Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Familiar Faces In New Places

By Jake Beckett

With the 2015-16 National Basketball League of Canada season underway, NBLCNET’s Jake Beckett looks at some familiar faces that are making some noise with new teams this season.  With only a handful of games in the books, here are some of the players making noise with their new teams.

Brandon Robinson 25.3 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 7 APG
Courtesy of Windsor Express
After making stops in Mississauga, Halifax and Summerside, Brandon Robinson finds
himself with the defending champions, Windsor Express. The signing comes after the Island Storm failed to re-sign the four-year veteran who spent the better part of two seasons with the team, leading them in scoring and solidifying the Storm as the team to beat in the Atlantic Division.

After just three games with his new squad, Robinson is leading the team in points and assist.  Aside from his statistical contributions, the 0-2 Windsor Express have won three straight games to sit atop the Central Division with a 3-2 record.

Sammy Zeglinski 22.2 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 10.7 APG
Another Storm player making a name for himself in the Central Division is dynamic point guard Sammy Zeglinski. The 6’1” point guard is leading the NBLC in assists and currently sits 7th among league leaders in scoring per game.

Fans may be used to watching Zeglinski playing on the east coast, but Central Division fans can expect an exciting brand of basketball as Zeglinski has in the gym range and great court vision.  This season alone he has nearly doubled his points per game, and increased his assist per game by three as he helps lead the newest NBLC franchise the Niagara River Lions.

Gabe Freeman 20.4 PPG, 10.6 RPG, 1.40 BPG
A well-known Lightning player, and former league MVP, Gabe Freeman is remaking a name for himself out east with the Saint John Mill Rats. Although he has not played in the NBLC since the 2013-14 season, Freeman is back and making noise. The 6’6” small forward is among the league leaders in rebounds and is putting up impressive numbers across the board on a very deep Mill Rats team.

Possibly the best small forward in the NBLC, Gabe has helped improve his Saint John Mill Rats from last season. The Mill Rats have found themselves sitting second in the much improved Atlantic Division.

Brent Jennings 20.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 3.0 APG
The high-flying Brent Jennings brings his athletic game to the Island Storm for the 2015-16 season and looks to be picking up the slack left by Robinson, Okorie and Zeglinski. The Island Storm bring in the 6’5” swingman through a trade with the London Lightning for the rights to Nick Okorie after a failed re-resigning attempt. This is Brent’s third team in as many seasons with stops in Brampton and London.

Through five games the Storm are near the bottom of the division with a 2-3 record and would be worse off without the addition of Jennings. His scoring is up over five points per game and he has embraced his role as a leader and veteran presence on a Storm squad that has been plagued with injuries to key players. While the season is still young, Jennings is very capable of helping guide the Storm back to the finals.

Gary Gibson 8.0 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 2.0 APG
After sitting out the first three games of the season while rehabbing from an injury, NBLC champion Gary Gibson is ready to bring his veteran experience and championship pedigree to the struggling Island Storm. Last season, Gibson was a part-time starter and a key part of Windsor’s repeat as NBLC Champions. His first two games back have been shaky, but that is to be expected as he returns from injury and has to find his spot in the rotation of a new team. Gibson signed with the Storm in the off-season after not being included among the Windsor Express’ protected players.

Despite the shaky start, Gibson has already improved his scoring and looks to have improved his shooting after struggling from three-point range last season.  The season is still very young and Gibson has a lot of time to fully recover from his injury and find where he best fits on this team.

Clinton Springer-Williams 13.2 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 1.2 APG
After a forgettable season with the London Lightning, Canadian shooting guard Clinton Springer-Williams is back in the NBLC. The London native has joined Niagara River Lions, reuniting with Head Coach Ken Murray, who coached him for one season at nearby Brock University. The 6’3” guard failed to get invited back to the Lighting after his rookie season but has shown to the league that they may have made a mistake.  In the second game of the season, Springer-Williams hit a game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer to give the River Lions their first ever win - a win that came against his old team.

Springer-Williams has shown a greatly improved game and has more than tripled his scoring output from last season. This shooting from range has improved drastically to start the season and has improved his stats in almost every statistical category. Through five games, Springer-Williams has shown a completely different side of him and has gone from a bench player to a starter.

Kevin Loiselle 8.8 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.8 APG
Kevin Loiselle is the player everyone loves to hate. There is no in between, you either love him, or you hate him. If he plays for your team you love him, if not… well you get the picture. Kevin Loiselle is perhaps the most well-known player the league has ever seen. The 6’6” Canadian suits up for a new team in his 4th season after spending three years with the Windsor Express, helping them to two NBLC Championships. In one of the most talked about signings of the off-season, London snatched Loiselle as soon as they knew he was available.

Known as a hard-nosed player and a league-wide agitator, Loiselle does not lack in the talent department. He is amongst the league's best defenders and is a tremendous rebounder and above average passer for a big man. Loiselle possess a perfect blend of talent, heart and grit and gives more than 100% all the time, something Coach Julius is a huge fan of.  His numbers are steady across the board from last season, he has shown a tremendous amount of development on the range of his jump shot, and through five games is only one three-pointer shy of tying his career high for threes in a season.

Tom Granado 15.3 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1.5 APG
The 6’10” Thomas Granado is enjoying the best statistical season if his professional career. After an average year in Brampton for the 2014-15 season, Granado has established himself as one of the better big men this season in the NBLC. His scoring is up by almost 10 points per game and has taken full advantage of his change of scenery. Granado was snatched up by the Moncton Miracles to help shore up their front court.

Granado is shooting a spectacular 65 percent this season and has even shown glimpses of  outside range prowess. After coming off the bench in the four games of the season, Granado got the to start against the Island Storm and helped Moncton get their first win of the season as he put up a very impressive 29 point, nine rebound performance. After such a performance, the Miracles would be wise to continue to start Granado.

Malcolm Grant 17.8 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 7.0 APG
A relatively unknown player for fans of the NBLC, Malcolm Grant is back in the with his third NBLC team after very brief stints in Halifax (seven games) and Mississauga (10 games). Through the first five games of the season, it looks like Malcolm Grant is here to stay. The 6’1” point guard is having a career year statistically and leads the Island Storm in scoring and assists. Grant currently sits second in the NBLC for assists per game.

Signed as a free agent left over from the Mississauga Power, Grant has filled the gap left by the departure of Sammy Zeglinski. Statistically, he is having a much better year than Zeglinski did for the Storm last year. With the injury to Whack and Gibson having a slow start after his return from injury, Grant will be leaned on heavily to help right the ship in.