End of Year Schedule is Getting Interesting

With so few teams remaining, franchises trying to fill schedule gaps and teams trying to gear up for the mysterious play offs, a bunch of teams have faced off against new opponents in the last few weeks.  The first 80% of the season involved teams playing geographically close opponents over and over again, but some neat match ups have occurred in recent weeks including these three games last night:

Thu., February 28 Atlanta 97 at Quebec 116  
Thu., February 28 Manchester 138 at Bahama 91  
Thu., February 28 Maywood 95 at Halifax 124

While none of those non-North East teams are the top of the ABA pile, it is neat to see some NE teams facing some new opposition and beating them pretty soundly.  Vermont also takes on Atlanta in the next few weeks.

Manchester also played the Texas Tycoons (11-1) and lost 123-122 at the begining of the month, so if I had to guess I’d say that the NE is looking pretty good as the play offs get closer.

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Halifax Defeat Maywood, 124-95

Well tonight was closer than last night, but I don’t think it was a better game.  There were 1,740 people there tonight but no figures were given for last night – my guess is about 800 fans.  Boxscores for tonights game are available here, last night’s scores are available here. My thoughts on both games after the jump.

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Rainmen defeat Maywood, 145-97

I Had 1200+ words written on this and it just got deleted by wordpress…. god, I am full of rage now.

 I will just write one big game recap tomorrow night.

Lucas Article

Chad Lucas has an article about James “Don’t Call Me Shaq” Tyler in today’s Herald.

Preview: Halifax vs. Maywood Buzz

 

When I first started this blog I wrote pretty detailed previews of games, but after the first month or so I defiately cut down on the lengthy previews.  There are two main reasons for that:

  1. I realized that you never knew who would show up in the team mini-van on game day.
  2. Halifax started playing the exact same teams over and over again.

I still don’t know if #1 will ever be fixed in the ABA but Halifax is bringing in the Maywood  Buzz from California to play this week so it’s time to try to find some info on a new opponent.  My thoughts after the jump:

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What happend to Richard?

If you remember back to 2007 you’d remember that Richard was putting up absurd defensive numbers including a 12 block game at home against Strong Island.  So what the hell happend?

Early in the season I wrote this entry praising him and I don’t think anyone would disagree with my comments back the.

In 2007 he averaged about 4.7 blocks per game, in 2008 he’s down to 1.3 bpg.  I still think he’s a great player, but something has changed – I just don’t know what it is.  Crookshank has emerged as a dominant force on both ends of the floor, constant line up changes have occurred, and Lewis started experimenting with new defensive schemes.  His body may also just be wearing down.  Anyone have any thoughts on his massive slide in defensive productivity?

My own theory is just that it’s not as fun as it was at the begining of the season for him.  The team doesn’t have the same energy and upbeat feel to it that it had in December, annd for an energy guy like Richard I think that that takes its toll.

It’d also be unfair to comment on this without pointing out that Halifax is 2-9 in 2008.  And here I was predicting that

Rainmen and the AUS

Now that the the CIS basketball championship is in Ottawa, the AUS championship is the biggest college game in town.  They’ll be at the Metrocentre March 7, 8 and 9th and Benoit will be the “chairmen” of the tournament.  Hopefully that’s not where the Rainmen’s involvement ends.

I think there are two reasons why the Rainmen should see this weekend as a great opportunity:

1)  Scouting If there’s one thing we’ve learned this year it’s that top CIS players can compete at this level of minor league basketball.  Benoit and Oliver have both held their ownn and are key players for the Rainmen, and they’d been out of high level competition for years.  Fortier in Quebec has been putting up huge numbers against every team which shows that stars in the CIS can make the leap to the lower level minor leagues and still put up huge numbers.  (if anything, Fortier’s numbers are better).  CBU, X, and Acadia all have players who seem like they could be forces at the CIS tournament, Levingston would be wise to take a look at them.

2)  Marketing I’d love to see the the organization helping to provide entertainment.  Get the weather girls out there dancing during timeouts during the weekend, maybe have a halftime slam dunk display with Rainmen players or something.  There definately needs to be ticket give aways and the players need to be out and about in the Metrocentre.  Obviously this shouldn’t distract from the university players and games, but this is a great opportunity.

With Memorial’s mens team being terrible this year and no where near the finals.  I would assume that we can see any Rainmen in the building there cheering for St. Fx.

Rainmen Lose To Vermont, 104-83

The game was closer than it looked on paper.  The Rainmen led the whole game until about 9 minutes left in the fourth when Vermont turned it on with good defense.  Halifax then fouled a bunch and failed to score on the other end.

  • There were probably 3,000+ people there.  It definately felt like the biggest crowd since opening night.  Fans were also really, really into it.  There were tons of kids there which always makes it fun, even if most of them made their parents take them home around 9:00.  Part of it was the serious Q104/Semi-Pro promotion, but I think a big part of it was just the fact that it was a weekend.  Every weekend game has been 50%-75% higher than the average weekday.  The Semi-Pro stuff was cool – I got a free double pass to a sneak preview of the movie, and a giant “We’re #4/Flint Tropics” foam hand (don’t worry, Duncan: I got an extra one for you).  The guy who won a trip to Toronto won it because he hit ONE underhand free throw.  ONE!!!!!!  He didn’t even seem to be stoked when he did win it.  If I knew I was going to be competing to win a trip to Toronto I would have practiced that underhand shot, but it doesn’t look like anyone did.
  • The first 3 quarters was probably the best game I’ve seen the Rainmen play.  They had new offensive plays, including a motion offense that they busted out sometimes, some nice off the ball screen plays, new inbounds plays, etc.  It looked good.  They played reasonable defense, outrebounded the ‘Heaves and their fast break was really nice.  Lots of guys got runs and most guys showed something good.  Ferguson also took the ball strong to the hoop consistantly.  The Fourth quarter things just fell apart.
  • The reffing was amongst the worst that I’ve seen so far this year.
  • Benoit and Akeem Clark showed serious leadership tonight.  Calming guys down after bad calls, rallying the troops during dips in momentum, getting scrappy baskets and assists.  I was really, really impressed by both of them.
  • Baby Deisel is really, really raw but he’s physically imposing.  He’s not fat, but he’s not all muscle either.  He seems unable to jump much and he doesn’t dunk with authority.  It looks like he actually finds it hard to dunk the ball.  He had a bunch of offensive rebounds and was unable to throw it down in traffic.  He only got limited minutes but I think he’s a great pick up.  Too bad it’s so late in the season.
  • The 13th man rule is stupid.  Using it after a hard fought game where your team fell apart in the final minutes is really rubbing salt in the wounds of your own team, particularly since most of the guys were still playing hard in the final minute.  Using it when you’ve got a guy who is on your team, young and gets no playing time is just plain mean.
  • The Frost Heaves did what they had to do.  Even when they were shooting poorly and turning the ball over too much they managed to keep it within 10 and when they started shooting the lights out in the fourth they were still in a position to take the lead, and they did.
  • Marcus Austin had a huge game for the Frost Heaves.  He didn’t score a lot from the floor but he got to the line pretty much everything time he got the ball and got within 15 feet of the basket.  He also played great defence.  Terrance Green got bumped on a layup attempt, fell awkwardly and hurt his knee in the second quarter.  He didn’t return and it looked like it might be bad.  I assume he won’t be back for their game against Montreal on Sunday.
  • Tonight was one of the worst games I’ve seen from Crookshank.  Other guys stepped up but he seemed totally out of sync, which is unfortunate as he’s normally a dominant player.

Huge off the court success, almost a huge on the court success but they fell one quarter short.

edit:  The boxscore is up now.  I have the first half stats and there is  a huge drop off in the second half by pretty much everyone.  Attendance is listed as 2,635 but it honestly felt more full.  This makes it the third largest crowd behind minor league night (which I missed) and the home opener.

Chad Lucas updated his blog.  Most of what he said is just about the same way I feel, but he knows more about basketball than I do so go read what he has to say.

Preview: Vermont in Halifax

 This is Halifax’s last shot at the defending ABA champions.  They’ve played four times before and this will be the third distinct line up that Vermont has faced.  By contrast, Vermont has only made minor tweaks to their line up this season.  edit: The Herald has an article on tonights game.  It’s available online.

At this point I think we all know what Vermont have in their favour:

  • Experienced minor league players
  • The ABA’s best coach who knows how to exploit mis-matches
  • Crazy depth and players who all buy into a team first system and lots of role players surrounding a few studs
  • Very strong pressure defense and at least three different full court presses
  • Two incredibly gifted offensive players (Konare and Green) who create huge match up problems.

Halifax simply have been unable to match up with them this season.  The game in Halifax on Jan. 9th was the best home game of the season with Halifax playing them tight, mostly because of Anderson’s ability to get the ball up the floor consistantly with almost no help.  Without his ball handling I don’t know what this game will look like, but Sunday’s 123-78 thrashing is a good indication.

Halifax has added three new players who Vermont haven’t seen, though: a PG, a strong shooting combo guard and a monster of a big man.  I think the key here is new guy Tyler and workhorse Crookshank scoring in bunches downlow.  Vermont have had a bit of trouble with teams going inside consistantly and have shown a willingness to leave the perimeter open to try to contain overly strong post players.  If Silverhorn and Clark can hit open shots then the Rainmen have a shot at this.   Halifax also need to play with a toughness and grit that they haven’t shown yet this season – it’s toughness and an inside/outside game that have given Manchester the edge over Vermont in their wins over the ABA champs.

I think Halifax has the potential to put a huge line up on the floor now – Tyler, Crookshank, Richard/Oliver, Silverhorn and Clark.  This could cause huge match up problems for anyone.  The new faces mean that I honestly have no idea how this will play out on the court.

Off the court I can see this being a huge success.  Weekend games have drawn well, the promotion machine is cranked up for Q104/Semi-Pro night, and the Heaves are a great team.  If people come through the door tonight they will be impressed by the level of basketball.  Speaking of Semi-Pro night:  first 100 people through the gate get free passes to see the Will Ferrell movie, and at half time people will be competing for an insane prize pack.  I predict 2500+ people tomorrow.  I hope I’m not wrong.

In other news:  The Metro actually had a decent article on the new Rainmen signings.

ABA Play Off Picture

 

Yikes.  So who knows what’s going on with this?

Just to recap what we do know:

  • 8 teams will meet in a bracketed tournament in Quebec City.
  • Quebec City will get a bye as host.
  • The top 3 teams will recieve byes to the final 8. (4 teams accounted for)
  • Bejing also will recieve a bye.  However, it is unclear as to whether or not they will make the trip for various reasons.

That’s pretty much all we know for sure.  The last 3/4 teams will probably be chosen by a first round play off series where 6/8 teams will line up against an opponent for a one game, win or go home, situation.  I think.

So theoretically the Rainmen need to finish in the top 11 or 13 depending on Bejing deciding to show up or not.

Just to note how annoying this whole lack of clarity is, it’s story time:

This “ask the ceo” post was fairly vague, and the Georgia Gwizzlies repeatedly insane press releases just confused me more.  I actually e-mailed ABA CEO Joe Newman with a pretty detailed e-mail and recieved a vague and unhelpful response.  Check out the conversation after the jump:

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