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“Big Baby” has big impact on St. John's Edge

St. John’s Edge photo/Jeff Parsons - Glen Davis, the ex-NBA star, brings personality and “phenomenal” energy to his new team, the St. John’s Edge which have won five games in a row.
St. John’s Edge photo/Jeff Parsons - Glen Davis, the ex-NBA star, brings personality and “phenomenal” energy to his new team, the St. John’s Edge which have won five games in a row. - Contributed

Glen Davis has hardly been an NBA diva with new team; energy he brings to Edge is “phenomenal”

Glen Davis, the latest name in a string of St. John’s Edge transactions, arrived in town earlier this month carrying a tidy NBA resume but waving a few red flags, too, given a couple of well-documented brushes with law.

News flash! “Big Baby” Davis has been a model citizen so far in St. John’s, and already is regarded a glue guy inside the Edge locker room.

NBA diva he isn’t.

“Not at all. No way,” said Edge coach Doug Plumb of Davis prior to the team’s Christmas break. “He’s big and strong, and when he gets the ball, no one can stop him. Everyone knows that.

“But more than that, it’s the energy he brings to the team. Even if doesn’t play a minute, the energy he brings is phenomenal. It’s changed the entire team.

“He’s happy to be playing basketball, and he’s the further thing from a diva that you can get. He’s been the catalyst for this boost of energy we’ve had the past couple of games.”

After nine days off for the holidays, the Edge are back in action Saturday with a game in Moncton against the Magic.

It’s the first of six straight games through Atlantic Canada, ending Jan. 6 in Saint John, N.B.

With eight years in the NBA, a championship ring and three years averaging double figures in scoring (including the 2012-13 campaign with the Orlando Magic when he scored an average of 15.1 points per game and pulled down 7.2 rebounds), there was never a doubt that Davis could play.

What was questionable was his conditioning and his head space.

He still has a way to go to get in game shape, although Plumb says that’s coming along. As for his commitment to the team and the National Basketball League of Canada, the Edge coach reports Davis is all-in.

“Completely,” he said. “He’s already a leader in the room.”

The numbers show Davis is progressively getting better. In his first game against P.E.I. Dec. 14, he played only three minutes, scoring three points and grabbing one board. The next game, he played nine minutes (five points, two rebounds) and in the most recent two-game homestand against the Sudbury 5, the 6-9 former Louisiana State star played 15 minutes (10 points, six boards) and 22 minutes (16 points, eight rebounds). In the latter start, he was named player of the game.

Davis isn’t the sole reason for the Edge’s five straight wins following a rocky 1-5 start. Maurice Jones and Dez Lee are playing all-star calibre basketball. Plus, following a number of roster changes, the Edge appear now to have a set lineup.

“Even when we were 1-5,” said Plumb, “we had a positive plus-minus. Those losses could have gone either way. We had a bunch of roster changes, guys coming in and out with injuries, and Carl (English) was out for all of training camp.

“But we weathered the storm.”

The turning point, Plumb said, was a game in Halifax on Dec. 2. St. John’s lost to the Hurricanes 112-111, but that’s only half the story. Trailing at halftime 58-42, and 86-67 after three quarters, the Edge mounted a furious comeback in the fourth quarter to overcome a 24-point deficit, only to have the game decided by the final possession.

“Things weren’t going our way,” Plumb said, “but we were resilient.

“Early in the season, people were like, ‘The Edge, the Edge … they’ve got these big names,’ and we come out and go 1-5.

“But the resiliency we’ve shown in that locker the last five games to turn things around has been profound.”

St. John’s Edge photo/Jeff Parsons - A torn calf muscle has sidelined Carl English, leaving the reigning NBL Canada MVP a cheerleader for the most recent two-game series against the Sudbury Five last week at Mile One Centre. English doesn’t figure to be in the Edge lineup when St. John’s opens a six-game road trip Saturday.
St. John’s Edge photo/Jeff Parsons - A torn calf muscle has sidelined Carl English, leaving the reigning NBL Canada MVP a cheerleader for the most recent two-game series against the Sudbury Five last week at Mile One Centre. English doesn’t figure to be in the Edge lineup when St. John’s opens a six-game road trip Saturday.

As for English, it’s been a bit of a tough go so far this year, mainly due to injuries. He’s still managed to average 16.6 points in the seven games in which he’s appeared, but a chronic sore ankle has hobbled him.

English sat out the two games against Sudbury with a torn calf muscle, and probably won’t play on the start of the road trip.

“The ankle’s not bad,” said English, the league’s reigning MVP. “I can push through that. Problem is now there’s a lot of pressure on my calf to support the ankle.

“All I know is I hate sitting on the bench. Even when I’m playing, I hate sitting.

“I’m another set of eyes when I’m not playing, but I’m not a guy who is going to tell you how to do it … I’m going to show you how to do it, so I want to be out there.

“When you’re sitting and watching, you feel helpless.”

English, who put together this team as the off-season interim general manager, will turn 38 in February, meaning his days on the court are numbered. His body often reminds him of that fact.

English would love nothing more than to win a league championship, to do what curler Brad Gushue did in 2017 and that’s win a championship at home.

“I know or recognize most of the people who come to these games,” he said. “I see them at the grocery store or at my kid’s hockey games or soccer games. I’m out there, and these people keep me accountable.

“This is my town, and that’s why it hurt so much last year (when St. John’s lost in the second round of the playoffs to eventual league champion London Lightning), and it’s why I came back this year. I came back to win, for no other reason.”

robin.short@thetelegram.com

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