The more their Premier Basketball League opponents change, the more the Lawton-Fort Sill Cavalry stay the same.
The Cavalry, who visit the Halifax Rainmen tonight at 7 p.m. at the Metro Centre, have established themselves as a rarity in minor-professional basketball: They keep roster turnover to a bare minimum.
It’s a winning formula. They’ve won three straight championships, having captured 2008 and 2009 Continental Basketball Association banners along with last year’s PBL crown.
“They’re vets, they know how to win, they’ve got chemistry and they’re just good,” said Rainmen owner Andre Levingston. “But it’s hard to say we can take their model. It’s hard to do that.”
The Cavalry have seven players back from last year’s roster that dismantled the Rainmen in a semifinal sweep. Five of them were part of the 2008 and 2009 championships, while the head coach, ex-NBA all-star Michael Ray Richardson, is the architect.
The Rainmen, meanwhile, have just one player left from their 2008 and 2009 rosters and just two from their 2010 roster.
Levingston said the Rainmen have a “different situation” because they bring in younger players using the PBL as a stepping stone to higher-paying gigs overseas, while the Cavalry are built around veterans happy to stay in one spot.
“Once we find a team we’re having success with, we would like to keep guys together for that length of time as well,” Levingston said. “But after last year, we just had to get better.”
Whether the Rainmen are better remains to be seen, but their revamped roster is off to a 2-0 start.
The Cavalry are also 2-0 heading into tonight’s tilt.
“It’s a measuring stick of where we are and where we need to go,” Levingston said. “The teams we’ve played are tough but Oklahoma is the champ â€¦ and the road to a championship goes through them.”