Five prepare for Lightning, say goodbye to Glaze

The Sudbury Five held a practice at College Boreal in Sudbury, Ont. on Thursday January 3, 2019. John Lappa/Sudbury Star/Postmedia Network

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Despite the departure of live-wire forward Grandy Glaze earlier this week, the Sudbury Five are aiming for an up-tempo outing in their first game of 2019, a visit by the London Lightning on Friday.

Glaze, one of Sudbury’s standouts during the first part of this National Basketball League of Canada season with 13.9 points per game and a league-best 11.6 rebounds, signed with a Chilean team earlier this week.

Shooting guard Jaylen Bland, who sits fifth in the NBLC with 19.5 points per game, will also miss Friday’s tipoff while recovering from a nagging injury, but Five head coach and general manager Logan Stutz said the team is otherwise healthy and well-equipped for its chance to avenge last Sunday’s 105-103 loss to the Lightning.

“We’re going to match up very similar, we’re just going to have our guys healthy,” said Stutz, whose team brings a record of 8-8 into the weekend. “We’ll still be missing Jaylen, but everybody else will be back. We just want to keep the energy high and I think if we have the bodies, it will help a lot versus them, and we’ll have those tomorrow.”

Glaze supplied a great deal of energy, not to mention versatility as a post player, rebounder and even outside shooter, prior to his departure. Stutz will look to others to fill those roles in the coming weeks.

“That energy is something that is going to be hard to replace,” Stutz said. “The rebounding, we can find guys to chip in, we have to be more aggressive on the boards, but his presence on the team and in the community is hard to replace. It’s a pleasure having somebody like Grandy on the team, but now that he’s gone, somebody else has got to step up in multiple ways.”

One of those may be Cory Dixon, the 6-foot-7 forward from Argyle, Texas who was already one of Sudbury’s best offensive players with 12.9 points per game, but collected a season-high 16 rebounds in Sunday’s contest, as well.

“We have to get our guards rebounding a little bit more, too,” Stutz said. “Devin (Gilligan) brings great energy, too. It’s time for guys to step up. We have a void and we need to get it filled.”

The Sudbury Five held a practice at College Boreal in Sudbury, Ont. on Thursday January 3, 2019. John Lappa/Sudbury Star/Postmedia Network

Dixon is eager for Friday’s game, as well as the opportunity to end a three-game skid, Sudbury’s longest of the season.

“London is a team we have seen a lot, it’s our fourth time playing them, so we’re comfortable with who they’ve got, but the focus is on us right now,” said Dixon, just prior to practice on Thursday. “We’re on a three-game losing streak and we just have to go out, do what we have done from the start of the year and get back on track. The whole focus is on us right now – mainly defensive principles, getting back to the basics, playing defence as a team and working on the little things.”

Making up for Glaze’s departure will be a group effort, Dixon said.

“Grandy brought a lot of things – toughness, intensity, a lot of energy off the bench, so that’s something that’s going to be hard to replace,” Dixon said. “We have to do it as a team. It’s going to be a big hole to fill, but we have to fill it. It’s kind of that next-man-up mentality.”

Despite Sudbury’s recent struggles, Dixon has seen encouraging signs in recent weeks.

“Everybody likes each other over here, so that’s one thing that’s big for us,” he said. “We have had some people banged up lately and everyone is getting healthier, so that’s a positive.”

Stutz hopes Bland, who is one of Sudbury’s most dangerous shooters but has been in and out of the lineup after a mid-December injury against London, will be in game shape shortly.

“Now that his injury is healing up, we just have to get his cardio back up, get his confidence back up,” Stutz said. “We don’t want to bring him back too early, because we already tried that and it didn’t work the best, so we’re going to get him 100 per cent and then we’ll go from there.”

Friday’s game tips off at 7:05 p.m.

bleeson@postmedia.com

Twitter: @ben_leeson

The Sudbury Five held a practice at College Boreal in Sudbury, Ont. on Thursday January 3, 2019. John Lappa/Sudbury Star/Postmedia Network

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