Surge excited to make noise heading into second CEBL season

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Year 2 is new again.

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Not quite like Year 1 — the maiden voyage of the Calgary Surge.

But in what often is the case because of so much turnover in the Canadian Elite Basketball League, it’s a fresh look for the city’s professional basketball club in its second season …

Right from the opening tip-off.

“Just excited to be here,” said newly appointed head coach Tyrell Vernon, on the eve of the campaign at hand. “Just being a part of the fabric of Calgary basketball and trying to grow the Surge in the city is going to be exciting.”

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That excitement begins Tuesday night with the much-hyped Surge 2 The Dome tilt, which features the host Surge tipping off the CEBL campaign against the arch-rival Edmonton Stingers at Scotiabank Saddledome (7 p.m., TSN3).

It’s a different home venue for the team — at least for one game before returning to the cozy confines of WinSport — as the Surge try to expand their reach within the city.

So call it a new year for the Surge …

Starting in a new home …

With a new coach …

And a new lineup for the most part, with just three familiar faces returning from last year’s roster that made it all the way to the CEBL’s championship game.

“We already kind of all get along,” said one of those returning talents in guard Sean Miller-Moore, the leader of the Surge. “Guys that are returning are keeping that competitive fire alive. We’re letting the new guys know this is an organization that’s about nothing less than making the playoffs and further.”

In that way, the mission is the same ol’ same ol’ as the first season — and every season, for that matter.

That’s make the final again.

But this time come away with victorious after last summer’s loss to the Scarborough Shooting Stars.

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“I would say just win,” said Miller-Moore, when asked about what is expected of the club in 2024.

“Winning is probably the main thing — just because of how it felt when we lost in the finals last year.

“We didn’t really hang our heads,” continued last year’s points-per-game leader — at 16.5 — for the Surge. “We just expect to just come back and have the same summer and make it back there.

“Even just speaking about the final right now, it’s kind of ahead of ourselves. But at the same time, you do have dreams of getting there.”

GM Shane James feels the same in his return to the Surge.

As does Miller-Moore’s partner-in-crime on the floor in guard Stef Smith and the other fellow returnee, forward Justin Jackson.

All four will be key in pushing for another repeat trip to the CEBL playoffs — and beyond.

“I can tell you everybody wants to win,” said Miller-Moore, who joins Smith and Jackson as hailing from the Greater Toronto Area. “All the young guys are already asking, ‘Can we win a championship?’”

Those young guys include guards Malcolm Duvivier (Toronto), Corey Davis Jr. (Louisiana) and — Calgary’s own — Mathieu Kamba.

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The fresh forwards are Matt Grace (Hamilton, Ont.), Justin Lewis (Maryland), Billy Preston Jr. (Los Angeles), Emmanuel Ansah (Mississauga, Ont.) and Gabe Osabuohien (Toronto).

And those without pro experience are U SPORTS’ draftees Dondre Reddick (Antigonish, N.S.), Mike Demagus (Scarborough, Ont.) and Noah Wharton (Brampton, Ont.) — all guards.

“I’m confident in the abilities of the new guys to make an impact, for sure,” said Miller-Moore, whose initial impressions are that he’s leading a defensively sound group. “We can all relate to each other. I can just tell we’re a family already. Guys are willing to put their pasts behind them — I think that’s what I like most about our team. They all might have been the best on their team, but I can tell their selfless players.”

Getting this new bunch to mesh together is, of course, the responsibility of Vernon, who comes into what is a new situation for him.

He’s never been a head coach before now.

“I’m in a new area with a new team, and I’m excited about the opportunity,” said Vernon, himself known as a players’ coach. “I can see the guys are working hard already. What I’m most impressed with early on is the compete level. Everybody wants to win, and I know the expectations are kind of to go all the way.

But it’s a process, and the guys have the right attitude.

“The talent is definitely there,” added Vernon. “I think the versatility and switch-ability is there. We’re going to be really athletic. We’re going to play downhill. It’s going to be an exciting style of play, for sure.

“If we do the things that we know we can do well, we can control our own destiny.”

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