PUSH­ING THE PACE

Cana­dian Alex Camp­bell off to strong start run­ning the point for Is­land Storm

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - THE ISLAND - BY JA­SON MAL­LOY

Cana­dian Alex Camp­bell off to strong start run­ning the point for Is­land Storm

Alex Camp­bell is fill­ing the stat sheet for the Is­land Storm, but what he does that never shows up there might be just as valu­able.

The 25-year-old Bramp­ton, Ont., na­tive has been a lock­down de­fender who has helped the squad im­prove its abil­ity to de­fend against pen­e­tra­tion this sea­son. The vo­cal mem­ber of the de­fence said he takes pride in his play when his team doesn’t have the ball.

“Es­pe­cially as the start­ing point guard of the team, I feel like if I can lead with en­ergy ev­ery­one will fol­low suit,” he said.

Camp­bell is av­er­ag­ing 12.3 points, 10.3 re­bounds and 4.7 as­sists in the Storm’s first three games of the Na­tional Bas­ket­ball League of Canada reg­u­lar sea­son. The six-foot-three, 200-pound guard’s work on the glass has al­ways been a big com­po­nent of his game, and re­bound­ing guards fit with head coach Tim Kendrick’s sys­tem.

“When the ball goes up, I hit my man, and at my po­si­tion, I kind of have the size ad­van­tage, so I hit my man and just go for it, wher­ever it is,” Camp­bell said, not­ing it is just a men­tal­ity and de­sire to re­gain or main­tain possession. “Just stay­ing hun­gry for the ball. If the whole team is like that, we’ll lead the league in re­bounds.”

And when the squad gets the ball on the de­fen­sive end of the floor, it is look­ing to push the pace and turn boards into easy bas­kets in tran­si­tion with an ath­letic col­lec­tion of play­ers.

“The faster we get the ball, we’re able to run,” Camp­bell said. “With this group of guys, we’re able to get it, who­ever it is, and just go and push (the ball up the floor).”

Kendrick has been pleased with the early re­turns from Camp­bell.

“We couldn’t be any hap­pier with him,” he said. “We knew he was a good de­fender. I didn’t know he was that good of a de­fender.”

Kendrick’s sys­tem doesn’t rely on spe­cific po­si­tions. He doesn’t num­ber play­ers based on po­si­tions. He wants guys who are ver­sa­tile and can play the game.

“Once we get the bas­ket­ball mov­ing, the tra­di­tional point guard spot isn’t as im­por­tant as it might be in some sys­tems,” Kendrick said. “Once we get into our sys­tems, (Camp­bell) be­comes, I think, even more of a weapon.”

Camp­bell, who played univer­sity ball for the Wind­sor Lancers, has been a wing most of his life and is still learn­ing all the facets of run­ning the point. He’s de­scribed by his coach as ea­ger to learn, a good com­mu­ni­ca­tor and team­mate.

“He’s very coach­able,” Kendrick said. “He re­al­izes he needs to learn things. Not only is he will­ing, but he wants to do what­ever he can to be­come a bet­ter point guard.”

Camp­bell is em­brac­ing the new role and said he is ex­cited to con­tinue to grow in his new squad’s sys­tem.

“Coach Kendrick brought me here. He had a cer­tain style of play he wanted to push through­out the sea­son,” Camp­bell said. “I think it fits my style and the guys he has re­cruited.”

While Camp­bell is learn­ing the in­tri­ca­cies of the point he hasn’t aban­doned his shooter men­tal­ity.

“I want to shoot it, of course, but I have elite shoot­ers around me,” he said. “I don’t even mind not shoot­ing. I’ll play that (Ra­jon) Rondo role, get guys in­volved, re­bound, push and get out and run in tran­si­tion.”

Kendrick said Camp­bell has hit a cou­ple of huge shots for the team and is not afraid of pres­sure sit­u­a­tions.

“His com­pet­i­tive na­ture is very good, and he picks his game up in big spots,” he said.

JA­SON MAL­LOY/THE GUARDIAN

Alex Camp­bell takes a shot dur­ing Is­land Storm prac­tice Wed­nes­day at Colonel Gray High School.

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