Off to a Running Start
Missing three of their veterans – Mo Williams nursing a sore groin, Antawn Jamison out with left knee tendinitis and Anderson Varejao attending to a personal matter in Brazil – the Wine and the Gold went at it in the eighth incarnation of the annual intrasquad scrimmage.
Just four practices into Byron Scott’s maiden Training Camp, the Cavaliers weren’t quite the run-and-gun team that their new bench boss expects to see by mid-season.
But one of Scott’s new point guards, Ramon Sessions, gave fans a glimpse of things to come in the third quarter – pushing the tempo and canning a pair of big jumpers. Sessions led everyone with 13 points and four assists, as his Wine squad took the 47-41 win before an enthusiastic crowd in Akron.
“I like to get up and down (the floor), but as a team, we need to learn to keep pushing,” said Sessions. “We’re not doing all this conditioning for nothing. We’re in great shape; we’re going to be in great shape. We just need to get up and down the court as best we can.”
Sessions started at guard for the Wine team, joined by Ryan Hollins, Leon Powe, Ryan Hollins, Joey Graham and Danny Green. The Gold squad started Jawad Williams, Boobie Gibson, Anthony Parker, J.J. Hickson and Loren Woods.
Addressing the crowd before the game, Coach Scott apologized for his voice going hoarse, joking that he “did a lot of yelling this week.” If he had been coaching either unit on Friday, the former Coach of the Year would have lost it completely on a couple early possessions.
“We have a game in a few days and we have guys making the same mistakes they made on day one,” asserted Scott afterward. “Like I told (the team), I’m very simple: you have to play hard as hell for me and defend every single night, but you have to understand what we’re doing on the offensive end. We have a few more days before our first game and we’re definitely going to get better.”
There were plenty of positives to take into next week’s beginning of the exhibition schedule.
Leon Powe, who spent most of last season rehabbing his left knee, moved better than he did at any point last year, going 4-for-6 from the stripe with four boards.
J.J. Hickson seemed to shed even more weight and was active and aggressive, even showing off his face-up jumper late in the fourth. Along with Jawad Williams, the high-flying forward led the Gold team with eight points, going 4-for-10 from the floor with a game-high six boards.
Joey Graham was an efficient 4-for-9 from the field and Daniel Gibson notched five boards and a pair of assists while dueling with Sessions at the point.
As for some of the young guns that Cavalier fans have yet to see, Ryan Hollins showed some true speed and athleticism for a seven-footer – swatting a Gibson offering with authority late in the first quarter. Rookie Samardo Samuels is built like a tight end, and looked like one on a couple drives to the basket. The former Louisville star finished with six points and four boards.
Christian Eyenga showed some athleticism, but also showed his inexperience – finishing with a single point and four personal fouls, while being whistled for traveling attempting the European jump-step late in the fourth.
The Cavaliers are a work in progress and still have to get their veterans back into the fold. But some encouraging signs emerged from Friday night in the Rubber City, and it’s something Coach Scott will build on as opponents begin rolling into The Q next week.
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.