Catching Up With Alex Jensen
What has your role been on the staff for the Cavaliers summer league team?
Iím on staff and Iím just helping out. Jamahl (Mosley) and Nate (Tibbetts) are out here running things, but Iím just helping out as much as I can. They are out there coaching and I am here to just help out with whatever they need. For me, this and training camp are what I missed last year because of the lockout. Iím fortunate enough to be around for it this year and learn from these guys. Itís time I get to spend with the Cavsí staff that I didnít get to spend last year.
What have you learned in spending time with their staff?
Nate has like six years of D-League experience and Jamahl has been in the NBA for a while. The NBA game is so different from college that Iím still learning a ton of new things: like the spacing on offense, defensive terminology and different ways to play in various situations. There are many nuances to the pro game that I continue to learn more about from all of these guys that have been around it for so long.
How has it been getting to work again with familiar faces like T.J. Campbell and Luke Harangody?
Itís great since I already have a relationship with those guys. Like when any of the coaches jump in and say something to them that I have said before, itís great because I can go, ĎSee, I told yaí. (Laughs) Itís not just me, itís how itís done.
How has T.J. been doing in summer league?
I think heís doing really well. He does a lot of things that if you donít pay attention, you donít notice. It all doesnít show up in the stat sheet. The other night, he had a couple great draw-and-kicks. Heís a great guy to play with and I think he is very sound. Especially with him being a point guard, this is something we got on him for all season long last year, he has got to come out of his reserved personality. He needs to take control and have a strong presence of leadership aside from just his own play on the court.
Does it help that he is familiar with a lot of the terminology and basics already?
It definitely helps. A lot of stuff we have been doing has been stuff he heard during his time in Canton. He is getting to see that itís the same message in Canton as it is with the staff in Cleveland. Itís good for him to be on both sides of it and really see that we were trying to make him a better player to succeed on that next level. It helps to actually experience what heís been told over and over again.
What do you think T.J.ís chances are of making it with an NBA team?
Iím biased, but I truly believe that he is good enough. Heís not quite there now; he has to overcome some things. Whether itís true or not, he will always be perceived one way because of his size. Any guy thatís small has to be that much more active and aggressive to stand out. He has to do some things better, but I definitely think heís good enough. Heís been showing improvement and showing how good he is. I think another part of the reason why he got invited is that myself and others believe that he can improve more.
Have you gotten to see some of your former players from last season play in summer league yet? (Josh Akognon is with the Sacramento Kings and Frank Hassell is with the Atlanta Hawks)
I have not, but I plan on it. A couple of the guys went to that game where Josh scored 25 points and said he played really well. Iím looking forward to seeing them and catching up a little bit. Theyíre both really talented and I think theyíre both in the same boat as T.J. in that they have a chance to improve and be good enough to play in the league.
Are you out scouting potential D-League prospects for this upcoming season?
During the season, you spend so much time watching your games and your opponentís games that you can become less familiar with other players not in the D-League. I was in Orlando last week for that summer league and Iím obviously here now watching closely. Itís great because I get to familiarize myself with the college guys as well as ones that were playing abroad last year. You never know what guys will be in the D-League draft or in the available player pool later on, so you soak in as much of the players you are unfamiliar with as you can to be as ready as possible.
Finally, touch on the departure of General Manager Wes Wilcox and moving forward.
No one had more to do with our success last year than Wes. He deserves most of the credit. Replacing him is going to be a combination of all us doing more. The great thing is that the foundation that Wes built will make that a lot easier. The people we have are great and we all know each other well already, which helps. We know that itís going to take a collective effort though to pick up where Wes left off.