Cana­dian con­tent

Is­land Storm has five Cana­di­ans on its ros­ter.

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY CHARLES REID

The Is­land Storm has plenty of re­gional flavour.

Three of the Na­tional Bas­ket­ball League of Canada squad’s five Cana­di­ans played at At­lantic Univer­sity Sport (AUS) schools, while two are dyed-inthe-wool Mar­itimers.

Terry Thomas, a Dart­mouth, N.S., na­tive, ex­celled at St. FX, av­er­ag­ing 19.6 points, 7.9 re­bounds, 2.6 as­sists, while shoot­ing 60 per cent from the floor dur­ing three sea­sons, be­fore trans­fer­ring to Univer­sity of Ottawa. There, he fin­ished fourth in the coun­try in scor­ing atal­most 22 points per game in his fi­nal univer­sity sea­son.

For Thomas, play­ing pro ball near his home­town does more than put money in his bank ac­count.

“It’s amaz­ing. It teaches kids around here that you can fol­low your dream (de­spite) not at lot of ex­po­sure,” said Thomas, who played pro in Ger­many last sea­son. “Play­ing ball here re­ally proves that.”

Ex-AUSer’s Robert Nort­mann and Alex DesRoches, a Dieppe, N.B., na­tive and for­mer UNB guard, are Thomas team­mates this sea­son.

The other Canucks in­clude point guard Gary Gib­son (the Wind­sor, Ont., na­tive didn’t prac­tice Thurs­day be­cause of a wonky Achilles ten­don) and Al­ber­tan Kenny Otieno. NBL teams are re­quired to have four Cana­di­ans.

Gib­son is out for tonight’s con­test with the At­lantic Divi­sion-lead­ing Hal­i­fax Hur­ri­canes (7-3) at 7 p.m. at Eastlink Cen­tre, but the oth­ers are in.

Nort­mann is orig­i­nally from the Ba­hamas, but grew up in Toronto. The power for­ward played four sea­sons with Dal­housie, earn­ing AUS all-star sta­tus and av­er­ag­ing more than 14 points per game in his fi­nal sea­son.

He played 32 games with the NBL’s Hal­i­fax Rain­men in 2013, be­fore stints in Aus­tralia and as adevelopment player with the Har­lem Glo­be­trot­ters.

For him, the Storm’s trio of AUS alumni shows the cir­cuit’s strength.

“It’s a great league. Great bas­ket­ball, great scrappy play­ers. It shows we can com­pete against the best in the world,” said Nort­mann.

Storm owner Dun­can Shaw agrees. The for­mer player with the UPEI Pan­thers men’s bas­ket­ball team is the only league owner who went to, and played at, an AUS school.

He sees the con­fer­ence as a real con­duit to the pros.

“The AUS is a tough, tough league. It sea­sons guys to play tough bas­ket­ball. And there are good coaches in the AUS. Thomas and DesRoches are (prod­ucts) of that,” said Shaw.

Shaw said size is one of main dif­fer­ences be­tween the Cana­dian and Amer­i­can univer­sity play­ers. He said of­ten coaches at tour­na­ments and other player show­cases can tell NCAA play­ers be­fore they even hit the floor.

“They’re typ­i­cally 25 pounds heav­ier as a se­nior then when they were a fresh­man. That mat­ters ( for pro ball).”

Shaw said part of his man­date for the Storm is to build a feeder sys­tem from Grade 7 straight to the Storm.

The Storm have off-sea­son camps for kids and Shaw’s goal is to have a player play in an Is­land ju­nior high and high school, at UPEI and start for the Storm.

BRIAN MCINNIS/THE GUARDIAN

Robert Nort­mann, top, and Terry Thomas played univer­sity bas­ket­ball in At­lantic Canada and now are team­mates with the Is­land Storm.

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