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?