out of the lineup, especially since he’s worked hard to improve on his rookie year in the National Basketball League (NBL) of Canada.
“I got a lot stronger and now I’m used to the pace of the game. And the mental stuff, (I’m) not nervous (when I get on the floor). A year under my belt has made a difference,” said States, a former UPEI Panthers forward who started his first pro game in last Saturday’s home opener against the St. John’s Edge.
“It’s a lot more physical (than university), and there’s a big mental aspect. You’re playing against men.”
Tonight’s tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at Eastlink Centre.
It’s one of eight times the teams tussle this season. The Storm is 0-1 after a 98-97 loss to St. John’s, while Moncton opened its season Wednesday with a 96-89 loss to the Edge in Moncton.
States had a solid all-around game in his 30 minutes against St. John’s, scoring eight points, grabbing nine rebounds while tallying two assists and a steal.
Kendrick has noticed the changes, too. Kendrick, who coached States at UPEI and watched him last year from courtside, has a laundry list of areas States has amped up his game.
“He’s improved as a basketball player. He’s bigger and stronger, shooting has improved as has ball handling, things that we started at UPEI… where he was more of a post player,” said Kendrick. “Now he can play the two (shooting guard) or the three (small forward) and can guard any position. He’s just a better player in every aspect.”
Kendrick took over for former Storm head coach Joe Salerno this season.
Salerno, now with the Magic, recruited former Storm standouts Terry Thomas, Al Stewart, Tirrell Baines and Jeremy Williams to his squad.
A smiling States admits it’s bound to be a weird facing his former mates, particularly trying not to congratulate them if they make a great play.
“I might have to catch myself,” he said, but ultimately “it’s business as usual when the tip goes up. It’s just a game of basketball, right?”
The Storm and the Magic tangle again Saturday at 7 p.m. in Moncton in the second game of a home-and-home series.
He Said It
“This franchise has a lot of respect for Joe… he’s one of the best coaches in the league. We expect his team to be great. We know we’ll be in for a battle (Thursday) night. He’s a great coach.”
Island Storm head coach Tim Kendrick on facing former Storm coach Joe Salerno, now Moncton Magic head coach, for the first time this season.