The Rainmen lost a heartbreaker after playing a fantastic first half. They jumped out to a ten point lead in the first thanks to some excellent ball movement and very good defense, but Manchester stormed back with huge third quarter and Halifax simply weren’t able to get the stops they needed.
The Millrats were undermanned and way undersized (they brought just eight players, but two ended up injured and played the whole game with three guards on the floor) but shot better then I think I’ve seen a team shoot from beyond the arc (63%!). They also came out after the half and made some adjustments (a trapping defense to take advantage of Halifax’s laziness in bringing the ball up the floor) and figured out Halifax’s offensive sets. Halifax look much better on offense than they did under Lewis, but the problem is that they only really know the first option on most of their offensive sets which means that once people figure out the first option Halifax have nowhere to go since they don’t know what plan B and C are. To make matters worse, Halifax were unable to break Manchester’s very simple 2-3 zone, or use their size advantage in the post.
On defense Halifax were sloppy in transition and in the half court were slow to rotate, the end result was a lot of uncontested, or barely contested, three point attempts and Manchester were shooting the lights out. Manchester’s shooting was certainly helped by Halifax’s insistence on going under high screens and just allowing Manchester to shoot off the dribble.
Individually I thought Crookshanks played well except for one thing which he has done consistently since coming to Halifax: He insists on dribbling the ball up the court in transition and turning the ball over. Just give it to a guard!!!!!!!!!!! I have no problem with him passing from the high post, but he should handle the ball in the full court. That’s why we have guards. It was infuriating as he played great defense and caused a number of turnovers/battled for tough rebounds only to toss the ball away.
Bennett played well and I thought he was going to light up in the fourth quarter and lead the charge back… but he couldn’t quite get it going. He did miss a breakaway dunk off a steal that then resulted in a Manchester three pointer. That dunk would have cut the lead to 3 but instead ended up in an 8 point Manchster lead, and Halifax never got any closer. It was bad.
Millien had his best game as Rainman, scoring 19 points including two three point attempts.
Silverhorn was hurt and didn’t dress. Zach Ramey warmed up but didn’t play.
It’s officially the end of Halifax’s slim play off hopes. I guess I’ll have more thoughts on that another time.
The pre-game brunch for season ticket holders was really nice. It was a good, professional spread and Andre and Jad greeted everyone at the door. Twyman and Eric showed up to thank everyone for coming and there was a whole lot of very good food. Certainly a meal of a monetary value which greatly exceeds the cost of a student ticket.
We rode Rob Spon, the Manchester coach, pretty tough all game and once it was clear that they had the game in the bag he was not shy about giving it back to us. There are two types of coaches/players who do that: the kind that are just angry about it (think Randy Gill) and the kind who see it as funny and are good spirited about it: Coach Spon and Millrats GM Ian McCarthy fall into the second category. They’re both good guys who had a sense of humour about the belligerent Halifax fans, and I wish the Millrats the best of luck in the play offs.
Attendance was 3,743 which is the third highest of the season. It’s also the highest ever total for a game that wasn’t either the season opener or promotional night (i.e. no kids night/BOGO night). The Rainmen have averaged 2,812 fans per game this season with a total of 26,237 people coming out over the course of nine games. The organization can crack the 30,000 tickets sold mark by getting 1,882 people per game for the last two games. I would certainly call this a successful year 2 at the gate, and I would be shocked if the Rainmen didn’t make the jump into the 3,500 range next year.