Friday, December 23, 2016

2016-17 Kitchener-Waterloo Titans Season Preview

Courtesy: @KW_Titans Twitter
By trying to emulate the London Lightning, the Kitchener-Waterloo Titans are looking to burst onto the scene as the newest NBL Canada franchise.  As one of two expansions franchises set to kick off their inaugural seasons this boxing day, KW will call the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium home this season.  With high expectations and a roster that boasts both new faces and seasoned NBL Canada veterans, the Titans look to have a promising, if not exciting first season in store for their fans.  

Fans got a good look at the Titans twice this off-season as they played at home against the Chautauqua Hurricanes of the PBL and against the London Lightning in London, where they took the defending Central Division champs to overtime.  Despite their glaring lack of size, the Titans boast a plethora of length and athleticism.  KW is able to run a number of smaller lineups much like the Golden State Warriors of the NBA, a trend that seems to be on the rise in both the NBA and NBLC.  

From the announcement of an ownership group to the signing of GM Stu Julius, head coach Serge Langis and their first player in Adam Blazek, the Titans have shown how heavily involved they are with the community and already have one the best media teams in the league.  Now after their franchise’s first training camp which saw 19 players compete for the final 12 man roster, KW is ready for their first season when they take on the Orangeville A’s, December 26th in Kitchener.



BACKCOURT: Hichem Benayad-Cherif*, Adam Blazek, AJ Davis, Greg Morrow*, Tramar Sutherland*, Tramique Sutherland*, Ricky Tarrant, Adam Wing.

KW added two guards with NBLC experience in Adam Blazek (River Lions) and Tramar Sutherland (River Lions, Miracles), and will look to both of them to anchor their back court.  Blazek came into the league as a shooter but was one of the best defensive backcourt players last season. Both players are projected starters when the season tips off December 26th.

A trio of Canadian guards join the team in first overall Canadian draft pick Greg Morrow, rookie point guard Tramique Sutherland, and league newcomer Hichem Benayad-Cherif.  Each player’s play style fits well with the fast paced offense we have seen from head coach Serge Langis and his KW squad.

An interesting pick up for the Titans was AJ Davis.  Davis was with the Lightning for much of the off-season but was let go during training camp by head coach Kyle Julius and made the move over to KW to join GM Stu Julius and his squad.  The 6’5 guard is an instant spark plug on offense and a capable stopper on defense.

Rounding out the backcourt rotation are rookies Adam Wing, a shooting guard with elite shooting numbers at the college level and Ricky Tarrant, a do it all point guard who has a great pedigree and makes scoring look easy.

 
FRONTCOURT: Orlando Coleman, Paul Cooper, Jamell Harris, Cavell Johnson


To say the KW frontcourt looks thin would be an understatement.  Fortunately for the undersized Titans, GM Stu Julius was able to reel in former NBLC Defensive Player of the Year and all-time leading shot blocker, Cavell Johnson.  The 6’8 Johnson was last a member of the 2014-15 Brampton A’s and spent last season with Greek league powerhouse, Prometheus. Johnson will anchor the Titans defense and provide much needed rim protection in an otherwise thin front-line.

KW added another former league player in big man Paul Cooper, who spent parts of the last 2 seasons with Mississauga, Windsor and the Island Storm.  We didn’t see much from Cooper last season as he played a total of 6 games for two teams, but if you look back to the 2014-15 season, Cooper was a capable back up big and will be much needed for this undersized KW squad.

Canadian-American forward Orlando Coleman was the team's leading scorer in their exhibition game against London and has looked like an early candidate for both Rookie and Canadian player of the year awards.  Rounding out the front court is Jamell Harris, a 6’9 shot blocker who will be called upon to defend and get rebounds.

OUTLOOK:

The Titans are poised and looking to have the best season yet by a NBLC expansion franchise. While they certainly have the right pieces both on the court and in the front office, KW are hopeful they aren’t on the outside looking in when post-season play comes around.  The future is bright for the KW Titans as they move forward with their inaugural season in the National Basketball League of Canada.

Atlantic: Cape Breton | Moncton Central: London