Eric Crookshank says the Halifax Rainmen should follow the blueprint of the reigning NBA champions.
“Look at the Boston Celtics — it’s three key players, then you have role players,” Crookshank says. “In order to win a championship, you just need to have three core players, and after that, you just put the pieces in place.”
The Rainmen forward is, of course, referring to Celtics stars Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett — a trio that logs the lion’s share of minutes and produces the majority of the offence, particularly when games are on the line.
Crookshank and the Rainmen missed the Premier Basketball League playoffs despite a roster stacked with score-first, all-star calibre talent. Too much talent, perhaps.
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Many proven minor-league stars were forced to play fewer than 30 minutes per game, and most of them, such as Crookshank, A.J. Millien, Cordell Jeanty and Michael Anderson, averaged far fewer points than they have in past seasons.
“I’m a scorer, and sometimes, I’d be wanting to demand the ball, but you’ve got a lot of other (scorers) in the same position that want the ball as well,” Crookshank says.
“If you’re not feeding a player the ball who’s used to getting 30 (points), his confidence leaves, he starts getting irritated and frustrated.”
Crookshank says other factors in the Rainmen’s demise were his early-season suspension; a February coaching change; and five roster changes in the final 11 games.
Crookshank says he plans to share his opinions with owner Andre Levingston, who has a different view.
“You can never have too many skilled players,” he said during a season-ending press conference. “The Dream Team, the (U.S.) Olympic team, had the best players in the world, and they all performed well together. It’s a commitment guys have to make to defence. Some of our players didn’t have that.”
Ten of Halifax’s 12 wins came against Quebec, Buffalo, Detroit and Montreal, teams that went a combined 14-60. They only played two teams with .500-plus records all year — Manchester and Vermont — and went 2-6 in those contests.
They were 12-8 overall and have plenty of room for improvement.
“Next year, we need to learn from this,” Crookshank said. “With all this talent, we should be in the playoffs.”