Quiet Competitor

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It’s not something he wears like a badge of honor or anything, but Ramon Sessions is well-prepared for this particular Cleveland winter.

Unlike several Cavaliers – who’ve never played for a sub-.500 squad or in Cleveland’s sometimes sub-arctic climate – Sessions has weathered cold streaks and cold conditions in his four years as a pro.

The Wine and Gold’s winless skein hit an even 20 games on Sunday night in Orlando, and the sledding doesn’t get any easier on Monday night in Miami. But as tough as the losing streak has been, the Cavaliers have seen some young diamonds emerging from the rough, including Sessions.

With his close friend, Mo Williams, on the shelf with a groin injury to start the season, Sessions started the first four games of 2010. He spot-started a few games over the campaign and found himself back there on January 19, when a hip flexor sidelined Mo for a second time this season.

The former Nevada star has taken advantage of the opportunity. A career 10.4 ppg scorer, Sessions is up a single digit for the season, and is at 14.3 over his last eight games.

Including Sunday night’s rough eight-point outing, he’s notched double-figures in all but three of his last 17 games. He’s shooting .857 from the line during that span.

“It’s the minutes,” said Sessions. “Mo’s been down with an injury and it’s allowed me to get more minutes than I usually get – and I’m just trying to take advantage of it. I’m trying to play my game, be aggressive. Get guys open shots and get my shot at the same time.”

Sessions is probably the team’s quietest player, which can be tough for a point guard. But Sessions has done well since taking over at the point. He’s averaging 6.3 assists per contest as a starter. And against Denver, he became just the sixth player this season to have 13 or more helpers without committing a single turnover.

The four-year point is becoming one of the team’s young leaders.

“He does it, but he does it in his own way,” said Byron Scott. “He’s not like Chris Paul. Chris was one of those guys that kind of let you hear it, no matter what. Ramon kinda pulls you to the side and talks to the players that way. I think both are effective. It doesn’t matter how you get it done, as long as it gets done and as long as the other guys know where you’re coming from.”

At many times during this season, the Wine and Gold’s five on the floor has been under 23 years of age. It’s been an adjustment for fans used to seeing a veteran-laden lineup. And it’s been a bigger adjustment for the young Cavaliers.

When the season started, did Sessions see himself as one of the squad’s leaders?

“No, not at 24 – because that’s still pretty young in this league,” said the Myrtle Beach native. “But it’s a good thing in a way, because guys respect me and look to me. I’m just trying to run the team as best I can. I don’t have that much experience, but I think I have enough that can help this team out.”

In his three years previous to joining the Cavs, Sessions has put up some good numbers. As a rookie, he averaged 7.5 assists in Milwaukee. As a sophomore, he turned in a 20-point, 24-assist, eight-rebound effort against Chicago, dropped 44 points on the Pistons and tallied a triple-double against the Lakers.

Last year, he struggled in Minnesota, but is finding new life in Cleveland under the tutelage of Coach Scott and his staff.

“(Sessions) is a quiet competitor,” explained Scott. “He’ll get after you on both ends of the floor. Sometimes you have to push his buttons to get him going. But either way, he’s always going to compete out there on the floor.”

One anomaly to his career – especially for a point guard who can score – is Sessions’ three-point shooting. Sessions has attempted just 60 in his career, hitting ten. Ramon shot one on Sunday night against Orlando (and missed) giving him four on the season – one more than J.J. Hickson.

Sessions is a man who knows his limitations. So instead of jacking threes, he gets to the rim. And not only can the 6-3, 180-pounder get to the rim, he can throw down a SportsCenter-worthy dunk when he gets there.

“It’s something where guys don’t really see me having that kind of hops,” smiled Sessions. “But I call it ‘sneaky hops’ because I’ve caught a few guys. I don’t know how many dunks I have on the year, but I think I’m up there on the team.”

Of course, the quiet man caught himself.

“I think they’re catching up to me,” he acknowledged. “I got a few of ‘em, but now I think they’re starting to notice and watch out for me when I come down there.”

Sessions has had a solid season, upping his numbers across the board. But once again, his club is having a rough go. The Wine and Gold is mired in a slump of epic proportions. And Sessions’ three-year record with the Bucks and Timberwolves is a combined 78-168 – doing so in tropical climates like Milwaukee and Minnesota. (And even the most ardent Clevelander has to acknowledge winter’s no picnic.)

The South Carolina native is confident he and the Cavaliers will get through this.

“It’s something I’ve been dealing with my whole career,” said the soft-spoken Sessions. “It’s something I’ve dealt with in Milwaukee and Minnesota last year and now here. It’s just a long process, but you have to just come in to work every day and when that day comes – when you start getting those wins – it’s gonna feel good.”


Joe Gabriele is the official beat writer for the Cleveland Cavaliers on Cavs.com. You can follow Joe and send him your questions on Twitter at @CavsJoeG.