Halifax Defeat Vermont, 108-97

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.


30 thoughts on “Halifax Defeat Vermont, 108-97

  1. Sanders got hurt early (after like six minutes of playing – he came off the bench) subbed in for two more minutes but limped up and down the floor, and really didn’t do much. He just got hurt too early to be able to tell.

  2. Sanders was hurt otherwise I think he could have thrived, less with points than with boards and assists. I think Strick and Dandridge could suffer, but also think everyone has a chance to impress and noone did poorly today. Bailey (and the Brew Crew) did well, but he missed a few putbacks. EC was not central on offense and I would still like to see Silverhorn working more chasing back defensively after he misses. Don’t trust the boxscores as EC and Bailey has more points/ blocks..

    The game was amazing and the fans were great, especially 22-23.. Great job everyone.. let’s keep the momentum going.

  3. That game felt great. How nice was it to a real offence, with plays and everything.

    Bennett was amazing.

    For the Heaves, they have great depth at the two and three, but they need front court help badly. They have good defensive guys, just need some scoring there. Anthony Kyle (the little point guard) did not look good at all. Bennett is ten times the player. I am surprized Vermont went out to sign him.

    Great crowd. Loud and huge. The Rainmen really need to look at ticket prices for kids.

  4. What happened to Jimmy Twyman? He was down on the floor for a considerable amount of time during the 4th, then Jeanty and another guy carried him to the bench…what’s the deal there?

  5. I agree about the ticket prices. See how packed it was as soon as they dropped them? Trust me, it wasn’t because it was HRM day or the day. It’s expensive to go to a game and take kids. The first time it’s down, they pack it. I would almost guess they had more than the home opener there today.

    Good to see some coaching though, you’re right – it did look like a whole new team.

  6. I agree ticket pricing much drop.

    For two reasons:

    1. You can’t expect people to pay more than a Mooseheads game. People in this market have that price point in their head when they decide to go out at night. The Rainmen are an unknown quantity to many people. They sit at home and think. “You want me to pay more for a product I don’t know if I’ll like?”

    2. We are in a brutal resession. People are nesting like crazy now. Huddled around their TV’s not spending money.

    Solution: Hit a low price point. Fill the place. Build your brand. Then slowly increase prices as the demand strengthens.

  7. I took one of my kids and we had a good time. Well, for my 4 year old, the popcorn is the highlight of Mooseheads and Rainmen games.

    But to be honest, I kind of scratch my head when it costs more to take your kid to a Rainmen game than a Mooseheads game, even with the special pricing.

    Until Sanders got hurt, the Rainmen look awesome with Silverhorn, Crookshank and Sanders on the floor. There’s a big dropoff once the bench gets involved.

    Berry looks and acts like a real basketball coach. What a difference.

  8. The thing I loved most about Berry is his intensity. At one point in the first half we forced a turnover, ran the fast break and Bailey got an and 1, and while he was shooting his foul shot Berry was only concerned with lecturing Crookshanks because he wasn’t getting his arms up on defense. Rick Lewis wouldn’t coach on the court if a player forgot what they were playing and started kicking the ball.

    Also, who remembers my last post when I said that Berry would be way more animated and would probably draw some technicals? It took him 27 minutes to get his first one (and a weak one), but it earns them the calls down the stretch.

    Also a great call on hiring Jeff Paris as an assistant coach. With an intense guy like Berry having a calm influence like Jeff will help some of the more fragile players retain their confidence. Plus Jeff is sporting an AWESOME handlebar mustache right now.

  9. There is a pretty strong King’s connection going down with the Rainmen right now. I just hope Shannon Hanson doesn’t get squeezed out with the change in head coach – he really put up with a lot under Lewis.

    Lewis just benched (some) guys when they were making mistakes, Berry was actually pulling guys over on free throws to correct things mid-game and players responded to it. There were fewer incidences of guys making the same mistake for a whole quarter than there was during the Lewis era.

    I am worried that Berry is going to what’s left of his hair out dealing with some of this stuff though: in the fourth Twyman made a big play on offense and then the Heaves drew a foul on the other end and half the guys on the court were waving their arms in the air getting the crowd into it and Twyman was actually in the aisle of the floor seats slapping high fives to fans in the second row and Berry was losing his shit trying to get one of the guards to come over and talk during the free throw. You can tell that this isn’t exactly what he’s used to.

  10. Gents – focus on the BIG PICTURE here!! Just walking into the arena last night I had a renewed sense of excitement and optimism thanks to COACH Les! Being down 12-2 at the start? No problem because we have a *real* coach now, and sure enough, the team responded! Coach Berry did more in the first 2 minutes of the game than Lewis did in 1.5 seasons!! I damn near cried i was so happy to see him pace the sidelines, working the refs, coaching the players, yelling out (actual!) plays, etc…

    I cant write anymore. I’m too happy.

    Oh, and Zach needs to play more. He and Tony in the backcourt is incredible.

  11. The big question for me is:

    is the season over or do they still have a chance to make the playoffs?

    Well it’s still hard to say. They have a better chance than they did before Les came here. It was one very positive game but the Rainmen still have to climb past either Manchester or Vermont. The number of games left keeps getting smaller.

    I would say the team has about a 50% chance of making the playoffs. I was predicting a .500 season with Lewis as coach.

  12. I agree with all that Chris said, good points overall.

    As I said last night, this is The New Rainmen! Maybe PR should latch onto that, to wipe away the stain of the past little while.

    If Berry got a technical every game, I wouldn’t mind, just don’t get tossed.

    Get well, Rob. Hopefully, your injury is nothing serious.

    I agree with keeping Shannon Hansen, he is a super nice guy and he was very diplomatic when we were chatting after the game. He has said in an interview that he wants to be in Hali for a while, I hope he has a place at the New Rainmen table.

    Berry was losing his mind at some of the showoff plays that seem to be minor league ball’s trademark: length-of-court Hail Mary passes for a break, no-look cross-court passes, and other flashy stuff that is great when it works and deflating when it doesn’t. Unfortunately, the Rainmen’s adrenaline seemed to be running a bit high and a few of their showy plays did not go well. I think Berry probably had a stern talk with them post-game. There is no need to give up possessions on stray no-look passes, especially against Vermont, who are no slouches.

    Remember, gents, we are not the Globetrotters; more importantly, our opponents are not the Washington Generals who are paid to lose every time. While I enjoy huge dunks and no-looks as much as the next fan (which is obvious since apparently, I am sitting close to the webcast microphone!), I would much rather see a W with good play and some showy stuff than an L with too much flash. One last thing, please check egos at the door. I saw a tiny bit of brushing off the coach and I don’t think now is the time for that behaviour.

    A note to congratulate the Heaves on having the most dedicated fans ever. It was good to see them, and impressive that they drove 19 hours straight from Buffalo, New York to watch their team. They logged a total of 41 hours of driving time to watch 96 minutes of basketball. That is commitment.

    The BBC (Bailey’s Brew Crew) will be meeting at the Elephant & Castle before Friday’s game and after Sunday’s game for some team spirit time. The E & C will have food and drink specials on for both those times, so it will be an affordable chance to get together with other fans and maybe even some players after Sunday’s game. All Rainmen fans are welcome and remember to wear your Rainmen gear!

    Plus, the incomparable Dunc13 will be in Hali for the games this weekend, so fasten your seatbelts and enjoy the show from Section 23!

  13. BDP you flatter me. I am now more than ever excited to come see some games. I have yet to watch the webcast as I was out of town on the weekend but from what I hear it will be fun to watch.

    I really like Shannon and I hope there is a spot for him for years to come.

    And Rain Mania: I will take a 50% chance because as of a week ago I was predictiong a 2% chance and 50/50s are better than Milk.

  14. Dunc13:

    Agreed. I was thinking about 2% chance as well.

    This season has been a roller coaster. I noticed the number of posts on this site down a bit in the last week or so.

    For me the reason has been Rainmen fatigue. What do I mean? The ups and downs in the papers everyday.

    The fans didn’t go away. We are here, a little burned out on the drama but I’m ready for some basketball!

  15. Drama is good for posts but bad for team. I think there will be more posts about basketball and the game but less overall and I am very happy with that.

  16. I agree with those who hope Shannon Hansen doesn’t fade out – he seems to be very well respected by the players and I think that the new coaches will need to remember that they have his trust. While I think that the players are buying into what Les is saying, I think that this could be a very fragile situation if anything goes wrong and the players start doubting this coach. I don’t know why the head office didn’t make an announcement regarding the new assistant coach – he just kinda popped up on the bench today. I think that the coach probably brought him in, but why?

    I was very pleased to see the crowd this weekend, it shows that we can do well when the ticket prices are dropped. I don’t think they came because it was “HRM day”. They need to start considering this – the crowd seemed to make a difference.

    I think that the players need to draw in the crowd – it’s how they build the idea that the Rainmen love to play FOR Halifax. Eric has gotten his ‘fame’ by spending time talking with the fans at every Mooseheads game he goes to, out and about in the city, and when he speaks to them he seems to remember them. Recently I saw him greet a kid at a Mooseheads game before the kid even said anything to him and while the kid walked away with his friend he said, “I can’t believe he remembers I go to games.” That’s the difference that counts in Halifax, big time. Doesn’t matter if the new coach likes it or not – the fans love it and continue to pack the house because of it. Bailey, Twyman, Strick are all characters on and off the court – that’s why we all talk about them and why we feel like we ‘know’ them.


  18. This was a really great game. The offense was not super creative or complex but it was executed well given the short period of time that the team had. I agree with the idea that this is like a totally different team. Bennett looked like the player that everyone hoped Brown would be, he broke players down off the dribble, played tough defense and actually made good decisions.

  19. What a great win.

    Team still has to show they can win on the road in VT/NH but for the first time in 1.5 years this team really looks like it has the on-court talent and coaching to compete with anybody. There can only be one league champion, but we’re just as likely as anybody to do the business now.

  20. Re: Price drop. I think it is smart to have cheap seats for kids, say age 12 and under, because it gets them in the building. Once they are inside, they spend way more than the difference in the seat price in concessions and maybe even Rainmen gear. Plus, as cigarette advertisers know, get consumers’ loyalty while they are young and you have a better chance of keeping their loyalty for years.

    One other thing, season ticket holders should not be paying 24% more than someone walking in off the street. I hope the front office looks into that for the coming season. I don’t mind paying as much as a single ticket buyer if there are benefits, but this is one area that the organization is a bit behind the curve. The meet & greet with the players before the season was a good start, but there needs to be more attention paid to this.

    The Rainmen should offer cheaper season tickets and more meaningful benefits to faithful fans. The benefits don’t have to cost a lot.

    A few ideas:
    – Include season ticket holders in the 2-for-1 nights, or give them a free ticket near their season seats for one game to invite a friend and maybe get that new person to buy season tickets next year. I brought 2 friends last year who ended up buying 3 seats this year. It works.

    – 1 free piece of Rainmen gear, either T-shirt or hat, or half-price hoodie, for every season ticket seat as well as discounts on additional purchases of Rainmen gear. This is probably the best way to increase the Rainmen’s visibility, especially among kids who would wear them to school, not to mention making the stands look Rainmen blue. Watch US college or major league sports and the stands that are full of fans wearing their team’s colours make a difference. It’s all about the fan’s sense of belonging to the team and building their loyalty, not to mention the psychological power it would have on the visiting teams.

    – More season-ticket-holder-only events. These don’t have to be expensive, and if there was a cost to attend, keep it under $10/person and provide value for that money. Better options would be the “Season Ticket Holder Experience” events that don’t cost anything, like an afternoon with the Rainmen where kids would have some court time with the players. How cool would that be?

    – A free program! I bought programs every game last year, despite having virtually no new information in each issue. This year, I can’t even find someone who sells them. I think a free program for season ticket holders is a cheap way to keep them informed during the games.

    – Your seats guaranteed, available to buy for playoffs. This goes without saying.

    – Ticket exchange privileges: if you can’t make a game, you can switch tickets for extras to a game you can attend.

    – A ticket donation program to get unused tickets into the hands of deserving children and charities and give the season ticket holder a tax deduction. I have not used all of my tickets and it is a shame that the seats go unused.

    – Discounts on purchases from team sponsors. This is a win-win situation, increasing visibility for companies as sponsors of the Rainmen and helping their corporate citizen image.

    – How about free face painting for season ticket holders before the games? Let’s get creative here!

    – A sit-in session with new Coach Les Berry, in a Chalk Talk event? I know a lot of people who post on here would love to get an “insider” appreciation for Coach Berry’s strategies.

    – Honorary Ball Kid. Have a lottery to choose season ticket holding children to be able to rebound balls for the Rainmen during pre-game warmups.

    Most of these are essentially free or very low cost to the team and would add significantly to the “Season Ticket Holder Experience.”

  21. These ideas are all AWESOME BDP!
    I really hope that someone forwards all of your suggestions to the right people in front office (PR/Marketing).
    Its wonderful that you took the time to think of all of these great ideas. Perhaps someone (Chris902) should email (Nancy….PR lady?) these suggestions….?

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