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The Moncton Miracles come into the 2015-16 National Basketball League of Canada with lots to improve on. Following a lackluster season, which featured an early first playoff round exit, the Miracles will once again have a brand new set of names to try and inject some life into a franchise that has never finished in the top-half of their division.
Last season’s 8-24 record was underwhelming, even with a close game 1 win in the first round of the playoffs against Halifax.
However, the sky's the limit for Moncton, who will see a completely revamped roster in 2015-16.
Unfortunately, the Miracles were unable to keep their heavy hitters from last season. In fact, they only have one returning player on their training camp roster, Canadian Tyler Murray.
While Murray is coming off of one of the best seasons of his career (39% 3pt, 9ppg, 4apg), they are still without stars like Trayvon Lathan, Shaun Vanzant and Stanley Robinson.
Good news is the club has been able to bring in a number of talented players who are more than capable of filling the voids.
FORWARDS/CENTRES: Tyrrel Tate, Cordell Jeanty, Ryan Smith, Tom Granado, Shane Burrell, Kason Cheeks, Tydran Beaty
Tom Granado could be one of the biggest sleepers in the league this year. The big-framed centre (6’10”, 260lbs) averaged 7.5 points and 6.2 rebounds in limited minutes with Brampton last year. Granado should have the ability to dominate the boards with the added minutes that will come to him in Moncton.
23-year-old Tyrrel Tate comes to Moncton after appearing in 25 games with the D-League’s Idaho Stampede last year. Using his 6’5” frame, the youngster dropped 40% of his shots in 2014-15.
Cordell Jeanty is one of the few names on this roster that NBLC fans will recognize. Expect the 6’5” 36-year-old to be one of the more efficient bench players in the league.
GUARDS: Dexter Strickland, Anthony Gurley, James Justice, Brandan Kearney, Tyler Murray
James Justice is another promising acquisition by the Miracles. The 5’10” point guard is a good team leader who also has a knack for getting to the net (9.4ppg in Tunisia last year).
Anthony Gurley is also set to be an important piece to Moncton’s backcourt in 2016, getting the start along with Justice and Kearney during the club's 115-110 preseason win against the Island Storm. Standing at 6’3” the 27-year-old shooting guard shot .391% when he was a senior at Massachusetts in 2010-11. More recently, Gurley has spent time playing Hungary, Israel and France.
The retention of Tyler Murray will pay dividends for Langis and the Moncton coaching staff. The Canadian exploded last year after limited appearances with London and Mississauga the two seasons prior. At 25, this NBLC vet is set to add to last year’s breakout year.
COACH: Serge Langis
The Miracles do have the luxury of having a familiar face directing the team from the sideline. While Serge Langis led the team to a 8-24 regular season in 2014-15, the New Brunswick native remains one of the most exciting coaching prospects in the league.
That being said, Moncton does have much to improve on from last year. Their defence was the worst in the league (114.6 points allowed per game), while its offensive output wasn’t much better (sixth, at 103.66).
As the franchise continues to look for new owners, the team itself could be posed to surge up the Atlantic Division this season. Moncton has several former D-Leaguers that could cause damage in a very unpredictable division. However, the Miracles themselves are very unpredictable -- with a serious lack of NBLC experience.
In a divison up for grabs, Moncton would be a very solid “dark horse” pick in 2015-16.