The Halifax Rainmen have finally reached a deal to bring back head coach Les Berry for another season.
Berry, initially hired halfway through last season after the early-February firing of Rick Lewis, was signed to a one-year contract Thursday, owner Andre Levingston said.
Levingston has been trying to lock up Berry since the Premier Basketball League season ended in March. The Halifax native posted a 6-3 record — his predecessor was 6-5 — but was unable to guide the Rainmen to the playoffs.
“He’s an extremely, extremely hard worker and he’s just so passionate about basketball — he strives for excellence,” Levingston raved. “He did a great job coming in halfway through the season. We just missed the playoffs.”
Berry did not take on any scouting and recruiting duties last year, but that will change under the new contract. Although he will not assume the title of general manager, he will play an instrumental role in the architecture of the 2010 roster.
Levingston said Berry will travel frequently with him throughout the summer to evaluate and recruit players.
“He’s going to be a busy, busy boy,” Levingston said.
The hope is that Berry’s imprint on the roster — and his presence from the opening day of training camp — will help the Rainmen ascend to new heights next season.
“It’s going to be exciting to see him come in from the start and be instrumental in selecting the players who are going to win us a championship,” Levingston said. “Once he puts together a plan and executes, I’m sure everyone will be pleased.”
Levingston said the delay in inking Berry was simply a conflict of schedules, with both men out of the city at different times. But he wanted to get a deal done when he started getting “bombarded” with calls from prospective coaches.
“We said, ‘You know you want to be here, you know I want you to be here, so let’s just sit down and do whatever it takes to get it done,’” said Levingston. “We did that.”
Berry did not return messages from Metro Halifax.