After plenty of roster shuffling over the last two-and-a-half months, this is your St. John’s Edge.
The National Basketball League of Canada’s trade/transaction deadline was Monday, when teams had a last chance to deal or sign players before the stretch run to the playoffs. The Edge filled their last available roster spots by trading for big man Anthony Stover, who had been with the Niagara River Lions and signing forward Xavier Ford, who had been playing in Europe until recently.
For the time being, Stover and Ford occupy a couple of vacancies on St. John’s inactive list, although to hear Edge head coach and general manager Jeff Dunlap, he anticipates being able — maybe is even anxious — to get one or both onto the active roster.
In all, St. John’s now has 15 players, a dozen on the playing roster and three inactives (injured guard Colton Ray is the other).
Of those 15, only six —Carl English, Charles Hinkle, Desmond Lee, Alex Johnson, Grandy Glaze and Jarryn Skeete — have been with the Edge since the start of the season.
They are the core in more than the fact they have seniority.
English, Hinkle, Lee and Johnson have constituted four of five members of the starting lineup for a while now, while Glaze had the same status until the signing earlier this month of onetime Oklahoma City Thunder forward Ryan Reid, who has started in the middle as the team’s No. 1 big man the last three games.
From what we know so far, the NBL Canada is very much a guard-oriented league — that’s the listed position for English, Lee and Johnson, for example. However, it could also be said St. John’s was forced into giving backcourt players plenty of minutes through much of the first half of the season simply because they had so many.
But while guards still figure prominently in the team’s makeup, Dunlap has been gradually changing the look of the Edge. In simple terms, they have become bigger.
This is a team that has gone through much of the season with the 6-7 Glaze, really a power forward, playing centre and the 6-5 Hinkle, a small forward in college, being widely used as power forward.
But since mid-December, Dunlap has traded for 6-7 forward Russell Byrd, signed 6-8 veteran Ransford Brempong and the 6-9 Reid, and now has added — albeit to the roster periphery — the 6-11 Stover, a legitimate centre, and Ford, who is listed as 6-7.
You can even throw in the addition — for a time — of 6-9 former Memorial Sea-Hawks star Vasilije Curcic, who is out for the season with a knee injury.
Yes, there have been new guards, too. But the 6-5 Tyler Haws and 6-6 Wally Ellenson bring decent size and at six feet, even point guard Coron Williams has an inch or two on Rashaun Broadus, the man he replaced on the roster.
Mind you, all the changes have sort of coincided with St. John’s recent struggles to put together consistent strings of wins as they did earlier in the campaign. The Edge (18-11), are 4-4 in their eight most recent games and 7-6 in the last baker’s dozen. But Dunlap insists he likes his roster — “I really do” — and it’s potential to make some noise over the last six weeks of the regular season and hopefully, to fashion a lengthy playoff run.
The good news for the Edge is that of their 11 remaining games, eight are at Mile One Centre, including a six-game homestand — the team’s longest of the season — which begins March 2.
You can sure the team will use the week between now and then for cohesive as well as practice purposes.
Expect Dunlap to also look at hard at ways to bring Stover and Ford into the active roster, especially if he wants them involved in the post-season. NBL Canada rules say players must appear in six games for their teams in order to be playoff-eligible.
Stover’s size and length are particularly enticing, although there could be some concern over the fact he hasn’t played in more than a month, having been stuck on Niagara’s inactive list since being brought over in a mid-January trade from the Saint John Riptide.
“I’m hoping he’s ready to go. He changes your (opponents’) defensive makeup, I’ll tell you that. He’s a rim protector and we can use that,” said Dunlap.