Don’t suggest to Carl English that the St. John’s Edge’s Christmas break is too long.
For him, it’s just about perfect.
“No, I’m loving it. At my age and at this stage of my career, it’s all about rest and recovery, and all this time off provides a great chance to do that,” said the Patrick’s Cove native who turns 37 in six week’s time.
The Edge, who finished up the pre-holiday portion of their first-ever National Basketball League of Canada season Sunday in London, Ont., don’t play again until a Jan. 9 home game at Mile One Centre against the Windsor Express. In the meantime, the league’s other nine teams will be playing anywhere from four to six games each.
For the expansion Edge, it’s almost certainly going to be a one-season deviation from the NBL Canada norm.
In large part, what amounts to three weeks of no games is a product of St. John’s late arrival into the league after much of the schedule had been drafted. And since teams are anxious to have home games during the holiday season, when attendance is generally better, dates in the Christmas-New Year’s window were filled especially quickly.
That also reflected in an extremely busy start to the season for the Edge, who have already played 12 games, more than anyone else, except the Moncton Magic, who have also had a dozen contest. However, no other team in the league has seen as many away games as St. John’s, which has played eight times in other cities.
If it’s been a grind, it isn’t reflected in the Edge’s record, which at 8-4 is the best in the league. And English has played a huge role in that success; the shooting guard is averaging 25.5 points per game, second-best in the NBLC, and has sent up — and made — more three-point shots than anyone else in the circuit.
But those payoffs have come with a physical price, especially for English, who is the Edge’s oldest player by three years, and who only joined the team two days before their first game.
“That’s why I like having this much time off. I’ll still be doing workouts and strength conditioning, but not having to deal the wear and tear of games will certainly help,” said English, who feels it’s been especially tough given what he sees as NBLC referees who don’t call the game as tight as do those in Europe, where he played the last 12 years.
“Let’s put it this way, it’s not what I’ve been used to,” said English, “especially when it comes to contact when you are into your shooting motion.
“But I know a lot (of officials) are adjusting to the pace and style of the game. I’m adjusting to the way the game is called in this league. So I guess we’ll adjust together and hope that it gets better for everyone.”
Most of the Edge players and coaches have returned to their homes throughout North America for the Christmas season and will regroup in St. John’s on Dec. 29 for the start of what will amount to an in-season training camp.
“It’s going to be almost two weeks of practice and working on how we want to play. That’s certainly going to help, especially when we have two guys (Vasilije Curcic and Wally Ellenson) who just joined us on the last road trip,” said English. “But I know it’s going to help me too, since I only came to the team just before the season started.”
Curcic and point guard Rashaun Broadus are other Edge players who will remain in the St. John’s area during the break, and English expects the three will get together for some gym time before their other teammates return.
But he’s also relishing the chance for non-basketball activities with family and friends in his home province.
“It’s been a long, long time since I got to spend a real Christmas here,” said the father of three young children. “One year, I got back for maybe 48 hours. That was it. The rest of the time, I was somewhere else.
“So this will be something very special for me.”