A much-changed Hemel Storm side are excited to get their season started at the weekend when they will host Thames Valley in the cup
After a summer of numerous roster moves, Storm hope to go into this Saturday’s National Trophy pool game clash against Thames Valley Cavaliers with at least two of their four potential starters back from injury.
The team’s entire front-line was injured in pre-season training and were unavailable for the club’s narrow 100-97 loss to American touring side, USA-Select in a pre-season friendly on September 8.
Saturday’s match-up is the first competitive game of the new term and tips-off at 7pm at Hemel Leisure Centre.
Powerful forward Leome Francis and lightening-quick guard Leon Henry will be available but 6ft 9ins centre Tom Adorian (calf strain) is unlikely to play and 6ft 6ins forward Mike Darlow is side-lined for at least two months with damage to ligaments in both ankles.
Storm are hoping to showcase a new up-tempo style and this week they announced the key signing of Levi Noel from BBL side Surrey Scorchers.
He will replace British-American guard Brett Cannon, who is returning to the States after the tragic death from cancer of his mother.
Noel, a former British under-20s international, has enjoyed spells with BBL sides Leicester Riders and the Scorchers, and had an impressive college career in America at top-class NCAA Division One universities in Illinois and Florida. He will bring experience, talent and toughness to Storm’s line-up.
Hemel’s roster has substantially changed from last season’s National Cup-winning side, with head coach Robert Youngblood and associate head coach Dave Titmuss returning four players from last season – Jack Burnell, Bode Adeluola, Adorian and Darlow – and bringing in new talent to augment the returnees.
Youngblood said: “We’ve got to make some adjustments in these early games because, before the string of injuries, we had a settled front-line.
“But I’ve been pleased to see other guys in the squad stepping up to the challenge.”
Hemel play Reading Rockets, Essex Leopards, and the Cavaliers in the trophy pool with the top team progressing directly to the semi-finals.
The NBL Division One league season then starts for Storm with a home game against Worthing Thunder on Saturday, October 6, when Hemel will be looking to avenge their 57-67 loss in the play-off final last season.
For tickets or further details about Saturday’s opener, visit the website www.storm basketball.net.
n Meanwhile, Storm’s new second team opened their Division Four campaign on Sunday with a dominant 76-46 away victory against Canterbury Saints in the first round of the National Cup.
The side’s head coach David Allin said: “It was a useful exercise to gauge how we’re shaping up.
“We’re still looking to add to our squad with some players coming from the University of Hertfordshire through a partnership that has been developed over the summer.”
The top scorers for Storm II were Shaun Allin with 17 points, and Daryl Craine and Ben Pearce, with 15 apiece.
The side’s fixtures are on the club’s website. They play their home games at JFK School in Hemel.