Preseason Plans Need Some Clarification

With the season soon upon us there are three glaring questions that the Rainmen need to answer sooner rather than later:

1)  Who is on this team? It’s barely a month until training camp is supposed to start and so far we only know of two players who are signed, neither of whom are star calibre players.  The four players who the Rainmen have “exclusive negotiating rights” for still aren’t confirmed, and the only one we’ve heard anything from is Crookshank.  I’ve heard rumours that at least one player on the list hasn’t heard a word from the Rainmen and only knew about being on this list from newspaper reports.

2)  When is the Halifax tryout camp? If you want people to believe that they can really make the team then you probably need to have this camp soon.  Let’s say you’re starting training camp in the first week of December, that means that you need to give locals players at least two weeks notice so they can quit/renegotiate jobs so that they can play the season (and even that is definately cutting it too close).  That means the tryout needs to end and players need to be selected no later than November 14.  If you want to give adaquate notice of the tryouts to get quality players out then you need to ideally give a months notice, three weeks at the very latest so guys can get time off work, prepare, etc..  That means that the tryouts should have been announced some time last week.

3)  What is going on with the preseason games? Vermont announced a home and away tournament with Montreal, Quebec, and Manchester… but Halifax was left out.  Vermont also announced a post-Christmas series on the 27th and 28th in Vermont.  So this means that the teams in close proximity to Halifax, with whom Halifax has existing relationships with most likely have a full pre-season schedule.  In addition to that, the days following Christmas, which the Rainmen have said were the ideal time for preseason games, have a tournament which makes more geographic sense for potential opponents on the same dates.  Hopefully something can be worked out, as I think a boxing day game is a great idea.

More schedule notes

The schedule on the Rainmen website is missing two games against Montreal which were in the press release.  I hope it is just an oversight.

Chris Cochrane praises the Rainmen schedule in today’s Herald.  One thing worth commenting on:

About the only negative aside from the short 20-game regular season schedule, which the second-year league is expected to lengthen as it grows, is that the Rainmen go almost a month from late February to late March without a home game.

That’s due to quirks in the PBL schedule and a busy scheduling time for Metro Centre. The team will need to be innovative to retain interest from fans over that period.

That month could really hurt the Rainmen if they don’t figure out how to fill it. Not only do they risk returning to the Metrocentre as irrelevant, but they will still have bills and paychecks to pay during that month.  To make matters worse, there is a solid two weeks where they don’t play any games, anywhere.  They have two options during March in my eyes:  Run a spring break skills camp for kids from March 16-20 (throw in some free tickets for the kids and a parent for the Machester game on the 22nd, too) and have the guys practice in the evenings during that week.  During the earlier, longer February 28 to March 14th lay off they should consider a series of exhibition games outside of the Halifax downtown.  A game in Preston, a game in Sackville and/or Bedford, and maybe even take the show on the road to the Valley, or PEI or something.  You’re paying the players/staff either way so why not play games in tiny gyms against local opponents as a marketing gimic?  The season is already short so you don’t have to worry about fatigue as much, and you can give the bench guys some burn.  What’s the downside to this?
A final, kind of strange note:  Cochrane’s colum mostly deals with the talk of a new NHL team in Toronto.  This has been huge news in Canada and as you can guess, the internet is full of people looking for info.  Lots of those people typed “Toronto expansion team” into google to see what would come up; in a strange twist of fate my blog comes up as the first result.  I was really curious as to why I was getting 100 hits more per day than I expected this week.

Rainmen Launch New Website

Check it out!

It’s been a long time coming but it looks really, really good.  The colours fit perfect with the template and it’s a big step up from an already decent website.  Still lots of broken links, but for Day 1 I am liking it.  The last two weeks has shown tons of promise things are really looking up for next season.

Ticket prices are up as well… which reminds me:  I still haven’t renewed the season tickets.  Someone should take over Duncan’s seat and join me in heckling.

Also:  Vitamin Water are on board as a sponsor next year.

Rainmen Release Schedule… I think?

There’s a press release up on OSC from the Rainmen announcing their schedule…. Only the version online does not include said schedule.  The website also hasn’t been updated in months so I can’t seem to find it.  If I had to guess I’d say that they appended the schedule as a separate attachment or something similar and that’s why it’s on OSC.

There is some neat info in the press release though.  Highlights:

  • Preseason games starting in December
  • Schedule will include the old favourites:  Montreal, Vermont, Manchester and Quebec plus out of conference opponents.
  • Lots of sponsors on board including: Rogers, Z103, the Metro, Coke, and Marks Work Warehouse.  No mention of Reebok coming back for next year.

Edit:  The whole schedule is posted only by Chad Lucas.  He breaks it down step by step so I won’t rehash it, but it looks really good!

Post-Draft Media Wrap Up

Not surprisingly, the main spin in the local papers is that an Atlantic Canadian kid got drafted by the Rainmen.  The Metro and the Herald ran essentially the same story.  But Chris Cochrane wrote a good column on what has changed in the last 12 months for the Rainmen.  Bottom line:  if the Rainmen sink or swim this season it is 100% a result of their doing.

Edit:  a paper in PEI picked up the story and more or less just reprinted the press release.

It’s still unclear if Halifax managed to grab the attention of casual/potential fans with the activity of the last 24 hours, but I was personally pretty impressed with the whole thing.

I’ve got to say – having two legit players signed to the team (plus 4 who sound like they will be signed) has me excited for the new season.  I also feel that from a basketball standpoint that David Bailey is a bigger signing than Moyse.  All indications are that Bailey is tough, physical and likes to bang around inside which is exactly what the Rainmen lacked last year.

Another edit: The PBL draft video is online now.  I don’t have time to watch the whole thing, but it looks good at the begining.  Definately looks slick.

Rainmen Draft PBL vet, Acadia Grad

Picture stolen/borrowed from the PBL website

Picture stolen/borrowed from the PBL website

So the draft may or may not have officially happend yet, but the Rainmen have already announced their selections:

First Round:  Former Acadia Axemen star Walter Moyse who last played proball in Switzerland.  Originally from PEI he played in the 3rd division of England in the past.  He’s 6’10 and has some local name recognition.  I really wonder if he was actually on any one else’s PBL radar.  This seems like a bit of a PR move, but it gives the team the real centre it needs and provides a marketable, legitimate star with a local connection so I am definitely not complaining.  He’s the big white guy I was hoping for. That video makes him look surprisingly athletic.

Second Round: David Bailey is 25 year old 6’8 power forward to played for a community college in the states but managed to put up almost 11/8 last year for the Maryland Nighthawks who were one of the better PBL teams.  All indications are that he’s a banger who will clean up the glass and play rough.  Perfect.

Both players have already agreed to report to Halifax.  Moyse will arrive next week, Bailey in December.

I think this is a successful day for the Rainmen.  They managed to sign two legit minor league big men, one of whom is incredibly marketable.  If they re-sign Kadiri and Eric then they will have one of the best big man rotations in the PBL, without a doubt.  They will also have the depth to move KD to the bench to play as an energy guy (I just hope he gets his minutes) and will have option of moving KD or Eric to the 3 for stretches (I don’t think they’ll have a choice if everyone is going to get their minutes).  I also like that they got guys who can produce and help the team, but who are not going to challenge Eric as the go alpha dog, particularly on offense. They still need one more guy to shore up the front line, but it could be a local guy or a project – the fifth big won’t see too much time. (or at least I hope he won’t.  Rick Lewis is on the bench, remember)

As definite bonuses:  they got guys who have agreed to report to Halifax, and they got guys with minor league experience.

This is definately a promising start.

PBL Draft is Tonight

So the PBL draft is tonight and the Metro has a bit of info on who the Rainmen will draft. My importantly: the first round pick has already committed to coming to Halifax. Thank god.

On a less stellar note:  exclusive PBL negotiating rights on the 4 protected players and the two draft picks expire November 16.  On the one hand this makes veteran protection/drafting less useful, on the plus side it will force Halifax to hurry up and sign some people.

You can watch it streamed online starting at 8pm AST on the PBL website.

Levingston dropped some hints on who the player they’re targeting is:

The Rainmen, who pick after the Detroit Panthers, have identified a big man who was reportedly a top PBL player last year. They are already confident he will report to Halifax.

“The player we’re looking to draft, we’ve had conversations with him,” Rainmen co-owner Andre Levingston said. “He’s very familiar with this city, with our organization. He’s excited about the opportunity to come to Halifax.”

A top PBL big man would certainly have been protected by his team, so it must be a player from a now defunct team.  My guess would be Xavier Morton – a 6’9 PF who was the fifth leading scorer in the PBL with 18.1 ppg and 4th in rebounds averaging 8.5.  He is without a team now that the Jacksonville Slam have called it quits.  Oddly enough, he may or may not have been on the Georgia Gwizzlies last year at some point.  It’s hard to tell.

There are other players floating around without teams now that a few franchises have thrown in the towel.  With Quad City out of the picture this year PBL MVP Bobby Anderson certainly fits the bill.  Anderson had already signed with Quad City before they folded and as the Riverhawks’ coach says: “For the players, they picked us over other teams to go to, but now they have to scramble and find someplace else to play. I feel bad for them and the assistant coaches, because there was no warning this might happen.”
Anderson is a 6’6 shooting guard and averaged 18.2 ppg (4th in PBL), 9.4 rpg (2nd) shot 50.4% from the field (4th) and was a surprisingly good three point shooter hitting 44.6% of his shots from beyond the arc.  He can shoot from outside but does most of his scoring inside – exactly what the Rainmen need.  Get on this!

More PBL Draft News

Chad Lucas wrote an article about the Rainmen’s roster plans and there is tons and tons of info in it.  Go take a look.

Some of the highlights:

– Rainmen are looking to draft a big man with the number 2 pick.  Probably a good plan – if there is anything I have learned in the last 12 months it is that there is a near endless supply of combo guards who think they can play pro-ball floating around the minors.  I am still worried that whoever the Rainmen draft won’t be willing to make the trip up to Halifax.  If Steve Francis can do it to Vancouver than there is no way that a minor league guy can’t do it to Halifax.

– There won’t be the sort of tryout camp structure from last year – Levingston is traveling around looking at talent at other camps and combines.  I gather that he was in TO for the Iowa Stampede camp last week.  There will be an open tryout in Halifax in November.

– They are waiting it out and being patient when looking for talent which is why they haven’t pulled the trigger yet.  They claim they’re looking for D-league and NBA cast offs.  I think that last year’s roster proves that just because you pick the team early does not mean that you pick the team well.

– The schedule should be out soon.  Most of the games will be against opponents on this side of the continent: Quebec, Vermont, Rochester, Manchester.  This is good – I anticipate Vermont, Rochester and Manchester to be in the top tier of the league which should make for some good games.  The only question is if Halifax can put the talent on the floor to beat those teams.

AUS Graduates: Who is Available?

So I don’t really follow CIS basketball that much, but I am sure some folks who read this do.  There is a discussion in the comments thread of a previous post about what former AUS (or CIS more broadly) players are available for the Rainmen to chase after.

The only person I can think of is Paulo Santana from Acadia – he played in the PBBA tournament for the First Class Ballers which also featured Crookshank and Wigginton-Downey so he is at least familiar with the team.  He’s a small explosive guard with incredible speed who can get to the rim he’s got big time experience in the CIS final eight, and was 2007 AUS player of the year.  I can’t figure out if he’s playing anywhere now that he’s done at Acadia, anyone know?  Achuil Lual would also be amazing – but alas, he’s playing pro in germany.

Any recomendations?  Any other Canadian kids or CIS players worth mentioning?

Halifax get Second Overall Pick in the PBL Draft

The PBL announced the draft order tonight. Halifax will have the second pick in the first round and the second last pick of the second round.  Based on the lack of depth that is sure to be present in the draft I think that this is a huge difference.  I doubt that there are 13 potential starters in the draft but from what I’ve heard there are a few guys who are potential impact players.  Don’t mess this one up, Lewis.

The draft is next Thursday, my birthday.  I will try to gather more info on potential draft picks and what not, but it will likely be hard to come by.

For a discussion of the potential roster go here.

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