Tuesday, December 27, 2016

2016-17 Saint John Riptide Season Preview

With the 2016-17 National Basketball League of Canada now underaway, the Saint John Riptide roster has taken shape as they begin a new era in the port city with a new ownership group at the helm. The Riptide made a smart decision in bringing back a familiar face to run the basketball side of things.

Coach Rob Spon, who is now also the team's general manager, has put together a solid mix of NBL Canada veterans and newcomers. Among the roster are two former NBL Canada MVPs, a pair of former draft picks of the Saint John franchise, and four newcomers to the NBLC. As well, the Riptide have four members of their 2015-16 squad back this season.

After finishing with a 25-15, good for second place in the Atlantic Division, the Riptide(formerly Mill Rats) went on to beat the Moncton Miracles in a best-of-five first round matchup. However they would hit a brick wall in the second round in the form of the Halifax Hurricanes. Saint John would be swept 4-0 by the eventual NBL Canada champions losing all-but-one of the games by more than 25 points. Spon sat in his coaches locker room following the game two loss in Halifax knowing already how he wanted to build his team the next time around.


* - Denotes Canadian player

BACK COURT: Anthony Anderson, Jabs Newby*, Darin Mency, Craig Foster, Orlando Palmer*

The Riptide have former NBL Canada MVP and the face of the franchise Anthony Anderson back for another year. Known as Double A, he is an offensive force for the Riptide with the numerous team and league records he holds. 

Sharp shooting guard Darin Mency is another name on the long list of familiar faces on the roster. The Hagerstown, Maryland native put up just under 14 points per contest when he last played in Saint John during the 2014-15 season. Newby, who returns for his third stint in Saint John, averaged three points in the 30 games he appeared in for Saint John. The Brampton, Ontario product is a former first round draft pick of the port city squad but was traded to Mississauga for Alex Johnson during the 2014-14 season. 

Craig Foster is another interesting piece of this Saint John back court. He is the protege of former London Lightning guard DeAnthony Bowden, who was a teammate of current Riptide star Gabe Freeman. Foster, a native american, will play his first season as a pro after spending his college days at Cameron University. A late addition to the team as their fourth Canadian player, Palmer played AUS basketball for the Holland College Hurricanes and is also a rookie pro.


FRONT COURT: Gabe Freeman, Anthony Stover, Brian Addison, Chris Early, Olu Famutimi*, Haakim Johnson, Jahmal McQueen*

Towards the end of last year’s playoffs, Coach Rob Spon said that he would build a team around proven winners the next time around.

He has done just that with three members of his 2015 Rochester Razorsharks, a team that went undefeated and took home the PBL championship, coming to Saint John. Those players are Gabe Freeman, Anthony Stover, and Haakim Johnson will reunite in the port city. Getting Gabe and Anthony back is huge for this franchise. Freeman was the team's leader in points, rebounds, and assists per game last year while Stover lead the team in and set the league record for most in a season with 132 in 33 regular season games.

Johnson most recently played in Damman, Saudi Arabia with Al Nahada Sports Club After helping his team, Ostioneros de Guaymas, to the CIBACOPA Finals in Mexico for the first time in team history.

Acquired for the 7th overall pick in a trade with the Island Storm at the NBL Canadian Draft, six-foot-ten power forward Brian Addison joins the Riptide with plenty of experience in the league. The University of Buffalo standout was named NBL Canada Player of the Week in February 2016, the result of a 26 point, 10 rebound game against the Moncton Miracles.

NBL Canada rookie Chris Early was impressive in camp as well as in the team’s lone exhibition tilt on December 18th where he led the Riptide offence with 18 points. A six-foot-eight, 225-pound shooting guard/small forward, Early played his college years at UTC including his senior year when he shot 46% from three-point range. He is described as a big wing player with very good ball handling and shooting abilities.

The Riptide also welcome two familiar canadians from past year’s as Olu Famutimi and Jahmal McQueen have returned to the organization. Famutimi suited up for 22 games last season averaging 8.09 points per game in the process. McQueen was originally selected 5th by Saint John in the first round of the 2014-2015 NBL Canada draft. He was traded to Windsor Express that same season where he spent two seasons and was a member of the NBL Canada 2014-2015 Championship team.


OUTLOOK:

With several veterans of the league and some intriguing new faces, the Riptide should once again be in the Atlantic division playoff picture. Gabe Freeman and Anthony Anderson should put up 20-plus points night in and night again this season while the supporting cast in Saint John looks to be a reliable group for coach Spon.

Just like he said in his locker room during last year's second round playoff series, Spon has built his team around proven winners and sprinkled in some talented newcomers in their to make for a roster that has the potential to make a run at the championship if they can build chemistry and mesh as a cohesive unit.

Atlantic: Cape Breton | Moncton | Halifax | Island Central: London | Kitchener/Waterloo | Windsor | Orangeville

Monday, December 26, 2016

2016-17 Orangeville A's Season Preview

Courtesy: oursportscentral.com
After a very disappointing 2015-16 campaign which saw them go 14-26 and share last place in the league with the Island Storm, the Orangeville A’s are hoping their retooled roster and new bench boss, Brandon Lesovsky, can help the A’s achieve the success they found only two season ago.  Just two years removed from reaching the NBLC Central Division finals, the Tipping organization has worked hard to improve the team by keeping key contributors in Rick Bodiford, Jameson Tipping and last All-NBLC 3rd Team member Justin Moss, who took the league by storm last season after averaging a stellar 19 points and 9 rebounds per contest.  However, they have lost a lot of last season's production with the departure of Lewis Jackson, Flenard Whitfield, Bilal Benn, Dominic Cheeks, Tyrone Watson, and Louis Munks.  Shooting from beyond the arc has always been a signature of the A’s and this season will be no different.  They’ve brought in a number of new faces who are known shooters and scorers.  


The A’s are coming off an off-season that saw the team have two solid drafts and bring in former Athlete Institute Head Coach Brandon Lesovsky, the same coach responsible for developing current NBA rookies Jamal Murray and Thon Maker.  Orangeville has always boasted a higher number of talent Canadians on their rosters and this season is no different. Despite losing Richard Amardi to the River Lions, Orangeville has recruited a number of highly touted Canadians including former NBLC player Enrico DiLoreto.  This a long and athletic Orangeville team looking to bounce back. The unfortunate news for the A’s is how much stronger the rest of the Central Division has gotten. Windsor, Niagara and London all look stronger than last season, teams that all finished last season above the A’s.


* - Denotes Canadian player

BACKCOURT: Rick Bodiford, Enrico DiLoreto*, Anthony Harris, Scotty Hendricks, Troy Joseph*, Kahlil McDonald, Jameson Tipping*


Guard Jameson Tipping and Rick Bodiford are back with the squad.  Tipping is an enforcer with a nice touch around the basket and can stretch the floor with his shooting abilities, he’s also a defensive stopper on the other side of the ball.  Bodiford is back for his third season with the franchise and has shown nothing but improvements in his time in the NBLC, so expect nothing less from the 6’5 guard.  He’s a big body wing expected to carry more of the offensive load this season and will be Justin Moss’ right hand man.


Canadian guard Enrico DiLoreto is back in an NBLC jersey for this year.  Last playing in 2014 for the London Lightning, Enrico brings experience and will be more than just another token Canadian sitting on the end of the bench.


Another guard expected to play a big role with the team is former Orangeville guard, Anthony Harris.  The 6’2 Harris has over 5 years and 125 games experience in the NBA D-League.  He averaged over 11 points and 4 assists in this time with the A’s and the team will look to him to have the same level of contribution this season.


Round out the guard rotation is rookie Canadian Troy Joseph, an athletic swing-man who can catch fire in an instant, Scottie Hendricks, an undersized guard who will earn his living beyond the arc, and Kahlil McDonald, a talented athlete who's always a lock for a highlight of the night.

FRONTCOURT: Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, Justin Moss, Gavin Thurman, Slim Magee, Daniel Tulloch*


The biggest name by far is Justin Moss.  If the A’s want to go anywhere, it will be Moss who takes them there.  Moss was second in voting for rookie of the year and narrowly lost out to London’s Stephen Maxwell.  He’s a big, athletic body who can play with his back to the basket or face up and beat his man off the dribble. He scores in a multitude of ways and will be relied on heavily this season to carry his A’s.


Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, brother of Brooklyn Nets guard Rondae Hollis-Jefferson joins the team.  If his name sounds familiar, he signed to the Saint John Mill Rats last season but was cut during training camp.  He too is a long forward with NBA D-League experience.


The frontcourt is rounded out by rookie big-man Gavin Thurman, who will provide inside and outside scoring abilities, rookie Canadian Daniel Tulloch, a hyper athletic 3 and D type of player, and finally “Slim” Magee, a 6’11 rim protector reminiscent of Saint John’s Anthony Stover.


OUTLOOK:

It may be another rough ride for the A’s this season, and they very well could be on the outside looking in come the playoffs.  They have some solid pieces on the roster and a talented coaching staff but the Central Division is too strong this year and they’ve lost too any of their top players from last seasons under-performing squad.  They’ll be battling expansion franchise KW for the fourth and final playoff spot this season.  However, we’ve been surprised by teams before and Orangeville very well could do that.  Only time will tell with the Orangeville A’s.

Atlantic: Cape Breton | Moncton | Halifax | Island Central: London | Kitchener/Waterloo | Windsor

2016-17 Island Storm Season Preview

 By: Dan Weryha

After appearing in the National Basketball League finals in back-to-back years, the Island Storm followed up with a season to forget. With only one returning player on the roster, the Storm hoped a fresh group assembled by coach Joe Salerno could keep the streak of championship berths alive. Instead, the Storm found itself in the midst of its worst statistical season to date, eventually finishing tied for the worst record in the NBLC. With three returning players, a few key acquisitions and the coach with the most wins in NBLC history returning for his sixth straight season at the helm, The Storm will look to prove last season was nothing more than a small blip on an otherwise spotless track record.

Poised to regain what was lost two seasons ago, the Storm made a big splash over the offseason, bringing in former Arizona State University guard Jahii Carson. The 5’10” Arizona native played two seasons with the Sun Devils where he averaged just over 18 points-per-game and is expected to give one of last season’s worst offences a much-needed boost. The former Pac-12 co-Freshman of the Year shot an impressive 39 percent from beyond the arc in his final season with the Sun Devils. He also showed his ability to move the ball, averaging slightly over four and a half assists-per-game. In addition to the Division 1 convert, the Storm welcomed some familiar faces to training camp, most notably veteran combo guard Nick Okorie who has returned for his second stint with the team after being traded last year for a pair of players who are no longer on the team. Okorie is joined by Ryan Christie, Leon Gibson, Demitri Harris and Wayne McCullough who were brought in to shore up the lacking front court. Former Storm guard Shawn Vanzant took part in camp, but was among the finals cuts.


* - Denotes Canadian player

BACKCOURT: Jahii Carson, Al Stewart, Jackson Trapp, Nick Okorie, Terry Thomas*

Last season, the Storm ranked as one of the worst in scoring offences in the league largely due to their inability to create good opportunities by getting people open. The Storm finished second in three-point percentage, but sat dead last in made three-pointers. Guard play, primarily from a point guard perspective, lacked as the Storm ranked 6th in assists per game.

The Storm set out to correct some key issues surrounding their backcourt in the offseason and appear to have done so.

With the addition of Carson, the Storm will likely ride the young guard’s keen ability to handle the rock so that Okorie, who is more of a natural scorer, can work off the ball. Despite his proven ability to put the ball in the hoop, Okorie is streaky and has a habit of shooting his team out of games when he is cold. Coach Salerno will need to keep Okorie on a short leash if they want to get the most out of their backcourt. Carson and Okorie are joined by a pair of returnees in 33-year-old Al Stewart who will likely split time as the primary ball carrier and Terry Thomas who will serve as backcourt depth. Stewart’s role on the team hinges on how effective Carson proves to be. Stewart is no spring chicken, but he’s a two-time NBLC defender of the year and despite his diminutive stature, a good on-ball defender. If Carson struggles, Salerno will lean on Stewart to stabilize his backcourt. Jackson Trapp will start the season on the injured list with a foot fracture.


FRONTCOURT: Tirrell Baines, Al Richter, AJ Stewart, Wayne McCullough, Ryan Christie*, Leon Gibson, Demitri Harris*, Brad States*

The one name that stands out in the Storm frontcourt is basketball journeyman Tirrell Baines. Baines, who played his college ball at Marshall and spent a couple years in the D-League, is returning for his second season with the team. The 6’7” power forward was one of the few bright spots to come out of last season. He went 19 straight games with double-digit scoring and shot 46 percent from the field. The main concern with this unit is size, specifically at the five. The Storm are relying on A.J. Stewart and Leon Gibson to play the bulk of its minutes at the center position. Standing 6’8’” and 6’9” respectively, The Storm big men will face a tall task when they matchup with the league’s bigger centers.

OUTLOOK:

Coach Salerno and the Storm believe they’re contenders and they’re not wrong to think that. The team made leaps in their backcourt over the offseason to compliment a frontcourt that dominated the boards a season ago. If Salerno is the coach we think he is, he should be able to get the most out of this much improved Island team, meaning it’s championship or bust for the Storm once again.

Atlantic: Cape Breton | Moncton | Halifax Central: London | Kitchener/Waterloo | Windsor

Saturday, December 24, 2016

2016-17 Windsor Express Season Preview

Courtesy: Windsor Star
For the first time in two years, the NBL Canada season ended without the Windsor Express being named NBLC Champs. By no means was it a bad year, but due to suspensions to coach Bill Jones and starting PG Tony Bennett, stemming from the 2014-15 Finals, the Express never really found consistency for most of the season, but finished strong down the stretch to take the second seed in the NBLC playoffs. Once there, they swept the expansion Niagara River Lions, before falling in six games to the London Lightning.

This season is a completely different story. Whereas last year's team was built upon the strength of it's returning players, most of this year's team is completely new to Windsor. Gone are Express regulars such as Chris Commons and Kirk Williams Jr., and in their place are a mix of new faces and NBLC veterans.


* - Denotes Canadian player

BACKCOURT: Quinnel Brown, Alex Campbell*, Darren Duncan, Wally Ellenson, Maurice Jones, Brandan Kearney, Noel Moffatt*, Clinton Springer-Williams*, Warren Ward*

Quinnel Brown is a former league MVP and can be a dynamic scorer. Brown wasn't added to the roster until late into the training camp process, and his addition provides a major boost, similar to the late addition of Brandon Robinson last season. It also provides a clear go-to option for the Windsor offence, something that appeared to be missing from the team until Brown's announcement.

Darren Duncan is another huge add. The point guard for Windsor's first NBLC title, he's a steady veteran player who can run the offence effectively, while also being able to score himself. His presence will bring stability.

Brandan Kearney is another big add for the Express. A gifted three point shooter, he shot 40% from beyond the arc last season as a member of the Moncton Miracles. He also spent time with the Miami Heat during their free-agent camp.

Warren Ward is another strong shooter. Ward was named Canadian Player of the Year last season as a member of the London Lightning. When his shot is on, he's capable of scoring 30 points on any given night and is near unstoppable when he's on fire.

The Express also added Wally Ellenson. Brother of the Detroit Pistons Henry Ellenson, Wally was drafted into the D-League in the third round of their draft after playing college ball for Marquette.

The backcourt is rounded out by Maurice Jones, a pint-sized point guard, Canadians Clinton Springer-Williams, an NBLC veteran who has played for London and Niagara, Alex Campbell, a University of Windsor grad, and Noel Moffatt.


FRONTCOURT: Nick Evans, Jernard Jarreau, Shawntez Patterson, Lester Prosper

Nick Evans returns to the NBLC after taking a hiatus last season. He briefly spent time in Windsor in the past, but is more well known for his time with the Island Storm and the London Lightning. A big, tough centre, Evans is the type of player who can give players pause before they enter the paint.

Another familiar face in the frontcourt is Lester Prosper. Prosper played 24 games for the express during the 2012-13 season, as well as spending time with the Moncton Miracles and the Mississauga Power. The big averaged 15 points and 9 rebounds in a breakout season in the Mexican League.

Jernard Jarreau is a young big who played for Washington and Tulane in the NCAA. He averaged 7 points and 5 rebounds during his senior year. Joining him in the frontcourt is Shawntez Patterson, a 6'7, 26 year old big out of Alabama State.

OUTLOOK

While the Express have many new faces, it is the ones that NBLC fans have seen before. With Brown, Duncan, Ward and Kearney, Windsor has an experienced and proven core of players who can score. Having Nick Evans inside also means that Windsor will be set in the paint as well. Their core looks to be one of the best in the league, which is good for Windsor, because traditionally, they like to lean heavily on that core. How far the Express go will depend on the contributions of their depth. Look for Windsor to again battle with the Lightning for top spot in the Central.

Atlantic: Cape Breton | Moncton | Halifax Central: London | Kitchener/Waterloo

2016-17 Halifax Hurricanes Season Preview

Courtesy: Metro News
After tumultuous end to the 2014-15 season, fans in Halifax were left out in the cold, as they
witnessed their team, due to a variety of circumstances that we're not going to get into here, forfeit the NBL Finals to the Windsor Express. After that abandonment, fans in Halifax needed a new team to call their own, and they got that, with the Halifax Hurricanes taking the Rainmen's place in NBL Canada. However, after the Hurricanes first season, Halifax has a different name for them. Champions.

Led by the powerful Mike Glover and the shooting of Justin Johnson, the Hurricanes swept both of their Eastern opponents en route to one of the best Finals in NBL history. The London Lightning gave them a battle, forcing things to a critical Game 7 before Halifax took the victory in front of their home crowd, restoring faith to the Halifax fan base, and providing the NBLC with it's first ever champion from the Atlantic Conference


* - Denotes Canadian player

BACKCOURT: Cliff Clinkscales, Antoine Mason, Kenny Otieno*, Ta'Quan Zimmerman, Tyrel Edwards*, Mike Poole

The biggest signee is an obvious one, as Cliff Clinkscales returns to Halifax for another season as the floor general. A gifted passer, Clinkscales is a proven commodity in this league, and can run an offence just as well as any point guard in the NBLC. The Queens native has been a part of Halifax basketball for years, and his return brings stability to the team.

A fellow Queens native could also have a large role for the team, with Auburn grad Antoine Mason signing on for the new season. He averaged 16 ppg during his senior year in the SEC, and at only 24 years old, averaged 12 ppg in Cypress.

The team remains young, with 25 year old Ta'Quan Zimmerman joining. He played last season and parts of this past year for the Idaho Stampede of the D-League, starting in 16 games.

The backcourt is rounded out by Kenny Otieno, a Canadian with NBLC experience, Mike Poole, a guard who played for Rutgers and Iona of the NCAA, and Tyrel Edwards, a Canadian and graduate of Canisius.


FRONTCOURT: Anthony Cox, Renaldo Dixon*, Gideon Gamble, Tyrone Watson*, Billy White, Kore White

Again, a returnee figures to be a key part to this team. Billy White was a key figure during Halifax's playoff run as the first forward off the bench. He plays almost like a hybrid SF/PF game, which can create all kinds of match up problems for opposing teams. He figures to be given an expanded role this year.

The other big signing is Canadian Tyrone Watson making a second tour of duty in Halifax. The New Mexico State grad won Canadian Player of the Year in 2014-15 as a member of the Rainmen. A tough forward, he can bruise people in the post, but also has the hands to be able to finish after initiating contact.

Gideon Gamble is a 6'7 forward with three years of D-League experience with the Los Angeles D-Fenders, Delaware 87ers and Fort Wayne Mad Ants. The Winthrop grad averaged 6 points per game coming off the bench.

The frontcourt is rounded out by returning big man Renaldo Dixon, a Canadian, Kore White, who has spent the past two years in the Danish and Venezuelan leagues, and Anthony Cox.

OUTLOOK

This Halifax team comes into their 2016-17 season much the way they did last season. With an mostly new cast of characters, there isn't a ton of evidence to build an opinion around. That being said, last season ended up being Halifax's greatest success yet, and this years roster, while still mysterious, appears to be built the same way. With greater contributions from the returnees, and a couple of Mike Glover-like surprises, the Hurricanes could defend their NBLC title.

Atlantic: Cape Breton | Moncton Central: London | Kitchener/Waterloo

Friday, December 23, 2016

2016-17 Kitchener-Waterloo Titans Season Preview

Courtesy: @KW_Titans Twitter
By trying to emulate the London Lightning, the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans are looking to burst onto the scene as the newest NBL Canada franchise.  As one of two expansions franchises set to kick off their inaugural seasons this boxing day, KW will call the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium home this season.  With high expectations and a roster that boasts both new faces and seasoned NBL Canada veterans, the Titans look to have a promising, if not exciting first season in store for their fans.  

Fans got a good look at the Titans twice this off-season as they played at home against the Chautauqua Hurricanes of the PBL and against the London Lightning in London, where they took the defending Central Division champs to overtime.  Despite their glaring lack of size, the Titans boast a plethora of length and athleticism.  KW is able to run a number of smaller lineups much like the Golden State Warriors of the NBA, a trend that seems to be on the rise in both the NBA and NBLC.  

From the announcement of an ownership group to the signing of GM Stu Julius, head coach Serge Langis and their first player in Adam Blazek, the Titans have shown how heavily involved they are with the community and already have one the best media teams in the league.  Now after their franchise’s first training camp which saw 19 players compete for the final 12 man roster, KW is ready for their first season when they take on the Orangeville A’s, December 26th in Kitchener.



BACKCOURT: Hichem Benayad-Cherif*, Adam Blazek, AJ Davis, Greg Morrow*, Tramar Sutherland*, Tramique Sutherland*, Ricky Tarrant, Adam Wing.

KW added two guards with NBLC experience in Adam Blazek (River Lions) and Tramar Sutherland (River Lions, Miracles), and will look to both of them to anchor their back court.  Blazek came into the league as a shooter but was one of the best defensive backcourt players last season. Both players are projected starters when the season tips off December 26th.

A trio of Canadian guards join the team in first overall Canadian draft pick Greg Morrow, rookie point guard Tramique Sutherland, and league newcomer Hichem Benayad-Cherif.  Each player’s play style fits well with the fast paced offense we have seen from head coach Serge Langis and his KW squad.

An interesting pick up for the Titans was AJ Davis.  Davis was with the Lightning for much of the off-season but was let go during training camp by head coach Kyle Julius and made the move over to KW to join GM Stu Julius and his squad.  The 6’5 guard is an instant spark plug on offense and a capable stopper on defense.

Rounding out the backcourt rotation are rookies Adam Wing, a shooting guard with elite shooting numbers at the college level and Ricky Tarrant, a do it all point guard who has a great pedigree and makes scoring look easy.

 
FRONTCOURT: Orlando Coleman, Paul Cooper, Jamell Harris, Cavell Johnson


To say the KW frontcourt looks thin would be an understatement.  Fortunately for the undersized Titans, GM Stu Julius was able to reel in former NBLC Defensive Player of the Year and all-time leading shot blocker, Cavell Johnson.  The 6’8 Johnson was last a member of the 2014-15 Brampton A’s and spent last season with Greek league powerhouse, Prometheus. Johnson will anchor the Titans defense and provide much needed rim protection in an otherwise thin front-line.

KW added another former league player in big man Paul Cooper, who spent parts of the last 2 seasons with Mississauga, Windsor and the Island Storm.  We didn’t see much from Cooper last season as he played a total of 6 games for two teams, but if you look back to the 2014-15 season, Cooper was a capable back up big and will be much needed for this undersized KW squad.

Canadian-American forward Orlando Coleman was the team's leading scorer in their exhibition game against London and has looked like an early candidate for both Rookie and Canadian player of the year awards.  Rounding out the front court is Jamell Harris, a 6’9 shot blocker who will be called upon to defend and get rebounds.

OUTLOOK:

The Titans are poised and looking to have the best season yet by a NBLC expansion franchise. While they certainly have the right pieces both on the court and in the front office, KW are hopeful they aren’t on the outside looking in when post-season play comes around.  The future is bright for the KW Titans as they move forward with their inaugural season in the National Basketball League of Canada.

Atlantic: Cape Breton | Moncton Central: London

2016-17 Moncton Miracles Season Preview

Courtesy: Brian Cormier
It’s hard to be optimistic as a Moncton Miracles fan heading into the 2016/17 season. Stability has been hard to come by for the struggling franchise, which recently had another falling out with potential ownership. Despite this, the Miracles are back for the 2016/17 season, although their return was only officially announced a few weeks ago. With the announcement came the training camp roster that Head Coach Paul Mokeski will be working with.

Last season’s Miracles team struggled to find any real success. Moncton’s woes were highlighted by a 3-12 run during March and April, but they did manage to play exciting basketball for portions of the year, eventually falling to Saint John in the first round of the playoffs.

The good news for Moncton fans is the size of their listed training camp roster. A total of 19 names are listed on the team’s official list. While that number may be inaccurate, securing a good number of players for camp is important for a franchise in their position.

* - Denotes Canadian player

BACKCOURT: Russell Byrd, Malik Story, Lawrence Westbrook, Mike Malat, Antonio "Scoop" Jardine, Darius Gibson, Vincent Dillard, Leon Sutton

Moncton does appear to have to have lots of hard choices to make when it comes to their backcourt. Not only are there eight listed guards, none of them are returnees. While other NBLC franchises manage to keep a starting point guard (Anthony Anderson in Saint John, for example) or versatile player in the backcourt year-after-year, Moncton will be starting fresh.

Leon Sutton, Moncton’s first pick in the off-season’s draft, will likely be found moving the ball around in the backcourt for most of Moncton’s season. The 6’1” Las Vegas native managed to get about 100 minutes in the D-League last season — experience that led him to such a high draft selection.

Obviously the loss of James Justice will be huge for Moncton in this part of their game, but they will still enjoy some spectacular shooting from Tydran Beaty, who actually lead the league in three-point percentage (.519) last season. While Beaty works as a forward, he will prove to be a valuable asset to their backcourt this season.

FRONTCOURT: Theo Davis*, Grant Fiorentinos, Timothy Mitchell, Vernon Lewis, Jamal Gatali*, Tyrrel Tate*, Cordell Jeanty*, Jordan Stotts, Dominique Reed, Tydran Beaty

2015/16 was a very good year for forwards in the NBLC. If the league has another forward-heavy season, Moncton could be one of the teams to reap the benefits.

The biggest standout on this list would be NBA D-League veteran Vernon Lewis. The 33-year-old forward could become a leader for Moncton both on and off the court.

Theo Davis leads off the list of centres that could cause havoc for Moncton this season. The 6’11” Brock grad has some substantial NBLC experience. Expect him to flourish in an expanded role under Mokeski. You can also expect some interesting minutes out of Grant Fiorentinos — a 24-year-old South African that comes in at a slender 6’10”.

When it comes to the power forward and small forward positions, the Miracles can expect to see some experience shine through over the next couple of months. Tyrrel Tate, Cordell Jeanty, and Tydran Beaty are the club’s three returning players from last season. With only three missed games between the three of them, they have been proven to have a huge impact on the team as the season went on.

OUTLOOK

Will the Moncton Miracles win a playoff series this year? Will they end the season near the bottom of their division for the sixth year in a row? Admittedly, just like every year with this franchise, it’s hard to say that they won’t. Nothing really sticks out in terms of talent right now.

Arguably the league’s most insecure franchise has a promising head coach in Mokeski and another shot to make it work. However, just like last year, there’s always a chance for a great individual performer to make an impact.

Atlantic: Cape Breton Central: London