Levingston Raiding the CBA, Strick Looking for Front Office Gig and a Reminder to Tryout for to Play at the Metro Centre

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.

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Rainmen Scouting Players, Hosting Streetball Game

Two bits of fairly minor news:

First, Les Berry and Andre Levingston are in San Francisco and NYC scouting pro-am leagues for talent.  The San Francisco pro-am league is one of the better summer leagues where you might find unsigned talent, and NYC is obviously home to a ton of very gifted basketball players.  Levingston identifies the need for a legit centre and a legit point guard as priorities.  It’s nice to know that the scouting is underway and that the organization sees the same flaws as most intelligent fans do.  Scoring wing players and athletic power forwards are a dime a dozen in the minors but guys who are true floor generals or physical beasts in the paint are not so easy to find.

Second, the Rainmen will be hosting an AND1 knock off tour on August 9th at the Metro centre.  There’s an open run the day of the game to determine who will play against the likes of “Baby Shaq” and “8th Wonder.”  Tickets for the event are pretty darn cheap: $17 on the floor, $11 in the lower bowl.  No word on if we’ll see any past or future Rainmen playing in the game.  I’m not sure if I will be buying tickets for this or not.

Levingston in Metro, Calls Halifax Home

Andre is on the front page of the online edition of the Metro (I haven’t seen the paper version).  It doesn’t have any juicey bits of info about new players or staff or future plans but in it Levingston re-iterates a lot of the things that make him so likeable.  It’s pretty much impossible to meet that guy and not genuinely like him.

What Happens When Newspapers Gut the Newsroom?

It’s a rhetorical question.

This happens.

This was an “article” written by the PR department at Dalhousie and posted on the Dal website.  The Metro picked it up as a weekend online feature without even re-writing it.

I think we still get scores and game results, but the thing that is seriously missing when newspapers gut staff and pages is features and longer, in depth articles.  It’s sort of annoying when it comes to sports but hard news is in just as bad situation.

For the record, I love noon hoops although I haven’t been out in months (and showed up rarely even when I did go).  I just think it’s absurd for a newspaper to rely on PR departments for content.

Les Berry to Return as Head Coach

The Metro is reporting that Les Berry will be back as the head coach of the Rainmen next year.  Great move.  I’m happy.  If he has the freedom to build this team from the ground up on his own, go through a proper training camp, play some exhibition games and make all the personnel decisions then I see no reason why the Rainmen can’t be a contender next year.  He did great coming into an absolutely terrible situation this year and if he is allowed to do his job unhindered then I think we’re in for a great season.

On the PR front, it is great to have the coach return and even better that it’s a local guy who people are already familiar with.

I can’t find many details, but I don’t imagine there will be many more released.  I sort of feel like this was a bad time to announce it – the NBA finals are happening, we have a new government and tomorow’s sports coverage dominated by the Stanley Cup finals which are happening tonight.

Darrell Dexter Wins Majority Government

Not directly NDP related, but Darrell is the only party leader with season tickets to the Rainmen, Eric did a campaign event for the NDP and, according to Frank Magazine, the NDP hired Nancy Sheppard on contract to help out with PR work.

I wouldn’t expect this to have a substantive impact on the operation of the Rainmen.  The MetroCentre is managed by Trade Centre limited which is a provincial corporation, but it’s safe to say that the interim president, Scott Ferguson, was a vice president before that and is likely to stay on as president in the long term.  The one impact that this could have is Darrell and his wife Kelly being too busy to renew their season tickets.  I will try to get a hold of him and ask.

In self indulgent note:  The CBC read a hilarious e-mail that I wrote on the air.  Good times.

Profile of Eric Crookshank

There’s a pretty good longform interview with Eric on the Haligonia website.  It’s 12 minutes long and while there aren’t tons of new details in it I think it gives you a pretty accurate idea of what Eric is like.

Interview with Jermaine Anderson

The best player to ever suit up for the Rainmen gave an interview a few weeks ago which I just found.  It’s a bit fluffy with not a lot of details but there was one very interesting quote:

You had a tremendous individual season, what were the reasons behind your success?
J – First and foremost any success that I have is through God’s will, and the way I felt in some games it was through his grace I was able to even play. But I worked extremely hard in the offseason with a guy named Daniel Frieberg and playing in the summers with the national team really helped my game develop. Having the opportunity to play against teams such as Greece, Germany, USA, and Argentina has given me valuable game experience against some of the best teams and players in the world. Any time I get a chance to play for my country is definitely a blessing and a way to get better.


Eric Appears at NDP Campaign Event

Under the category of “hey, what are they doing this summer?” Eric appeared at an NDP campaign event in Sackville yesterday.  Stories and pictures in The Herald and The Metro.

Darrell and his wife Kelly have season tickets in section 22 and Darrell plays both noon hoops and in the over 50 league when he has time.

My favourite part:  Eric making fun of Darrell’s free throw shooting.

Rainmen Have a Busy Summer

Looks like it’ll be a busy summer for the Rainmen:

RAINMEN RELEASE SUMMER PROGRAM SCHEDULE

(Halifax, N.S.) The Halifax Rainmen has released its summer programming schedule that includes three 5-day skills camps for kids and youth, and three, 3-on-3 tournaments. The schedule kicks off on June 29th with a skills camp in Truro.

“We wanted to take our camp outside Halifax this year to give kids in another part of the province a chance to train with the Rainmen,” said Team Owner Andre Levingston.

The camps are headed by Rainmen Head Coach Les Berry and the team’s 2 Assistants Coaches, Shannon Hanson and Jeff Paris. Rainmen Power Forward Eric Crookshank has also joined the coaching staff for the summer camps.

“Any excuse I can find to stay in Halifax, I am going to do. I love it here,” said Crookshank.

The camps will be held in Truro at the NSCC, in Eastern Passage at the Tallahassee Recreation Centre and at Citadel Community Centre in Halifax. All camps are slated for July. On the weekend following each camp, the Rainmen will host a 3-on-3 tournament open to the public.

“We are challenging every street team, every company, really anyone who likes a little friendly competition to come out and register for these tournaments. Come show us what you got Halifax,” says Levingston.

Winners of the 3-on-3 will receive season tickets to next year’s Rainmen games at the Halifax Metro Centre. All camp and 3-on-3 registration information is now on the Rainmen website www.rainmenbasketball.ca.

Since the NBA 3on3 tournament stops at Moncton I think the 3 on 3 tournaments are a fun idea, but I think the most interesting thing is that Les Berry is running the camps.  I don’t want to read too much into it, but you’d think he wouldn’t have time to be running summer camps if he was back at his regular job.

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