Friday, November 07, 2014

2014-15 Halifax Rainmen Team Preview

Joey Haywood // @halifaxrainmen
After starting the season 0-10, the Halifax Rainmen turned their season around and pushed their way into the second round of the playoffs. This season, ownership have gone in a new direction with major changes from top to bottom. These changes include a new CEO in Charmaine MacIsaac, but one of the most significant additions was bringing back head coach Joseph Claros. Claros was responsible for leading the Rainmen to the finals in the NBLC’s first season. The Rainmen also made waves by signing the NBLC’s first Japanese player in Seiya Ando.      

While last season relied heavily on veteran leadership, this years squad boast a bounty of athletic, run-you-out-of-the-gym youngsters. Rainmen faithful can look forward to seeing a younger, more athletic roster that will look to push the pace this season. The Rainmen look to compete in a competitive Atlantic division that saw the Island Storm and Saint John Millrats make major off-season signings.

Off-Season Additions- SG Justin Tubbs, G Joey Haywood, PG Seiya Ando, F Mike Martin, F Emmanuel Jones, PG JP Foster, G/F Tyrone Watson, SG Sefton Barrett, C Jason Hannibal

The Rainmen add two former NBLC all stars in explosive guard Justin Tubbs and by re-signing fan favorite Joey Haywood. Tubbs comes back to the NBLC after a brief stint in France, while Haywood signed after playing for Basket Ligaen in Denmark. Seiya Ando brings a lot more to the Rainmen than just being the first Japanese player in the NBLC, he adds much needed depth to the point guard position. Both Jason Hannibal and Sefton Barrett add valuable international experience while also rounding out the Canadians required for the roster. The Rainmen will look to forward Mike Martin for his long distance shooting to fill the hole left with the departure of Chris Matthews. The final Canadian to round out the roster is guard/forward Tyrone Watson. Point guard PJ Foster and forward Emmanuel Jones round out the roster and will be looked upon to provide depth off the bench.

Off-Season Losses- F Brian Addison, F Raven Barber, SF Olu Famutimi (trade), SG Chris Matthews, F Robert Nortmann, SF Jason Williams, F Oludamilola Sapara, G Abe Toulani

The biggest loss, or three losses are the departure of their top three scorers from last season. Forward Jason Williams (18.9), shooting guard Chris Matthews (13.8) and forward Olu Famutimi (13.4). It seems puzzling that the Rainmen traded Famutimi during the off-season for the rights to rookie Brandon Cooper as he failed to make the final roster. Fortunately for the Rainmen, they’ve added key pieces in Haywood and Tubbs that will help with the loss.

Guard Abe Toulani, forward Robert Nortmann and forward Oludamilola Sapara will be easily replaced as all three players failed to find regular minutes in the rotation.  

While forward Raven Barber was inconsistent at times, his scoring will be missed in his departure. He added valuable scoring off and rebounding off the bench and was ready to step into the starting role when called upon.

Guards- Justin Tubbs, Joey Haywood, Seiya Ando, Clifford Clinkscale, JP Foster, Sefton Barrett

All-star point guard Clifford Clinkscale is back and will be relied upon to provide much needed veteran leadership for this relatively young squad. This will be the Rainmen fan’s first opportunity to see Clinkscale in a full season after he was signed late last season to help with their playoff push.

Joey Haywood will look to pick up where he left off as he returns to the league after a short stint in Denmark.  He’s an established scorer and a fan favorite of Halifax fans. Haywood will likely make a push for scoring title and definitely get MVP nods. The combination of Clinkscale, Haywood and Tubbs looks to be the best backcourt in the NBLC.

Otherwise known as the Human Highlight Reel, 6’3" shooting guard Justin Tubbs adds another MVP level player to their roster. His athletic game fits in well with the run and gun style the team looks to play.

Sefton Barrett, Seiya Ando and JP Foster round out the rotation.

Centers/Forwards- Tyrone Watson, Mike Martin, Jason Hannibal, Emmanuel Jones, Tim Parham

Halifax made sure they locked up league leading rebounder and All-Star Tim Parham. Parham set a league record with 492 rebounds last season. The 6’9 centre will again anchor the frontcourt for the Rainmen on the defensive end.

Tyrone Watson and Mike Martin will split the small forward position if coach Claros doesn’t go with a three guard lineup. Both are natural scorers, while Tyrone is a better slasher ad Martin a deadlier shooter.  

Near 7-footer Jason Hannibal and power forward Emmanuel Jones add size to the backcourt and will help Parham in the paint.

Coach- Joseph Claros

Maybe the most significant of the off-season moves was bringing back coach Joseph Claros. Claros was the bench boss for the Rainmen’s run to the finals during the inaugural NBLC season. The hiring comes after former coach Craig Hodges stepped down for personal reasons.  Pep Claros is the franchises most popular head coach and has guided teams on 3 different continents to winning championships. Claros looks for his first championship on Canadian soil. In a letter to Halifax and NBLC fans, he promised Halifax would return to the finals and they would raise a championship banner.  

Outlook

It’s clear that management has only one goal in mind; championships. Andre Levingston and the Rainmen organization have arguably the best backcourt in the league. If they want to make a deep run they will once again have to compete with the Island Storm and Saint John. The Rainmen will have one of the more entertaining squads as they transition to very popular run and gun style. Look for another deep playoff run from a more talented Rainmen squad than last years. Needless to say, the Halifax Rainmen won’t be surprising anyone this season, the Cinderella title no longer applies as they are bonafide contenders.