Lightning primed for season
London Community News
By John Matisz/London Community News
The London Lightning, like the seven other chartering franchises of the newly formed National Basketball League of Canada (NBLC), are entering untested waters. With a fresh league comes a multitude of challenges, adjustments and surprises.
On Friday (Oct. 21), the Forest City's entry in the NBLC unveiled not only their official 12-man roster but also their home jersey. Perhaps most notably, they collectively released a message to fans as well as the rest of the league.
Lightning head coach Michael Ray Richardson told those gathered at the John Labatt Centre (JLC) for a press conference that the roster he and general manager Taylor Brown have assembled is top-notch, a championship-worthy squad.
"This is the best team out of all of those years," said the former National Basketball Association (NBA) player turned professional coach of the Lightning's first collection of talent in comparison to his former rosters as coach of the Albany Patroons and Oklahoma/Lawton-Fort Sill Calvary from 2007-2011.
Richardson, 56, "ensures" the group assembled will bring a championship to London.
Jamaal Davis, a 6-foot-10 center out of University of Kansas by way of University of Cincinnati — who has played under Richardson in prior years — echoed his bench boss' sentiments.
"Here's the key to our success: it's easy when you play with the same guys for multiple years," Davis said. "We're like a big family. We're like a bunch of Indians and coach is the chief."
Seeing as more than half of the roster is comprised of players who have played under Richardson before, the four-time NBA all-star said chemistry should not be an issue.
"The guys understand me," Richardson explained, "they know what I want. We're all on the same page."
The roster, according to Richardson, is not filled with superstar power. Instead, it has been created with the purpose of operating as a 12-man unit.
"Every guy on my team is a go-to guy," Richardson said.
Amidst a plethora of NCAA Division I alumni on the Lightning's roster are a league-mandated two Canadians. Nick Lother of Winnipeg, selected in the third round by the club, will suit up at the guard position. Pat Sewell of London, a walk-on who beat out University of Windsor graduate and London's second round selection at the draft, Isaac Kuon, will provide energy as a small forward.
"I feel pretty lucky," Sewell, a Fanshawe College alumnus, said. "I'm with some good company and I can't wait to get out there."
Having spent two years after his time at Fanshawe as a member of the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, Sewell, 26, is no slouch in comparison to his Lightning teammates. At the same time, as a walk-on, Sewell made sure he had a level-head entering training camp.
"I expected I was going to be horrible," he said with a smile. "I was not very confident at all."
Nevertheless, both Richardson and Brown were immediately impressed by Sewell. During the press conference, Brown called the team's only hometown player a "beast," referring to his relentless to go after loose balls and generally support his squad in any way possible.
"At the end of the game, he's the type of guy who has done so much but is not on the stat sheet. He came in and did every little thing right to make the team," Richardson added.
Sunday afternoon's exhibition tilt against the Oshawa Power will be the team's first ever contest at the JLC. Last Friday (Oct. 21), the Lightning won their inaugural game, a pre-season clash with the Quebec Kebs in Quebec City. The NBLC's most westerly squad emerged victorious with a 99-91 win.
2011-12 London Lightning
DeAnthony Bowden (G) - Creighton University
Shawn Daniels (C) - Utah State University
Jamaal Davis (C) - University of Kansas
Brandon Dean (G) - University of Arkansas
Tim Ellis (SF) - Kansas State University
Gabe Freeman (PF) - Costa Mesa Junior College
Taylor King (SF) - Duke University
Tyrone Levett (PF) - Alabama State University
*Nick Lother (G) - University of Winnipeg
*Pat Sewell (SF) - Fanshawe College
Eddie Smith (SG) - Texas A&M University
Albert White (SF) - University of Michigan