Livingston has done his part to try and make minor professional basketball work in Halifax. The Rainmen brass have put together a very competitive package for the Halifax sports market; A competitive team, local players and coaches, charismatic personalities like Eric Crookshank and John Strickland, games that have an “event” feel, and television coverage. Throw in the Weather Girls, Puddy, and Little Nate, and the Rainmen provide a lot of value for the price of a ticket. With the PBL all star game in Halifax and a Rainmen team that should go deep into the playoffs, this could be the year the franchise makes it big. If not, the writing may be on the wall for Livingston that Professional Basketball is not going to work in a city that has been a Mecca for university basketball in Canada.
With the amount of talent, depth, and diversity Berry has put together on the Halifax Rainmen, the coach may find himself being held accountable if the team does not make a championship run. Berry’s biggest challenge is going to be distributing playing minutes to a roster that can go 10 deep. The only friction could come from players on the cusp of the starting line-up or eight man rotation. Berry will probably not have to worry about dissention from players like Gary Gallimore, Devon Norris, and John Strickland. Strickland seems to relish his role as a 12th man fan favourite and third assistant coach, while Norris and Gallimore have to be thrilled just to be on the roster. As the season progresses the only thing that could keep this team from the playoffs is dysfunction and coaching. The latter is not likely with the well travelled Coach Berry, but he’ll find himself front and centre in blame distribution if the Rainmen season begins to go south at any point this winter.
Having survived a 12 game losing streak that had gone far past the point of acceptance with the dedicated Mooseheads faithful and local media, Russell has guided the team to 8 wins. After losing 18 of their first 20 games, the Mooseheads have played .500 hockey and miraculously still have a chance at a playoff spot. The Moose even have a win over the Saint John Sea Dogs, far and away the best team in the Q. As Russell continues to build towards year 3 of his rebuilding project, he’ll need to win close to half of the team’s remaining games as a nice show of faith to Moose fans. Herd Nation has been patient to say the least with Russell, enduring a horrific season last year and hanging in there as the team looked awful in October. Russell keeps telling us the Mooseheads are on schedule and will be much better in the second half. For his sake he better be right, another extended losing streak and the local media might finally start putting the heat on Bobby Smith to make a change.
Trevor Steinberg, Head Coach of SMU Huskies Hockey– A Return to CIS National Championships.
After the Huskies collapse last year in the CIS Semi Final to Western, Coach Steinberg and his troops need a return trip to get the program back on track. The AUS champions have looked shaky at times this season but have managed to gain 21 points, good for third place in the AUS, the most competitive conference in the countr. St FX and Acadia have emerged as contenders for number 2 in the standings, as the three schools battle to become fodder for the undefeated UNB Varsity Reds in the AUS Final. However, a trip to the final would get Steinburg back to nationals and an opportunity for redemption from last year’s stunning defeat.