Miscues? Too many to count. Rust? As much as you would expect for a basketball team with 10 new faces.
The Halifax Rainmen returned to the Metro Centre for the first time in more than eight months last night and — before a franchise-record crowd of 7,127 — ran out of steam in a 91-88 loss to the Saint John Mill Rats in Premier Basketball League pre-season play.
It’s a performance the Rainmen know they will need to improve upon to be ready for the regular season on Jan. 2.
“We’ve got 10 new guys and the chemistry isn’t really there yet,” said Josh Dollard, who had 14 points and leads the team in pre-season scoring.
“We’re doing our best to learn to play with each other as quickly as we can … but we have to pick it up and get things rolling.”
The Rainmen took the lead in the second quarter and were leading 76-72 midway through the fourth quarter, but the Mill Rats went on a 10-0 run to take control of the game. The Mill Rats had a 45-36 edge in the second half and the Rainmen shot just 12-of-37 down the stretch.
“It slipped out of our hands toward the end,” said point guard Taliek Brown, who had a team-high 16 points on 12-of-13 free-throw shooting.
“Throughout the whole game, we had the lead, we was playing solid, and we just have to learn how to finish out games. That’s what the pre-season is for.”
Six-foot-seven forward Kavon Jones had another good game with 12 points and nine rebounds. Eric Crookshank (12 points) and Mike Mercer (11) also hit double digits.
The Rainmen are 1-1 in the pre-season and host the Quebec Kebs tonight at 7 with the goal of jelling more as a team.
“That’s what the pre-season is for — just to learn, so by the time the (regular-season) games come we can be alright,” said Brown.