Five Reasons Why I am Excited About This Year’s Roster

Rob Sanders is tougher than all of last years team combined

Rob Sanders is tougher than all of last year's team combined

So I know I spend most of my time over analyzing the roster and being really critical about it, and I also know one could think that I am unhappy about it based on some of my posts.  But I really, truly believe that this is a great roster.  It’s a huge improvement over last year’s on court mediocrity and apathy, it’s deep from 1-10 and I think that this year’s second unit would beat last year’s post-Anderson starters. I also believe that it’s definitely one of the top 4 rosters in the PBL right now.  So in the name of keeping it positive my five favourite things about this year’s roster are after the jump.

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Halifax Dodge Bullet: Sam Mack is No-Show for Second Consecutive Year

Burger King managers in Bedford can rest easier tonight

Burger King managers in Bedford can rest easier tonight

The Rainmen had a press conference called today for 1pm to announce the signing of Sam Mack, but it was canceled when Mack never bothered getting on the plane:

Halifax Rainmen management have cancelled the scheduled press conference today (1:00 p.m., Sports Hall of Fame, Halifax). The team’s owner was set to announce the signing of former NBA player Sam Mack.

Mack was signed to a team contract and booked on a flight direct to Halifax yesterday afternoon. An incentive package had been accepted, and team management acted on good faith with Mack and his agent as is normal practice.

Rainmen staff arrived at the airport to collect Mack yesterday afternoon but learned he never got on the flight.

Despite this setback, team owner Andre Levingston remains extremely positive and excited about this year’s roster.

You might remember Mack as the one time NBA role player who has bounced around the minors.  You might also remember that after Rick Lewis came on as coach in 2007 the Rainmen announced that Mack would be joining the team and then there was silence and he never showed up.  One of the things I’ve learned over the last 12 month is that in the minor leagues you really don’t know who is on the team until they show up, so here’s hoping that most of the other players announced so far got on their flights.

I have to say, I am happy he’s not coming.  He last played in the NBA in 2001.  He is also another jump shooting scorer who would be a defensive liability.  Oh yeah – and he’s 38 years old.  I think that this is nothing but good news.   Now let’s take that money, and the money that will be saved when Val gets cut, and go get Tommy Mitchell.

The most only disappointing thing about Halifax not signing him is that they miss out on the opportunity to sign one of the all time great sketchbags in the history of basketball.  Like some other Rainmen Mack signed with a number of different college teams, unlike JB et al, he was a legitimate straight up criminal nutjob:

Despite repeated criminal offenses, Sam Mack was recruited to play basketball for four different schools in 5 years in the early 1990s.  “Like a hotel guest, he checked in, played ball, and checked out when trouble arose.”  During those five years Mack was investigated for felony sexual assault, was charged with four felonies and three misdemeanors, shot by police officers during an armed robbery of a Burger King (he was acquitted, largely due to the influence of Iowa State basketball coach Johnny Orr, who testified on his behalf), and convicted of theft and forgery.

More links on his criminal pass are here and here.

Imagine him and Sir Val as the older, veteran presence on the team.  Rooming together in Bedford, trying to buy handguns, holding up the Chicken Burger.  We are all losing out on a huge opportunity here.

Just How Interesting of a Character is SirVal?

SirVal kicking Butte

SirVal is Never in a Boring Situation

The short answer: Very.  The long answer is after the jump.

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Details of Pre-Season Games Announced – Chicago and Augusta are Coming to Town

The Rainmen announced the details on the four pre-season games today.  They’ll rotate games against two opponents – Augusta and Chicago.  They’re two pretty solidly middle of the pack teams who Halifax don’t play during the regular season.  It should be a good warm up.

Friday December 26th 2pm Augusta Groove vs. Halifax Rainmen

Saturday December 27th 7pm Chicago Throwbacks vs. Halifax Rainmen

Sunday December 28th 2pm Augusta Groove vs. Halifax Rainmen

Monday December 29th 7pm Chicago Throwbacks vs. Halifax Rainmen

The games are $5 each.  I can’t help but feel that Halifax missed out on an opportunity to bill this as a tournament rather than just exhibition games.  It also would have been cool to play one of the games in Preston or another suburban area.  I am excited for these none-the less.

Wait a second… Halifax just signed SirValiant Brown

I need to go to class but according to the website Halifax signed SirValiant Brown to play in the back court.  Things just got absurd.  He was a legit D1 star who was second in the nation in scoring during his freshmen year where he put up 24.6 ppg for George Washington.  Had he not tried to come out of college 2 years early he would probably have had an NBA career.  This is absurd.  His brother, SirLancelot, will not be joining the team.  No seriously – his brother’s name is SirLancelot and he won’t be playing for the Rainmen.  That’s not a joke.

I am all in shock right now, but I’ll write some shit after class.

edit: Post class thoughts (slightly more coherent) after the jump. Continue reading

Are Season Tickets Worth It?

On Friday I was talking to one of my friends who went to a handful of Rainmen games last year, and he couldn’t believe I bought season tickets.  He’s the second person I know who has maintained that they’re not worth the money – and both people are basketball fans who went to games last year, and plan on going again this season.

I know some people who are small business owners buy their season tickets through their companies and write them off as business expenses because they bring customers along.  Other people get them as birthday/Christmas gifts, but for those of us paying for them ourselves, and for those of us who didn’t buy them, are season tickets worthwhile?

My tickets are student tickets so I’ll use them as the point of discussion: basically you’re paying the full $18 per ticket for the MetroCentre games and getting free tickets for the pre-season games.  Unfortunately for some students they will be out of town during the pre-season games so there would be no value added.  The games also aren’t at the MetroCentre so it certainly is not as valuable as it could have been.  What is perhaps the most frustrating part is that season ticket holders don’t have access to the discounts of theme nights – no money back to female’s with season tickets on ladies night, no extra tickets on two for one night, etc.   I think that’s a huge oversight and a bit of an insult to the most loyal fans.  It’s also something that really, really annoyed some people.  Chances are that you’ll have to miss at least one game due to prior commitments during the season which means you don’t use all your tickets.  And Halifax is also the sort of town where you can almost always get your hands on a few free tickets to an event at least once during a season.  All these things mean that a lot of people who plan on seeing a fair number of Rainmen games do not bother getting season tickets.  Those of us who do buy them see a few plusses, obviously.

There are basically three advantages: you get the same seat all season, you avoid paying TicketAtlantics’ absurd service fee on each ticket, you basically get into the pre-season games for free.

I knew it wasn’t a huge money saver when I bought the tickets, but it was worth it to not have to buy them all individually with the headache and service charge of dealing with a bad ticketing service, to have my amazing seat all season long, and to support an organization which I really believe in – even if it is a for-profit (in theory) business. To be honest, I also just like the idea of being a season ticket holder. I just don’t know if enough people took the same stance.  One thing that would help would be a few small promotional things aimed just at season ticket holders.  I got my season tickets after the first game, so maybe in the pre-season/for the first game there were some events I didn’t hear about.  Some things that would involve minimum cost that I would consider doing if I were the Rainmen include:

  • Make sure season ticket holders get free tickets on promotional nights like two for one night.  And they shouldn’t have to call to get them – just mail extra tickets to them when you mail out the season tickets.
  • Give a free opening night ticket in the same section to each season ticket holder to give to a friend.  A lot of us really like the team and want to drag friends along who don’t believe in it yet.  If you’re going to fill the room with comps anyway then you might as well make the season ticket holders happy in the process.
  • Hold either an opening night reception or a Christmas party for season ticket holders where they can meet the organization and maybe the players.  Doesn’t have to be super fancy but it’d be a nice perk, particularly for kids.
  • Promise every kid under 14 with a season ticket the chance to play one on court time out game during the season.
  • Have a practice/intersquad game that is open only to media, sponsors and season ticket holders.
  • Host an event like a barbecue in the off season for ticket holders (both old and new) to keep people interested in the team during the off season.
  • Discount on Rainmen gear.

Basically, I just think that for the average fan there needs to be a bit more to encourage them to get season tickets.  It doesn’t have to be expensive events – just things that make season ticket holders feel like they’re part of something that other fans aren’t.

What do people think?  Are season tickets worth it?  Why did you buy yours?  Why didn’t you buy them?  What can the Rainmen do to make them more valuable?

Some Random Weekend Thoughts

Quick bullet point thoughts:

  • As much as we dissect this the new roster, I think it really is good.  And most of my judgements on the team are based on pretty limited data – see a few games in person, watching some grainy highlights on youtube, extrapolating stats and reading a few articles.  We’ll know more when we actually see the pre-season games, although I may try to weasel my way into a training camp session if I can convince Nancy Sheppard.
  • Andre told me in an e-mail that David Bailey did sign with the Rainmen – but he still is not on the roster on the Rainmen’s website.
  • The new poll on the Rainmen’s website asks which Rainmen people think is most likely to make the all-star team.  With 102 people voting who do you think is winning with 51% of the vote?  I bet you didn’t guess Kevin Hammack, but he is.  He’s beating out Eric, Silverhorn, Jeanty and Sanders. Eric is in second with 22% of the vote.  Who woulda thunk it?
  • With Vitamin Water signed on as a sponsor I really, really hope we get treated to these videos on the jumbotron during time outs:
  • Even though almost every new player added to the team this year is primarily an offensive player I still think the team is going to be an exponentially better defensive team this year for three reasons.  First, the players are just better and more experienced.  Second, the team is insanely athletic some we have lots of guys with the tools to play defense.  And finally, I think the team is tougher, grittier and has a bit of a mean streak to it which was the biggest thing they lacked last year.
  • Teams are starting to get their rosters together and while the pre-season games haven’t gotten into full swing we can start to see how teams are stacking up.  I firmly believe Manchester are the team to beat this year as they have the longest training camp and pre-season schedule, a strong and deep roster with a devastating backcourt and a very good defensive centre, and already have played a great two game stand against the reigning BSN champs.  Obviously it’s too early to know much, but I see them as the real measuring stick against which Halifax will need to stack up.  I can’t wait to see how the pre-season games just after Christmas stack up as we can expect to see at least six teams in action during that period.
  • Speaking of which:  We need some details on the pre-season games.  I know they’re a month away… but they’re only a month away!
  • Other teams to watch are Wilmington who were second in the East in the PBL last year and have a very, very good but somewhat undersized front court and are returning a ton of players, Halifax because we’ve pieced together a lot of volatile talent with an absurd number of gunners, and Vermont who have a legit stud PG in Mario Kinsey and have surrounded him with seasoned veterans – and they still have the minor league X-factor in coach Will Voigt.  Reigning PBL champions Rochester have been surprisingly quiet thus far.  The league looks wide open at the moment but the Atlantic Division is going to be a tough, tough division to win.  I am excited already.

Halifax’s Roster Is More Or Less Complete

So with the announcement that JB Murray and Rodney Mayes are joining the team it looks like Halifax has a full roster for all intents and purposes.  While they’ll likely sign a local 2-guard after December 1st, that player will likely see almost no floor time.  Or at least I hope they won’t, because right now this team is super crowded.  I’ll break down the roster in excruciating detail when we get closer to the season opener, but for now there are two obvious observations to be made:

  1. Halifax has one of the most talented rosters in the PBL
  2. Halifax is completely and totally front heavy

I think that there is a way for Halifax to balance this out.  See why after the jump.  But be forewarned – I have thought about this way too much. Continue reading

Halifax Sign Two Shooting Guards

Well it has definitely been a busy week!

The Rainmen signed two shooting guards and inexplicably put the info up on their website sometime after 9:30 tonight.  However, as you’ll see below the timing of the press release is not the most confusing thing about this announcement.

Rodney Mayes was an NCAA Div. II first team All-American at West Virginia Tech, where he averaged 20.5 ppg, and 8.3 rpg over two years.  (The press release said he was an all-american… all I can find is that he was first team all West Virginia Athletic Conference in 2005 and second team All-East Region in 2005.  But I can’t find all-american lists for Div.II anywhere, so absence of evidence is not itself evidence) He’s 6’5 which makes him very big for a minor league two guard.  He took only 51 three point attempts in his two NCAA seasons so it looks like he’s the slasher they were looking for.  You can check out a video of him here. It looks like it was shot with a mid-90s video camera.  There are a whole bunch more here, but I don’t have time to watch them at the moment.  He also played for the Decatur Court Kings in the WBA – one of the sketchier spring leagues.  He was a teammate of Chad Eichelberger and Al Stewart (Millrats).

They added another Toronto player in Jabulah Murray – a 6’3 combo guard played for someone…. I am pressed for time, but the press release says he played for Washburn University in Kansas, a D2 school.  The NCAA records show him playing there in 05/06 but that’s it. I found him listed on an 06/07 roster for The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma – an NAIA school.  He is also listed as playing for Diablo Valley College in 04/05 before transferring to Washburn.  What is sort of bothersome is that the press release by the Rainmen claims that he averaged 20ppg at Washburn – he did not.  He played 10 games and averaged 12ppg. I think that he went to Eastern Commerce and was actually recruited by St. Bonaventure in D1 in 2001, but failed to become academically qualified.  To make matters even worse/more confusing, I think he spent time at Virginia Commonwealth in the D1 where, for some sort of behaviour/coaching reason he appears to have never actually dressed.  The short version:  he never averaged 20 ppg at Washburn and he has a really, really confusing history.
I have to say – I am more confused with these signings than excited.  But I will have to sit down and watch the videos tomorrow.

Edit:  The Metro’s story has some more info and some comments from Levingston.  Mayes appearently can get his shoulders above the rim and Levingston is sold on his freakish athleticism.  Murray knows Levingston from back in Toronto – he was Anderson’s teammate at Easterm Commerce, and Levingston coached him in high school for a year (Was Levingston at EC? Assistant?).  He seems to admit that he has commitment issues.

I am not sold on these moves.  This is probably the last of the consequential signings and I see tons of talent and a lot of athleticism on the team, but I am not sure how this all fits together. I need to get schoolwork done, but I’ll comment further tomorrow.  I need time to look over the whole thing and figure out what is going on here.  For now I still sort of puzzled.

Are Local Players Important for the Rainmen?

As a result of the Crookshank and McGriff signings and things happening in “the real world” I neglected to post a link to Chris Cochran’s column in Monday’s Herald.  In it he argues that Halifax don’t need local players to sell the team to the public.  His basic argument was that last year the team risked looking like a bunch of outsiders with no local connection – and as we all know, in Nova Scotia nothing is worse than getting branded as “come from away” -and to overcome this, the team needed to add local players to be seen as Halifax’s team.  I think that what he doesn’t mention is that for some people, not having local players is seen as a slap in the face.  They think it’s an insult and a suggestion that local ballers can’t play with the Americans.  Well to those people I say “They can’t.”

I don’t think Halifax is going to find a player who is a high enough calibre to join the team on December 1st.  Someone may surprise us, and I am sure someone will get signed, but this team is head and shoulders above last year’s entry and as of right now there isn’t a single Atlantic Canadian on the roster.  The only player with any Canadian connection is Jeanty who is from Toronto.

Benoit was too old and out of real competition for too long to contribute consistently last year, Oliver was good but wouldn’t get a sniff of playing time if he was stuck on this year’s big-man heavy team.  As for Derico Wigginton-Downey, his experience with the team bordered on embarassing and cruel at times.  It’s unfair to local players to sit them at the end of the bench to sell tickets, and it’s unfair to the team and the fans to throw outclassed players on the court.  Last year it was all about marketing, this year I don’t think it’s even needed for marketing reasons because

a)  “Local Guy Makes Semi-Pro Team” is not a big story after we saw it twice last year.

b)  Local media and most fans know that those players likely could not hang in with this year’s team.

c)  The initial (i.e. first game) throng of Wigginton fans dwindled off pretty quickly and consistently winning games is going to help more in the long run at the gate.

d)  For a lot of people Eric Crookshank is a more familiar name than whatever local guy they sign.  AUS and local high school players have close to zero web presence, the returning Rainmen have had huge press coverage over the last 12 months, and most people, myself included, simply don’t follow local high school hoops and barely follow AUS games.  Most of the names of local basketball players don’t mean much to most people.
Does anyone disagree with me and Cochrane?  Does Halifax need to sign at least one local guy?

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