Rainmen Want to Draw 5,500 Fans Per Game Next Year

No one can ever say that Andre Levingston lacks ambition.  He told Chris Cochrane of the Herald that he wants the team to average 5,500 fans per game next year.  That’s ambitious.

This year saw a jump from 1800 fans per game to 2800 fans per game a 67% increase in just one year, which is huge.  If they can somehow get a similar increase over the next off season we’d be looking at about 4,700 fans per game which seems to be a more realistic goal.  That said, Andre isn’t just assuming people will show up, he’s a smart enough business man to know he has to work for it and he mentions hiring experts in ticket sales and more staff to try to increase attendance.

I think a first step would be a decrease in ticket prices, but not to the level of absurdity that the Rochester Razor Sharks have done it.  $5 tickets for children 12 and under should be the norm.  Slight decreases in other tickets might not be a bad idea, but the kids tickets are crucial.  It’s just too expensive to bring a family to a game, and if kids go then you know their parents are too.  They need to be more aggressive on group sales and actively seek out groups to sell to.  The season tickets should be advertised as including the extra events they hosted this year.   They also need to decide what exactly they want to do with special event nights – “big name” performers before games haven’t delivered and the only promotion nights that really work are kids night (the first time) and two for one night.  Military Families night in the first year was successful despite short lead time, and I think nights like that which target specific groups should be the goal for next year.  I also think that the graphic design of newspaper ads needs to improve greatly.

The article has lots of other little bits of info including Andre saying that he hopes to have a coach in place by the start of June and that Berry is his first choice.

In other news:  The Black Basketball Association is running its annual tournament starting on May 18.  The quality is often uneven but there are occasional high level pros – guys playing in the first division in Germany, second division players in Spain, PBL/CBA/DLeague/ABA guys, NCAA guys on summer vacation and even NBA guys from time to time.  There isn’t an established Pro-Am league in Canada so tournaments like this are as close as we get.  I ran into Eric yesterday and he said he’s playing in the tournament on a team with Strick.  Watching Strick in a situation which is a bit closer to streetball is an opportunity I don’t think I can afford to miss.  I’ve run into Eric a few times and he will be in the city all summer (minus a short trip home to Oakland) and is doing summer camps and promotional work for the sponsors he has (Coke and Rogers for the most part).  Athletes always talk about how much they love the city they’re playing in, with Eric I actually believe it.

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Rochester vs. Battle Creek: Live Blog of the PBL Finals

Some formatting made me lose the whole post, so I am live blogging starting at 8:19

8:19:  Sammy Monroe of the Razor Sharks breaks the backboard on a breakaway dunk.  Same thing happend last year and it took 40 minutes to clean up.  What is up with the rims in Rochester?  The announcers have been total homers all night, calling the Rochester players by their nicknames (“Oh no, watch out!  Here comes Slamming Sammy!”)

8:26  They cut to a commercial after the break… but now they’re just running a graphic with no sound for the last six minutes.  Fantastic webcast!

8:30 Still on an empty graphic with no audio.  People are coming online trying to watch the game and are very confused since the graphic has no explanation.

8:31 The folks on the live chat are now tossing around conspiracy theories.  I don’t think I buy it, but Monroe looked DESPERATE to get to the rim with a dunk.  He got fouled on one attempt earlier and got blocked right afterwards.  It seems fishy but I am not crazy enough to suggest that this was a set up.

8:35 GOLF?!  They JUST cut to golf!   No explanation.  Great production values, PBL.  Professional!

8:38  It appears to be amateur golf players who had their buddy tape them on a hand held digital recorder… they’re terrible.

8:40 Still golf.  So bad.  At least at this rate I won’t have to choose between the PBL finals and Gossip Girl.

8:41  The show is called “Real Guys, Real Golf” which would explain why one of the dudes attempted a 60 foot put from the rough and the loudest guy is fatter than Xavier Morton.

8:44  According to someone on the live chat they’re gluing the new back board in place… by which I assume they’re collecting the shards of the shattered backboard and reassembaling it piece by piece.  That would explain the delay.

8:57 The rim broke 38 minutes ago and the webcast still has no explanation for what’s going on.  I am currently watching 6 middle aged men eat lunch after a round of golf.  They’re not kidding when they call this “real guys, real golf.”  It’s just too real for me.

8:59  40 minues… no word on the webcast.  But the PBL sure got a picture on its website in a hurry!

9:03  I think some awful MMA action is now on… but so is Gossip Girl!  Line of the night: After it’s suggested to Blair that she attend NYU: “Just because I lost out on Yale does not mean that I am settling for some non-Ivy reading Beloved six times and experimenting with lesbianism.”  It’s no “Princeton is a trade school, there is only Yale” but it’s pretty awesome. Fuck the PBL, the real action is on the A-Channel right now.

9:07 I take it back, this is actually a decent fight.  Both guys have pretty good BJJ.

9:16  Chuck Liddell is corning one of the guys in this heavy weight fight… so strange!

9:26 I checked Sherdog.com and this fight is from March, 2008… that is some impressive programming that At-sports TV has some real A-list programming.

10:09 Questionable charge call (guy was clearly still sliding to the side) on Battle Creek.  The reffing has been just terrible. 63-49 for Rochester.

9:27 ONE HOUR AND TEN MINUTES!

9:28 AND WE’RE BACK!!!!! Showing highlights from last year!

9:29 AND WE’RE BACK FOR REAL!

9:31 Since Gossip Girl is still on I am only watching the game on with the sound on when the commercials are on.

9:33 17-9 for Rochester.  Battle Creek can’t get their defense going.

9:35 BC’s getting the turnover machines going.  Big steal by Johnson.

9:38 Whatever happend to Ron Rollerson?  He just disapeared from the Rochester roster with a few weeks left in the regular season but no mention was ever made on the transactions page…. hmmm….

9:41 a Rochester player is getting blood wiped off him… and it’s taking three minutes.  The rules are that he needs to be subbed out.  The officials would never be biased in Rochester would they?

9:46  Battle Creek narrowed the gap to six but Rochester are scoring inside whenever they want.

9:48 It’s the end of the first quarter and the Battle Creek Knights trail the Rochester Screw Jobs 35-26.

9:52 Morton and Reeves continue to dominate inside, lots of offensive rebounds.  Monroe threw down another dunk.  Unlike most guys he actually dunks in traffic and takes it hard to the rim.  It’s impressive.53-27 for the Screw Jobs.

9:58 Alan White got a techinical for no appearant reason… this is getting embarassing.  This is ABAish. 53-36.

10:03  Keith Friel mugs a Battle Creek player in the lane – he gets both arms on a shot attempt.  No call.  He’s the MVP.

10:15 This has been a chippy game, but you have to wonder if the fouls and injuries are going to add up in a hurry for the Knights.  The more fouls and the more physical the game is the better it is for the screw jobs.

10:19 It’s half time and it’s 71-55 for the Screw Jobs.

10:31 Interview with the owner of the PBL/Rochester… he claims that the PBL offered to buy the D-league… huh…

10:38  Rochester keep throwing a zone at the Knights, which is somehow giving them fits.  You’d think an undersized team would be better from the outside, but the Knights seem to rely on generating turnovers and just running on teams.

10:40 Another blown call.  Westby gets his fourth foul on what should have been a charge call.  It was hard to see at full speed so I won’t get too worked up about this one.

10:42  Keith Langhorne needs to heat up if Battle Creek are going to win this.

10:43  The announcers both have huge man crushes on Keith Friel. They’re drooling all over their microphones.

10:49 97-66… this is either going to be the greatest comeback ever, or a really terrible showcase for the PBL.

10:50  Battle Creek are now just out of gas.  Unless something crazy happens the Rochester Screw Jobs are just going to keep extending this lead.

10:58 How is this even fun for Rochester fans?  Your team gets a blow out win because of the screw job that the league laid on the other team.  Doesn’t that feel empty? How can you really enjoy watching this?

11:09 113-87 and Battle Creek are trying as hard as they can to get back in this.  They’re creating turnovers and playing hard.  I just don’t know if they have enough time or enough horses to make this come back.

11:13 Xavier Morton looks much better for Rochester than he ever did for Montreal.  I really think Halifax should have pursued him when Montreal went under.

11:17.  The refs are making sure that Rochester do not blow this win.  Rochester player steals the ball and slides seven feet across the floor on his back.  At the end of his long slide he calls a time out.  That should have been a travel.

11:27   God god, this game is not going to end before midnight.

11:34  30 seconds left, Rochester make a douchebag showboat dunk.  Game’s done.  What a disaster for the league.  This is just bad.

““It’s not just coming in and you already have a team in place and you coach it. “

There was an article in today’s Metro (I think it’s the first since the day after the season ended) in which Andre Levingston talks about his expectations of the role of coach for next year.  He says that the coach will have to be more involved in scouting and selecting the players for the team.  Which I think is a very, very good thing and a step in the right direction.  On the downside, lots of involvement may reduce the chances of Berry returning.  If you look at what he said after the season ended as well as his body language in the finals weeks of the season you’ve got to think that the odds are that he’s not coming back.  Here are my picks for who the Rainmen should pursue to coach the team next year in no particular order:

Les Berry: The Rainmen got noticably better defensively under him and his offense would work if he had a pre-season training camp to actually put it in place.  He’s a local guy and the players seemed to like him.  If you can bring back a quality coach you need to do it for numerous reasons.

Jan van Breda Kolff: The current coach of the Nashville Broncs in the ABA.  He’s spent a lot of time in the NCAA DI ranks coaching Cornell, Vanderbilt, St. Bonaventure and Pepperdine.  He got embroiled in an eligibility scandal which was not his fault in 2003 and has bounced around a number of assistant coaching gigs before landing with the Broncs.  He has the pedigree and the experience (he played briefly in the NBA in addition to his coaching credentials) and he seems very unhappy with the Nashville situation.  If he’s going to be in the minors you’ve got to think he’d want to be with a team with full-time players.

Paul Afif: He coached the Dallas PBL team and the ABA’s Texas Tycoons last year and he has a keen eye for talent.  He was supposed to be coaching Buffalo’s PBL entry this year but he just sort of disapeared.  He’s a young guy with lots of coaching upside who seems to know what he’s doing.  He has an excellent reputation and success at this level both in the wins column and in the quest to get guys to “the next level.”

I think Tim Kendricks should also get a look, and they should at least consider offering Strick an assistant coaching position.  That guy can’t play forever and he’s loved by teammates and fans.

The article also mentions that both Eric and Tyronne McNeal will be in Halifax for the summer working on the Rainmen camps.  It’s good to know that both guys are still with the organization and after his flashes of potential at the end of the season I really want McNeal back.  Eric would have been staying in shape and playing summer ball no matter what, but this allows the team to make sure McNeal continues making progress over the summer.

AJ Millien Named to All-PBL Second Team

Only one Rainman made an All-PBL team list this year and it was on the strength of his play for another franchise.  AJ Millien was named to the second team. I really thought that Tony Bennett was one of the best all-around guards in the league, but could you really justify putting two Halifax players in the top 11?(Why on earth is it not ten?)  I can certainly justify two Halifax players before I could justify two Detroit players.  They finished 4 games below .500 and were never even in the play-off hunt, and played in an incredibly weak division. In fact, the first team has three players whose teams won a combined 11 games!  You’d need to add Buffalo, Detroit and Quebecs total wins together just to get one game over .500 on the season.  Absurd.

The other major shocker to me is that Manchester, despite winning a tough division and playing high quality ball.  You can’t tell me that Al Stewart or Desmond Ferguson don’t at least deserve to be second team all-stars.

First Team:

Keith Friel Guard Rochester RazorSharks
Rashi Johnson Guard Battle Creek Knights
Randy Gill Guard Detroit Panthers
Cedric McGinnis Forward Wilmington Sea Dawgs
Tyrone Rayson Forward Buffalo Stampede
Jonas Pierre Center Quebec Kebs

2008-09 PBL ALL-LEAGUE SECOND TEAM

Player Position Team
Alex Harper Guard Wilmington Sea Dawgs
Benson Callier Guard Vermont Frost Heaves
James Reaves Forward Rochester RazorSharks
AJ Millien Forward Halifax Rainmen
Walt Waters Center Detroit Panthers


My picks for year end awards after the jump:

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Season Wrap Up Part I: On Court Report Card

It’s report card time.  I will also be making an off-court report card as well as a post trying to analyze exactly where things went wrong with the team.  But for now let’s take a look at how the individual parts of this team performed over the last few months.  Some notes before you look at my rankings after the jump:

  • I am only counting games played for Halifax so guys like Anderson and Millien only get credit for work done for the Rainmen.  Sorry Slim.
  • Players who were not on the team at the end of the season do not count for the final over all mark.
  • This looks at individual players, not how things actually fit together as a whole.
  • It’s a mark based on how well players fulfilled the role that was asked of them.  If you’re getting 15 minutes off the bench then I don’t expect the same from you as I do if you were a starter.
  • Everyone’s mark is added up the same and then averaged at the end.  So Tyrone McNeal’s mark affects the team just as much Tony Bennett’s.

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Wilmngton Defeat Vermont, 96-90

Vermont almost made a big comeback bet fell short.  It was a very, very good game from what I saw.  This means that former Rainman Kadiri Richard will be in the semi-finals.

I passed in the final draft of my honours thesis yesterday so I’ll start up all the season wrap up posts starting tomorrow.

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