Marc­hand takes over as head coach

The Chronicle Herald (Provincial) - - SPORTS - GE­ORGE MYRER gmyrer@herald.ca

Mike Les­lie is ex­cited about his new role with the Hal­i­fax Hurricanes but ad­mits he’s go­ing to miss walk­ing the side­lines at Sco­tia­bank Cen­tre.

On Fri­day, Les­lie was named the pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager of the Hal­i­fax fran­chise in the Na­tional Bas­ket­ball League of Canada. Les­lie has been the Hurricanes head coach since 2016 and guided the team to three At­lantic Con­fer­ence ap­pear­ances and two NBL Canada cham­pi­onship se­ries.

“The com­pet­i­tive piece you want to be in the mid­dle of it, but now there are so many other pieces that you are re­spon­si­ble for that you just have to shift to that right away,” said Les­lie.

“I love coach­ing and be­ing around play­ers and that as­pect of the game, but from the man­age­ment side and from that ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tion, it’s some­thing I have done be­fore (in my ca­reer) and I look for­ward to do­ing here as well. I thor­oughly be­lieve in the (Hurricanes) or­ga­ni­za­tion and I in­vest in it. I be­lieve it can be suc­cess­ful in Hal­i­fax and I’m ex­cited to be able to do it on a full-time ba­sis in that po­si­tion.”

Mark Lever, man­ag­ing part­ner of the Hal­i­fax Hurricanes, made the an­nounce­ment on Fri­day that in­cluded nam­ing Ryan Marc­hand as the team’s head coach.

“Mike has al­ways been the cor­ner­stone of the business,” said Lever. “He’s been a bas­ket­ball coach his whole life and pro­fes­sion­ally he was an ed­u­ca­tor and ul­ti­mately a man­ager, so he has al­ways had these or­ga­ni­za­tional skills.”

Les­lie re­places Kevin San­ford, who di­rected the business op­er­a­tions of the team for the past three years.

Lever praised San­ford, who is also a leader in The Chronicle Herald’s com­mu­nity part­ner­ship and pro­mo­tions de­part­ment, for the work he put into the or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“Kevin San­ford, re­ally on a part-time ba­sis, tried to take care of the business side and did an in­cred­i­ble job.”

The de­ci­sion to pro­mote Les­lie in the or­ga­ni­za­tion was made eas­ier by the emer­gence of Marc­hand, who joined the team in Novem­ber as an as­sis­tant coach.

“He (Marc­hand) was more ad­vanced than we thought, he re­ally con­nected with the play­ers early in camp and even the re­sponse to­day, the play­ers got the news to­day and it seemed seam­less,” said Lever. “Ryan is a head coach and we’re re­ally ex­cited to have him here. We will be the only team in the league with that type of in­sti­tu­tional knowl­edge from coach Les­lie to help men­tor a guy who is re­ally ready to head coach now.”

Marc­hand, a 31-year-old from Cal­i­for­nia, was an as­sis­tant coach with the Iowa Wolves, the NBA G-League af­fil­i­ate team of the Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves. He also coached the Tim­ber­wolves team in the 2018 NBA Sum­mer League Show­case,

Les­lie said Marc­hand was rec­om­mended to him by a friend in the Saint John Rip­tide or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The two coaches hit it off im­me­di­ately.

“Ryan and I started a backand-forth di­a­logue back in Oc­to­ber and got to the point later that we were ex­chang­ing names of play­ers back and forth and he was re­search­ing play­ers that I had signed to the train­ing camp ros­ter and was giv­ing me his feed­back about what he knew about them. By the time he hit the ground here in Novem­ber he had a pretty good knowl­edge of what we were work­ing with in train­ing camp.

“He’s prob­a­bly more pre­pared from a knowl­edge, tac­ti­cian stand­point of where the game of bas­ket­ball is now than I would have been when I was hired here three years ago. He has been so close to the NBA game and that style of game. He comes in in­stantly with that, has the re­spect of the play­ers just be­cause the lan­guage he talks is what they see in the game they watch.”

And Les­lie, in his new role, is ready to help men­tor Marc­hand and bring the or­ga­ni­za­tion to a new level.

“I think the other piece of that is I have the in­ti­mate knowl­edge of the league and or­ga­ni­za­tion and what we need to do to be suc­cess­ful and to be a door away (from Marc­hand) and sup­port that process,” said Les­lie. “I think that is good for us as an or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

The Hurricanes, who are ex­pected to name their fi­nal ros­ter on Mon­day, open their NBA sea­son on Satur­day, Dec. 28 in Char­lot­te­town against the Is­land Storm. Their home opener is the next day (Dec. 29) at 2 p.m. at Sco­tia­bank Cen­tre against the St. John’s Edge.

PAUL MORRIS

Mike Les­lie was named the pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager of the Hal­i­fax Hurricanes on Fri­day. Ryan Marc­hand was named re­place Les­lie as the head coach of NBL of Canada team. to

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