By CARL FLEMING
It was slam dunk time for Halifax’s new World Basketball League franchise yesterday.
Three significant announcements were made at a press conference at team headquarters at the World Trade and Convention Centre in Halifax:
The official name is Halifax Windjammers.
The head coach is Ian MacMillan; his assistants are Mickey Fox and Richie Spears.
The logo is a half basketball in the shape of a sail and the team colors are gold with navy blue bands.
MacMillan, 48, a former university player and coach with the Acadia Axemen, was chosen from a list of at least 12 candidates for the Windjammers head coaching duties.
“I’m very excited, apprehensive, nervous. You name it, I feel all kinds of emotions today,” said the longtime Windsor, N.S. resident.
Joining MacMillan as assistants will be two of the greatest players in Atlantic Universities Basketball Conference history.
Fox was a four-time All-Canadian as a member of the Saint Mary’s Huskies in the 1970s while Spears, an Acadia University graduate, was the leading scorer in Canadian college basketball in 1962 and a member of the Canadian national team from 1965-67.
Locally, Fox coached junior high, senior high and university women’s basketball before assuming an assistant-coaching role with the Huskies men’s team two years ago. Fox said yesterday he’ll continue to work with SMU.
Spears was a three-time coach of the year at three different levels: the OUAA’s Laurentian Voyageurs in 1977, the CCAA’s Dawson Blues in 1976 and the NCAA’s nationally ranked San Diego University women’s program in 1981. Most recently he served as director of the Vinnie Johnson Microwave Basketball Camp in Michigan.
Fox and Spears are two of only four AUBC players ever to be drafted by NBA teams — Fox by the Detroit Pistons in 1975 and later the Portland Trail Blazers, and Spears by the St. Louis Hawks in the mid-60s.
“Mickey and Richie are now only great basketball players but they have a tremendous knowledge of the game,” said MacMillan. “They are great people and they should work out real well with our players.”
Though the bulk of his coaching career has been at the university and high school levels, MacMillan doesn’t anticipate any problems making the transition to the pro ranks especially since he already served as an assistant with the NBA’s Houston Rockets in 1979-80.
“I don’t really see any problems with coaching pro,” said the Windsor Regional High School math teacher. “I was comfortable in Houston and they had players like Rick Barry (now in the Hall of Fame), Calvin Murphy, Rudy Tomjanovich and Moses Malone. I think I will be comfortable in this situation.”
Assembling his newest cast of court characters is now foremost in MacMillan’s mind. Training camp is tentatively set to open April 16.
“We’ll probably invite 20 to 25 players to training camp depending upon how many Canadian players we can identify,” he said. “We will draft five players in the dispersal draft and I can tell you there are some very, very good players available.
“With the (WBL) 24-second clock we’re not going to be walking the ball up court. My team will be breaking out at every opportunity. We want our guys to play hard.”
Windjammers vice-president/general manager Mike Doyle said an announcement regarding the acquisition of “three franchise players” will be made today or tomorrow.
Season tickets have already surpassed the 500 mark and team officials have indicated the break-even game attendance figure is approximately 3,200 fans.
SIDEBARS: WHAT’S IN A NAME?
In the case of the Halifax Windjammers, plenty.
The name was selected from more than 1,800 entries received in a Name the Team contest.
A Windjammer is a sailing ship and/or a member of the ship’s crew. The connection is with Halifax’s historical dependence on merchant shipping lanes throughout the Atlantic seaboard, Europe and the West Indies. Historical connotations aside, Windjammers has a pretty good basketball feel to it. First of all, there is the obvious shortening of the name to Jammers as in ‘Go Jammers Go.’ And, for promotional purposes, drop the ‘d’ and you have an instant catch-phrase — ‘Win with the Jammers’.
The team’s logo, a half basketball in the shape of a sail, was designed by David Leonard, a local graphic and designer in conjunction with the advertising agency of McArthur, Thompson and Law. A stylized ‘H’ in the sail’s basketball lines.
The logo symbolizes the team in full sail, heading down the court to jam the ball in the opposition basket.
THEY SAID IT
Two key-note speakers may have a future as stand-up comics based on their witty responses to questions at yesterday’s Halifax Windjammers news conference at the World Trade and Convention Centre.
Mickey Fox teaches a junior high class in Halifax, is an assistant basketball coach with the Saint Mary’s Huskies, and yesterday was introduced as an assistant coach with the Windjammers. When asked about his potentially busy schedule, Fox replied:
“I’m not leaving Saint Mary’s and I’m still teaching. I’ve got three jobs. I just haven’t told my wife yet.”
Windjammers vice-president/general manager Mike Doyle on the real reason fellow Windsor resident Ian MacMillan was hired as head coach:
“The one determining factor is that he’s been in my house every night for the last month and I had to get him out.”
Future franchise origin posts will include at least the Nova Scotia Clippers, Halifax Mooseheads, Halifax Rainmen and Cape Breton Breakers.