The Halifax Rainmen have gotten a makeover, and fans don’t have to pay a cent to get a first glimpse of the new-look roster.
The Rainmen open the National Basketball League of Canada pre-season on Sunday at 2 p.m. at the Metro Centre against the Summerside Storm, and 10,000 complimentary tickets are up for grabs for an afternoon outing dubbed EastLink Slam Dunk Day.
More than 20,000 tickets have been given away via the promotion over the past three years, with the Rainmen drawing 8,422 in 2011, 7,127 in 2010 and 6,780 in 2009.
“It’s something we look forward to every year and it’s a great way to build momentum for our season,” said Rainmen owner Andre Levingston.
The Rainmen only have two returning players from last season’s NBL Canada finalist — guard Joey Haywood and centre Darnell Hugee — and there are nine newcomers remaining on their training camp roster.
The newcomers with contracts are guards Eddie Smith, Brandon Robinson, Darren Duncan and Joel Smith; forward Hillary Haley; and centre Paul Nelson.
Guards Josiah Turner and Halifax’s Tyler Richards and centre Quincy Okolie have yet to sign deals.
Levingston said he is planning for those 11 players to be on the roster for next month’s regular season opener, provided they continue to perform well. He said Sunday’s contest isn’t so much an audition as it is a chance for the players to build chemistry in game situations.
“I like our roster,” Levingston said. “We’ve got a mixture of veteran guys who have played at a high level and we’ve got young legs. We’ve got shooters and we’ve got scorers.”
Levingston said he made it a priority to get some younger depth players this season.
“We had some guys who died (energy-wise) at the end of last season, and we won’t have that problem this year,” he said.
Robinson, Smith and Haywood all ranked among the NBL Canada’s top 20 scorers last season, while Hugee and Duncan averaged double-digit point totals.
That kind of talent could result in a high-scoring basketball team that is fun to watch.
“When coach puts everything in place, you’re going to see some really exciting basketball,” Levingston said.
The Rainmen also play a pre-season game on Oct. 25 on the road against Summerside. They open the regular season on Nov. 2 on the road against the Windsor Express.
Halifax Rainmen roster to date with height and last team in parentheses:
» PG Darren Duncan, 5-11 (Saint John, NBLC)
» PG Josiah Turner, 6-3 (Arizona, NCAA-I)
» G Joey Haywood, 6-0 (Halifax, NBLC)
» G Eddie Smith, 6-3 (London, NBLC)
» G Brandon Robinson, 6-5 (Oshawa, NBLC)
» G Joel Smith, 6-5 (Santa Barbara, WCBL)
» G Tyler Richards, 6-2 (St. Francis Xavier, CIS)
» F Hillary Haley, 6-7 (Maryland-Eastern Shore, NCAA-I)
» C Darnell Hugee, 6-7 (Halifax, NBLC)
» C Quincy Okolie, 6-10 (Northwood, NCAA-II)