Only 1561 people came out to see the Rainmen play their worst home game of the season. The terrible weather probably kept some people away, and its a shame because the organization did a lot of work to try to get people out. Livingston must feel really disheartened at the moment; when he does things as well as could be expected something comes in and messes things up. It’s a real shame. His challenge to sell out the venue obvious didn’t work.
The game itself was really, really ugly. My partner, Caitlin, was in the car with me after the game and she posed a good question: why don’t the Rainmen play defense before the fourth quarter? It happens all the time – they turn on the defensive grit for 10 minutes in the 4th. Why aren’t they doing this all game long? They seem to constantly lose focus and concentration and players walk in for uncontested layups, dunks and jumpshots. Lewis should really ratchet up the intensity of their D. If they were constantly pressuring, looking to trap and communicating there’d be less of these breakdowns.
I think most teams have realized that one play consistantly works to break down the Rainmen’s defense: just isolate a guy on one side, and right before he makes his move to the basket have two guys in the key clear out to the opposite side. Inevitably the Rainmen defenders follow their man out of the key while staring directly at him. The isolated guy can drive to the basket and score before the Rainmen even know the shot went up. It happens every game.
Another defensive problem: Why on earth was Silverhorn guarding Fortier for long stretches tonight? Silverhorn is an excellent scorer if he gets decent looks, but he lacks the footspeed to guard the opposition’s best scorer. Having him chase around a scored on D also wastes the energy he needs to try to get open on offense. Fortier was also a bit of a defensive liability when he was matched up against Crookshank, but the Rainmen only went inside to Crookshank once when they saw that match up and he scored and got fouled.
Halifax busted out a 2-3 zone which worked okay. I think that trying to fix the defensive problems by using new zones is putting a bandaid on gunshot wound. They need to change the defensive mentality and strategy, not just find new ways to try to force people to the corners without a plan of what to do when they get there.
Crookshank had a massive game tonight: 33 points, 20 boards, 8 assists. Almost a triple double and lead the team in all three categories. Fortier had a monster game as well but I haven’t been able to find his stats yet. Halifax consistantly has other teams’ star players put up insane, insane numbers. As much as all the talk of needing a slasher has been true, I think the more pressing issue is a lockdown defender who can stop the best player on other teams. Oh well, maybe next year.
I don’t think that Halifax lacks a slasher, I just think that players are unwilling to take it to the net, and there aren’t plays which assist in doing so. The only guy who consistantly takes it to the rim is Blandon Ferguson. Green in particular needs to stop settling for jump shots and start using his quickness to get to the net. But getting the ball to the hoop doesn’t just consist of having a guard try to beat someone off the dribble, Lewis needs to draw up some plays where people cut without the ball and a pass is tossed to them. Some sort of motion offense would definately help this, and Crookshank is an extremely gifted passer in the post.
Three major things make this game disapointing on the court:
Halifax blew a 7-0 lead and never seemed to be in control after that.
Quebec only brought 8 players and still absolutely handled Halifax.
Wiggington Downey got in for about a minute and a half and literally 3 seconds after getting onto the court he threw a bad pass which was picked off for an easy score. What a way to celebrate a birthday. His development was seriously botched this year. You don’t learn anything by getting garbage time minutes in blow outs. (oddly enough, the boxscore does not show his turn over.)
Still no Booyer. Jimmy was okay but turned the ball over too much. I think he’ll be fine – Green was similarly eratic when he first arrived but got better as he got used to playing with guys. Jon Clark did what he needed to do in limited minutes.
It was just an ugly game.