Some PBL teams have already held try out camps, some have them planned and others are signing players already. Halifax has been a bit silent on this front which is two bad because last year’s roster was a bit of a mess – lots of coming and going, lots of players too scared to go to the rim, a lack of rebounding, no real centre for 85% of the season, some bad attitudes, etc. So after the jump I have my wishlist of things for the Rainmen to do when it comes to building a roster for the ’09 season. It’s a start, but it’s really just to spur on some dialogue amongst readers: what do we, as fans, want to see on the court this coming season? Post your opinions in the comments section.
The one indication we have gotten is that the Rainmen are actively seeking to resign Eric Crookshank, Brian Silverhorn, Kadiri Richard and Jimmy Twyman. My suggestions assume that they do resign those guys, if not then everything is up in the air.
#1 Find a Legit Centre
Neither Crookshanks nor Richard should be playing centre. Eric is 6’7 and Kadiri is 6’8. We need a big, blue collar rebounder down there to take charges, grab defensive boards and guard the other team’s best post player. Eric and Kadiri can score, our centre doesn’t need to. He doesn’t even have to an athletic defender because Crookshand and Richard can block from the weak side, and having them freed up from tight coverage on the post gives them more opportunities to swoop over and stuff someone. This also creates a situation where Eric is no longer guarded by a 6’10 monster who he can’t back down. The Rainmen need to find ways to exploit match up problems. A guy in the same vein as Eric Nelson or Jon Clark would let them do this – a player like this should be Halifax’s first priority.
#2 Move Crookshank to SF and Silverhorn to SG
I admit that this seems strange, but hear me out. These are the two guys with the best chance of making it to the next level (and by this I don’t really mean NBA, I mean D-League or top flight euro team) but neither of them will make it playing their current position.
At 6’7 Crookshank is waaaaay too small to play PF in a top flight league, and centre is out of the question. His athleticism make his ability to play above the rim and put back missed shots remarkable as a swing man, at PF it’s not quite as outstanding. He has the foot and hand speed to guard wing players and he is good at disrupting passing lanes. With wing players matched up on him he can destroy them in the post and not only keep them from grabbing offensive boards, but can drastically increase his offensive rebounding stats as well since most wing players do not have the ability to box him out (or he can just dunk over them). His biggest weakness is his limited shooting range, he is never going to get serious consideration unless he can consistantly knock down the outside shot. Playing centre/PF in the PBL will not force him to improve that shot and that decision making, playing SF will.
Brian Silverhorn was a star in the NIAA but was inconsistent last season. He had a really hard time getting open looks and Rick Lewis’ stagnant no-motion offense didn’t help matters. He’s a pure shooter, but he does also have some face up moves. I’d like to see him play as the team’s scoring guard now that Blandon the Tumor Ferguson is gone. I also think that at 6’6 with his shooting ability better teams expect a guard skill set and he could use some work making decisions with the ball in his hands and guard quicker, smaller players.
These moves make the team BIG which is uncommon in the minor leagues. It would also help to fix some of the major problems revolving around a lack of rebounding and interior defense that plagued the team last year.
#3 Bench players need roles/Role players needed on the bench.
Last year there was a log jam of mediocre players without specific roles on the bench. No one knew what they were doing and people were disgruntled about it. Lewis also would sub off entire lines of guys for no apparent reason and rarely had the right pieces in reserve to deal with problems (“oh shit! There small forward is beating us off the dribble every time…. do I put Leboise Gladden or Derico Wigginton in to stop him?”) Every player on that bench needs to be there for a reason and “He’s pretty decent, but he’s not one of our five best players” is not a good reason.
The most important role players that the team lacked last year and needs to pick up this year are:
- a lock down defender who can guard the other team’s best wing player
- a spark plug guard off the bench who can get to the rim/foul line and score when there are multiple guys from the first line resting. (i.e. Devino Williams)
- a shooter from the bench for the nights when Twyman/Silverhorn are cold or if we’re down by 3 with one play left and need more shooters out there. (could be the same guy as spark plug guard)
- an energy/garbage guy who will dive after loose balls, grab some rebounds, run hard, wave a towel on the bench and not care that he’s only getting five minutes a game, he’s just stoked to be there (this should be the Derico Wigginton role… but he didn’t get any playing time and never showed real effort when he got out there).
- a minor league veteran. He can also fill any of the other roles but we need a guy who can calm guys down, show younger guys the ropes, explain that Halifax is a good minor league town, resolve arguments and just be a good locker room guy. Benoit sort of filled this role last year, but with Benoit behind the bench at MUN this year I’d like to see some older guy who has been slaving away on the minor league circuit playing in podunk towns for at least a way too many years fill out this role. Last year there were a lot of internal problems ranging from players being upset about guys getting cut, to people complaining about playing time, and just the difficulties of having a bench of young guys living in house together in a foreign country.
#4 Fill the Roster out with “local guys” and Canadians
Assuming the 4 protected players all resign, and they pick up 2 players in the draft from D-1 schools and manage to somehow get their hands on a minor league veteran (lots of CBA teams folded last year) then you’re still looking at adding 2-4 players of whom only one or two will be rotation guys (I say this because I am 100% sure that Rick Lewis will have an actual eight man rotation this year instead of trying to play ten players every game in two lines… I mean he’s not a total moron, right?) Of these 2-4 players I’d like to see at least one D-1 player from a legit program in the line up, in part to add legitimacy for casual fans (“Woah, they have a guy who played for North Carolina?”) and in part to ensure that someone who had top flight training is on the team. It doesn’t need to be a starter from a top flight program, just someone who knows what they’re doing.
The other spots in the line up should be CIS and local players. Derico Wigginton didn’t get much playing time, but he probably brought an extra 50 people to each game directly and indirectly led to tons of media. Dennie Oliver, prior to quietly quiting the team, was a legit contributor and he had been out of the CIS and competetive ball for years and Charles Fortier on Quebec was dominant at times. Top flight CIS players are definately capable of being excellent role players at this level and having Canadian guys is good for the media attention and name recognition, good for basketball in Canada, and since the season is so short it makes it more likely that a player will join the team than if they have to move to a foriegn country. Why bother getting a barely decent player from the American south to keep the bench warm when you can get a grad from a CIS school in the region to fulfill the same role?
These are fairly broad ideas I’d like to see explored, but in the minor leagues there often isn’t really a flood of talented players with good attitudes looking to live in a place they’ve never heard of. In addition, it doesn’t matter what the line up looks like unless Rick Lewis learns to coach.
That said, I feel like Halifax is behind the eightball when it comes to holding try out camps. A lot of other minor league teams have had camps and started signing players, and most have at least announced tryout dates. No word on any of that from the Rainmen. Halifax is missing out on available talent. Last year Halifax announced the signing of Benoit and Eichelberger on July 25th. They had their first tryout camp in June and had open tryouts in Halifax in August. The team was mostly set by October. I get that the PBL season starts later but there is talk of playing 4 exhibition games in December – that means that we’re 60-70 days away from the first game of the new season.
I think they went overboard last year with bringing players from all over the place to NS, but I’d still like to see an open Halifax tryout just to see if they can find a diamond in the rough, but I’d also like to see tryout camps within the next month in the following locations:
- Toronto – Let’s get some Canadian talent (Levingston also needs to get into the tryouts for the Idaho Stampede, the Raptor’s D-league affiliate, which are happening in Toronto. Pick up their castaways before Will Voigt does)
- New York – there is no stable minor league team there and loads of talent
- California or the US south – tons of JuCo players from these regions never quite break into the NCAA, often for reason that have nothing to do with basketball.
Whatever the Rainmen do, they need to do it ASAP. And Rick and Andre: Just so you know, I am available for consultation on the roster whenevever you need me. I am also available to join the roster if you need a mindblowingly unathletic, 6′ small forward with a decent 12 foot jump shot.