Oshawa Power guard Brandon Robinson heads for the hoop. Robinson and the Power lost 93-83 to the Kebs before rebounding for a 91-88 last-second win over the Saint John Mill Rats.
December 7, 2011
By Geoff Zochodne/The Oshawa Express
Nobody said the National Basketball League of Canada’s inaugural season was going to be all smiles and sunshine but since the Oshawa Power and the London Lightning stepped off the court on November 19th there has been a pox on both their houses.
The Power have been playing with eight players for a few weeks now. They aren't exactly short-handed, but their options on the court have been limited by circumstance.
The team lost Morgan Lewis during the aforementioned match-up with the London Lightning, when Lewis caught an elbow above his right eye and crashed to the floor. Lewis has been unable to return to the court due to the sensitive nature of his injury, the fractured bones around his eye could break off if subjected to another hit. Lewis mentioned the possibility of a face-mask; and the team is currently seeking a second opinion. Lewis was Oshawa's first-overall draft pick and had been averaging nearly 12 points a game for the team.
Oshawa has also been without Jushay Rockett as well since the November 19 contest. The pugnacious forward returned home to the United States to handle some personal matters and hasn't been able to re-enter the country. His date of return is unknown, but his coach was hopeful for sooner rather than later and mentioned that he believed all his papers are in order.
The Power have had to move forward without them, and while the players claim they aren't feeling the effects physically, their coach admits it’s a difficult scenario.
“It’s tough to play with only eight guys. It’s tough when you don’t have a guy like Jushay Rockett to do that bullying in there,” says Coach Mark Strickland. “They’re doing well. When we stick to our principles we look like a great team. When you’re a young team you have to play with energy…and we can’t veer away from that.”
Oshawa, in a move to bolster its lineup, recently acquired centre David Collins and shooting guard Jerome Brown from the Saint John Mill Rats, sending forward Kevin Francis down east in return. Both Brown, a Panloa Community College grad, and Collins, a 7’0’’ Bradley University alum are Toronto natives.
With all the roster fluctuations, Akeem Wright recently draining a game-winning three-pointer over the same Mill Rats was refreshing. The Power's leading scorer drilled the long-distance shot in the closing seconds to put away the Mill Rats, 91-88. Wright finished with 18 points, second only to the now departed Kevin Francis' team-high 28.
“As far as the shot goes, after they missed the lay-up and I got the ball, I just wanted to get down the court and get to a nice spot where I know I could make the shot,” says Wright. “I got a clear look and the rest is history.”
Oshawa's record improved to 5-6 with Wright's bucket. They currently sit in a tie for sixth place with the Summerside Storm.
Omari Johnson, who had 22 points and eight rebounds of his own against the Mill Rats, was of the opinion the thin roster has brought the team closer.
“It’s made us stronger, we’ve kind of banded together trying to withstand what’s been going on,” he explains, adding there may still be a little fatigue. “I mean, there’s some but that’s no excuse. Five are playing at one time on both sides so we just have to fight through it and win some games.”
Brandon Robinson, the Power’s second-leading scorer had an off-night against Saint John, posting zero points. Still, he wasn’t worried about the short bench either.
“It really shouldn’t affect us because at the end of the day it’s five on five and we feel like our five is better than any other in the league,” says Robinson “We basically have to bring our own energy and dig down deep and want to win every night. We’re not tired or anything, we just have to stick together out there.”
Oshawa has spent the past week participating in events like the 32nd annual Rotary Club Skate-a-thon at the GM Centre, among others.
The Power now begin a week with a three-game series against the London Lightning, who have been missing former NBAer Rodney Buford and DeAnthony Bowden lately due to injury. Previously, the two teams engaged in a bit of a brouhaha after the final whistle, with tensions always running high between the two teams.