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