Right now in the gym at Citadel High some local guys are feeling just about ready to puke their guts out at the Rainmen’s open tryout. If anyone gets invited to training camp they’re going to have to figure out how to get work off to go to training camp this week. Andre has said publicly that he wants 14-15 guys in camp so one has to assume that Halifax will at least bring in a few locals. I had a crazy idea for a blog entry in which I actually tried out for the team and was thoroughly embarassed as Rick Lewis laughed at me and heckled relentlessly, but the funny blog post would not be worth the tryout fee, the physical pain, or the permanent academic harm caused by taking the night off. So I have no idea what’s going on in the try outs, but I am hoping that Chad Lucas attended and posts some details on his blog tonight or tomorrow.
With training camp soon upon us we should have a much better idea of what this team will actually look like pretty soon. There are six questions that I hope training camp will answer and you can see them after the jump:
Who Gets Cut/decides to leave?
Most likely candidate: SirValiant Brown. Halifax is at least his 20th team since leaving GW in 2001 and he has a history of wearing out his welcome very, very quickly. (Then again to fit in 19 pro teams in seven years you would have to move quick) If he stays then don’t be shocked to see Murray or Twyman go elsewhere. I also feel like David Bailey seems to have fallen out of the the Rainmen’s plans and could find himself cut to try to clean up the front court rotation. We could also see a very good and useful player like Jeanty decide that he’s better off somewhere with more playing time. Andre has said that he wants 14-15 guys in training camp and with a maximum of 12 guys dressing we can expect to see at least a few cuts/departures. Personally I’d like to see fewer than 12 guys on the roster or 11 players plus a local scrub.
The starting line up is really up in the air going into camp. The insane amount of talent means every spot will be contested. The uncertainty is compounded by the fact that Halifax hasn’t seen most of these players in person, instead relying on agents, recommendations from other coaches and game tape. Realistically, we can assume that Eric will start at the four other than that, it’s all up in the air. Depending on how things shake down we could even see Eric starting games at centre, although I hope that doesn’t happen. If I had to guess I’d pencil in a line up I’d say Mayes and McGriff may start at the 2 and the 5, respectively. With SirVal at the point if he’s still around, otherwise expect to see Hammack there.
The real battle is at the small forward spot where two former ABA all-stars will battle with a player that team management love and who also has a necessary skill: outside shooting. Jeanty is a banger who is probably the quickest of the three; Sanders is the toughest, has the most offensive versatility and is the most athletic – he is probably the best all around player of the three but he’s also more a power forward; Silverhorn is the least athletic and probably the weakest defensively, but without him the starting line up lacks a deep shooter to spread the floor for the big men and slashers to play their game. I am not even going to try to guess who will get the spot, but I feel like the decision may end up having nothing to do with those three players – if Mayes or Hammack/SirVal prove that they can knock down three point shots consistently, or if Murray or Twyman, both proven deep threats, emerge as starters in the back court then Silverhorn is unlikely to find himself starting.
Just how deep is this team? The last big man off the bench could be a guy who averaged 11/8 as a starter in the PBL last year. I am really hoping that coach Lewis doesn’t go 12 deep – I’d prefer to see eight guys get the bulk of the minutes with the rest seeing time based on match ups and specific roles. I really want to believe that Lewis will have improved in the off season – he does not seem like a dumb guy, his success as an baseball player shows he can really put his all into something, and I think he recognizes how great of an opportunity he has as a professional basketball coach. He also did show improvment at the end of last season. So for now I am going to hope and assume that he ordered some DVDs, read some books and went to some high level clinics in the off-season.
What is this team’s identity?
The Rainmen are a bit of a paradox when it comes to playing style. They have tons of athleticism, but not so many ball handlers (particularly if Mayes or Silverhorn see much time at two guard). They kind of need to play at a fast pace in order to get everyone touches, but they also have a number of player who can play with their back to the basket. They’re deep enough to try to tire the other team out, but they lack defensive specialists who can disrupt the other team in the full court. So while they’re figuring out who is going to make the team they’re also going to have to figure out what this team’s identity is. Last year it was never clear if they were uptempo and full court or just trying to make things work in the half court set to try to slow the bleeding. This year they need to know what their identity is coming out of training camp.
Who emerges as Alpha Dog?
It might not happen during training camp, but sooner or later someone needs to step up and decide to be the guy who takes over late in the game and wants to take those big shots. More importantly perhaps, someone needs to prove they can make those big shots. Crookshank is a definate option with his solid back to the basket game but his problems with getting position (perhaps solved with the move to his natural PF position) and his atrocious free throw shooting may rule him out of that role. SirVal certainly thinks he can fill that role but it’s been almost a decade since he’s shown anything suggesting he can. Sanders and Silverhorn are both viable candidates for this role, and Mayes and Hammack are certainly darkhorse picks. While there is tons of talent here, for Halifax to be truly successful they need one person to emerge as the go to offensive threat.
What Local guy makes the team?
The better question might be “does a local guy make the team”? Unless the Rainmen are stashing a guy like Sherone Edwards it is unlikely that any local folks who make the team will be rotation guys or anything more than a PR move.
As always, feel free to add your thoughts about what Halifax need to figure out during this week’s camp.
Edit: Both the Metro and Chad Lucas are reporting on the local guys who got picked up by the Rainmen to join the camp:
- Demar Parsons 6’3 guard last played for Dartmouth High in ’06 (Despite sharing a high school and a last name I have never met him)
- Tremel Beals guard last played for Cole Harbour High
- Nathan Clark 6’6 forward who played in the AUS for UPEI and then transferred to Holland College in the ACAA
- Mark Ross 6’1 point guard who played five years with SMU before graduating last year
Of these players only one (Ross) has a realistic shot of making the team and he’ll need some help since the Rainmen have two true point guards, a washed up gunner who thinks he’s a point guard and a combo guard who is supposed to be pretty darn good on their roster. I can imagine him making the roster if SirVal or JB Murray manage to flame out before camp is over. He’s an assistant coach with the SMU women’s team along with Jad Crnogorac this year.
Levingston seems very high on Parsons and he, like Derico, isn’t playing CIS ball because of his grades. I’d love to see him get the chance to practice with the team and if he shows improvement and a player abandons ship mid-season being brought in, or perhaps being groomed for next season. I don’t want to see him take on a Derico player/mascot role. The other two players don’t even have a hope in hell.
The Metro article also mentions that the camp is splitting time between Citadel High and the King’s College gym… which means I may see if I can catch a bit of the training camp if I can find the King’s gym schedule. So I guess we’ll see.