Halifax’s basketball team held two pre-season home-openers at the Metro Centre this week.
Thursday night saw an unprecedented number of fans thanks to all the free tickets given away in a move to spark interest in the team as they faced off against their new Maritime rivals, the Saint John Mill Rats who moved here from Manchester, New Hampshire.
Friday evening brought the Quebec Kebs to town to play in front of a much smaller crowd, which is to be expected for preseason.
The Rainmen are a very different group this season after an almost complete roster overhaul. The holdouts are Devin Norris, Desmond Ferguson and Eric Crookshank but more on that later.
Rainmen owner Andre Levingston has added some talented players to fill the gaps in this seasons roster and give the Rainmen multiple options on the floor.
WHO DID IT
At point guard, the Rainmen acquired a 5’7” sparkplug in Tajuan Porter whose speed and ultra-smooth stroke from the three-point line are going to make him tough to defend, despite his size. Porter is the University of Oregon’s all-time best three-point shooter and set a Pac-10 season record for it as a freshman in 2006-07.
One interesting dynamic for the Rainmen this year is fan-favourite Eric Crookshank, who brings his explosive energy of the bench. Number 20 looks like he could thrive in this role. In the game versus Saint John, Crookshank came into the game with six minutes left in the first quarter and he immediately changed the game with a high energy put-back and big-time assist in transition. The Rainmen will likely rely on his energy all season to help fill the scoring gaps and to pull down rebounds.
BEYOND THE BOXSCORE
In their loss to Saint John on Thursday, it really came down to the fourth quarter where the wheels fell off the wagon.
The boys were trying to do it all themselves and it resulted in a lot of isolation plays that ended up in bricks and misses. Their transition game looked a little sloppy too and they just couldn’t seem to find the right spots on the break.
That trend carried into Friday night as they committed 17 turnovers in the first half alone. They really turned it around, though, in the fourth against Quebec. They were sharing the ball and getting players in their right spots. That energy and teamwork is what won the game for the Rainmen – that and a sizzling hot fourth quarter by guards Mike Mercer and Tajuan Porter.
With all that in mind, this Rainmen squad has really only been together for a matter of days but you can see that they are starting to learn a little about each other. Expect smoother offense and better team play in January when they kick off their season.
HECKLER’S ROW BURN OF THE WEEK