By Michael Gorman
The owner of the Halifax Rainmen basketball team said bringing his team to Yarmouth for training camp the first week of December is all about his overall goal of making the team a part of the community at large.
Speaking from Halifax last week, Andre Levingston said ever since the team’s first training camp two years ago, which was in Bridgewater, management has tried to bring the team to different areas for camp to give more people access to the team and players. “We like to take it to different (places),” he said. “It gives us an opportunity to build our fan base.”
The Rainmen, who play their home games at the Halifax Metro Centre, are part of the Premier Basketball League, a nine-team pro league that features teams in Canada, the U.S. and Puerto Rico. The team finished 12-8 last season, missing the playoffs by one position.
Levingston said they’ll bring 18 or 19 players for camp, some signed and some trying to make the team. Besides the actual training camp, the Detroit native said the players would go into schools to visit with students. The camp itself will feature daily workouts and the week will be capped off with a blue/white intrasquad game. “When people come out to the camps they’re going to see the guys working hard, competing for a job,” said Levingston.
Les Berry, the team’s head coach, said he’s expecting a competitive camp. Of the 18 or 19 players coming to camp, Berry estimates nine are already locks for the team. That means the rest of the players will be battling it out for the remaining three or four roster spots.
Berry said he’ll be looking for guys who show up in shape and aren’t afraid to compete hard for a spot. “It’s going to be a real hard week of basketball for a lot of us,” he said.
The shift to the pro level is a new one for Berry, who joined the team last season after a long stint coaching at the university level. He said the biggest difference is the amount of time he has to get himself and the team ready. “At the university level you have the chance to meet and follow those players for the whole year,” he said, adding that academic goals also factor into university scouting. “Here it’s much more based on the basketball and type of person they are, that’s what we’re really looking for here.”
Berry said he’ll be looking for guys who don’t mind being role players and used in specific situations as he tries to round out his roster. He expects the team to play a high-temp style of ball this season, with players who can get the ball up the floor quickly and also get back on defence. “That’s more of what my philosophy is — defence wins games and you can create a lot of offence off defence.”
For Levingston, no matter how good his players are going to be, they also have to be willing to be a part of the community. Ultimately, he said, that’s as important as anything they’re going to do on the basketball court. “These guys . . . are role models for these kids,” he said. “As long as the players are going to be associated with the Rainmen, being involved with the community and giving back to the community is mandatory. We’re not just looking for talent, we’re looking for guys that are going to represent the Rainmen . . . in the right manner.”
The Rainmen cometh
By Michael Gorman
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