The London Lightning are out to prove last season’s conference semifinal loss was a fluke.
The Lightning have announced their new roster and to hear them tell it, it’s the best it’s ever been.
Many of the faces at training camp are new — coaches and players alike. Micheal Ray Richardson is out as head coach; Carlos Knox is in. Four rookies join the 13-man roster: Clinton Springer-Williams, Enrico DiLoreto, Kurt Alexander, and Jonathon Mills make their Lightning debut. Others come from teams in all corners of the globe: Emmanuel Little from Mexico’s Hermosillo, Quincy Okolie from Denmark’s Bakken, Al Stewart from 2013-14 NBL runner-up Island Storm, and John Hart from the Premier Basketball League’s Indianapolis Diesels.
Despite the large turnaround in personnel, coach Knox is optimistic about his new team’s chances, thanks largely to the return of veterans Elvin Mims and Marvin Phillips — the latter back from a playing stint in France.
“It was easy to kind of build around guys, because we [already] have the veteran leadership,” says Knox. “Those guys have been here for awhile, so it’s really been a pleasure to have them around [and] have the younger guys in practice learn from [them].”
Mims, a member of the last Lightning championship roster in 2012-13, is ready to share what he’s learned with the young cats.
“They just have to know that there are no nights off,” says Mims. “You’ve gotta come out and play every night like it determines if you win the championship or not.”
Coach Knox agrees.
“We’re trying to get back to that style where every game is really, very important to us,” Knox says. “Guys are coming after us. The target is on our back, so we have to make sure that we’re ready to play.”
Londoners on the Lightning
The Lightning have some local talent this year.
Both Springer-Williams and DiLoreto grew up playing basketball in town.
Springer-Williams, a graduate of Regina Mundi, comes to the Lightning after playing shooting guard for the Carleton Ravens and winning back-to-back CIS championships.
“I went to Europe, and I got some interest [from pro teams] there, but being in London with the organization, and talking to [coach Knox] and Vito [Frijio, the owner] — and being close to home — I felt it was a better situation than being on the other side of the world,” Springer-Williams says.
DiLoreto, a former H.B. Beal Raider, comes to the team after playing point guard for the University of Windsor, where he became the Lancers’ all-time leading scorer. He says coming to the Lightning was a bit of a surprise.
“It came out of nowhere, really,” says DiLorento. “Vito contacted me and asked me if I wanted to play, and obviously, to play in front of family and friends is [special]. It’s a great organization, so it was really a no-brainer.”
Springer-Williams says he began to notice his hometown Lightning during his playing days in Ottawa.
“London started winning, and then it became the standard for the league — kind of similar to Carleton when I played there: a lot of championships,” says Springer-Williams. “I think it’s a testament to the city and community. It shows the kind of fans we have, and how supportive they are.”