Hillary Haley’s maroon-and-white college high tops were an odd match for his Halifax Rainmen jersey on Sunday, but he fit right in with his new team regardless.
On a team loaded with newcomers, the six-foot-seven product of NCAA Division I Maryland Eastern Shore made the biggest first impression of anyone as the Rainmen opened the National Basketball League of Canada pre-season with a 105-97 loss to the Summerside Storm.
Although the Rainmen allowed the Storm to score the final 18 points in front of a crowd of 7,562 on EastLink Slam Dunk Day, Haley shined with game-highs of 31 points and 12 rebounds.
“I’m a blue-collar guy, I don’t really have a position, and whatever coach needs me to do, I do,” said Haley, one of 10 new faces on the 12-man roster. “My teammates found me and I just played hard.”
Haley, a rookie professional who averaged 13.3 points per game in three seasons at Maryland Eastern Shore, only missed six of 18 shots while chipping in with three blocks and two steals.
As for the sneakers, Haley said he’s got a variety to choose from and he’ll “switch them up every game.”
“I just wanted to bring a little bit of that Maryland flavour with me to Halifax,” he said with a laugh.
The Rainmen have one more pre-season game on Thursday in Summerside to work out the kinks before they open the regular season on Nov. 2 on the road against the Windsor Express.
“That was the first test today — unfortunately we lost, but there won’t be too many L’s (losses) coming to the city of Halifax, I can tell you that,” Haley said.
Halifax’s Tyler Richards saw 14 minutes of floor time, going 0-for-1 and recording one assist and one steal in his Rainmen debut.
Three other newcomers hit double digits on Sunday: Darren Duncan (15 points), Joel Smith (14 points) and Eddie Smith (10 points).