Only two clubs remain undefeated
By José Colorado
Two weeks in and it looks like a two-horse race.
The only issue for the undefeated Moncton Magic (5-0) and Sudbury Five (3-0) is that there are 19 more weeks to go.
Yes, the 2018 – 2019 NBLC campaign is still well in its infancy but that doesn't mean a number of valuable take-away points can't be concluded following the second string of games.
1. Moncton Magic (5-0)
Last week (LW) RANK: 2 | LW record: 2-0 | Upcoming schedule: Cape Breton, St. John's
With two road victories against the Edge, the Magic continued what it started last week: domination over the league.
Wherever one is to look at the offensive and defensive team leaders, Moncton is there.
The club ranks first in opponent's field goal percentage (40.6), third in forced turnovers (17.2) and second in fewest points allowed (94.6).
What's more however is head coach Joe Salerno has combined that with a lethal offensive punch as Moncton sits first in field goal shooting (48.1 per cent), second in three-point percentage (43.9) and third in points scored (110).
2. Sudbury Five (3-0)
LW RANK: 1 | LW record: 1-0 | Upcoming schedule: @Windsor, Windsor
More games played equal a greater opportunity to be exposed.
And for that, the Five have been bumped down a slot this week as the club had a slow seven days with only one match.
Of course, that is no knock on the team from northern Ontario as they took care of business against the defending champions, the London Lightning, for an impressive home debut for the inaugural franchise.
Jaylen Bland (31.7 points per game) and Braylon Rayson (23.7 points per game) continue to set the pace for the league's most prolific-scoring team at 117.7 points per game.
However with the Five averaging a league-worst 13.7 assists per game alongside 15 turnovers per contest, one might question how sustainable the club's playing style truly is.
3. London Lightning (2-1)
LW RANK: 3 | LW record: 1-1 | Upcoming schedule: @Saint John, The Island
A split has the Lightning sitting even in the third spot.
Although the invincibility of the two-time champions may be quickly dissipating, the professionalism amongst its players remains constant.
After a stunning down-to-the-wire road loss to the Five on Nov.22, the club regrouped across the country by squeezing out a tight 104-102 win against the Highlanders just three days later.
Thus far the champs – who rank in the middle of the pack for nearly every major statistical category – have done nothing particularly well (exception turnovers at only 11.3), but they have instead remained steadfast in all aspects of the game.
London certainly doesn't look the parts of goliath in years past but it's getting the job done so far.
4. Halifax Hurricanes (2-2)
LW RANK: 10 | LW record: 2-0 | Upcoming schedule: Kitchener Waterloo, St. John's
After a shameful opening week for the NBLC's defending Atlantic champions, the Hurricanes' bounce-back can be summed up precisely in two players: Gabe Freeman and Rhamel Brown.
Early last week news broke of the pair's addition to the club and the duo did not disappoint – in particular the former league MVP, Freeman.
Vaulted immediately into coach Mike Leslie's starting line-up, Freeman averaged 14.5 points per game and 4.5 rebounds in a pair of wins against the Riptide.
However perhaps more importantly the seasoned veterans have seemed to settle the storm for the Hurricanes as nine different players hit double-digits this past week; a trademark of coach Leslie's selfless playing style.
Momentum is swirling in the Hurricanes.
5. Cape Breton Highlanders (2-2)
LW RANK: 4 | LW record: 1-1 | Upcoming schedule: @Moncton
Cape Breton's high-octane offense – ranking second in the league at 111 points per game – hasn't been enough for the club to be discussed with the truly elite…just yet.
The club took care of KW but then squandered a golden opportunity against the defending champions on its home court. So far the team has beaten the lower-ranking clubs while still searching for that trademark victory.
Bruce Massey (26.8 points per game) and Jamal Reynolds (24.5 points per game) have been spectacular thus far but the problem isn't offense; Cape Breton's allows the third-highest points per game at 109.8.
6. Island Storm (1-1)
LW RANK: 5 | LW record: 0-0 | Upcoming schedule: Kitchener Waterloo, London
It was a bye week for the Storm but with Cape Breton and Halifax both having strong showings, something had to give.
The Island moves down a slot.
7. KW Titans (1-2)
LW RANK: 9 | LW record: 1-1 | Upcoming schedule: @Saint John, @The Island, @Halifax
Two weeks in and KW continues to search for a titanic win that will kick-start first-year head coach Cavell Johnson and his boys in the right direction.
The club took care of the lowly Express on Nov. 22 but then couldn't close its effort two days later on the road against the Highlanders.
A brutal upcoming scheduling stretch will test the franchise's fortitude as the club will play seven of its next eight games on the road, including four Atlantic-division foes.
With the team not playing another home game until Dec. 13, it may already be sink or swim time for KW.
8. St. John's Edge (1-3)
LW RANK: 6 | LW record: 1-2 | Upcoming schedule: @Moncton, @Halifax
Context is the key word with the Edge following a 1-2 week.
The two losses came in a week where St. John's played a tough two-game series against the streaking Magic and with its reigning league MVP, Carl English making his debut from what Edge officials are calling a 'small ankle procedure.'
One would have to think the Canadian will bounce back to his stellar form in the aftermath of a putrid five-of-23 shooting week (21.7 per cent field goal).
The only question is how long will that take?
9. Saint John Riptide (0-3)
LW RANK: 8 | LW record: 0-2 | Upcoming schedule: Kitchener Waterloo, London
Although another winless week has passed by, the Riptide has remained strikingly competitive in all of its matches thus far with its average margin of defeat at 4.6 points per game.
This past week – despite a pair of losses to a newly revamped Hurricanes squad – the Riptide were either tied or ahead in five of the eight quarters played.
Perhaps a change in the halftime routine will do coach Nelson Terroba some good; Saint John was outscored by a combined score of 64 – 42 in the third frame this week.
10. Windsor Express (0-3)
LW RANK: 7 | LW record: 0-2 | Upcoming schedule: Sudbury, @Sudbury
With two double-digit blowout losses, the Express didn't have a week to remember on the road.
The club's saving grace in the upcoming week may be that it gets a second crack at the Five on its home court on Nov. 28. The Express led by 20 points at halftime in its season-opener against Sudbury.
But with the inaugural franchise continuing to ascend in its play while the Express have gone the other direction, it could very well be another difficult week for the last-placed club.