So after two seasons in the books (Halifax have two games left… but they’ll be terrible games against an undermanned Montreal team) it’s probably a good time to evaluate who the best players the Rainmen’s history as well as to look back at some of the worst. People should post their own lists, but mine are after the jump.
A few general thoughts:
- Halifax have had 4 centres in the team’s history, and all but one have been absolutely terrible to the point where we’ve almost always seen powerforwards at centre. Even though KD, Strick, Eric, Jon Clark and Bailey have all played significant minutes at centre I have only included natural centres here.
- Halifax were more successful in year two, and more importantly the level of play in the PBL is way, way above anything we have saw in the ABA. It’s not surprising that more first year guys are on the Worst Five and more second year guys are on the Best Five.
- Halifax has had a lot of really questionable wing players with Brian Silverhorn being the only small forward who has lasted a whole season and a pretty limited number of two guards on the roster at any time – remember Blandon Ferguson used to play 40+ minutes a night. By contrast I’d guess that of Halifax’s best ten players over the last two years at least four (Millien, Crookshanks, Sanders, KD) of them have been powerforwards and the team has also had a lot of good role players at the 4 spot (Oliver, Bailey).
Centre – When I first started thinking about this idea for a post I got sad. I was sad because I couldn’t figure out who the worst and best centres in franchise history are. The reason it’s a problem is because until recently the three true centres that the team had all could have been the best or the worst depending on how you’re feeling because they were all terrible. McNeal is a big, out of shape, raw jump shooter who is afraid of contact. Eichelberger was a skinny jump shooter who was afraid of contact who had a good college career but seemed terrified every time he stepped onto the floor in a Rainmen uniform. James Tyler was a big, out of shape, raw player who had only been playing basketball for two years. I was ready to go with Tyler for this list and then I saw Reggie George play. He wasn’t spectacular, but he wasn’t terrible and that’s enough to make him Halifax’s best ever centre. It still sort of makes me sad.
Power Forward – This organization has had too many powerforwards and many of them have been very good. Period. That said, I am going with Rob Sanders on this one. The guy got to the foul line at ease, was an unbelievable defensive rebounder, played defense when he had to, but most importantly did all the small things: set hard picks, fouled hard, stood up for teammates, dove for loose balls, etc. Those things push him ahead of athletic scorers like Eric and AJ Millien.
Small Forward – Good god. Part of the problem is that a series of powerforwards have occupied this spot for most of the 09-09 season: Jeanty, Millien and Anderson. Last year Silverhorn just never came off the floor. By process of elimination I am going with Brian Silverhorn. Not because he’s good, but because I don’t think I have any choice in the matter since I still think Anderson and Jeanty are powerfowards playing out of position.
Shooting Guard – Tony “The Voice” Bennett. Sometimes he takes ill advised shots, but the guy is phenomenal. If he had a lot more size (like five more inches of it) I see no reason why he wouldn’t be a Euroleaguer or on the doorstep to the Association. He scores at will, is incredibly quick and manages to get a whole lot of steals. His deep shooting could use some work, but I still think he’s far better than anyone else we’ve seen at this spot.
Point Guard – Is there really any debate here? Jermaine Anderson never should have put on the Rainmen uniform but we’re lucky he did. The guy is having a great season in Germany right now (13.56 ppg, good for 17th; 4.1 apg, 3rd in the Bundesliga; and 7th in the league in assist to turnover ratio) and did not look out of place guarding NBA players in international competition this summer. I don’t expect him to ever be an NBA star or anything, but would anyone be shocked if he was the third point guard for a team like Toronto or Milwaukee? Is he any worse than Derrick Martin?
Centre – There are a lot more options for all the spots on this list. I am going to go with Tyronne McNeal (the only year two guy on this list). How little playing time has he gotten this year? I had to go to the rainmenbasetball.ca to go look up his first name. I kept wanting to call him Stephen McNeal (who is worse at his job, but may be a better centre) or Kevin McNeal (no idea why). The guy might be a great player but for various reasons he’s never had the chance to show it. Chad Eichelberger may have had a slimmer frame but both player shy away from contact and Eichelberger at least showed a bit of a handle and occasional flashes of shot blocking ability. James Tyler was actually okay when not in foul trouble. I feel bad putting McNeal on this list since he seems to have been hurt all season, but I call ’em as I see ’em.
Power Forward – As I’ve mentioned I actually think the Rainmen have had a lot of really good powerfowards. Tons of them. Too many. I am actually having a bit of trouble thinking of who should be at this spot. Even marginal guys who didn’t get much playing time were contributors to the team. I actually think every power forward this team has had has been a legit contributor, which remarkable. Since I have to choose someone I am going with Dennie Oliver. He played above his size before disappearing in the last months of the season, and he rebounded, played okay defense and hit open threes in the corner – he was sort of like Robert Horry. He’s only on the worst five because he’s the only power forward that the Rainmen have had who I think would be totally out classed in the PBL. So he’s not bad, he’s just not on the level of the other players who have suited up at the four spot for the Rainmen. If anyone can think of someone I am missing I am willing to reconsider this choice.
Small Forward – Remember LeBoise Gladden? That guy sucked. Holy crap did he suck. Dude was terrible.
Shooting Guard – Whenever Halifax are at home and they’re down by fifteen points with two and a half minutes left I turn to the person next to me and say “Get out the chips and dip.” They almost always look confused. Those last two minuets of a disapointing loss are the point where dozens of people from 2008-2009 would start chanting “We Want Dip! We Want Dip!” and Rick Lewis would look down the bench and call on Derico Wigginton-Downey to check in. He’d get in the game and everyone would cheer. He’d miss a three pointer, stand around on d for a posession, slowly jog up the court like he was scared. Then he’d miss a one handed dunk as the ball bounced downcourt and the other team hit a lay up. He would then try to run the point and turn the ball over off the dribble and the other team would dribble the game out. Fantastic! Local connection gone wrong. Poor kid should never have been asked to join the team and should have been invited to practice with the team while being forced to upgrade his marks so he could go to SMU or Dal. Those last two minutes of home games were embarrassing for everyone: for a player who was in over his head, for fans who embarrassed themselves with their local guy homerism, and for an organization who put us all through that. What a mess.
Point Guard – The first story I “broke” with this blog was the release of Hardy Riley. I can’t go back and read that post because it’s quite frankly embarrassing for me. I totally over reacted as a result of not getting how minor sports really work. It is telling in retrospect that other players on the team were upset with his getting cut: it shows just how few guys who had been around the minor league block were on this team last year. The guy never should have been on the team in the first place, he was a score first point guard who couldn’t score and was like 5’7″. He really brought nothing to the table except for his charming ways with women and Halifax got better with his departure.
Two other things:
- I’ll do a series big year end round up posts after I hand in my honours Thesis/after the regular season is over next week. It’ll include the year end report cards I did last year as well as some stuff meant to spur on discussion of where we think things went right and wrong on and off the court.
- I 100% expect, nay demand, that Chad Lucas makes his opinion on the best and worst known and that he be mean about it. You’ve got freedom to be a jerk now, Lucas. Use it.