Halifax played one of the best all around games I’ve seen them play this season, defeating one of the ABA’s better teams who actually traveled with a full bench. There was a little bit of a drop off in the 4th quarter as the Rainmen lost focus and the refs started bailing the Kebekwa out every time they got near the basket. There were 1407 fans, the box score is here, and my thoughts are after the jump.
– Halifax’s big men played great tonight. Eric Crookshank had another good game. There can be no doubt that he’s been Halifax’s best player. I think the team’s fortunes turned (relatively speaking) when he established himself as a post presence. Richard also made me eat my words (again) with a solid 12 pts, 9 boards and 4 blocks. He’s a serious scoring threat when they get him the ball at the top of the key. He doesn’t need great position to try to get to the hoop. Jon Clark had another workman-like game. I’ve said it before: I like the way he plays and he fills a need for the Rainmen. He puts a body on guys, boxes out, has two solid post moves and hustles hard and cares about the game. JT got in foul trouble fast (5 fouls in five minutes), but at least two of those were just absurd calls, and one of them was questionable. Refs just don’t know what to do with him and make garbage calls against him. Unfortunately both Crookshank and Richard had some errant passes. Kadiri just got over excited on some fast breaks and tried to lob alley-oops that went astray, and Crookshank tossed away a few too many outlet passes. Eric is the team’s best half court passer, but sometimes he misjudges long outlets. I think part of the problem is that players sometimes leak out and just go too far. There needs to be one outlet option in the back court instead of having two guards across half.
– Brian Silverhorn had his best game of the season. He had 29 points, 11 assists and even chipped in with 4 steals. He shot 7/8 from beyond the arc and just terrorized Quebec. When Silverhorn and Crookshank have good games they both have the ability to just demoralize teams. Some games Eric just dominates in the post and no one can figure out how to stop him, when Silverhorn is hot he breaks teams by knocking down contested threes at the end of the shotclock after teams made good defensive stands. He’s really benefitted more than anyone else from Lewis’ decision to start adding some new plays. The curl to the corner has given him some good open looks.
– Lewis coached one of his best games. The new plays work great, there were fewer defensive mismatches than normal, and he managed time and momentum well. Most impressive was the way he had players breaking the press. Quebec’s press in the last quarter was basically useless against them. His substituition pattern was excelllent as well. That said…
– I am disapointed that Chad Lucas wasn’t there. First: I think this was the first quality win against a quality team where Halifax put together an (almost) complete game. Second: If you think he hates the 13th man rule now, just imagine what he’ll say when he hears that a team up by 8 with a minute to go puts in the 13th man. I couldn’t believe it. Anyone who was at the game knows how I feel. I get the feeling that the Rainmen players did not disagree with me.
– I also thought Jimmy and the Dream put in good games. I think Akeem is a great pick up and he’s a great glue guy who takes charges and has the size to guard 3s. Jimmy produced at PG (19 and 6) and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him getting the start in at least one of the games against Bahamas.
– Speaking of PG: I really, really like Lewis’ decision to move Lantrice Green out of the starting line up. Ever since Devino Williams left the team has lacked a good spark plug who can score off the bench. Lantrice can give that to the team and I think he’s most effective alongside a guard who can play the point. That said: Sometimes he settles for three pointers and long twos when he should use his speed to drive to the rim.
– Non-basketball related: What the hell is going on with the on the floor entertainment? The Stadacona band delivered the goods before the game and at halftime, but the last half dozen or so games have become weak as hell when it comes to time out games. Duncan and I got on and played that blindfolded, arms behind the back thing which was alright (although one prize for two people is kind of uhh… dumb. But hey! I like free stuff so I’m not complaining). That monkey in the middle game is absolutely the dumbest shit I’ve ever seen. It just confuses me: What is the point of it? Who wins? What are the rules? Is it supposed to bore the fans half to death, or is that just an accident? Who thought that game would be entertaining? TheRainmen had super crisp, super fun, professional looking, energetic games and entertainment that was times perfectly to get the crowd going. The order of when they happend in a game was good, people doing them had fun, people in the stands saw an upbeat and fun game where they could cheer for one contestant/team, etc. Then sometime recently something changed. I have no idea what, but as someone who has seen 15 home games I have to say that the last few have had something different, and worse, about the in game entertainment. It kind of sucks, because I thought the Rainmen were top flight in that regard.
– Two home games left, including a season closer on a Friday night. I really hope the place is packed. The players and the organization deserve on last big crowd for the season. Although, there are rumours of a home play off game. Here’s hoping.