Here’s my mid-term report card on the team’s on court performance. Some quick notes:
- I don’t know enough about the assistant coaches to add them to this list.
- I don’t know the inner workings of the team to judge on anything other than on court output and very obvious chemistry issues.
- This whole exercise is meant as a conversation starter, so please feel free to agree, disagree, be enraged, etc. But please comment on the blog and explain your disagreement.
Check out my mid-term report card after the jump. Starting Five:
PG Jermaine Anderson A- I know some people will be pissed that I didn’t give him an A but I am (perhaps unfairly) judging him harder because he is not playing up to his full potential. We have seen moments where he has totally taken over a game (against Vermont on the 9th) but he still hasn’t dragged the team to a win on his own. He seems to be caught in a situation where the coaching isn’t helping him – this theme will get real boring to you by the end of this post. It’s hard to run the point on team without a motion offense and only 3 plays. Lewis also does not run plays for him other than that pick and roll with Crookshank – either isolation plays or running him off the ball with screens to set up mismatches would really help him. He also needs to step up and show more of a leadership role – he’s the team’s best player, and has played at the highest level but sometimes he just seems to be too quiet. That said, he has been the most consistent player on the team and I think we’d be under .200 if we didn’t have him.
SG Blandon Ferguson C+ Has shown games where he’s be exactly what we need on the team: a slasher. However, he often settles for bad jump shots and he often puts up games where he shoots under 30% but keeps jacking them up. Other team’s two guards often light us up and his defense is average at best. I would rather seem him drive and take difficult layups or contested pull up jumpers than see him try to jack 3 pointers and long twos off the dribble. His bad games just don’t outnumber his good and when he has bad games they’re terrible games that throw the whole team out of sync.
SF Brian Silverhorn B– He’s better than this. His college career, and the occasional ABA game, proves it. Silverhorn also falls victim to the poor coaching. He is not a guy who is going to be able to create his own shot, and what should be happening is him getting lots of open looks off of double teams on Crookshank in the post and on the pick and roll – however, Lewis doesn’t have weak side players doing anything on these plays. If the team had a strong slasher who could also kick it out he would get more shots as well. When Silverhorn does get open (or even contested shots in rhythm) he does exactly what we expect him to do, the “system” just doesn’t get him enough of those shots. On defense he is a major liabilit, part of this problem is the result of Lewis trying to play him a power forward where he is seriously out of position (the only reason he’s not a natural two guard is because he can’t dribble), but he also tends to pay far too much attention to his own man on the weak side when he’s downlow and fails to slide over (or even notice) cutters coming down the middle of the key. Watching him play D is often very frustrating. (before you freak out about his low grade please keep this in mind: he’s our designated long range sharp shooter and he’s shooting 36% from beyond the arc. Seriously.)
PF Kadiri Richard B He blocks a lot of shots, particularly on help defense, he has great energy and appears to be a really good team mate. He also is one of the few guys who communicates on the defensive end of the court, he also is a good rebounder and can contain other team’s power forwards very well. Unfortunately he gets in early foul trouble a lot and doesn’t contribute enough on the offensive end. Both of these problems are only sort of his fault. His foul trouble is a result of really bad team defense, forcing him to slide over and guard a slashing opponent who no one was guarding. On offense we don’t run plays for him despite him being an excellent scorer he’s shooting 67% from the field on the season and he can score inside, I don’t think he should be a primary option but if he can get position downlow I’d like to see him get the ball some more. He is partially to blame for this on offense as he often thinks defense first and doesn’t run the floor on turnovers or rebounds on the defensive end, leaving him out of the fast break offense. I just can’t give a starter averaging fewer than 5 points a game better than a B. Sorry, KD.
C Eric Crookshank A- Crookshank and Anderson have been our best players. Crookshank has led the team in scoring and rebounds and is a solid man to man post defender – other team’s forwards don’t get easy looks when he’s out there. He can score both with his back to the basket and facing up, though he doesn’t have much range on his jump shot. His rebounding can’t really be over emphasized, particularly on a team severely lacking big bodies who can keep the other team off the board. Eric’s dunks are also a huge momentum boost and he usually score 2-3 putbacks a game (4.3 offensive boards a game) off of his teammates ill advised jumpshots which is crucial on a team that likes to jack it up. His most under rated talent is his passing. Other than Anderson I think he is our best passer and he can throw long outlet passes off rebounds with ease (why isn’t this taken advantage of?) and he passes well from the post. He does have some major problems however. Number one: He is an embarrassingly bad free throw shooter at 41% (by contrast he shoots 57% from the field), and if we were in a league where teams scouted each other this could be a huge problem. The recent double header against Vermont also revealed a flaw in his game: He can be bullied out of the paint by bigger defenders and forced to get the ball past the three point line where he is far less effective. If he wants to be dominant on a consistent basis he needs to find a way to establish position downlow. Lewis also needs to come up with some plays to get him the ball deep in the paint, and I think Eric’s speed compared to most ABA centres should give him an advantage if the offense had some motion. (The play doesn’t have to complicated – a downscreen with Crookshank coming up off the baseline or something would suffice) The third problem with his game is just that he can disappear on the offensive end for long stretches or even whole games, but this inconsistency is a problem that extends through the whole team.
G Lantrice Green B- Shoot first guard who was a definite upgrade of Hardy Riley. I think his best moments are when he’s playing off guard with Anderson. When he’s quarter backing the second unit his sometimes out of control nature is okay due to the bench’s lack of height. I would like to see him play at more than one speed, though. Good but not great.
PF Dennie Oliver B Probably our best player off of the bench. He is an excellent rebounder and defender given his lack of size (6’6 at power forward) he is best when he’s lined up with Crookshank on the front line. He’s a legit scoring threat and is deadly when he sets up in the corner and shoots threes when Crookshank passes out of the double team. Works hard on defense and is rarely out of position. His size and age probably mean he’ll never play at a higher level than this, but he is a definite contributor to the Rainmen. It makes me wonder if some other CIS players might be able to hang with the team next year.
SG Peter Benoit C All he can do is score and even then he’s very, very inconsistent. His shot is ugly as sin but he somehow seems to find a way to get things done when he’s hot. His problem is that he’s not good enough to hang defensively with other teams’ starting SGs, but he needs a player who passes as well as Anderson feeding him the ball. He’s a solid role player (mid-range shots, scrappy baskets close to the hoop) and is the senior guy who offers some leadership and a lot of hustle so I like having him on the team, but I would still give him up for a guy like John Huggins in a heart beat. On defense he just lacks the physical abilities (lateral speed, jumping, physical strength, length) to defend good two guards. He would benefit from playing in a system where people actually set screens off the ball.
F Chad Eichelberger D Yuck. He was injured at the beginning of the season so I hope he gets better as things progress, but right now I cringe when he’s on the floor. His problems seem to stem from Lewis trying to play him as a PF despite Eichelberger being a really, really long small forward. The guy just lacks the physical size to guard PF since he gets pushed around on the block, though his length lets him get some off the ball swats. On offense he has no back to the basket game and doesn’t particularly like to drive, instead he settles for midrange jump shots. Some times he gets on the court and just decides to shoot literally every time he gets the ball, no matter where he is. He also is a god awful passer of the ball and fucks up the offense when he tries to pass. At this point he just doesn’t bring anything to the table and I expect his minutes to plummet with James Booyer’s return.
SG Derico Wiggington-Downey INC He just doesn’t get enough minutes for me to pass judgment on him. I really feel bad for the kid, he hasn’t gotten enough minutes to really develop and when he does get in it’s in garbage time which isn’t helpful. He needs to get on the floor with at least some starters (preferably Anderson) to get a feel for playing a real game with real players. I do think that his athleticism and his slashing could actually be useful to the Rainmen, but it’s almost too late for that to be developed into a useful skill for this season.
F James Booyer INC I can’t give a grade to a guy who has never played a minute.
G Hardy Riley D He was way too short to be trying to play basketball at a (semi)pro level. He just tried to do too much on the court and took ill advised shots (25% from the field) and turned the ball over more than we wanted from someone who was often given the job of back up PG. He was apparently well liked by players and fans, but that’s not enough to keep you around.
SF Laboise Gladden F Wow. What a bust. He can dunk on mix tapes, but not on opposing players. He had the basketball IQ of a child and was a defensive liability. He played mostly in garbage time since his spot at SF on the second line was taken over by Benoit (this is a sign you’re in trouble) and he still couldn’t put up any stats. I had hoped for good things, but they didn’t happen.
G Devino Williams B Great energy player off the bench. Sometimes played a bit reckless but he could score, despite playing limited minutes (13.6 ppg in 18 mpg) and was a solid outside shooter. I thought he was great and I would not have cut him, but I wasn’t privy to the behind the scenes stuff. I think that his problem was (and I hate repeating this) the system he was stuck in. Halifax does not have a transition offense and they don’t press or trap, Williams would benefit playing for a team who has/does those things. Apparently one reason he got cut was that as he saw his minutes drop he stopped putting in the effort in practice, not exactly a good sign from an 18 year old.
Rick Lewis D This may be my most shocking grade yet. I assumed I was going to fail him but I thought of three things that make it hard for me to give him a failing grade: #1 He’s fairly well dressed which I think is important in a coach (for those who are wondering, he shops at the Moore’s at Dartmouth Crossing) #2 He’s playing with someone else’s team (I still maintain that Kevin Mabone had some sorted of demented 3 guard NellieBall style system in mind when he put this team together) and #3 He has his team in absurdly good physical shape for a minor league basketball team. He would be a great assistant in charge of conditioning on this team, but as a head coach he is a disaster. I can’t even list all the ways in which he is a disaster, but amongst the worst is the total lack of a real halfcourt offense (put a box motion offense into place, for the love of christ), two inbounds plays, no press break, no full court press (in a league that rewards it and with a team that is undersized outside the starting five and a front court who can run), and a general lack of respect from players. His substitution patterns are nonsensical and we lose games because we just get out coached. The worst part is the team’s lack of focus, particularly on the defensive end. These are all coaching problems and to make matters worse, the Rainmen had a long training camp. So why didn’t I fail him? Because I figured that if he has one thing very well I need to give him the benefit of the doubt. (Trust me, someday when I get my PhD you will want to be in my class) If something doesn’t change soon then he will fail at the end of the year, but right now I figured I had to show some heart.
GPA 2.29 (C/C+) A 2.3 would have pushed them into glorious C+ territory so I would give it to them. As a note: I included Lewis and all the former Rainmen into the GPA but did not include incomplete marks. The fact is that this team is STILL below .500 and has lost to teams it should be easily (Montreal) and can’t beat good teams. The major problem for the Rainmen is that the team is not well put together. I will try to write about that some other time, but for now I’d just like to hear other people’s thoughts.
I really like the team, we can’t kid ourselves into thinking that things are going well on the court this season.