Lots to update, thanks for the most part to Mathew Wuest and the Halifax Metro.
First off: Remember when the team was being announced last year and everyone on this blog was saying “this team needs role players”? Yeah… well Levingston agrees now. He’s saying that he wants to go find three or four dominant guys and surround them with role players.
After the season, Levingston was talking about bringing back Jimmy Twyman, Eric Crookshank, Michael Anderson and Tony Bennett. He mentions that he wants to bring back Eric and the Voice – Bennett is a question of money, and I think I would bet a limb on Eric’s return. Twyman is mentioned as only being viable as a back up, which I think is a good call. Anderson isn’t even mentioned and it’s implied that the team are looking for a new starting small forward.
I am not convinced you win the PBL championship of Eric Crookshank is your first or second offensive option. His athleticism isn’t as dominant as it was in the ABA and his post up and mid-range games are just way too inconsistent to lean on down the stretch. However, I do think you win the PBL championship if Eric is scoring off put backs, deflecting passes and rebounding. I think he needs to look to re-invent himself as an energy guy who creates total chaos on defense and crashes for offensive boards. I think Bennett is a fantastic starting shooting guard, but he needs to have a small forward and point guard who can actually shoot the ball to make up for his low percentage from deep.
Levingston drops some names on the new players he’s pursuing and for the most part they are former CBA guys. With the collapse of the Continental Basketball League there are a lot quality minor league players out there. Some of them certainly mid-level European talent (i.e. German League type guys) but have chosen to stay in North America for various reasons. Unfortunately, some of the minor league talent out there choose to stay in the US due to passport issues and those players won’t be heading North to play for the Rainmen. Some of the names mentioned in the article include:
- PG Jason McLeish, a NYC native who had a strong D1 career at Eastern Kentucky. Definitely a legit starting PG.
- Trayvon Lathan, a 6’6″ shooting guard who played D3 ball and is currently playing for the Los Angeles Lightening in the IBL (a team that features a crazy assortment of washed up NBA guys). I have a hard time seeing him as anything other than a back up wing player.
- DeAndre Thomas, a 6″8 big man… who could be a massive coup if it is who I think it is. The only detail we get on him is that he’s friends with Bennett and is 6’8″, but a 6’8″ DeAndre Thomas played for the Indiana Hoosiers for a year before leaving the team in 2008 as part of absolute clusterfuck that was Hoosiers basketball. He then suited up for Robert Morris (College, not U) in the NAIA. The guy is massive – he was 285 -300 lb when he left Indiana. He didn’t exactly light the NCAA up, but “Big Dre” has the sort of size that the Rainmen were looking for all year, but fitness is obviously a major concern.
- Galen Young, a 6’7″ minor league veteran. Back in the late 90s he played for UNC-Charlotte and was a 2nd round pick by the Milwaukee Bucks. He was cut before the season started and has played in various overseas leagues and the CBA ever since. He was CBA player of the year in 2007 and would bring experience, leadership and versatility to the team. In his prime he was a triple double machine but he’s exactly ten years older than me and will be 34 by the time training camp starts.
Of course, none of these guys are actually signed and there’s no indication that they’re interested in joining the Rainmen, but it’s nice to know that the team has already started looking seriously at players.
The second article in the Metro is about Strick. Appearently he’s lost weight and is trying to get into shape for next season. He’s another guy who age is catching up to him, but he plays a game that exploits his veteran experience and compensates for his lack of athleticism. If he does return, Levingston says, it will be in a reserve role. What’s more interesting is that he’s helping the Rainmen out by serving as an informal scout and helping the Rainmen staff find talent in NYC, and it sounds like he’s gunning for a spot in the front office of the Rainmen. I am not convinced that the Rainmen need a dedicated GM, but I’d like to see them bring Strick in as an assistant coach and player for this season and give him some additional scouting responsibilities. I think he could learn a lot from Berry and he’s respected by players. Every Rainman I’ve talked to has said that he is the smartest player they’ve ever played with and if he was willing to accept an assistant/scouting role then I think you’ve got to give him a go on that.
Finally, just a reminder: The Rainmen are playing host to a streetball tour called 94Inc in early August. Basically, it’s a team of former And1 guys who figured they can do this themselves without a big company exploiting their labour. Obviously I back this. If anyone is interested in playing against them, there will be an open run on August 8th to try out for the local opposition. Keep an eye on the Rainmen’s website for details. Hopefully we’ll see Eric somehow be involved in this – I doubt we’ll see him play, but it would be cool to have him coach.