Rob Sanders Takes Job in Venzuela

From the PBL transactions page:

Wed Feb. 11 – Halifax releases Rob Sanders

You’ve got to think that this is the result of his injury.  I really hope that he’s okay and it isn’t a career ending type injury.  Now I am really, really curious.

It looks like his agent found him a better paying gig in South America. Congrats to Rob!  It was absolutely phenomenal to watch him play this season and I really felt like he was one of the top three players in the league so I am not totally surprised that he’s gone.  Halifax played okay without him against Vermont and his injury likely would have slowed him down anyway, but now a player needs to step up and do the non-scoring things that made Sanders so important: set hard screens, dive for loose balls, foul hard, and get to the line at will.

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31 thoughts on “Rob Sanders Takes Job in Venzuela

  1. It’s definitely a set back, you simply can’t lose a player like Sanders without it make a big difference. Guys are going to need to step up and provide the toughness that Sanders brought to the table.

  2. Damnit!!! Sanders is (was) my favorite all-time Rainman. Probably the best all-around player I’ve ever seen play in the Metro Centre, save for those Raptors games in the 90s. An absolute ‘effing monster.

    Such a shame, but all the luck in the world to him. Maybe he’ll need a team next winter.

    At least we have more minutes for Jeanty now. He deserves more.

  3. Given the uncertainty that surrounds all things (basketball and other facets of life) in many South American countries (especially VEN) I hope Halifax retains the right to resign him if/when things don’t go as promised in VEN. Wish RS the best – he was definitely Halifax’s best player this season.

  4. Seriously, though. I would have taken Xavier Morton in a heart beat.

    I wonder if they will try to add a player (if so it’d better be a centre, not another PF)

  5. That’s crazy, I saw Rob practicing with the team this morning!

    Well good luck to him, I really hope they sign someone to replace him, because without him Strick or Tyrone need to get time, and man, that doesn’t bode well.

  6. =====
    “Our objective is and has always been to develop our players so he can play at a higher level,” said Team Owner Andre Levingston. “Rob has done just that. He has had a terrific year and deserves this opportunity. We will miss him.”
    =====

    A few random thoughts on this:

    1) I’ve seen Venezuelan hoops. It’s not at a higher level than the PBL but some teams do pay their players US $3,000-$5,000/mo. (Expenses are also covered, but living there is dirt cheap.)

    2) I’m actually surprised that the PBL is able to attract the quality of players it does, when there are places aroiund the world like Venezuela, Finland, Portugal, and the Czech Republic who are willing to pay more money. (And I’m not even talking about the big-money European leagues.)

    3) Last year we lost our best player (Anderson) to similar circumstances.

    4) To “solve” this problem I wish the PBL would go to a four month regular season (18 weeks) from November through early March, with teams playing 3 games a week every week (one midweek, and two on weekends). Our league will always be a gate driven league so if you went from 10 home games to 27, the extra games could more than cover the extra costs. The better teams would filter down this added revenue to the players so the Andersons and Sanderses of the world might be tempted to stay. Anderson likely got offered too much for us to compete with the German team, but the Venezuelans we should be able to run with–we cannot based on a 10-game home schedule.

    5) Deals in the Venezuelan league sometimes aren’t as good as they sound over the phone.

    6) I really hope it works out for Sanders down there, and for any player we ever graduate to richer pastures. I’m glad to have seen Sanders play here.

  7. Wow.. I just heard Andre speak yesterday and he referenced that players have actualyl been turning down money offers to stay here. It sucks because the contract is really only another 6 weeks. This is a significant loss for Halifax. Not because I don’t think other players can step up, but I truly believe that no other player does the work that Rob does and the intangibles.

    I love Bailey (well not as far as my Brady love goes, but my fav local athlete)..he will dig, get boards and scrap for blocks. But to Chris’ point, hard picks and more importantly getting three point plays and getting into great positions downlow can’t be taught. Rob has a great basketball instinct and a knack for scoring, drawing fouls. If you looked at one player on the team that you knew could make a point or two happen, I would think Sanders. I think various players all add pieces of Sanders, but noone encapsulates all that he brings to the table. And I would love to be proven wrong on this, especially because RS owned Manchester.

    I still think we have enough to win the games and make the playoffs, but we need much more production from Jeanty as far as offence and defence. We need more points from Bailey and Strick will need to get in there and work the boards. In Les we trust!

  8. “4) To “solve” this problem I wish the PBL would go to a four month regular season (18 weeks) from November through early March, with teams playing 3 games a week every week (one midweek, and two on weekends). Our league will always be a gate driven league so if you went from 10 home games to 27, the extra games could more than cover the extra costs. The better teams would filter down this added revenue to the players so the Andersons and Sanderses of the world might be tempted to stay. Anderson likely got offered too much for us to compete with the German team, but the Venezuelans we should be able to run with–we cannot based on a 10-game home schedule.”

    You are assuming that most PBL teams are making money. I would argue that most of them lose more money the more games they play.

    I do agree that the PBL should be playing more games, but the league has the number set so low to minimize their losses. They don’t think they are going to make money regardless.

  9. He left because he was offered a job with more money. It’s how the minor leagues work. It’s like this in the NBADL too. You can either choose to stay here and hope that NBA scouts will take notice, but most guys will go because they can’t afford to pass on what’s being offered.

  10. It sucks to see good players go but it’s part of the reality of being a minor league fan in any sport. (In any sport) Guys will get called up or go over seas for better contracts, it sucks in some ways but it’s also nice to be able to route for guys getting a shot at a better contract or better opportunity.

    The two best players to ever suite up for Halifax have left mid-season to pursue a career overseas so it’s just something we will all have to get used to.

  11. @ Joe:

    I’m not assuming most PBL teams make money at all. I do claim, however, that 20 games over 13 weeks is dumb. If you have these guys under contract, you might as well play three games a week.

    This is especially true for teams like Vermont, Manchester, and Buffalo who can bus to a large majority of their games. Nobody said you’ll get rich bankrolling minor league hoops, but if you can’t cover gas money and rink rental with the added attendance, you really should get out.

    Now a 54-ish game schedule might be problematic for a team with huge travel costs like Halifax, but ownership here has shown travel costs not to be a huge burden (by bringing in those teams between Christmas, for instance, and letting people into the games for peanuts).

    Specific to Halifax, suppose we sell 2500-3000 tickets/game, at $10 ticket (factoring in discounts etc.). Revenue is $25-30K/gm., plus merch sales, plus or minus (likely minus) the deal with the Trade Centre for use of facilities and concessions sales. For sake of argument, let’s say game day brings in 15K. The only other real source of revenue is corporate sponsorship. In these parts, corporate spoinsorship is thin.

    I know Halifax’s travel costs go up but if they can triple the number of home games and add only one extra month of play, it actually makes the Rainmen more viable, not less.

    NBA schedules teams on 6-game, two-week roadtrips all the time; baseball teamns routinely do 10 or 14 day roadtrips followed by homestands. Creative scheduling would let Halifax go on 4 or 5 extrended roadtrips a year, by bus, and play double-dips on back to-back nights with teams coming here rather than bring teams in for single games.

    This stuff is doable, it’s just numbers. And if it lets the league double the salary cap, maybe our best players won’t be forced to, uh, well, no nice way to say it, go to a third-world country like Venezuela to try to make more money.

    Just an idea…

  12. Last year mid-week games absolutely killed the Rainmen. If you only 800 people showing up at an average of $15 per ticket you’re losing $4k-6k before you even start playing players, advertising or day to day operational costs. It’s $12k-15k a night just to open the doors to the MetroCentre and pay game day staff, plus there are mandatory ticketing charges. I agree with the idea that the Rainmen need to play more games but I’d rather see a schedule with two weekend games EVERY weekend and an extra month on the schedule (maybe aim for 16-20 home games).

    Halifax also desperately need to get Moncton or a team in Maine (or both) into the league to make for a more reasonable travel situation for them and opponents.

    And just so we’re all on the same page: last year Halifax averaged 1818 fans per game, this year it is up to 2677. So take that for what it’s worth.

  13. Sanders lured away by ‘life-changing’ salary offer
    “Rob discussed the offer with me, and while I want to be selfish and keep him here, there was a lot of money offered and it was a no-brainer,” Levingston said. “The money that was offered was life-changing. You can’t say no to it.”

    Okay now im very curious…just how much money is RS gonna get? Inquiring minds wanna know 🙂

  14. The league runs until late July in Venezuela so at the very least it would mean he’s getting work for more than the next month which is crucial since the IBL is an insanely low paying league and is the only real spring option in North America now days.

  15. How about the Rainmen moving to either:

    The Halifax Forum or

    Dartmouth Sportsplex.

    Hear me out.

    If you have ever been in one of those 800 fans at a Raimen game you will know where I am coming from.

    When the Metro Centre is 8 percent pull it is depressing.

    Put a sold out 2,000 is the Forum or the Sportsplex and it would be an amazing atmosphere. We just aren’t ready for the Metro Centre. Let’s face it.

    Way cheapier to rent. Fill the joint. Do we want to be like the Expos? 500 fans in a 60,000 seat stadium or have sold out nights at the Forum?

    I know what I want. Forum.

  16. Sorry my last post had a few grammar errors. This is correct…

    How about the Rainmen moving to either:

    The Halifax Forum or

    Dartmouth Sportsplex.

    Hear me out.

    If you have ever been in one of those 800 fans at a Raimen game you will know where I am coming from.

    When the Metro Centre is 8 percent full it is depressing.

    Put a sold out 2,000 in the Forum or the Sportsplex and it would be an amazing atmosphere. We just aren’t ready for the Metro Centre. Let’s face it.

    The Forum is way cheapier to rent. Fill the joint. Do we want to be like the Expos? 500 fans in a 60,000 seat stadium or have sold out nights at the Forum?

    I know what I want. Forum.

  17. Rob, congrats and best of luck on your South American adventure! We are sorry to see you go, just when we need your talent to help us get a championship.

    Joe: While I like the idea of more games in the same time frame, 3 games a week is too many for me as a fan. I have a life to live and a family to raise (not to mention the activities my kids are in), so there is no way I could commit to going 3 times a week, every week. Besides the time commitment, the cost of my 4 season ticket seats 3 times a week would get very expensive and I can’t see anyone buying season tickets for that intense a schedule, for this level of basketball. Not meaning the level of play is not worth the ticket price, but for our family, $300+ per week would add up pretty quick. I think you would have a lot more fan turnover, which increases the chances of fans not returning. That is why most sprtos franchises give discounts plus a lot of perks to their season ticket holders, because they are guaranteed sales.

    IMO, last season’s schedule was great: 18 home games over a few months gives fans a chance to schedule the Rainmen into their lives. 10 games, with breaks of a few weeks in between home stands, is too short. Just think how successful the Rainmen business could have been if we would have another 8 home games this year, with average attendance up like 50% from last season?

    Mania: As for Metro Centre vs. another venue, we have already talked about this in Section 22/23. The Metro Centre has got to be the place. We are doing well attendance-wise and this will only increase, with a solid coach and more player talent than last season. If the Rainmen could handle the venue costs through the hardest part of establishing the team’s identity, it would be a mistake to now go to a smaller venue.

    The Forum and Sportsplex are a big step down, as venues go, not just in size but in appearance, amenities, and overall feel. If we want the Rainmen to fail, send them to either of these places. A lot of people in Halifax will not go to Dartmouth — don’t get me started on that issue — and the Forum is so decrepit that a lot of people wouldn’t go there either, especially at current ticket prices. I know the team would save money, but at what cost? If we had started in the Forum and moved up to the Metro Centre this year, that would be one thing, but I honestly cannot see the long-term benefits of moving to a smaller location, especially if the D-League is a real goal for the Rainmen. For a city of 400,000, we should be able to put 4,000+ people in the stands every game. That is the difference between us and most other PBL teams: we have the population base to be very successful, once the public learns about the Rainmen. With Coach Berry and this year’s crop of players, we have the capability to really grow.

  18. Just a couple of clarifications on my earlier post.

    –I was never talking about 3 homes games/week all season long. Just the weeks they are home. I do think there should be a lot more games on the schedule. Obviously, half home, half away.

    –I agree midweek games should be more rare, as compared to weekends. But those midweek dates are the games you can let people in for $5 to fill seats. No point in doing 2-for-1 this Sunday when last Sunday had 4,000 fans and we humped Vermont. Do your 2-for-1 on Tuesday night.

    –Last year we went a five week stretch without a home game. We’re about to go four weeks again or thereabouts. This ABSOLUTELY KILLS a team’s mojo in its home market. We need Rainmen stories in the papers five days a week (minimum) to grow awareness/base.

    The players are under contract anyway. They are professional basketball players. Have them play basketball often.

  19. I spoke about this before in more detail, but the Forum and Sportsplex would be the kiss of death for the Rainmen. Halifax doesn’t go to those buildings. They are seen as second rate.

    Look at the last pro team to play at the Sportsplex, the Dartmouth Destroyers.

    Die hards might go, but I think you would lose the casual fans like children. The Forum is decripit and the Sportsplex hasn’t drawn for anything almost ever. Kids don’t see those as fun places they want to go.

  20. I agree with the double-header weekend idea, that way teams can make half as many trips to each location. I think the Rainmen and league have tried to do that.

    Kudos to the Rainmen for vastly improving their schedule this year to mostly weekend games! However, the fact that we have had such huge gaps in our home schedule last season and this season makes it tougher for fans to stay pumped, although casual fans may not take notice since they are not on the blog every day, checking for news and giving our opinions and ideas!

  21. BigDaddy and Joe,

    I love the Metro Centre. I just hope the Rainmen can handle the costs of that building.

    I’d love to see 4,000 fans a night there. Can we get there? I hope so.

    But, if god forbid we slide into the 1,000 range… I just hate the atmosphere of those super small crowds and all the orange seats staring at us. Down right depressing. Hope we don’t go there again.

    Bigger and better, let’s hope for that instead.

  22. The Metro Centre has decent atmosphere with 4,000 people. The problem is that 4,000 is the exception, not the rule. If the Rainmen averaged 5,000 or 6,000 in the Metro Centre, the atmosphere would be great and Andre would be making tons of money (or maybe he’d lower ticket prices a little bit)

    To use the baseball minor league rating system (AAA, AA, A) the Metro Centre is a solid AAA venue, but the PBL is an A league. Some of the other teams in the PBL play in high school gyms. The Metro Centre is overkill for this league or for any team that averages only 2,000 per game. Didn’t Andre once say his breakeven was around 2,000 per game?

    Maybe I’m in the minority, but I’d rather watch the Rainmen with 1,000 empty seats in the Sportsplex than 8,000 empty seats at the Metro Centre.

    And just to put attendance into context, almost half of the D-League teams average under 2,500 per game. The Rainmen already have excellent minor league basketball attendance.

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