He might have to scrape off a little rust on the outside, but Carl English says he feels solid underneath, certainly in good enough shape to blow out three dozen candles, plus one.
English will celebrate his 37th birthday Friday night as he and the St. John’s Edge get back into action with a National Basketball League of Canada game against the Moncton Magic at Mile One Centre.
It’s the first game for the Edge in 12 days, but for English, it will be his first in three weeks since breaking his nose and suffering other injuries in a Jan. 12 win over the KW Titans at Mile One.
English, who also suffered fractured teeth, missed the next night’s rematch against the Titans and didn’t travel with the Edge for a hectic five-game road trip through southern Ontario.
It’s not that English didn’t want to play through his injuries — “I told them to give me some ibuprofen and I’d be ready to go the next game,” he said — but he says he now realizes the recent downtime will be beneficial to a body that in going one-and-one against an imposing opponent called Farther Time.
“I feel great. I feel refreshed and (the time off) was good for my mindset,” said English, who is the leading scorer for the Edge (14-7).
“I’m sure in the first quarter (of Friday's game), there will be a little bit of me trying to catch my breath. But don’t worry, I’ll be fine.”
English predicts there will be long-term benefits as well, that the half-dozen games he missed in January will mean fresher legs come April when the NBL Canada playoffs begin.
Just past the halfway mark of its regular-season schedule, St. John’s looks to be well on its way to making the post-season in its first NBLC campaign, and should get a boost from the fact that 12 of the team’s remaining 19 games are at Mile One, where the team is 7-1 so far.
Friday and Saturday (both 7 p.m. starts), the Magic (13-11) will look to test that home-court dominance against an Edge team it’s faced just once. That was Nov. 22 in Moncton, N.B., where St. John’s prevailed 96-89 despite not having English, who was given the night off for rest.
English won’t be only different face the Magic - will face tonight. In fact, of the 11 players who dressed for the Edge in Moncton 10 weeks ago, only four — Alex Johnson, Desmond Lee, Charles Hinkle and Jarryn Skeete — are on St. John’s active roster today.
That changeover, however extensive, came gradually, one and two players at a time. The latest newcomers are guard Caron Williams, who joined the Edge at the start of the recent road trip and forward Russell Byrd, who came over by way of a trade in the midst of it.
English says that’s why the dozen days off between the Edge’s last game — a dominating 122-104 win over the Niagara River Lions on Jan. 22 — and Friday's contest can’t be seen as a detriment.
“The team is looking sharp, but having that time at home has given us more of a chance e to incorporate the new guys. They didn’t have any practice, just went right into it on the road,” he said.
“Now, with the real good practices we’ve had, we should be that much better.”
And English suggests the three weeks off between home games is not such a bad thing when it comes to maintaining the fan interest the Edge has built up.
“When you’re winning, whether at home or on the road, you keep the buzz going,” he said. “And even though we haven’t played here recently, we’re out in the community a lot and that keeps people talking about you, too.
“And you know what? It makes some people want to see you that much more.
“I’m out and about and I’m always being asked ‘When’s the next game? I can’t wait to see you play.’
“So in some ways, us not playing can create a bit of buzz, too.”