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By Chris Gregory
With only five returning players, Island Storm fans will be welcomed by a swarm of new faces but going into training camp, Coach Salerno is looking to take a different approach.
With day one of training camp in the books, Salerno has to begin thinking about how he is going to trim his now 18-player training camp roster to just 12.
In past years, Salerno has taken a competitive approach to training camp, making it clear that every guy in the gym is playing for one thing – a spot.
But now, Salerno is opting to try something new – a more team-first approach. He wants to push and test these guys, but at the same time, treat it as if it were a mid-season practice and not get so caught up in the idea of playing for a spot.
Though there’s only five, the returning guys will play a huge role in making the transition period easier for the newest additions, he said.
“Starting out with a nucleus of players that understand how we like to play; it’ll make the transition easier and hopefully it’ll get us off to a good start,” he said.
One of the five returning to the Storm this year, Nick Evans, says he’s prepared to carry a big workload this year and help band the team together.
“We (returning players) have some comradery, but we have to incorporate them into the family. From what I can see in the short amount of time, coach brought in some horses,” said Evans.
Coach Salerno said he made the mistake in the past of focusing on a championship right from the get-go, but he plans to change his and the teams focus this year.
“We want to go in with a different mentality this year. Last year, we set lofty goals. We were greedy, we were too focused on championship or bust,” he said.
“This year we’re not talking about that at all.”
Evans wants to be a part of another deep playoff run, and he plans to use his two NBL Finals losses to fuel him.
“I married a girl from the island, I’ve settled roots here. This is my home. To continue to come back and play here and fall short, it feels like I’ve let the Island down a few times,” he said.
“Its definitely something that’s been on my mind since re-signing here. I want to bring a title here to the Island, the place that I love and call home.”