Sorry that this is late, but school got in the way of the important stuff. This is a follow up from my midterm report card on the team. I am curious to hear what other people think so please comment. Check it after the jump.
Eric Crookshank (Forward) A+ His defense sometimes left a lot to be desired, and he turned the ball over more than I would have liked to see, but he did everything you could ask a minor league player to do. The guy is 6’7 and matched up against bigger players on defense, after Anderson left he was the team’s best passer, he was a great character guy, disrupted passing lanes with his length and he scored at will. He was particularly important to Halifax’s offense since it didn’t have a whole lot of plays and he scored a lot on put backs and unfancy lobs into the post. Halifax’s one play, the pick and roll, was a good fit for him due to his athleticism. His rebounding was key on a team that lacked a willingness to rebound. Without a doubt the best player on the Rainmen and the ABA’s best big man, he was also one of only two players who played every single game for Halifax – and the other guy who didn’t was on the court but didn’t show up for some. He led the team in minutes, points, rebounds and field goal percentage and was second in steals and blocks. He does desperately need to fix his terrible free throw shooting, though. The guy hit less than 40% of his free throws. Interesting fact: he was almost as good from behind the arc as he was from the line.
He may never make the NBA, he’s 27 and 6’7 (making him small even for power forward.. he’d have to rejig his game to be a long small forward with post moves and strong rebounding) but I think he’s built to be amongst the most dominant minor league players in North America. I hope he’s back next year.
Kadiri Richard (F) B- His defensive production seriously fell of in the second half of the season, although he turned it on for the last few home games. Kariri and Crookshank gave the team an incredibly athletic (and friendly) but undersized front line that I never really felt Lewis took advantage of. I feel that Richard’s whole season was hampered by Lewis’ unwillingness to take advantage of his strengths, particularly on offense. When he did get plays run for him he used his athleticism and length to score, and he and Crookshanks both were strong on the offensive glass. As much as I like the guy I just don’t know how I can justify giving a better grade to a player who started and only averaged 4.7 points a game. Interesting fact: The guy blocked 12 shots in one game against Strong Island Strong Island Strong Island Sound.
Brian Silverhorn (f/guard) B He was second on the team in minutes and points per game and gave the Rainmen some boards and assists but he also fell victim to a terrible coach. At the beginning of the season he looked like he’d be a dominant player but he fell off in the middle of the season as the coaching left him taking contested threes at the end of the clock. When Lewis discovered the joy of a motion offense and a few new plays Silverhorn looked reborn and started to heat up at the end of the season. He has NBA range and an NBA body but he lacks the foot speed and handle to jump to the next level. Lewis also had him in strange defensive match ups including playing the bottom of the 1-3-1 zone and often playing man defense on scoring power forwards. I can’t imagine he was happy with how his first year out of college went. Interesting fact: Despite being an spectacular shooter, the Lewis Offense meant that he shot under 40% from behind the three point line.
Blandon Ferguson (g) C- What an idiot. He was the only player who consistently could take the ball to the rim, but he often chose not to. The guy loved to jack up threes despite shooting 22% from behind the arc – and Lewis never try to reel him in. He laughed off blow outs and rarely seemed to give a damn. He thought he was the best player on the floor despite having a shitty attitude and a bad jump shot. The guy was Vince Carter with 10% of the athleticism… which means that he sucks. He just mailed in the last few home games of the season… it was embarrassing. Interesting fact: He was a cancer.
Peter Benoit (g) C+ I like him as a person, but he often seemed out matched. I think he’d be an excellent coach as he is a smart player who made up for his physical limitations (speed and height but not strength… the dude is ripped) and got easy shots for himself despite of his lack of quickness. Having him in the starting line up was questionable as I think he should have been used to exploit specific match ups (to be fair I am not sure what those match ups are… some games he just seemed to be on a roll and I haven’t been able to figure out what the common thread of those games was), with Jimmy starting. He was also a strong character guy and team leader. I’d welcome him back if the team was in the PBL and have him act as an assistant coach/player. Interesting Fact: He sort of looks like gollum.
Lantrice Green (g) C He complained about playing time and refused to drive to the net. At the same time he was a good energy guy who could score. I feel like he should have spent more time at the two guard position and less at the point. I have heard that he was a terrible locker room guy which doesn’t help his grade. He may have been good on another team, but I never felt like he really fit in.
Jon Clark (f/c) A- I loved the way he played. He was a slightly slow, big white dude who grabbed boards, guarded the other team’s best big, had a 12-15 jump shot and two post moves. What’s not to love? Great late season addition – I wish he’d be back on the team next year, but I doubt he will be. Lunch bucket players who also aren’t offensive liabilities are not easy to come by in the minor leagues. I would have liked to have seen him and Eric on the floor at the same time.
Akeem Clark (g/f) A- Glue guy. Took charges, communicated on the floor, played good defense and was a crackshot three point shooter. Another late addition whom I liked a lot. He was the team’s best shoot with a 68% true shooting percentage…. Damn. I wish he would have played more guard and less forward.
James Tyler (c) B+ His size made him a bit a fan favourite. The guy was huge. When a player gives you 13 minutes a game and still scores 6 points, gives you 6 boards and a block you have to count that as a success, right? Unfortunately, ABA refs had no idea what to do with him and he often got a lot of bad foul calls against him.
Jimmy Twyman (g) B Good last minute addition. He wasn’t as flashy as his Globetrotter past would suggest but he got the job done. He sometimes lit up and knocked down threes like it were a jok. Was fighting for playing time in that congested point guard spot.
Dennie Oliver (f) B- It was never reported on but Oliver left the team sometime in the new year without warning. He just sort of stopped showing up to practice. When he was there he was good, playing way above his size and consistently hitting those corner jump shots. He was consistently good and his magic disappearance was a bit of a let down given his production during the time when the Rainmen had three big men and the rotting corpses of James Booyer and Chad Eichelberger on the bench.
Derico Wigginton Downey (g) F I gave him an incomplete at the midterm, but he got some minutes in the second half of the season and there’s no nice way to say this: He stunk. I understand that his development was stunted by his lack of playing time early in the season, but there is no excuse for some of the stuff he did. He often didn’t know plays when he came in the game… I KNOW THE DAMN PLAYS! When I played basketball I was a bench guy. I was deeper on the bench than Derico was this year, but if I got in I made the most of it, he didn’t. He has no range, shooting an appalling 9% from 3 point territory (you’re reading that right. 9%) His one skill was supposed to be his ability to finish around the rim, and while he was athletic and can leap he missed one absurd dunk every single game and avaraged just over two points per game. If you’re going to try to make a name as a slasher you’d think you’d be able to hit a free throw but he shot 38% from the charity stripe. I am sorry but, the improved competition in the ABA compared to high school should not make hitting a free throw harder. As Stephen A. Smith would say: I am sorry, but he is a bona fide scrub. His grades weren’t good enough to get into university this year, so I hope he takes a year off to work part time, practice with the Rainmen and play with a rec league team, add some weight, and take some courses to upgrade so he can go to SMU or X where he could learn from a CIS coach and get some serious experience. What a disaster. At least it helped a bit at the gate.
The Former Players (Not counted in team grade at end)
Jermaine Anderson (g) A- I am still amazed that he was on this team at all.
James Booyer (f) Incomplete Two stints with the team and he never played a home game. I did see him play 5 minutes in Vermont where he was hurt but still moved incredibly smoothly for a man his size. I am disappointed that he never really played.
Leboise Gladden (g/f) F What a dumb player. He was just an idiot.
Hardy Riley (g) D Great… a short guy who can’t shoot, does like to pass and loves to huck up out of rhythm shots. Who would have guessed that this would turn out poorly.
Devino Williams (g) B He was released by the team for attitude issues centering around his anger at not getting playing time. I can understand how someone can get frustrated at Rick Lewis, but you still have got to put team first. I still would have preferred him to Ferguson or Green.
Chad Eichelberger (f) D I feel like at some point when he was like 6’3, 14 years old and still growing that he thought “Damn. If I work on my shooting then I will have a shot at the NBA. Big men who can shoot are going to be the next big thing!” And he was right. Except that despite being 6’10 or whatever, he was not a big man. He was a lanky, slow as sin small forward who was a turn over machine. I hate big guys who refuse to mix it up below the hoop.
Rick Lewis F I don’t even want to get into this. The guy was incompetent in every possible way. He had no plays, had reckless substitution patterns, was not respected by his players, and regularly blew close games. I don’t know if I can take another season of watching him ruin games.
One thing that has particularly annoyed me the more I thought about it: He did a stupid 5 guy on, five guys off for one whole quarter thing in home games against the worst/most undermanned opponents. While I think giving other players playing time is great, I hated this idea. These games should have been a chance to experiment with line ups (what would a Jimmy, Silverhorn, Kadiri, Crookshank, Tyler line up have looked like? What would Akeem have looked like at the two guard spot? Could Crookshank have played the three with Akeem and Jimmy in the back court for shooting and a huge front like of J. Clark and Tyler? We’ll never know) to try to find something that worked. Instead he just wasted the chance.
Team GPA: 2.45 – C+
This seems about right. It was a team that was poorly put together initially and only started to look like a team with end of the season additions – unfortunately they came too late to really help as the team didn’t quite mesh. Imagine the team we saw at the end of the year together from October, coached by a real coach from the get go. Take out Ferguson and Green and add a slashing guard and suddenly I think this team could have beaten Vermont or Manchester at least once.