Halifax finally got the monkey of their back with a big 108-97 win over the Frost Heaves and move one step closer to getting into the play offs. Halifax played great under new coach Les Berry and in a lot of ways looked like a totally different team.
Some quick thoughts:
– Pretty large and very loud home crowd on hand to watch the game. There was one awesome sign that I saw which read “Eric 1, Lewis 0.” It ruled. I think the crowd really proves that the team needs to look at changing the ticket pricing structure and adjust it downward, at least for kids (14 and under should really be $5 all the time).
– Halifax’s offense looked much better with some real offensive sets. I was glad to see that even with the new offensive sets it wasn’t smothering – there were lots of options for players and tons of freedom within the system. It was a joy to watch.
– The big difference was on defense with guys tracking their men off the ball and pushing for turnovers in a way I have not seen in two years.
– Huge games by Bennett, Silverhorn and Bailey. Bennett led all scorers with 28 points and also chipped in four boards, five assists and three steals (and only one turnover!). He also was breaking guys down off the dribble pretty much whenever he wanted and played solid D. Silverhorn scored 25 points on 8-13 shooting (including 5-7 on three point attempts) and added 4 steals. Bailey had 12 points and 13 rebounds and just looked fanstastic diving for loose balls, altering shots and doing everything we’d hoped he’d do when it was announced that he was signed.
– Some players really benefitted from Berry’s hiring even in the first game – Silverhorn, Bennett, Bailey and Ramey all looked fantastic. Other guys are taking on a different role and will need to adjust (Crookshank comes to mind), but some guys just looked horribly out of place. I don’t know if Strick can really keep up with the kind of defensive demands that Berry wants, and I think we now know why Dandridge never saw the court at Mizzou – he looked totally lost in the half court offense. He simply had no idea what to do in a very simple 1-4 set. Hammack also seemed to be having trouble for some reason even though I assumed he’d shine under a new coach.
– The Rainmen do need to make some offensive adjustments, in particular they need to get the ball into the front court sooner. They usually take 6 seconds to get across the time line and don’t get into their offensive sets until there’s 14 or 15 seconds left on the clock and a few times they simply ran out of time and either had the shot clock go off or rushed a terrible shot. Those things actually happened less than I had expected given the short amount of practice they’ve had and given another week I think things will really, really click.
– Crookshank looks like he pulled a muscle (groin maybe?) but I am hoping he’ll recover and be back for next weekend.
– Will Voigt finally got a technical foul – but only after Les Berry was given a pretty questinable one. I was pretty shocked in the one Berry got and it really re-enforces my belief that the refs are biased against Halifax at home. They’re all local guys so I think that they feel they need to overcompensate. Neither Berry nor Voigt were any worse than most coaches I’ve seen come through so it was pretty surprising.
– Vermont really seemed to settle for the jump shots a bit too much and while they shot well from outside the arc their mid-range shots off the dribble did not want to go in. I am excited for the rematch.