The Halifax Rainmen are headed in a new direction.

After a disappointing season that saw the Rainmen miss the playoffs, owner Andre Levingston has reevaluated the franchise and has a fresh new strategy as he builds his roster for the 2010 Premier Basketball League campaign.

His approach last year was to sign the most skilled players he could find. And there weren’t enough basketballs — or minutes — to go around for his all-star calibre roster.

“Even though we were talented, the chemistry just wasn’t there,” Levingston said. “We’re taking a different approach now. We want three or four core guys to be our horses. We’ll build our program around them and we’ll surround them with hard-working guys who understand and accept their roles.”

Levingston hopes one of those horses is dynamic shooting guard Tony Bennett, who led the Rainmen in scoring last season with 19.4 points per game. He hopes another is power forward Eric Crookshank, the face of the franchise.

From there, Levingston wants to bring in new starters at the point guard, small forward and centre positions, and he returned Sunday from a week-long scouting journey that included stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City.

At point guard, Levingston is targeting former Continental Basketball Association all-star Jason McLeish and 6-foot-6 Trayvon Lathan. He’s also eyeing up 6-foot-8, 295-pound centre DeAndre Thomas, a friend of Bennett’s.

Perhaps the biggest name Levingston is after is 6-foot-7 small forward Galen Young, a draft choice of the Milwaukee Bucks in 1999 and a former CBA player of the year.

“He would be one of the best three or four players in our league,” Levingston said. “He’s a smart veteran who understands the game. There aren’t many guys who can defend him.”

Levingston plans to extend a handful of contract offers this week and said he’s ready to “make sure the money’s right” to get Bennett back for another season.

“Tony is a guy we can build our organization around,” Levingston said. “To have a guy like him and Crookshank back, and if we’re lucky enough to land a couple of these other guys, it could take our program to the next level.”

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