November 5, 2013

We’re talking ‘bout practice …

Strong Support … The Cavs got in a practice before getting back out on the road, where they’ll spend the majority of November – with eight of the 13 remaining games this month away from The Q.

On Wednesday, they face off against Milwaukee before traveling to Philly on Friday. And while a couple guys snapped out of their offensive funk in Monday night’s win over Minnesota, rookie Anthony Bennett is still searching for his first field goal as a Cavalier.

Neither his teammates nor the coaching staff is overly concerned. A player as talented as Bennett will eventually figure it out and the team’s veteran leaders are making sure that the 20-year-old Canadian keeps his head up.

“(I try to) just help (Bennett) understand: you made it this far at this stage in your life because you’re a special player – and don’t ever forget that,” said veteran guard Jarrett Jack. “The one thing that you have to have to be successful in this league is confidence and once that starts to waver … it becomes a snowball effect.

“There was going to be a time in this season where he’s going to have a rough four-game stretch. It’s just that it started the first couple games of the season. But there’s 78 more (games) to go. Once we’re in January or February (and) he’s being his old self, I’m going to go over to him and say, ‘You did all that worrying for nothing.’”

Bennett -- still hasn’t hit a bucket in 15 attempts – is still contributing in other areas. He grabbed six boards to go with a pair of steals in just under 13 minutes in Indiana. And he’s been playing well on the defensive end.

“Defensively, he’s been better than what I thought,” praised Coach Brown. “I actually thought he was going to struggle defensively, but he’s picked up on the concepts (and) he’s been tougher and stronger than what I expected. At the end of the day – I’ve seen it with my own eyes – he can score, he can score from all three levels. And once he figures out how hard he has to play offensively in order for it to happen, on a possession-by-possession occurrence, then he’ll be good.”

It’s important to remember that Bennett is essentially one year removed from high school and doesn’t turn 21 until mid-March. It’s also notable that the Cavaliers are a deeper team than they’ve been in years and the 6-8, 260-pounder won’t have to endure the baptism-by-fire that previous Cavs rookies have had to.

Right now, Bennett’s Cavalier family is trying to encourage him to simply be the man they drafted. Before Monday’s game against Minnesota, Mike Brown talked about what advice and encouragement he gave his rookie power forward.

“Go out there and have fun and be the animal you were in college,” Brown advised Bennett. “When you were in college, you played with a swagger. In college, you wouldn’t have given you the guy that was chasing you down as much respect as you did in the Pacer game. You would have put the ball, and him, and your elbow in the hoop with a thunderous dunk.

“Just go out there and be yourself. Attack. If you’re open from three, just shoot it with confidence. Don’t worry about it. You’ll be fine. But just try to be the man that you were last year, with the confidence and the aggressiveness and the assertiveness that you had offensively – and let the chips fall where they may.”

Listen as Jarret Jack and Head Coach Mike Brown discuss Tuesday's practice with the media.


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