So after a tough four game home series we learneda whole lot about Halifax. Chad Lucas has his own version of this on his blog, but here are some of the things that really stood out to me over the course of the week:
– Halifax are best when a real point guard is running the show. This is a no brainer, but Halifax sometimes got away from giving Hammack or Twyman the ball early in the offense and they paid the price with turnovers and sloppy passes, particularly in transition. This is obviously something that is true for all teams, but even more so for Halifax since they lack ball handlers.
– The offense looks much better than last year. There is better flow to the offense and you can really see that Lewis has drilled the team on the offensive end. I’d still like to see a handful of set plays (a pick and roll, a play to get Silverhorn or Dandridge open in the corner off a couple of screens, a UCLA downscreen type play, and a set passing play out of the high post ideally) but the offense has motion and communication to it and Halifax has three very good passers in Hammack, Crookshank and Sanders. Sanders and Crookshank are really gifted passers and in situations where a natural point guard isn’t in the game I think it makes sense to have the offense run through one of them.
– The lack of a slasher is no longer a problem. The traditional view of a slasher who gets to the hoop and the line is a 6’4 to 6’6 slashing wing player who is an incredible athlete – a guy like Mayes or what LeBoise Gladden was supposed to be. Halifax doesn’t have a player like that but Jeanty, Sanders and Hammack all have that sort of ability. Jeanty and Sanders in particular can get to the line whenever they want and should be good at getting opposing powerforwards in foul trouble.
– Halifax are at least one player away from serious contention. With McNeal injured and obviously out of game shape less than a week from the first regular season game Halifax need another big body. McGriff would have been perfect, but there are still options out there. They need a good interior defender who can keep guards from getting easy buckets inside and shore up the defensive rebounding. Mayes also may be gone sooner rather than later. He is a good player but he is being asked to do things he’s not good at – namely handling the ball and shooting deep shots on catch and shoot plays. He is a great athlete and rebounder, but Halifax has slashers and rebounding forwards. A good defensive guard who can handle the ball and has a reliable outside shot is what Halifax need at that last guard spot.
– Halifax is excited about the Rainmen. When Halifax announced that they’d be playing 4 games at the tower in 4 days during th every busy Christmas period I thought it could be a disaster when it comes to attendance. Look at what happend in Vermont: only 200 people showed up for the final of their pre-season tournament against their mortal enemies the Manchester Millrats. But Halifax probably averaged about 700 fans over four games and did a great job selling the team to fans by playing an attractive brand of high scoring basketball. The team is full of compelling basketball personalities and the team can impress both fans of high schoring, athletic ball and old school basketball purists.
– The defence still needs work. There were moments where Halifax looked phenomenal on the defensive side of the ball but most times it was not great. Unlike last year it was rarely terrible, but they need to prevent guards from getting inside on them. They just lack the outside quickness to stay infront of slashing guards and they don’t have a big guy who can consistently block and alter shots. I think it will come as guys like Eric and Bailey step up and communication improves on the defensive end.
– Dandridge is good at some things, but not everything. So I will admit that I was both wrong, and right about Dandridge. I was wrong in the sense that he’s a legit starter in the PBL and is a great contributor to the team. I was right in the sense that he can’t do all the things Halifax need – he is a below average defender and is not a creative passer or ball handler. He gives another deep threat, but I really thought that the team looked much worse with him running the point.
– Sanders is a jerk and I couldn’t be happier. The guy has a mean streak which I love. He mixes it up under the net, sets hard screens, talks trash after big dunks and blocks and dives for loose balls. The team on a whole is grittier than last year, but I don’t think Halifax win tough games without his bad attitude. I love it.
– Hammack is as good as I had hoped. He showed improvement over the course of the week and does things that no Halifax really, really need: he is the team’s best ball handler, he is a good perimeter slasher and runs the offense both in the half court and transition.