This Saturday evening, the 8-2 Halifax Rainmen host another home game as they face off against the 2-7 Maryland GreenHawks. The GreenHawks who are based in Rockville, Maryland have had a rough start to the season, not only starting the season with a disappointing 2-7 record but also faced tragedy when recently signed head coach, Otis Hailey, passed away just 11 days after signing with the team. The team now looks to move on and plan on getting their season back on track. The Maryland GreenHawks (formerly the Maryland Nighthawks) changed their team name this season to the GreenHawks in an effort to be the first ever environmentally conscious sports team.
I had the chance to chat with Maryland’s General Manager, Adam Dantus. Dantus, who had started working for the Maryland organization in 2005, moved into the GM role in January of ’08. I asked Adam about the status of his team, his thoughts on the upcoming matchup with the Rainmen and what the “Green” behind the GreenHawks name means.
Romy (Haligonia.ca): First of all, our condolences go out to your team for the loss of your head coach, Otis Hailey. Let’s hear a little about Otis and his impact with the team.
Adam Dantus: As many know, Otis was brought in to replace Rob Spon as head coach. Rob has an impressive resume and experienced a great deal of success last season in the PBL with Manchester, but his style of coaching wasn’t getting it done with the team that we built. We felt it was the right time to make a coaching move and after talking with a few candidates, we felt Otis’s experience and style would be the best fit. Otis came in and from day one he changed the culture, attitude and style of our team. The guys responded and loved playing for him. He was more than a coach and was a mentor to a lot of the players. I only knew Otis for a little over a week, but the attitude he brought to Maryland was like no other.
Romy (Haligonia.ca): Now the GreenHawks’ slogan on the website is “The First Green Professional Sports Team,” what’s the meaning behind the slogan? And where did this “Green” initiative originate?
Adam Dantus: I wish I could take credit for this great idea, but it started with our team owner Tom Doyle. What this means is we are the first and only eco-friendly team. Our jerseys are made from recyclable materials, we are working with a company called Carbon Fund which replaces our carbon footprint, working with Nike by collecting used shoes at our games and recycling them to turn them into materials for playground surfaces. Our players are also constantly in schools and in the community talking to the youth about the importance of protecting and conserving our environment. When a child sees a professional athlete come into their school, they listen to what they have the say. We are not militant, but if everyone does one thing to protect the environment, the world will be a lot cleaner and better place to live.
Romy (Haligonia.ca): The GreenHawks have had a rough start with a 2-7 record, who have been some of the bright spots on this team?
Adam Dantus: Expectations coming into this season were to win the championship and we still feel like with the talent that we have on this team, we can put our self in a position to fight for playoff spot and make a run. Every team in the PBL this season is talented and no win is an easy win. Our team has shown that we can compete with the best, and as our young players really start to mature and gel with our veterans, we feel like we can have a successful second half of the season.
Romy (Haligonia.ca): You’ve faced off against some of the top teams in the PBL, including three matchups with the Puerto Rico Capitanes. Now you have another tough matchup with the Halifax Rainmen, what will your team have to do to prepare for a team like the Rainmen?
Adam Dantus: Playing these top teams such as Puerto Rico three times, Lawton twice and Rochester on the road, has better prepared us to go up against a team like Halifax. Halifax is a good defensive team that knows how to play team ball. They like to shoot a lot of threes so defending the perimeter is a must. They also know how to get to the line, but like Maryland, must do a better job on taking advantage of knocking down free throws. We are a big team so boxing out Crookshank and slowing down Tony Bennett is essential if we want to walk out with a victory.
Romy (Haligonia.ca): This will be the first matchup between Halifax and Maryland this season. From your knowledge of the Rainmen, who on the Halifax roster will cause the biggest matchup problem for Maryland?
Adam Dantus: I have to give credit to everyone on the Rainmen roster for the success that they have been experiencing this year. There is no “I” in team and I see coach Berry is doing an excellent job in utilizing his rotations. Like I said, our bigs must limit Crookshank on the boards especially on the offensive end. Every possession is crucial and we must reduce the number of second chance point opportunities. We have talented young guards who must keep their ground and keep Bennett in front of them so he does not have a big night.
Romy (Haligonia.ca): We’re at the midpoint of the PBL season and Maryland has a nice stretch of home games coming up, what will the GreenHawks need to do to bounce back in the second half? Do you foresee more roster moves or are you content with the core group of guys that you have now?
Adam Dantus: We must protect our home court. We absolutely cannot afford to lose any more games at home in front of our fans. Although I would have liked to have a better record at this point, seven of our 11 remaining games are at home so we really have to take advantage this. Right now I like our roster. We have a talented group of both young players and veterans that have played on the biggest stages in the world. Almost all of them have played at major division one programs so the talent is here, all it is now is being able play together as a team. We’ve been practicing since mid-December, so there’s been time to develop the chemistry, we can’t have any imbalanced equations at this point. By making more moves, it will disrupt this chemistry, but obviously I’m always looking to improve the team and if there’s a player or trade that would greatly benefit us, then we’ll have to consider our options.
Romy (Haligonia.ca): You are one of the youngest (if not the youngest) GMs in the PBL. If you don’t mind sharing your age, how old are you? And how did your journey to the GreenHawks’ GM take place?
Adam Dantus: I’m 22 years old, but I look at age as just a number. I’ve been working with the Nighthawks/GreenHawks since 2005 so I’ve learned a lot over the past few years. I started off as an intern, eventually did some work in the Sales and Marketing Department, then communications and just continued to work my way up the ladder. I’ve gained a tremendous amount of experience from many knowledgeable people within the organization and I’m ready to step up to the plate and really take the GreenHawks to an elite level both on and off the court. The majority of my job if done over the phone and via email since I’m dealing with GM’s from other states and countries so the biggest compliment I could receive when people meet me for the first time is, “Wow, your only 22?”
Romy (Haligonia.ca): I read that you are a Knicks fan, how happy were you to see a Knick FINALLY back in the All-Star game
Adam Dantus: I was born in New York and became an avid Knick fan back in the early-mid 90’s when they were actually good. The core of Ewing, Oakley and Starks was a very exciting team to watch that gave it their all every game. The rivalry between the Knicks and the Bulls and then the Heat was so intense. I lived and slept orange and blue. I moved down the Washington DC area and later “converted” to a Wizards fan, but they are the laughing stock of the NBA right now…would be interesting to be the GM of the Wizards right now and try to turn the ship around. But it’s good to finally see a Knick back in the All-Star game and also New York well represented at all-star weekend. It’s going to be tough for Andre to top the NBA All-Star game but I know he’s always up for the challenge!
Maryland visits the Halifax Metro Centre on Saturday night to face off against the Halifax Rainmen (Game time at 7:00pm, watch it live here on Haligonia.ca!)
A big thanks goes out to Adam for taking the part in our Q and A, be sure to check out more about the Maryland GreenHawks at their official website.