Halifax Lose in Vermont, 123-110

So after trying to watch an mindblowingly shitty webcase I was disapointed.  I actually picked Halifax to pull this out in a close game – but I forgot the number one rule of being a Rainmen fan:  Halifax do not win games unless that have a comfortable lead coming out of the last media time out.  If Halifax are losing in the final three minutes then you know Halifax are going down in a flaming wreck.

The refs were a bit suspect but that’s not why Halifax lost.  All around a disapointing game after a close first half.

A few brief thoughts:

–  Tracy Morgan Tony Bennett played well but he is definitely a shootfirst guard.  I don’t have a problem with him but he should not be running the point.  When he is running the offense he dominates the ball and no one else gets touches, even when they’re open.  When he was in the game Sanders was not getting the ball on those pick and rolls that get run every posession.

– Huge game from Jimmy Twyman who had 31pts, 24 for Sanders and 20 for Bennett, unfortunately there wasn’t a whole lot of help from everyone else.

– Vermont  out rebounded Halifax 49-36.  Gross.

– The box score isn’t up yet but I don’t think that Kevin Hammack or Tyronne McNeal got in the game at all.

Here’s hoping they can get Manchester again.

Rainmen Head South for the Weekend

So Halifax will be heading to New England where they hope to pick up their first wins in either socialist Vermont or libertarian New Hampshire.  I am of the mind that Halifax need to walk away with at least a split but I don’t think it’s impossible to sweep the series.  It’s likely that the wildcard spot in the play offs will come down to a game between the second place team in the Atlantic and the second place team in the East so Halifax need to not only get wins against Manchester and Vermont, but prevent the Rats and the Heaves from getting wins as well.

We know what to expect from Manchester, but I’d expect them to come out even more motivated to beat Halifax after Thursday’s win.  They will also have Kenyon Gamble all geared up and ready to go.

Vermont have made some line up tweaks but they have been inconsistent this year so here’s hoping Halifax can steal a win on their home turf.

Both games will be available live on line.

In other news, the next home game for Halifax (Sunday, Feb. 8 ) will be “Kids Day” and children’s tickets will be five dollars.  The next two games after that on the 13th and 15th will mark the triumphant return of Duncan MacLellan to the the lower bowl of the MetroCentre.

SirVal Says What We’re All Thinking

From today’s Metro:

He also said the offence is disorganized with very few plays, particularly for clutch, last-minute situations.

“We just put a basic pick-and-roll into the offence last week,” Brown said. “We should have done that Day 1. Coach don’t know how to coach. He’s a trainer. A good trainer.

“But they have the most talent in the league and they aren’t going to win a championship with him coaching.”

He also has some criticisms of Levingston that I disagree with.  It’s kind of classless to go off like this on the way out the door, but the fact remains that Lewis is dragging this team down.

Halifax Defeat Manchester, 123-119

In what was the most exciting and all around most enjoyable basketball game I’ve seen involving the Rainmen, Halifax pulled out a huge victory despite almost blowing a big lead at the start of the fourth.

I’ll add my comments as I go after the jump, but this is going up now so other people can comment.

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Rainmen Sign Tony Bennett

I know its a cheap joke... but its just so easy!

I know it's a cheap joke... but it's just so easy!

In order to replace the departed Sir Valiant Brown the team brought in a guy with another funny name: 6’0 combo guard Tony Bennett.   Bennett had what I’d describe as a solid DI career in two years at Bradley – 11.1.ppg, 2.6apg, 3.5 rpg and 1.9 spg as well as 42% field goal percentage and 33% from three point range.  Since then he’s played in the minor foriegn leagues – Mexico and Finland.

He seems like a solid pick up who could potentially start but I can’t help but feel like this team still does not have a true shooting guard – instead we have a platoon of point guard and a couple of small forwards who each get a turn playing as off guard. Bennett also seems to primarily be a scorer, which I am not sure is the team’s big need.  Still, if they can get some consistent three point shooting and two steals a game out of him then he’d be a great pick up.

This also wasn’t the move I was expecting as there were rumours of another player, a former ABA and PBL star, getting the call.  He will be joining the team for tonight’s game, but I can’t imagine he’ll see much floor time since he’ll likely be flying in from Chicago this morning.  Hopefully either Ramey or Hammack get to start today – the team just runs much better on both ends when at least one of them is on the floor.

Preview: Halifax vs. Manchester

Tomorrow night figures to be the best game of the season so far as the red hot Manchester Millrats come to Halifax to take on the Rainmen.  Halifax have a tough three game stretch (Manchester at home Thursday then road games against Vermont and Manchester again) and picking up a road win here is an absolute necessity.  The Millrats are looking to extend their five game winning streak.  One of the most impressive things about said streak:  during it they’ve beaten every other team in the Atlantic Division.  The winner of this game is leading the Atlantic Division, and in its first year Halifax failed to beat either Vermont or Manchester, so this first win is a big mental hump to get over.  All of this adds up to the potential for a real barn burner, unfortunately very few people may be around to see the game – Thursdays are always bad game nights and the weather is supposed to be dreadful.

It’s hard to predict who will come up big for Manchester – they seem to have a different guy go off each night and Ferguson, Salscheider, and Mitchell are all capble of putting up big numbers.  But Manchester aren’t really about scoring – they have the best defense in the PBL and held Halifax to just 98 points last time the teams met.  They’re leading the league in opponent scoring (by which I means their opponents score less than everyone else’s) by allowing just 96.4 ppg and have given up 100 points or more in only two games – both against that strange Montreal squad.  To make matters worse they’ve upgraded their interior defense with the addition of Kenyon Gamble – a big shotblocker.  Manchester just play a hardnosed, tough, physical defense – it’s not dirty, but they frustrate teams and don’t give up easy baskets.

So what does Halifax have to do to win this game?  I think the key is to get out and run on Manchester.  Halifax need to convert on the fast break (i.e. no stupid alley-oops when a lay up is there) and generate turnovers in order to get some easy baskets.  Hammack and Ramey are both phenomenal at stealing the ball and pressuring opposing guards and with SirVal out of the picture both of them will probably get some more minutes.  Halifax also have to avoid giving up the easy baskets that they’re notorious for – if Manchester are going to make them work hard to score then they need to force the Rats to do the same.

I really see this game as a must win for Halifax – if they’re going to come out and beat the better teams in the league then they’re going to have to start at home.  Here’s hoping it’s a great game and that there are actually people in the stands to witness it.

SirValiant Rides Into the Sunset

Well… he lasted longer than I thought he would.

SirValiant has been released by the team and I have heard rumblings of an top level minor league two guard joining the team to replace him.  But even if a new guy is not brought in I still think that the team is already better.  Brown took shots and minutes away from more deserving guys (particularly Hammack and Ramey who I think get way too few of both) and did not seem to take on a leadership role.  This also frees up a roster spot for a potential Eric Crookshank return.

If a new player isn’t added then the team has an excellent guard rotation in Hammack, Twyman, Ramey and Dandridge, but no one behind them.  If there were an injury we’d likely see more of Mayes at guard and possibly even some Silverhorn once he’s healthy.

Was Val terrible? No.  But he wasn’t very good either.

Week 3 Power Rankings

So after the jump are this week’s power rankings.  As you’ll see, due to the small number of games played and the size of the league it is relatively easy for teams to move up or down pretty quickly.  As always here are my guidelines:

  • These rankings are based on who is playing the best basketball in the PBL right now. How you played last season, in the pre-season, or how you might play in two months doesn’t mean that much to me.  If your team looks good on paper but are winless then you’re still going to find yourself at the bottom of the heap.
  • Strength of schedule matters (and that includes homecourt advantage)
  • Win-Loss is most important, but margin of victory also matters.
  • Recent results matter more than older results but both count.  A team’s last five regular season games are weighted heavier than older results.
  • Two other things worth noting: Champlain Cup games and exhibition games are not taken into account.  The sample size is very small since it is only week four so expect these rankings to be very different in a week when the sample size gets bigger and teams start separating from the pack on the top and bottom.  A number of teams have played a pretty limited number of opponents so that also limits the ability to properly compare teams.

You can see last week’s rankings here, and I have included each team’s ranking from last week in parentheses.  As always these are 100% unofficial and are here to spark conversation about the league as a whole as well as to give some idea of how things are going down to people who may only follow the home team.

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Halifax Defeat Buffalo, 105-94

Halifax moved to 5-3 (Good for second in the division and fourth in the league) with a solid win against the Buffalo Stampede.  Halifax opened strong (for once) and never trailed.  To be honest, the Stampede never really felt like a threat.  It might be fatigue but Buffalo just didn’t look good.

Some quick thoughts:

– I have had just about enough of Dandridge.  He went 0-6 in the first half and continues to take jumpers from four feet behind the three point line.  He was a bit better in the second half than in the first and finished with 18 points.  The team as a whole shot a terrible 15% from deep.  The Rainmen are now running a promotion where if the team hit 15 three pointers in a game, a ticket stub from the game will get you a big mac.  Based on tonight’s shooting percentage the team would have had to take around 75 three point attempts for fans to score some free grease.

– Halifax’s did two things well that they don’t normally do: shoot free throws and rebound on the defensive end.

– Halifax couldn’t pull away because of a series of terrible turnovers on the fast break.  They tend to try to push it a bit too much and go for lobs and stupid alley-oops.

– John Strickland is amazing.  The guy is hilarious but actually a really, really smart player.  He’s pretty much the perfect minor league veteran: a guy who coaches players on the floor and is an instant fan favourite.  He can actually play, too:  he was perfect from the field, grabbed 7 boards, and despite having the ugliest set shot ever he knocked down 66% of his free throws.   I don’t think he’s a starting caliber centre/powerforward due to his fitness (I am convinced he’s the kind of guy who smokes in the locker room at half) and age, but coming off the bench I love him.

Buffalo Stampede Game Tonight

I am running a conference this weekend and won’t have time to sit around the computer and follow the box score (but I arranged the whole conference around making the game on Sunday) so I thought I’d put up this post for people to discuss this evening’s game.

First note of the night: Silverhorn will not be playing at all this weekend.  Bummer.

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