From Deep in The Q http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/ Fri, 04 Apr 2014 15:50:00 GMT Friday Night Lights http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_friday-night-lights Fri, 04 Apr 2014 15:50:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/0/9/3071443c-1720-45fa-89de-fca6fddcf101.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/0/9/3071443c-1720-45fa-89de-fca6fddcf101.Large.jpg?1" /></a></p> <p> Hey Cavalier fans and CavFanatics. It’s A.C., getting ready for a big one tonight in the ATL. What’s happening?</p> <p> I wrote in my last post that I wasn’t going to focus on the Atlanta game until we took care of Orlando. The Cavs did exactly that. And now it’s on to Atlanta for the biggest game of the season so far. The playoff push has hit high gear.</p> <p> Against Orlando, there was some concern about how Kyrie would fit back in after missing eight games. Well, they didn’t miss a single beat. And that tells me that Kyrie’s basketball IQ is very high.</p> <p> He plays so well without the ball and, he and Spencer were really working those back-door cuts. (Although they were sharpening that up before he got hurt.) Kyrie was so efficient on Wednesday, it was unbelievable. He shot the ball well because he took good shots. He moved well without the ball, he passed the ball well. He probably could have gotten a triple-double if he’d gotten more minutes.</p> <p> Kyrie sees the style we have now. And he sees: if you want to put your foot on the throttle, you have to do it <strong>within the system</strong>. And he’s playing so well within the system now and seeing that when you succeed in the system, everybody else succeeds in the system.</p> <p> I was also curious to see how Dion would respond with Kyrie’s return. Again, he didn’t miss a beat. Dion made a comment after the game that Kyrie takes a lot of pressure off of him. He understands that.</p> <p> My high school coach always used to tell me: ‘If I play you 40 minutes, you’re only going to have the ball for five minutes. So what are you going the other 35 minutes?’ You have to play the game. And both Kyrie and Dion understand that there’s a lot of good things that can happen out here, and one guy cannot do it by himself. Now it’s just about learning how to play in the system.</p> <p> That’s one reason I was never a good All-Star player. I’d make the team but didn’t do well because I played in a system. If it was playing outside the system, I felt like … an outsider. It’s a whole different mentality. And that’s something that both Kyrie and Dion understand. They’re seeing that they’re having success in the system.</p> <p> Now they know when to step on the throttle – they know <strong>when</strong> to do it and <strong>how</strong> to do it. Before that, both of them wanted to step on the gas pedal the whole time. But, they’ve adapted. And that’s learning how to be a professional.</p> <p> I loved what I saw of the starters, but I was just as impressed – as I’ve been all season – with the guys they call “Captain Jack” and “the Honey Badger.” They’re a perfect combo off the bench.</p> <p> And right now, what you’re seeing is the maturation of the team. They’re starting to know their roles, they’re starting to have success in their roles and the team is coming together. Now, when Dion and Kyrie come off the floor, you’re bringing in another pair of guards who are just as effective, but have different roles and play different a different type of game than the two starters. Different attributes, different strengths.</p> <p> That creates a whole new defensive conundrum for the opponent. And when you have that type of diversity within your system, it makes you a very dangerous team.</p> <p> Obviously, it’s more than just good guard play that’s led to our success.</p> <p> Spencer’s been great since he arrived. He spaces the floor, he’s a very good passer and, more importantly, he’s a <strong>willing</strong> passer. And that’s contagious.</p> <p> What we’re seeing as well is how Tristan is understanding his role when he’s out there with Spencer. And it took a while. But now he’s seeing his scoring opportunities more clearly. When he gets double-doubles now, they’re very meaningful. It means he’s starting to control the paint area. We need those points in the paint because Spencer plays all over the floor. (Although Spencer competes more down low than I thought he did before he got here. He’s not a guy to shy away from contact or competition.)</p> <p> Right now, the Cavs have the best reputation you could have and that is ‘the team nobody wants to play.’ And I would bet that the teams up top are hoping they won’t have to play <em>us</em> in that first round.</p> <p> The Knicks are talented at certain positions, but they also have a lot of empty holes at positions. They’re a little bit of smoke-and-mirrors, I think. Atlanta, they’re not as balanced as we are.</p> <p> So we’re the team that nobody wants to fool with, especially now that Kyrie’s back. We have a dangerous perimeter now – both starting and coming off the bench. Our big people are playing well, and if Andy has the opportunity to come back, we will really be in a great situation.</p> <p> Tonight’s a huge game for us and I see us coming out ready to play. When we come out now, there’s a different focus on what have to do. And I think we’re going to come after Atlanta tonight. We’re not going to back and wait to get punched in the mouth first. They’re going to punch first. And if we can control their guards – because Teague usually bothers us – we can control the tempo.</p> <p> Milsap is going to do his thing. And you can’t let Korver go crazy -- although lately we’ve been really good at running guys off the line. You need to make him put it on the floor.</p> <p> So, if we can slow those guys down, we’ll be OK tonight. And if we’re OK tonight, bring on Charlotte tomorrow.</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:efa22645-c910-47e1-ab7b-89c29c373f2f One at a Time http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_one-time Wed, 02 Apr 2014 16:35:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/15/13/7fc7d24a-ad7a-49c1-ad46-bc8f36fe9026.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img height="378" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/15/13/7fc7d24a-ad7a-49c1-ad46-bc8f36fe9026.Large.jpg?1" width="624" /></a></p> <p> Hello, Cavs fans and CavFanatics. It’s Austin, checking in from the Sunshine State. What’s happening?</p> <p> For some of the younger Cavaliers, these games over these two weeks will be some of the biggest in their pro career. This team <strong>needed</strong> these kinds of games. These are games you <strong>have to</strong> win. There’s a different mindset that you bring to the arena, a different focus, a different approach to these games. And this will help them during the regular season next year. Because they’ll understand the type of attitude and energy level that you have to bring right from the start if you want to achieve a certain goal.</p> <p> When you’re in this type of situation at the end of the year, you learn the importance of every game. And you learn that the beginning of the season is a very important part of the season. When I played, the Celtics would always rely on that – they were ready and focused on the postseason right out of the chute.</p> <p> Sometimes, young teams don’t understand the goal until it comes into focus later in the season. Veteran teams will try to pile up wins at the beginning of the season, in the games approaching the All-Star Break and at the end of the season as teams start falling off.  That’s when they make their hay.</p> <p> If the Cavs had played around .500 earlier in the year, we wouldn’t be looking up at Atlanta and New York right now. So they have to understand that you have to be ready to play right out of the box. And they will next year.</p> <p> As we’re getting down the stretch, the younger guys can lean on the veterans that have playoff experience. You can lean on them and you can talk about it, but until you go through it, you just don’t know what it’s like. Because the same guy you played against in December is not the same guy you’re going against in April. He’s a different player now. He’s more focused, he’s playing you more intensely now – and it’s a different focus now.</p> <p> The Cavaliers could get their All-Star back for the stretch run, but it’ll take a minute to re-integrate him back into the flow. It does take a while to get used to the flow and the rhythm, because his cadence is different than Jack’s cadence, Dion and Delly will have a different cadence. It’s a different rotation and now they’ll have to get used to that – and the hard part is they’ll have to do it on the fly.</p> <p> Kyrie has been watching and he’ll definitely figure out where he fits in and how he fits in. He sees how Delly and Jack push the ball, how Dion pushes the ball, looking to run. A guy with the offensive ability that Kyrie has, he can really put a lot of pressure on an opponent just by pushing the ball.</p> <p> It’s OK for guys to scoreboard watch here in the last two weeks, because you have to know <strong>now</strong> – with seven games left –exactly where you stand. And to me, it adds to what’s going on and what you need to do. But you still have to have a sharp focus on what <strong>you</strong> have to do.</p> <p> At this point, it’s one quarter at a time. When you have a situation like the Cavs have now, you’re down to 28 quarters in the season. When you’re not in the playoffs and you’re fighting for a spot, you don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself. So you win one quarter at a time.</p> <p> It all starts tonight in Orlando. The Magic are a young team, but they play hard. Vucevic always gives us fits and he’s playing well right now. The Cavs need to have this one so that the Atlanta game is huge on Friday night. The Hawks will be feeling the pressure if we come in off a win. And everybody knows that pressure can burst the pipes.</p> <p> I’ll check back in from the ATL. And I’m not going to talk about the Hawks until then. I want to beat Orlando first.</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:9ea5d1e6-bd30-4a95-b871-8b6c03dc4073 Cavaliers Coming Together http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_cavaliers-coming-together Thu, 27 Mar 2014 15:27:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/14/7/8e19f5f9-a70c-4658-a746-852c36d20327.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img height="368" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/14/7/8e19f5f9-a70c-4658-a746-852c36d20327.Large.jpg?1" width="607" /></a></p> <p> Hey, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics. It’s Austin, checking in from the City That Never Sleeps. What’s happening?</p> <p> The Cavs are coming off another huge win and, even shorthanded, are playing great basketball right now. They’ve been efficient offensively and defensively and, most important, they’ve been exceptional in the fourth quarter, closing games out. That’s the mark of a team that’s maturing.</p> <p> With Kyrie (and CJ Miles) still out, the backcourt has had to step it up – and they’ve answered the call. They’re pushing the ball, they’re moving the ball and they’re playing aggressively. They’re not allowing a lot of penetration down the middle of the defense, so everything’s being pushed to the sidelines. And when teams <em>do</em> run the pick-and-roll, they’ve made sure they’re man doesn’t get into the lane, which has been keeping our big men out of foul trouble.</p> <p> Individually, they’ve all been strong and have allowed Mike Brown to go with a three-guard lineup during crunch time.</p> <p> Jarrett Jack has provided veteran leadership and so much more. He knows when to back it off, when to calm it down, and when to hit the throttle and push it. And now he’s starting to know and <em>feel</em> his involvement with the Cavs. In other words, he’s realizing when HE needs to score, when HE needs to be the aggressor on offense – because he’s hit some big shots over this past week.</p> <p> If it weren’t for him, we wouldn’t have had a chance to win Sunday night’s game and Wednesday night’s game. He was huge.</p> <p> When the team was struggling, Jarrett was something of a lightning rod for fans. That’s the way it can be for free agents sometimes. But he’s had to back off his personal statistics and his game for the benefit of the team.</p> <p> He’s taken some heat this year for not being the big scorer he was with Golden State last season. But fans who’ve given him heat, should understand that his role is different with the Cavs.</p> <p> Of course, Dion’s been great. That buzzer-beater was one of the highlights of the season – as well as that young man’s career. And he’s been tremendous in the starting lineup.</p> <p> First of all, he’s more comfortable as a starter. He’s more relaxed because, minutes-wise, he knows he’s going to be out there. He’s starting to see things better – he’s taking a better snapshot of what’s in front of him. And he realizes that moving the ball gets <strong>everybody</strong> involved; it makes the team much more effective when the ball is moving. And when you move the ball, you always get it back.</p> <p> I think Dion’s understanding that. And I think the whole squad is understanding how efficient they can be, because defenses can’t sit on one guy when you move the ball.</p> <p> Then there’s Delly. And I’ll tell you what he reminds me of. When I was playing back in school, teams would play me with a triangle-and-two or a box-and-one – and he reminds me of one of those kinds of guys, where you’re thinking: “Just leave me alone, will ya?!”</p> <p> Now that Delly’s starting to score, he’s becoming even more valuable. And one thing he does <em>exceptionally</em> well, that fits into the whole scheme of things – he <strong>pushes the ball every time</strong>. He gets the ball ahead. And he’s seeing, when he pushes the ball HE gets a lot of opportunities – because he’s pushing and trailing and getting himself open.</p> <p> I mention Delly, but really the whole second unit has been tremendous lately. Andy, Delly, Zeller, Gee. They’ve been playing very well on both ends of the ball.</p> <p> I really admire Alonzo Gee. He’s a quiet killer. He’s been hitting his jumper, going to the basket, and he’s always defending. He’s almost the unsung hero in all this. Nobody says anything about him, but he just puts on his hard-hat and works. He does his job. That sounds simple, but it’s the key to success in the NBA, where consistency is king.</p> <p> Andy is back to his old self and he was spectacular on Wednesday night. Aside from the big numbers – 12 points and 16 boards – he was off the charts with second-chance opportunities and his usual disruptive presence.</p> <p> A perfect example of Andy’s influence: On Wednesday, before he went in the game, Bynum was floating that lob into Drummond. Once Andy got in there … it stopped. That’s it. No more lobs. The little things like that are what’s making this thing work right now.</p> <p> And do not underestimate Luol Deng’s effect on all this. Defensively, he’s playing well – you can tell his legs are feeling better. He’s got that little skip back in his step. And his knowledge is almost as important. He’s constantly talking to the younger guys, explaining how we should run plays. You saw it in the huddle last night before Dion’s buzzer-beater.</p> <p> Between Deng, Andy and Jack – the veteran influence is really stepping up now.</p> <p> You can feel it. The chemistry, the leadership. Guys are comfortable in their roles. I’ve talked about this for years. When you’re comfortable in <strong>your role</strong>, you’re able to focus better on what you have to do. This is what makes San Antonio so good year after year. They <strong>know</strong> their job, they <strong>do</strong> their job.</p> <p> The Cavaliers are quickly turning into a team that nobody wants to play right now. And at this point of the season, that’s exactly what you want to be.</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:2ddd2705-efad-483a-9477-c73834d4d9cb Headed for the Homestretch http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_headed-homestretch Wed, 12 Mar 2014 19:17:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/12/14/4ca60f2f-71f1-4d4f-8e6b-769aa84089b3.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img height="308" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/12/14/4ca60f2f-71f1-4d4f-8e6b-769aa84089b3.Large.jpg?1" width="656" /></a></p> <p> Hey, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics – it’s A.C., checking in from the Valley of the Sun! What’s happening?</p> <p> Well, here we are – in the homestretch of the season – 18 games to play, beginning with this three-game West Coast trip then on to three more tough games at home. It’s not going to be easy. But nothing worthwhile ever is.</p> <p> The key to this trip is that they have to have that bunker mentality – Us against the World. And this will have to be the final bonding experience for the team, because if they don’t find that bond, they’re going to have a hard time winning.</p> <p> These next six games are going to be extremely tough, but if we can go .500 or better over this stretch, we can make a postseason run on the other side. A West Coast trip – like we saw back in January – is perfect for bringing your team together.</p> <p> You <strong>HAVE</strong> to have that bunker mentality on the road. Without it, it’s tough to get the job done. I just hope they understand that there’s a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. We just have to start winning consecutive games.</p> <p> It’s also important, at this stage of the season, not too look too far ahead. I know guys are checking the schedule and watching other teams in the standings. That’s natural. But you have to treat each game as its own entity.</p> <p> If you get too far ahead of yourself and you get into a negative snowball effect, it’s hard to stop. So you have to keep playing it – kind of the way we did in the year before the Miracle year – play <strong>each quarter</strong> at a time. <strong>WIN</strong> each quarter. And that’s how we went about it. Before we knew it, we had ourselves a nice situation.</p> <p> Sometimes young guys don’t quite understand the value of each quarter, the value of each possession. They’re thinking “big picture.” But you have to narrow it down so you can keep your focus. When you’re thinking down the road, it distracts your focus. When you’re locked in to every possession, winning every quarter, it really helps you focus on the task at hand. That’s the way I was taught to do it.</p> <p> The Cavaliers had a new weapon – Luol Deng – last time we came out West. This time, it’s Spencer Hawes, who’s been playing really well for us. I really like Hawes’ competitive nature. And, of course, he does a great job spreading the floor.</p> <p> Learning how to use him is going to help Kyrie tremendously, because it gives Kyrie – and really, <em>any</em> cutters like Luol Deng and Dion – so much more space to operate. There’s his shooting, his passing – really, Spencer brings a lot of positives with him. He’s much more competitive on the inside than I thought he was. Offensively, he’ll try to post you up, but he can also pull big man out to the arc – where they really don’t want to be. When he does that, it helps your other bigs on the boards. And he’s really a guy who understands the idea of passing the ball before dribbling the ball.</p> <p> We’re also scheduled to get CJ Miles back sometime on this trip – although probably not on Tuesday night in Phoenix. Again, he’ll open the floor and open up the middle. And he’s a guy who can catch-and-shoot, so that’s going to help us a lot.</p> <p> The Cavs just have to get used to their rhythm again, but do so on the fly. We don’t have time to work on it too much in practice. At this point in the season, it’s going to have to be done as we go. Because you have CJ, Hawes, Andy just came back on Saturday and Dion last week. So you have a lot of really nice pieces coming back, you just have to learn how to use them.</p> <p> Because basketball is such a rhythm game, it’s not as easy as some people think working guys back into a rotation. Just watch both Andy and Hawes with Kyrie. Andy pretty much always rolls to the basket when he’s on the wings. When he’s in the middle, Andy’s going to pop; whereas, Hawes always pops. It took Kyrie a little while to realize Hawes doesn’t make that cut. But he’s used to that now.</p> <p> It’s a process, but the more weapons you have, the better. And getting them all back is really going to help on this trip.</p> <p> The entire group hasn’t played long enough together. But it’s something that just has to be done. That’s the only way we’re going to win, is to incorporate our guys back into the game. But we need to incorporate <strong>everybody</strong> in so we can get a smooth flow. The Suns are going through it right now, bringing Bledsoe back and having to work him in with Dragic.</p> <p> Our coaching staff has to go through another rotation situation and they’re going to have to do it on the fly. But, with 18 games to go and the playoffs still in sight … it <strong>has</strong> to be done.<br />  </p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:df5def8c-a600-48c2-9118-71d991bd676e Barrelling Towards the Break http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_barrelling-towards-break Mon, 10 Feb 2014 20:50:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/2/4/32dc1f7d-2576-4fd6-940d-7ff7aef6cede.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img height="306" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/2/4/32dc1f7d-2576-4fd6-940d-7ff7aef6cede.Large.jpg?1" width="649" /></a></p> <p> Hello Cavs fans and CavFanatics!  It’s Mr. Cavalier, checking in from the frozen tundra that is Cleveland. What’s happening?</p> <p> It’s been a crazy few weeks for Cavs Nation, but after this weekend, it looks like maybe we’ve found our footing. I liked a lot of what I saw in these last two wins.</p> <p> Basically, what I’ve seen is more passion to win. And the communication between the players has been much better.</p> <p> In other words, I saw that when there was constructive criticism, the other players didn’t take it and start pouting. They dealt with it, internalized it, and continued to go forward. And that’s what <strong>has</strong> to happen, because you’re in the battle together. You’re not in it by yourself. So as long as you don’t disrespect someone by how you’re addressing them, it’s just constructive criticism that helps you understand the situation.</p> <p> I thought Kyrie did a really good thing towards the end of Sunday’s game. I think Dion tried to pass Kyrie the ball around the three-point arc and it went out of bounds. They went back and forth very calmly and then Kyrie patted his chest as if to say: “my bad.” And what that told me that they’re starting to mature on the floor.</p> <p> You go through situations, nobody’s perfect and you’re going to have some problems. And the reason why you discuss it is so that next time that problem comes up, you’re on the same page. Now, the next time Dion makes his move, Kyrie knows which way he’s going, where he wants the ball in that situation. They talked it out instead of just shutting down. And that tells me that there’s growth.</p> <p> The backcourt overall is really starting to take shape, because I think Mike Brown implemented different ways to best use Kyrie. In other words, Kyrie’s always on “GO” at the 2 spot – he starts the game that way. Whereas when he plays the 1, Kyrie has to figure out how to run the team, who to get the ball to and all that.</p> <p> We seem to start games much faster now because Kyrie can just GO. And I have to take my hat off to Jarrett Jack, because Jarrett is sacrificing his game for the good of the team – and that’s what it’s all about. He’s sacrificing so that the team will have a better flow at the point guard position.</p> <p> No team runs well without veterans that are willing to step up when the time comes and when to sacrifice when that’s for the best.</p> <p> A perfect example also happened this weekend. Alonzo Gee has been getting very sparse minutes. But he came in and changed the game on Friday night in Washington. And being ready to play means that he’s keeping his mind focused on what he needs to do. He’s not hanging his head. He’s a true professional. To do what he did – you have to be a true professional to do that. And his teammates notice that and respect him for it.</p> <p> And you’re also seeing some tangible growth with Anthony Bennett over the last couple weeks.</p> <p> It looks like he’s accepting that he’s not perfect and that he’s going to make mistakes. You move on from your mistakes. You learn from mistakes. That’s fine. But don’t browbeat yourself to the point where you can’t perform. You make a mistake, you simply say: ‘OK, next time I’m going to try not to do that. </p> <p> It’s tough for rookies and especially for the top overall pick. At first, I took things very hard. You’re always going to have that. And on top of that, Fitch demanded perfection. So when you’re trying to please the coach and you’re trying to please yourself and you’re trying to please your teammates and the fans and it’s your first year in the league.</p> <p> It’s overwhelming. It can be a mind-boggling situation. And that’s when you have to have self-confidence. You have to believe that you’re here for a reason and you’re there because you can play.</p> <p> I think things are slowing down for Bennett now. And he’s starting to realize what he can do and what he can’t do. He still doesn’t have complete confidence in his jumpshot. That’s still a work in progress. But everything else seems to be coming along.</p> <p> He’s rebounding, he’s trying to defend. He’s a big-body dude and he doesn’t mind pushing guys around. He’s starting to battle these guys now. And now his fouls are more physical fouls and not just touch-fouls. He’s starting to let people know he’s there.</p> <p> So, again, he just needs time to play. And if has a competitive spirit, that’s eventually going to come out. If he doesn’t, that’s going to show, also. It’s as simple as that. He’s going to get an opportunity to show what he’s about. And whether he lets it out is up to him.</p> <p> But the thing I like most is, he’s starting to relax a little bit and stop worrying about fouls and just turn around and go back down the floor instead of getting paralyzed by thought after he makes a mistake.</p> <p> For the Cavs, it’s important to keep focused on the next game and not get caught up over these two wins. Things can change fast in the NBA. And losing focus is something that happens to a young team. But it’s happened to them enough now to where they should understand that they’re not in a position to feel too good about themselves yet. They have a lot of work to do. So it should be more of putting blinders on and heading down a tunnel without looking at anything on either side. Everything should be focused.</p> <p> If we were in the 6<sup>th</sup>, 7<sup>th</sup>, 8<sup>th</sup> spot in the East, then you can think that way. But where we’re at now, we should be ready to chew up anybody that we go up against so we can get back in this race. At the end of February, you want to be within striking distance; you want to see the light at the end of the tunnel. You want to be within two or three games of those finals spots. And you can get there if you stick to your business for the remainder of the season.</p> <p> After we wrap up these next two games, I’ll be looking forward to watching Kyrie and Dion at All-Star Weekend in New Orleans.</p> <p> Of course, I see Dion having a good game on Friday night. Let’s just put it this way: <strong>Somebody</strong> is going to get dunked on. I can definitely see him doing that.</p> <p> And I can see Kyrie really getting after it in the Three-Point Shootout. He knows Mark Price won it back-to-back years ago, and he’ll want to duplicate that. He’s a very competitive dude. So it’ll be interesting.</p> <p> And in the Game itself on Sunday – when you can handle the ball like Kyrie, you’re suited for success in the All-Star Game, because one-on-one, you can just do your thing. I expect him to play well in the All-Star Game.</p> <p> Those two should stand out this weekend. Cavaliers always seem to on All-Star Weekend.</p> <p> As for me, I’ll be competing on a completely different level – hitting the ball around the links down in sunny Florida!! And I’ll see you on the other side.</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:953498d2-0543-4fc7-8e36-e88bd32488c2 Homecoming Kings http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_homecoming-kings Sat, 18 Jan 2014 18:08:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/15/4/1f84b808-438d-41db-84ff-d9f377b3af79.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img height="311" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/15/4/1f84b808-438d-41db-84ff-d9f377b3af79.Large.jpg?1" width="658" /></a></p> <p> Hey Cavalier fans and CavFanatics! It’s A.C. – and me and the boys are back in town. What’s happening?</p> <p> We’re back from one of the best West Cost trips that I can remember. I’m not sure fans realize how difficult it is to win in Denver at the end of a long trip. The Nuggets beat a lot of teams heading back East after a long trip on nights like that.</p> <p> The Cavaliers have looked rejuvenated. And it doesn’t take much to figure out that the presence of Luol Deng has changed the team’s mindset.</p> <p> I think what I’ve seen in Luol is a guy who can play without the ball; he can also play <strong>with</strong> the ball. But he doesn’t put the ball on the floor too much; only when he’s going to do something with it does he put it on the floor. That’s big. And he’s coming from a system where they move the ball very well, and you can tell because he doesn’t over-dribble at all. He <em>never</em> does that.</p> <p> And, with Deng, everything is done with a purpose. No wasted movement, no wasted energy. Everything is done with pace, everything is done with intensity. Even defensively, when he double-teams, everything is done with a true purpose. And that’s what I’m hoping starts to permeate throughout the rest of the team. And you could see as the trip unfolded that it is starting to bleed into the rest of the team.</p> <p> The team is moving at a faster pace – a more deliberate, confident pace. And in just a week-and-change, he’s quietly become one of the leaders of the team.</p> <p> Mentally, Deng’s starting to change the team. But you have to have <strong>one</strong> thing in order to do that: RESPECT. The players respect him and that’s why it’s happening.</p> <p> You’re also seeing the scoring load is changing now, because of what we’re getting from that 3-spot now. Things are starting to turn around. Now, Kyrie can play more of a point guard position and be an 18-and-10 guy instead of a 25-and-6 guy. It’ll keep him from getting beat up all the time. And he can save some of that energy for the end of the game.</p> <p> Making the deal when Chris Grant did, it was the perfect time to make that move. It gave Deng time to get incorporated into the system and the team, and to find out how things are run. By the time we get back home, he feels like he’s a big part of the team.</p> <p> And I would imagine the fans will give him a <strong>tremendous</strong> welcome when the Cavaliers play the Mavericks on Monday.</p> <p> Now, we come home to a five-game homesteand. And I’m hoping they can carry this momentum into the second half of the season. That’s why it was important to win as many games as they could on this trip, because this is the type of trip that can turn a season around.</p> <p> And I’m not just talking about the wins and losses, but the <strong>way</strong> you play, the attitude, <strong>how</strong> they play. All that needed to be changed and it’s changing. You can see it. And now I just really hope it can continue when we get home.</p> <p> I think Monday’s game with Dallas is Game 41. Then we’ll be in the second half of the season. Naturally, I’m looking for more wins. But more than anything, I want to see more consistent play.</p> <p> For the last eight days, they’re kind of playing to the West Coast theme. There’s not much defense, and it’s been two teams trying to outscore one another. But when we get back home against the East, we’re going to have to buckle back down defensively, because that’s the way they play it in our Conference.</p> <p> I’m hoping we can make that adjustment when we get home. And I have a feeling that’ll be the first point of emphasis for Mike Brown and his staff in Sunday’s practice.</p> <p> Yes, it’s encouraging that we can play both styles. Deng has really helped in that area because what we were missing from that 3, we’re getting now and then some. And again, it’s an adjustment period because now things are operating differently.</p> <p> With Deng and Andy – those two seem like they were born to play together. They were on the same page immediately, like they were made for each other. And all that is going to develop into a whole different feel and philosophy as the season goes on.</p> <p> Earl Clark and Alonzo Gee have been moved down because of Deng’s presence, but they’re still going to factor big into what we’re trying to do. Injuries happen, things happen. So you have to keep your head up and in the game. You can’t afford to get down. That’d be the wrong approach, anyway. It may sound cruel, but it’s what coaches have always told me: “If you don’t like it – play better.” That’s the real world. Play better and your time will come.</p> <p> Of course, just as I say this, we play another Western Conference team on Monday, so it’ll probably be another up-and-down game. But sooner or later, we’re going to have to rediscover our defensive roots.</p> <p> We’re going to have to play lock-down defense for at least five minutes of each quarter, we’re going to have to get into that if we’re going to start consistently winning games.  Because we’re not built on that philosophy; we’re not going to just outscore teams. We have to get back to defense –impose our will on the opponent.</p> <p> And I’d like to see that starting Monday afternoon.</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:17a105bb-5658-4df7-a065-a165db4a4431 Right Around the Corner http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_right-around-corner Mon, 16 Dec 2013 22:01:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/5/13/653de785-e151-42b7-8d98-93cc20c21384.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img height="316" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/5/13/653de785-e151-42b7-8d98-93cc20c21384.Large.jpg?1" width="669" /></a></p> <p> Hey Cavalier fans and CavFanatics – it’s Austin, checking in from frigid C-Town (after spending the weekend in sunny Florida).  So, what’s happening?</p> <p> The Cavs are starting to gel and get some wins and it’s been fun to watch.  It may sound overly simple, but the first thing is, we’re just shooting better. I mean, you have to put the ball in the basket.</p> <p> The defense is starting to take hold, too. When we win games, defensively, we play an ugly game. But that’s the way Mike wants it and, to me, that’s <strong>what</strong> they are. We <strong>want</strong> to play ugly. And the key when you play ugly is to be efficient on the offensive end, because every point is precious. And that means at the end of each quarter, that final three-to-five minutes, you have to be very good with your execution.</p> <p> We need to finish each quarter on a good note, especially on the road. If you do that, along with good solid defense, you’ll win your share of games. The ball has to be respected at the end of each quarter. You can’t be careless. You have to respect the ball because it means a lot to you. When we don’t respect the ball at the end of the quarter, we’re usually in tough shape when the fourth period rolls around. When we respect the ball and end the quarters on a solid note, we always seem to be right there down the stretch.</p> <p> One positive thing I’m seeing is that everybody seems to be focused now on their own role. I think three weeks ago, we would’ve gotten blown out by Miami. But now we’re in a different mindset.</p> <p> The only thing that really hurt us against Miami is that, in the first half, we didn’t play the Heat like we <strong>believed</strong> we could beat them. But in the second half, we played like we felt we could beat them. It was a totally different team from the first half to the second. And Miami felt that, too. They knew they were in trouble; we just couldn’t quite get over the hump when we needed to. But I liked the comeback effort and what they showed on the road.</p> <p> This was a good weekend for the Cavs and even though there’s no such thing as ‘moral victories,’ I really think the way they came back against Miami will really help them moving forward.</p> <p> And this weekend, there was an indication that the Cavaliers are starting to ‘get it’ on the road. It’s simple. It’s like a heavyweight fight. Do you want to get hit in the head first or do you want to hit your opponent in the head first? And that’s what it comes down to. You want to be the one to hit first and the team is starting to understand that now.</p> <p> And a lot of that is rooted in the <strong>pace</strong> of the game. Right away, Kyrie has been coming out attacking and that is <strong>so</strong> important to our mindset. The team feeds off him. When he starts out fast, he takes the team with him. <strong>Attack on the road instead <em>being</em> attacked.</strong></p> <p> In this league, the aggressor is always rewarded.</p> <p> I’ve always said, guys play better when they know their roles and when and where their minutes are coming from.  In the NBA, the life-blood of the team and the individual is <strong>minutes</strong>. You want to know that. And I think that’s what settled the team down.</p> <p> And I think a lot of the stuff the coaching staff put in about a month ago is starting to show up now. They’re starting to just do things by habit now, and that’s a good thing.</p> <p> And I have to say, on offense, the pace is much better.  Kyrie is pushing the ball more now, attacking, especially early in the game. And that’s setting the tone for the team. It’s like Kyrie’s saying: ‘OK, now you have to come with me, because I’m going.’</p> <p> Now the team is revved up, ready to go. Now they pass the ball ahead instead of trying to dribble it ahead – making the defense cover the entire floor. You’re catching them backing up. What you’re starting to see more is Kyrie, Dion and Jack coming down the floor and the defense backpedalling. Now you’ve got them under control and you can get what you want.</p> <p> And early offense is key. Mike Brown’s been stressing it all season. They’ve been focusing so much on defense that the offense had fallen a bit behind. But the defense is almost becoming second-nature to them. So now the offense is finally starting to click.</p> <p> Something I did not like about the weekend was that both Orlando and Miami were able to take Bynum out of the game. The league is adjusting to what the Cavs want to do with him.</p> <p> But that’s what the league is all about: making adjustments. You come out and do your thing, they’ll adjust to you. Now <strong>you</strong> have to make your adjustments to what the league is doing to you.</p> <p> And this weekend, we saw how a lot of teams are going to try to play Bynum. They’re going to try to double-team him from the backside and leave him that one pass to the corner. And we have to work on getting him the ball, even if it means him re-posting.  But we have to do something. We can’t allow teams to take him out of the game.</p> <p> Our halfcourt offense has to go through Bynum every time. If teams are going to overplay him, we have to find the open man and make them pay for that.  We have to recognize that early and either get into better passing lanes or give him space to create.</p> <p> On more thing about the center position: I’m really enjoying the different ways Bynum and Anderson Varejao affect the game. They’re such different big guys. It’s like bringing in a fastball pitcher after a curveball pitcher. It’s a really nice change of pace for that second unit. And it seems to be catching teams off-guard. The entire pace of the game is different.</p> <p> Speaking of Andy, I loved what I saw at the end of the Orlando game, with Dion sticking up for Andy after Nicholson decked him.</p> <p> You can see how Andy reacted to it. And to me, that was a galvanizing moment.</p> <p> Granted, they need more of that. But that was a galvanizing point for the whole team. You can talk about camaraderie and teamwork and all that, but moments like that start you heading down the path of being a <strong>real team</strong>.</p> <p> You have to have that mentality.  It says “CLEVELAND” on that jersey. You represent the Cavs <strong>and</strong> the city. When you go out there, you’re out there as part of a whole – not one little piece. You’re part of <strong><em>something</em></strong>.</p> <p> I really do feel like the Cavaliers are starting to turn a corner. They haven’t turned it yet. There’s still some more rust that they need to shake off as far as how they compete on a consistent basis and how they execute. They’re still throwing the ball away and aren’t quite sure how to close games.</p> <p> But again, it comes down to <em>how they perceive themselves</em>. Do you perceive yourselves as a championship team or just a good team? Do you have that swagger? And can you back the swagger up? They are growing into that, but it doesn’t happen overnight.</p> <p> You look at teams like the Heat and the Pacers. They come into your gym thinking: ‘We bad!’ And they can back it up.  Right now, the Cavs kind of ‘slide’ in; they don’t <strong>strut</strong> in yet. But they’re headed that way.</p> <p> They’re getting there.</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:bfe51eb1-af44-4613-bfb8-9200a6b34f59 Thinking Big http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_thinking-big Tue, 26 Nov 2013 15:58:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/5/3/25e1d6c2-1b05-40cb-936b-aa1f725b8b6a.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img height="315" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/5/3/25e1d6c2-1b05-40cb-936b-aa1f725b8b6a.Large.jpg?1" width="665" /></a></p> <p> Hey, fans of the Wine and Gold and fellow CavFanatics! It’s A.C., with one last blog before Turkey Day.  What’s happening?</p> <p> It was a pair of tough road losses this weekend for the Cavs. But in the NBA, you can’t look back; you have to look ahead. The upcoming schedule demands it.</p> <p> Right now, one of the shining points of the team has been the play of Andrew Bynum – watching him starting to get back to what he wants to be. It’s great to have a weapon like him. But now we have to learn to play with him in the offense.</p> <p> If I were playing with him, I’d always want to be in his eyesight. I’d always be in his eyesight and ready to shoot it, because he’s a willing passer. We can almost use him as the starting point of the offense under the basket and have Kyrie be our starting point on the perimeter. That way the offense doesn’t get stuck; you can go either or.</p> <p> It’s just good to see him back out there. I know what he went through, with all the knee issues because I went through the same thing. I know his tolerance for the pain is going to have to go way up. He’s never going to feel 100 percent all the time because that’s just what happens. It depends on his pain threshold.  </p> <p> Right now, the team’s not totally comfortable playing with him.</p> <p> If I’m on the floor with Bynum, the first thing I’m doing is getting him the ball. And if my man peeps in, I’m going in the opposite direction, because he’ll give it to you. And if I don’t get it and I’m clearing out the other side, I’m coming right around on the other side of the free throw line, because if he gets in the middle and doesn’t have an option with the ball, that’s the first place he’ll be looking.</p> <p> It should be fun for these young guys playing out there with the big fella. The first time you throw it in to him, you see what the defense does. Does your man drop back immediately into Bynum’s lap? I’ll stay outside and create myself some space. If my man wants to double-down on him, I want to be in an open area to get the ball back. If your man doesn’t double-down and is just peeping back at the big man, I’m gonna go the other way. If he peeps right, I’m cutting left; if he peeps left, I’m cutting right. If I don’t get it back, I’m still cutting through the lane and out to give him room to operate. </p> <p> There’s a lot of ways to play with a big man. A lot of teams aren’t set up to defend that. There are a lot of different ways to play with him, and the Cavs are getting used to having a low-post presence. He commands a double-team, and that always creates a mismatch. There’s a lot of things he can do once we get used to playing with him.</p> <p> Inserting Bynum into the starting lineup isn’t the only move the Cavaliers are still getting used to. There’s the change at shooting guard as well.</p> <p> I look at it two ways. One, I’m glad Dion did not let his ego get in the way and still produced. I have to take my hat off to him. He stepped up. Instead of pouting, he took the man’s way, and I think it’s going to help his development down the line.</p> <p> It comes down to what the TEAM needs. And what we needed was more production off the bench. If coach feels that’s the right way, then you have to deal with that. He still got his minutes and he made those minutes productive.</p> <p> Right now, the second unit has been outstanding for us. The second unit is giving us the energy level, the life – they’re keeping things going.</p> <p> Things look a little muddled right now, but I just think it’s guys getting used to the offensive system and the defensive system.  You’re going have fluctuations like this. One night, you play great. The next night, not so much.</p> <p> That’s what happens when you’re changing players and cultures and systems. It’s different than Training Camp. You’re trying to think about what’s happening out there, what you’re supposed to be doing out there, and it’s happening almost too fast for you to think about. It has to be instinct. And that comes with time and repetition. And you’re not going to have that when you’re only 14 games in to a new system. Right now, they’re working toward the point where it’s instinct as opposed to thinking.</p> <p> It’s growing pains. You can see it. It’s not second nature to them yet. It’s all a process and that little bit of hesitation is what gets you beat. This is a fast game and that half-a-second is just enough to throw you off.</p> <p> The Cavaliers rookies have played a bigger role than I think people might have expected at this point of the season. A guy like Matthew Dellavedova even worked his way into the starting lineup.</p> <p> I hope this doesn’t get taken the wrong way. But if I was a veteran, I would be embarrassed if an undrafted rookie came in and started because of his hustle. I would be embarrassed. The whole team should be upset that a guy can come in right out of college and can start basically because he puts forth a great effort every night.</p> <p> That’s not a knock on Delly at all. I love his game; he’s a tough little player. And the offensive moves pretty well when he’s in there and letting Kyrie play off the ball a little. But that’s just how I see it.</p> <p> Anthony Bennett had himself a nice little run on Saturday. And I think he’ll be fine. He just needs to have more confidence in what he’s doing.  He just has to learn the game. And he has to learn HIS game. He can put the ball on the floor, he can shoot the mid-range jumper, he can rebound. But it all takes repetition. It’s in there – he just needs to express it on the floor.</p> <p> You can see that the young man is struggling to get his confidence. He’ll have a breakout game and then he’ll be fine. But right now, he’s playing not to make a mistake, and that’s a tough way to play the game.</p> <p> Segey Karasev has played well in spurts. But he’s a kid who understands how to play the game. You can see it.</p> <p> Right now, he’s a little timid. But that’s to be expected. As soon they get physical with him on defense, he backs off. Instead of going forward, he’ll back off. But that’ll all change once he gets in the weight room and gets stronger – where when a guy comes at you strong, you can ward him off. But he already has everything else. When his confidence gets there, he’ll be fine.</p> <p> He can shoot it, too. And you can tell, once his confidence comes and he gets stronger, guys will rush him and he’ll still go where he wants to go. Right now, when guys rush him, they control him. When the day comes that he can control them, he’s gonna be a real player.</p> <p> And I think Henry Sims has been a solid guy off the bench. I like Henry. He’s a typical Georgetown big man. He’s going to give you solid minutes. He plays hard. He’s not a complainer. He can take it and he can dish it out. Sims is a keeper.</p> <p> Speaking of dishing it out, the Cavaliers will have to bring their big boy game for a big matchup with Miami on Wednesday night.</p> <p> More than anything, I want us to compete. Come out there on Wednesday with some hair on your chest! If you’re racking up personal fouls, so be it. At least they know you’re competing with them. Don’t sit there and let them control you.  Play like you feel you’re a winner. Right now, there still playing with some of last year’s mentality.</p> <p> Right now, they’re letting teams hit them in the mouth first instead of the other way around.  We need to turn the tables on that trend. Because teams like San Antonio and Miami, they’ll hit you in the mouth first and keep hitting you all night. That’s why I want to see some real fight out of the Cavaliers on Wednesday night. </p> <p> Take it to them right from the opening tip.</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:32a590cf-2dd7-4dc5-b2bd-d1489bf9898c Philadelphia Freedom http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_philadelphia-freedom Thu, 07 Nov 2013 19:10:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/8/7/e83ce154-0495-46d9-974e-b2921f147f22.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img height="319" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/8/7/e83ce154-0495-46d9-974e-b2921f147f22.Large.jpg?1" width="672" /></a></p> <p> Hey Cavs fans and CavFanatics. It’s A.C., checking in from the City of Brotherly Love. What’s happening?</p> <p> The Cavs dropped a tough one on Wednesday night. The Bucks were without some of their main guys, but sometimes that’s when a team is most dangerous. They fought hard and it was a difficult loss, but in the NBA you have to put it behind you because there’s always another one looming a day or two away.</p> <p> Offensively, the team’s off to a little bit of a slow start. But they’ve been really good on the defensive end.</p> <p> Right now, Mike Brown and his staff are changing the culture, and they’re right in the middle of it. Naturally, the defense is going to come faster because they’ve spent more time with it. It’s like you’re making a cake. You add more ingredients as you get closer to putting it in the oven. So, they’re going to start putting more offense in as the season progresses and it’ll become more free-flowing.</p> <p> The problem early in the season is, guys sometimes play on pins and needles because they’re thinking too much. And that’s going to slow them up, too. But once they get the offense installed, they’ll be fine.</p> <p> At that point, guys will be thinking less and playing more. The guys that have been here and the veterans seem to be more in-tune. And that’s understandable, even though the system itself is new to them also. But again, everything will come as they get used to playing together and they won’t have to think about what they’re doing.</p> <p> C.J. Miles is a perfect example. First of all, he’s comfortable. You can tell that he feels good about the situation he’s in. He understands how to play, he’s had a year playing with Kyrie and Dion, so he gets where his shots are coming from. And on top of that, they <strong>look</strong> for him when he comes into the game. He’s comfortable with that.</p> <p> Jarrett Jack is another example. The way he runs the second unit is essential to success. You can’t replace that knowledge and that experience. Jack calms things down – and that is <strong>so</strong> important.</p> <p> An area where you’re seeing a nice veteran presence is at the small forward. Right now, it’s almost ‘small forward by committee.’ And as long as those three guys understand that’s what it is, it will work. It’s once one player gets disgruntled that you have a problem. But right now, they all understand what’s going on – they’re veterans, they know it’s all about the team and getting wins.</p> <p> Andrew Bynum is another veteran who knows how to win. And right now he’s working his way back from the knee injury. I know how tough that is. You have to get used to <strong>trusting it.</strong> That’s the first thing. Then you have to get used to a little bit of discomfort. You’re going to have discomfort; it’s never going to be the same feeling. And you have to take care of yourself. Ice right away or whatever treatment the staff gives you, you have to do it, religiously. And that’s what Bynum has done since he got to Cleveland.</p> <p> It’ll all start coming back to him. It’s been a year-and-a-half and I think he’s playing pretty well.</p> <p> Bynum changes the game defensively and offensively.</p> <p> He alters the mindset of the opposing offenses; they don’t want to go in there against him. Teams can’t go running around in the paint free of charge with Bynum in there.</p> <p> And, offensively, with him, we can have an inside game <strong>and</strong> a perimeter game. Before, we were mostly perimeter. But now you have an inside game and that opens up a whole new set of plays in the playbook. When teams play zone or get in a defensive position designed to stop Kyrie, you can go down low and run a whole different set of plays. He’s going to change all that.</p> <p> Bynum’s getting comfortable with the Cavs and rookie Anthony Bennett is trying to get comfortable in general.</p> <p> His first basket against Milwaukee was big, because it’ll help him relax a little.</p> <p> As far as being the No. 1 pick, it doesn’t have the same meaning as to when I came in. When I came in, I was asked to play and contribute immediately. They gave me the ball and said, “Produce.” But Anthony’s lucky; he doesn’t have to do that. He can ease his way into it. And that should help his development. But eventually he’s got to get used to being <strong>expected</strong> to produce. He has to understand that. I had a lot of nights where I’d have nightmares because of the pressure. And I knew I was going to get the ball the next day anyway. He doesn’t really have to go through that.</p> <p> Right now, he’s just going through what most rookies do. The speed is a little too fast and the lights are a little too bright. And he’s just finding out the big difference in the intensity level between the preseason and the regular season. It’s much different.</p> <p> Not only that, but they’ve started to scout you. Teams are going to force you to do the things you don’t want to. They’ll force you to your weaknesses. And you have to minimize your weaknesses. He’s got to learn all that. He’ll be alright once he does. It’s a man’s world in the NBA.</p> <p> This weekend, we’ll get our first look at the Sixers.</p> <p> Their rookie, Michael Carter-Williams, has really surprised everybody. But you look at Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes. They’ve got some guys there, they know how to play the game and they like to get up and down the floor. And the Sixers are another example that the preseason doesn’t mean a damn thing. These guys are coming out there and playing the game.</p> <p> They play up-tempo, they defend you. They’re fun to watch. You have to come ready to play or a young team like that will beat you. By the same token, the league and the season usually catch up to teams like that after a while because, again, you get scouted, they understand your weaknesses and what it takes to beat you.</p> <p> And that’s what it comes down to. Eventually the league will catch up to Philly, and they’re going to have to make adjustments. And we’ll get a look at where they’re at – and where <strong>we</strong> are – this weekend. It should be fun.  </p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:818ae7e0-00c6-437d-8fc8-ee828a6930a6 Wrapping Up the Preseason http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_wrapping-up-preseason Wed, 23 Oct 2013 17:01:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/5/5/1592b264-1027-45b7-b53e-45cb46aa8cc3.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/5/5/1592b264-1027-45b7-b53e-45cb46aa8cc3.Large.jpg?1" /></a></p> <p> Hey, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics. It’s Austin, checking in from the Queen City. What’s happening?</p> <p> It’s getting late in the preseason and Mike Brown has some decisions to make before the regular season tips off next Wednesday.</p> <p> One of those decisions will be at small forward.  I think right now it’s still up in the air. Both guys are showing flashes, but neither has done anything really spectacular yet. But one of the good things is that the quality at that <strong>position</strong> – between Zo and Clark – is pretty good. It really doesn’t matter so much who starts and who comes off the bench. What <strong>IS</strong> important is that you’re going to get quality minutes with no drop-off either way.</p> <p> In fact, I really think the strength of this team is going to be our bench. Whoever comes off the bench this year is <strong>really</strong> going to play a significant role in us winning or losing games.</p> <p> Two guys that have starting spots locked up are Kyrie and Tristan – and they’ve definitely become the leaders of this team.</p> <p> In your third year, you start to become more comfortable. You understand the league, you understand how you fit in. And they’re both acknowledging that they have to be the leaders.</p> <p> Kyrie made a statement in one of his interviews: he’s one of the young guys, but he’s also one of the leaders. They both understand and are comfortable in where they’re at in their maturation. And it’s good to see that they’re taking over at a young age. It’s critical to have solid leaders.</p> <p> It’s also not the worst thing in the world for young players to take their lumps early. I did the same thing. Losing like that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. You don’t want to keep going through that and you’re determined to change it. And when you have guys who don’t want to conform to the winning attitude, they stick out like sore thumbs – and you know who needs to be tightened up.</p> <p> I lost the same amount of games that they did, and it was ugly. My food didn’t taste good; I was evil all the time. You want to turn that feeling around as soon as possible.</p> <p> Another decision Mike Brown and the front office will have to make regards some of the Camp invitees. And a few of them have been really impressive thus far.</p> <p> Matthew Dellavedova, for example. He’s not flashy, but he’s consistent. He’s not going to lose you anything when he comes on the floor. Your team is going to stay settled. He’s a good leader and he knows how to run the offense. And he’s able to hit a shot every now and then.</p> <p> As far as Henry Sims, I’m really impressed with him. But all Georgetown big men come into this league ready to play. And this young man is one of those Georgetown products who really knows how to play the game. He’s been one of the most impressive young guys that we’ve had in Camp.</p> <p> Finally, Jermaine Taylor. He and Alonzo are the best pure athletes on the team. He understands the game, his energy level is high. His problem right now is shooting, but you can always teach a good athlete to shoot the ball. Look at Alonzo’s improvement. But Jermaine’s close; he’s real close to being a pretty good NBA player. He needs to work on his ball-handling a little bit, but those things can be fixed. But, overall, I like him.</p> <p> Watching the team in games and practices, you can see that Mike Brown’s philosophy and system is really sinking in. In other words, the energy that he wants, his attention to detail and his demand that the opponents “feel you” – the guys are starting to understand what that means. When they close out now, they close out under control. The way they keep the ball on one side of the floor, the way they’ve prevented guards from middle penetration, the way they shrink the court.</p> <p> Their team defense is better; their individual defense is better. They’re physical, they’re up on you. And you can see that it’s starting to come along. Even offensively – they swing the ball, they don’t stick it on one side, nobody pounds the ball.</p> <p> You can even see it starting to sink in with the rookies, who’ve all been impressive in spurts. Of course, Carrick has been out for most of the preseason (although he was very good when I watched him in Summer League).</p> <p> Anthony Bennett has shown flashes. He can definitely get the job done. He’s beginning to understand that he’s playing with the big boys now. He’s got to learn how to use up-fakes and things like that. Use his power. In other words, you have to learn how to balance finesse and power. At this level, you can’t overpower people and, at the same time, you can’t be timid, physically.</p> <p> Right now, as with most rookies, the game is still a little too fast for him. But other than that, Bennett’s had a good Camp as far as learning. He’s been lucky that he wasn’t thrown into the fire right away. He can take his time and develop. And I think that’s going to help his career in the long run.</p> <p> As far as Sergey, he knows how to play the game. I love to watch him play. He shoots the ball well, he moves well without the ball. But he’s got to get stronger, and he knows that. Right now he has a tendency to wilt a little bit when guys get up on him. He kind of backs up. But once he gets in the weight room, I think he’s going to be fine.</p> <p> Those first couple months are going to be difficult for the rookies and younger players. It’s going to hit them hard. But the way the schedule is set up, if we can sustain ourselves through the All-Star Break and stay in the race, that last part of the season, you can catch your breath and get back into a rhythm – and that’ll give us a chance to make a good push in the second half.</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:c3413cc9-8dfb-4fc6-b272-f30b4c84fe89 Let the Games Begin http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_let-games-begin Wed, 09 Oct 2013 17:25:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/3/15/53755b2d-34de-45da-9f11-87ece1fbf006.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img height="327" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/3/15/53755b2d-34de-45da-9f11-87ece1fbf006.Large.jpg?1" width="689" /></a></p> <p> Hello, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics!  It’s Austin, and it’s time to lace ‘em up and get busy …</p> <p> I was really impressed with Tuesday night’s game, even though it was just the first game of the preseason.</p> <p> The fourth quarter was used to take a look at the younger guys, and all of them were out there together, so it was tough to get some continuity going. But in those first three quarters, the team was really solid.</p> <p> The thing that kept popping into my mind was that they’re going to have to use a deep rotation if you’re going to play at that defensive pace. You’re going to have to be in shape. Guys might have to understand that it’s not about playing big minutes. Sometimes, it’s got to be quality minutes over a quantity of minutes.</p> <p> The defense was really on a string. That first three quarters, the D was rock-solid. You didn’t see any wide-open shots. Even the threes were contested. And the next game you’ll be able to tell even more, because it’s a road game. But if they have that same intensity level on the defensive end, they’ll have more success. The defense was relentless. That was something that I really enjoyed watching.</p> <p> So many guys were good on Tuesday. Tristan led the team in scoring and rebounded the ball well, too. It’s really amazing what he’s trying to do: switch from his left to his right hand. That tells me how talented he really is. To be able to play left-handed as long as he did and reach the level he reached to be the fourth player picked in the draft and then change to right-handed, that’s a very talented individual.</p> <p> He can use both sides of his brain well and he’s very talented. But if you look at his gait right now, the way he carries himself and how he shoots – he’s at peace with himself now. He was conflicted before. Now he’s at peace with himself. He’s a different man.</p> <p> Tristan’s shot is more fluent right now. He was almost “throwing” it with his left hand. It looks more like a traditional shot with the right hand. Once he gets used to pull-up jump-shooting and jump-shooting with the right hand, he’ll be fine. You can tell he’s still searching a little bit there, but the free throws are much, much better. They just <strong>look</strong> better. He’s more comfortable. Now he just needs the muscle memory to kick in.</p> <p> His footwork fits right into the right-hand movement. Before Tristan was making right-handed moves and shooting with his left hand.</p> <p> The starting backcourt – Kyrie and Dion – looked more comfortable out there as well.</p> <p> They spent time together in the offseason and I bet they sort of ironed out some differences on how they like to do things. And they just seem more on the same page now. And both of them are <strong>really</strong> defending now, and that’s a big difference. Last season, they’d let guys come down the middle. You didn’t see <strong>anybody</strong> come down the middle on Tuesday night. And that’s one of Mike’s big defensive principles – no middle penetration.</p> <p> Kyrie and Dion just look to be more in-sync now. They know where each other’s likes and where they like the ball. Dion is playing strictly the 2-spot instead of in-between the 1 and 2. He knows his role and he’s confident in it. I’ve always talked about players improving once they have a clear vision of their role. He’s coming off picks, he’s catching and shooting in his spots and he’s penetrating when he sees an opening.</p> <p> The potential is there. And after just two weeks under Mike Brown, you can see what the differences are going to be.</p> <p> The Cavs will play physical defense. They’ll contest ALL shots. They’ll gang rebound. And I noticed that it was very “congested” on the defensive end.  You don’t get a whole lot of room to go flying in there against this defense. So you’ll have to come at them with a different style of offense. If you run a conventional offense like the Bucks did on Tuesday, you’re going to have a hard time dealing with a Mike Brown team.</p> <p> And as great as it was to see Mike Brown back on the sidelines, it was also tremendous seeing Andy back on the court.</p> <p> Just to see him back out there, running around, doing his thing was awesome. He changes the whole vibe of the game. The energy level goes way up when he’s out there. Bynum had told me that was the reason he was really anxious to play with Andy – because of the energy level. And you can see what he brings just by his presence on the floor.</p> <p> Andy, Tristan and some of the frontline veterans will help Anthony Bennett in the early-going.</p> <p> In the first half, Bennett got a little winded and he got his shot blocked a couple times. It helped him (quickly) realize that the pros are a little different than the Mountain West Conference.</p> <p> In the second half, he got more physical. He got more action around the basket and he was solid. He started to rebound the ball. He struggled on the free throw line as well. But his shot’s going to come. And once he gets in better game condition, he’ll be much better doing what he does. When you get tired, everything’s affected. Your brain slows down, everything slows down. But when he gets into game-shape, I’m expecting big things out of him. In the second half he looked a lot better; more confident.</p> <p> Actually, I was impressed by all the rookies on Tuesday night.</p> <p> Carrick Felix was solid. He got a couple steals, a blocked shot. He played his game. The offensive end will come. He did what he does, and that’s play a total game. Nothing fancy. He’s just a solid ballplayer.</p> <p> It’s obvious that Sergey’s going to have to get stronger so he can mix it up a little more. But he definitely sees the game from a good light. I like the way he plays the game. He’s got a nice stroke. He’s competitive. I’d expect him to start figuring things out around All-Star Break. Then he’ll be ready to go.</p> <p> And Kenny Kadjji, I like his game. He has potential. He’s a good kid, he works hard. He’ll play physical with you, but he can step outside and hit the open shot. He’ll attack and he’ll defend you. And for his size, he has good mobility. He was one of the guys I was impressed with last night.</p> <p> We head to Orlando this week and I want to see how the younger guys function on the road – with the traveling and the hotel and nutrition and how they get their rest. I just want to see how they react on the road. Because now they’re going into a hostile environment where all they can depend on is each other. And that’s what they have to get used to.</p> <p> Rookies have a tendency to not understand the road right away. But I just think it’ll be a good test for them early in the preseason to have a little bit of adversity and see how they deal with it.</p> <p> I remember my first road trip. I was very nervous. Jim Brewer was my roommate. I packed like I was going away for two weeks. I had suitcases totally stuffed, and I never used any of it. And I had to carry the projector as a rookie.</p> <p> It was quite an experience.</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:49c0be4b-eec6-4d1c-a32c-1c82bffb310e Summer of Love http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_summer-of-love Thu, 25 Jul 2013 13:43:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/13/7/7d0681a5-3f7d-4fd5-872a-e0658801eac9.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img height="315" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/13/7/7d0681a5-3f7d-4fd5-872a-e0658801eac9.Large.jpg?1" width="665" /></a></p> <p> Hey, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics! It’s Austin, checking in from the offseason’s halfway point. What’s happening?</p> <p> It’s been an incredible summer for the Cavaliers – from the Lottery to the Draft to the signing of some big-time free agents. You can feel the excitement swelling around the city again.</p> <p> I loved the free agent moves by Chris Grant and the front office. For starters, I love the pick-up of Jarrett Jack.</p> <p> His experience and his attitude are exactly what we needed. I like the way he plays the game – something that our young backcourt can really look to and lean on. You bring it <strong>every night,</strong> and you have to play defense; you cannot just trade baskets in this league and win. All the teams that try that don’t make the playoffs.</p> <p> So I think Jack is going to bring that intensity. And he has a starter’s mentality. He will push those guys every day in practice. You have to compete every day, that’s what I like about him. Both Kyrie and Dion will have to step up – unless they want to be embarrassed. It’s as simple as that. And I love it. Competition makes you stronger, makes your team stronger.</p> <p> With Earl Clark – what he brings is length and the understanding that Coach Brown demands defense <strong>first</strong>. So that mentality is already there. But he also has an offensive game – he can shoot the ball and he can run the floor. But his length is really going to make it tough on offensive players.</p> <p> I like what Earl Clark brings to the team. And playing in L.A. with Kobe, he understands the level of intensity you have to bring every night. And that is very important.</p> <p> With Clark and Gee both at the small forward, that really improves that position drastically. Because whichever player doesn’t start is going to have the advantage against the second unit. They are both basically frontline guys, and either one makes our second unit that much stronger.</p> <p> And of course, the Andrew Bynum signing was a major move. If he’s healthy, the frontline – which was maybe our weakest point in the past couple years – will become our strength. And having the big man in the middle puts everybody in their proper positions.</p> <p> Guys playing in their proper positions is how you establish camaraderie and continuity. If Bynum is healthy, we’ll be in tremendous shape at all three frontcourt positions.</p> <p> One last point about all three free agent acquisitions … all three cited Mike Brown as a big reason why they wanted to play in Cleveland.</p> <p> Having a head coach that you’re comfortable with is huge because it makes them relaxed and comfortable – especially when you’re coming to a new franchise. You don’t feel threatened, there are no grey areas. You know what to expect. You’re used to little things: his schedule, his demands, the tone of his voice. It’s major.</p> <p> They’re comfortable with Mike, and that got them off to a good start. And I think once they truly find out what the organization is about, and the facility that they’ll be practicing in, they’ll be happy and productive.</p> <p> I’m also pretty excited about some of the guys I watched during Summer League in Vegas.</p> <p> Dion looks like he’s improved his game. I really want to see him have a better understanding of how to play the game.</p> <p> You have to see the game in Technicolor instead of black-and-white. That’s what I’d like to see him do. Once he starts to see the game in Technicolor, that will change his whole mindset and he won’t be so frantic.</p> <p> I was like Dion in my rookie year. You play ‘in a hurry.’ Things will slow down for him as sophomore.</p> <p> As for Tyler, his whole issue is to be more aggressive in his second year. That’s the whole key for him. He’s a seven-footer with fantastic skills. He just has to <strong>use them</strong> and not be afraid to use them. But again, that’s a young guy in his rookie year.</p> <p> But if he wants to survive and thrive in the NBA, he’ll come back with much more aggressiveness. Play the game with aggression. Play the game as if you are the best player on the floor. Don’t play the game like you’re just happy to be out there.</p> <p> I was also really impressed with this year’s second-round pick, Carrick Felix.</p> <p> I like him because he ‘plays the game.’ He plays the total game. He’s a defender. He can score. And he lets the game come to him. That’s best way to put it. And he’s a competitor. He can jump out the gym. And I think he’s going to be a big surprise this year. Once he gets past his rookie jitters, he’s going to be OK.</p> <p> On Tuesday, the Cavs brought in their second first-rounder, Sergey Karasev. I like what I’ve seen of him.</p> <p> Coach’s sons always seem to get it. They see the game in Technicolor. All the film I’ve seen on him, I like his aggressiveness. He’s a scorer, like I was. But he can already pass the ball better than I did. He runs the floor. And he understands that he has to defend. He’ll need to put on muscle. But he’ll be fine. Defense is a mindset.</p> <p> I think both he and Carrick have tremendous upsides.</p> <p> Dion and Tyler are still in Vegas, joining Kyrie at the Team USA mini-camps. That’s an invaluable experience for them, because this is where you do your developing for the next season – during the offseason.</p> <p> And in Vegas, our guys are playing top-notch ball against top-level competition, and that can only help you going into the next year. You’re going against guys you’re going to see all season. You just can’t beat that experience.</p> <p> During my offseason, I’ve been working on developing my golf game. I have to pack it all in before the season starts back up. (And it’s right around the corner.)</p> <p> I’ve been playing a lot, and I have a lot of charity tournaments coming up. That’s out in the burbs, but I’m also going to enjoy downtown Cleveland this summer. It’s really nice down here, and there’s just an energy you can feel. The whole area is different. It’s a good feeling.</p> <p> There’s a real excitement going on right now. The Tribe, the Browns and, of course, the Cavs. People are re-energized for the Cavaliers. They tell me all the time.</p> <p> With the new faces, it’s a little bit of a mystery right now. But fans are ready to see the mystery unfold. And so am I.</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:2d07c09d-0638-4c0f-a04f-67cf361e59c3 Who's It Gonna Be? http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_whos-gonna Wed, 26 Jun 2013 14:01:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/3/12/63cccd5b-397c-45f4-ac9f-64516305bab1.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/3/12/63cccd5b-397c-45f4-ac9f-64516305bab1.Large.jpg?1" /></a></p> <p> Well, Cavs fans and CavFanatics … we’re almost there! It’s Austin, checking in on Draft Eve and wondering: Who’s it gonna be?</p> <p> I can’t remember the last time we’ve had a Draft like this – with no real idea, among four of five players, who’ll be the top pick.</p> <p> At the top of this Draft, it seems like the debate is over two bigs: Alex Len and Nerlens Noel, and two shooting guards: Ben McLemore and Victor Oladipo.</p> <p> In terms of the big men, I think I like Len the best. Because, offensively, he has more upside and he already has some semblance of a low-post game and how to play with his back to the basket. Noel is a great athlete – he can run the floor, rebound, block shots.</p> <p> But starting out with an ACL injury after already having one in high school gives me some trepidation. Especially when you have to put weight on him – I think they’re saying 25-30 pounds. I had an ACL injury and all my doctors told me to lose weight. But medical technology is light-years ahead of that now, so if he’s cleared and the Cavs love him, that could be the pick.</p> <p> Either way, the defense needs to improve over where it’s been. And I think either guy helps that, big time.</p> <p> Among the two-guards, McLemore’s more offensively polished. Oladipo is a bulldog on defense. You could take either of them and I think you’d be happy.</p> <p> They both can shoot it. Obviously McLemore shoots it a little better and, statistically, he’s better than Beal was coming out a year ago. But Oladipo plays like a MAN, and he plays on both ends of the floor. And he’s a guy that can bring it every night – no fear. But he’s not as big as you’d probably like in a prototypical two-guard.</p> <p> And how does either of them fit in with your team concept – with the players you already have? That’ll be the biggest question.</p> <p> I’d also really like to see them come out of this Draft with a backup point guard so you can back Kyrie off a little bit. And put more concentrated minutes into him, keeping him a little healthier through an 82-game grind.</p> <p> Same with Anderson Varejao.</p> <p> You’d like to take some of those minutes off Andy. If you can keep some of the wear and tear off him and Kyrie – keep them healthy for an entire season – there’s no doubt in my mind we’re a playoff team. If you have that, with all the other guys we have, then you really have something for the future.</p> <p> If I had my ultimate wish, I’d like to see a big, another guard for the rotation and some kind of a “now” guy – a veteran that we can plug in and play. If we can do that, we’ve hit a home run. It’s going to be tough. But the Cavs have all the assets – in this Draft and the ones coming up.</p> <p> Teams are going to try to pry that first pick away, and I’m sure Chris will listen to every offer. But, to me, if it’s a deal with any doubt, I wouldn’t do it. Go ahead and pick your guy and go about your business.</p> <p> And I think that’s how we’ve been built by Chris so far. Keep your focus; keep your eye on the target. We’re more than halfway through our rebuilding, so it’s time to stay on course now. We’ve gone too far to throw this plan out the window. So I think they’re going to stay the course on Thursday night.</p> <p> On Thursday, I’ll be here at Quicken Loans Arena. We’ll be having a good time, keeping fans abreast of everything that’s going on. And we’ll do what we always do – have a nice little gathering, have a party and celebrate another successful Draft night.</p> <p> Fred McLeod will be in New York, so John Michael, Campy and I will be on the court. They’ll bring the Q Tube down for fans to follow the action.</p> <p> We’re gonna have a fun, productive Draft night. And the best part about it is: it’s free!</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:bc0173cb-6b38-412d-b5e7-c634fde4df52 Bracing for the Big Night http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_bracing-big-night Thu, 13 Jun 2013 20:21:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/15/11/ffe20a96-b609-4bb3-ab6f-210e5819c9f7.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img height="289" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/15/11/ffe20a96-b609-4bb3-ab6f-210e5819c9f7.Large.jpg?1" width="675" /></a><br /> <br /> Hey Cavalier fans and CavFanatics! It’s A.C., checking in with just two weeks left before the NBA Draft. What’s happening?</p> <p> They say this year’s Draft is deep but not top-heavy. I’m good with that because we have a couple holes to fill this offseason.</p> <p> With all the picks we have, I’d like to see us address both the frontcourt and a backcourt. I don’t care if it’s a new guy, or by trade, or through free agency. The Draft is important, but we also have to bring some “now” guys. We have to bring some players in. I would try to fill with holes with as many as veterans as I can. We have Tristan, Kyrie, Zeller and Dion. That’s four young guys plus however many rookies we bring in with the Draft.</p> <p> Rookies and youngsters are fine, but you have to have some guys who already know how to get through the maze. Our guys are learning, but they don’t quite know how to get through the yellow brick road.</p> <p> So basically, not only do we need some “future” guys, we need some “now” guys that have already been through the war – guys that know that you have to play both ends of the floor – realizing that the defensive end is where you win the ballgame. The offensive end is fine. But you have to be willing to stick your nose in there on a nightly basis.</p> <p> You look at all the teams that survived in the playoffs – and especially the two that ended up in the Finals – and they’re all defensive-minded teams. Teams that don’t – like the Knicks – were out early.</p> <p> In the Draft, there’s a handful of guys I think the Cavs are looking at with the top pick. They all have strengths and weaknesses and this year there’s not a consensus guy.</p> <p> I like Noel, but that knee is the biggest problem. But I also want to see if he can fill out. He’s barely over 200 pounds and might be only but 6-10 without all that hair. But he’s an intriguing prospect and would be a nice fit with Mike’s defensive mindset. But you have to have some offensive skills and I wonder: do we have the time to develop him? That’s what it might come down to.</p> <p> In terms of Ben McLemore, I really like his game. He’s a solid player and he comes from Kansas, so you know he’ll play at both ends of the floor. He’s a good penetrator, shoots the ball well on the move, but is also a great catch-and-shoot guy – and that is what Kyrie needs next to him. When he penetrates – kick it to a guy like that and <strong>BOOM! </strong></p> <p> I know Dion is used to starting and that’s what he wants to do. But I say let them fight it out. With Dion coming off the bench, there’s nobody on a second unit in this league that can stop him. And now WE have the advantage. And he’s better when he has the ball in his hands. Starting or not starting, the most important thing is who finishes, not who starts.That’s how I see it.</p> <p> Alex Len has an ankle injury so he hasn’t been able to work out much. But he’s an aggressive player and I like that. Because you can’t teach aggressiveness. So I kind of like him. He’s got great size and he plays hard, so he could be good. Offensively he has some challenges, but he’s not bad.</p> <p> Victor Oladipo is an interesting guy to me. He’s a very good athlete, a very good person. He comes from a solid program, so he knows the game. He knows how important defense is and he doesn’t mind getting in your face. So I really like him.</p> <p> Otto Porter seems to be slipping out of the conversation, but that doesn’t mean we don’t like him. I’ve heard he doesn’t have the upside of a top pick. But we also need rotation people. And we need better rotation people to improve our team. So he would be a good fit to make sure that we’re strong, 1-through-10.</p> <p> Either way, it’s going to be an exciting night for the Cavs. And very exciting for the kids getting picked. It’s such a huge production now. They buy you suits and fly you to New York. I found out while I was sitting in class. So it’s a whole different world right now.</p> <p> I didn’t know I was going to be the No. 1 back then, because Elmore Smith and Sidney Wicks were up there too. My name was being thrown around in the conversation. But I didn’t have any idea I would be the No. 1 pick because they thought that Cleveland would take the big man. But the Cavaliers ended up taking me, and I thank them for doing it.</p> <p> I didn’t know important being the No. I overall pick was until after it happened. I really didn’t. My whole thing was: I wanted to play pro ball. The rest of it was just trying to make the franchise better. And that’s what I was brought in to do.</p> <p> The night before, I had talked to my agent and he was telling me what <strong>migh</strong>t happen, what <strong>could</strong> happen. But I had no idea. My class got out around 4 o’clock. I was in art history class and they called the professor out and when he came back in to the classroom said: ‘We have a professional basketball player in our midst. Congratulations, Mr. Carr.’</p> <p> That’s how it all happened. I didn’t do anything that night. (The next day I did!)  But the day it happened, I was just happy. I called my parents and that was it; nothing really spectacular. Now there’s so much fanfare. It’s a big production. And I’m glad for the kids getting picked. That <strong>should</strong> be a big night for you! It only happens once.</p> <p> While we’re waiting for the Draft, like most of you, I’ve been checking out the Finals.</p> <p> To me, it’s ‘team’ against the ‘superstars.’ Even though San Antonio has its own Big Three, there’s not all the hoopla. And they have a little age on them. And I think the key to the whole series now is Tony Parker’s hamstring. If that hamstring is bad, Miami’s going to win. But if that hamstring is good and he can at least be a presence on the floor, then I think San Antonio can win it.</p> <p> San Antonio really has a knack for frustrating LeBron. They’re actually shrinking the floor on him and they’re making him shoot jumpshots. And LeBron doesn’t want a steady diet of that. Because if he’s not making his shots, that messes with his head. So he wants to get inside and get some fouls. That’s why he’s not getting to the free throw line, because he’s settling for the jumper.</p> <p> But tonight, I expect Miami to post him up a lot early. And San Antonio will not let him have the baseline and they’ll try to trap him up top. So he’ll have to re-post. You’ll see that a lot tonight. Throw it back out and throw it back in. And what that does is take all the other guys out of the offense.</p> <p> It’s going to be interesting. If LeBron doesn’t hit on 50 percent of his shots tonight, Miami could be in trouble.</p> <p> And when the Finals wrap up, I’ll refocus on the Draft. I haven’t been able to focus on my golf game this summer because the weather’s been so terrible. It’s like an extended spring! Pretty soon, it’s going to be July. Then you have two months and by the time September rolls around, we’re back in Cavs mode for the next six months. And I’m not quite ready for that just yet.</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:72265299-1972-437b-a067-f3e0f6fc5d49 What a Night! http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_night Wed, 22 May 2013 16:01:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/14/2/ee0d6fc2-6f64-4e10-825f-1628dd223424.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img height="307" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/14/2/ee0d6fc2-6f64-4e10-825f-1628dd223424.Large.jpg?1" width="657" /></a></p> <p> What a night!! What a night … Seeing Nick Gilbert’s face light up, and then watching him dance in celebration as the Cavs again plucked the #1 pick made the trip unforgettable again! … Jeff Cohen, one of the Cavs majority owners, was in the sequestered room where the ping pong balls were pulled … he actually knew the Cavs good fortune about 7:30 p.m., nearly an hour and a half before we all saw, as you did, the Cavs had secured the top pick … Jeff could not email, text, or call anyone of the great news, as all forms of communication had to be turned in, prior to the drawing … That’s mental toughness!!!<br />  <br /> The Cavs by far had the largest contingent at the Lottery, including Machine Gun Kelly, Michael Symon, Tony Rizzo, Andy Baskin, Mike Snyder, Wine and Gold United member, Gerry Burma, and lottery contest winner, Tate Moore to name just a few … and it’s why you have to believe in karma … you could just feel it in the room … and to watch each team stay in their slots, made the heart beat faster … and when the Cavs logo did not go at #4, you knew the Wine and Golders were in great shape … Then, the Wizards and Magic logos were unveiled, Nick’s face lit up!!! The memory of Rizz yelling and enjoying the moment was one of the indelible memories off the night … check out the interviews from last night … just too much fun.<br />  <br /> Nick’s celebration had to have one request fulfilled … Cheeseburger, fries and a milk shake from the absolutely packed, Shake Shack in New York City … the manager, cooks and cashiers all had been watching the Lottery in the kitchen, and knew right away who the 16 man contingent was wearing the bow ties … (and yes, the burger was out of this world!!!)<br />  <br /> But think about it, 2 #1 picks in 3 years … the statistical odds of that, is off the charts! Nick has done it again …<br />  <br /> Now, the Cavs have options, being in the driver’s seat … plus add the #19 slot, as well as #31 and #33 overall, and the assets continue to build … Dan G was beaming of course because the future is being laid out, for a long successful run, and to be a part of it, is going to be something special … so, enjoy the ride, and get set for the draft on June 27th…<br />  <br /> A Cavs night wrapped up neatly in a bowtie!</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:efbd628e-cc96-422f-aec7-1a38c0d9e7fc Thoughts from the Early Offseason http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_thoughts-early-offseason Tue, 07 May 2013 14:48:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/6/1/e68695d8-b6d2-4db2-81aa-0c1a481df9c8.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img height="323" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/6/1/e68695d8-b6d2-4db2-81aa-0c1a481df9c8.Large.jpg?1" width="601" /></a></p> <p> Hey, Cavs fans and CavFanatics! It’s Austin, checking in. How’s everyone’s offseason been so far? And what’s happening?</p> <p> I’m sure new coach Mike Brown’s offseason just got a lot busier. I’m really excited that he’s back at the helm.</p> <p> I think on both sides of the ball, he’s definitely the perfect guy.  He’s big on organization and attention to detail – and all that will permeate through the team. And with this young team, you need somebody who’ll teach them how to pay attention to detail.</p> <p> I’m anxious to see him when Camp opens – because Mike will make you do something <em>over</em> and <em>over</em> and <em>over</em> again until you get it right. And you’ll follow the rules.</p> <p> All that is going to make them a better team.</p> <p> But I’m definitely all-in with the hire. I understand why we did it. And I’m looking forward to working with him again. He’s one of the best guys in the league. But things will be different under Mike. He’ll be a lot more detail-oriented and he won’t be as free with access to the team. Things will definitely change.</p> <p> Of course, Mike is different, too. Think about who he’s dealt with. He’s dealt with LeBron, he’s dealt with Kobe. And between those two guys, he’s learned a lot.</p> <p> It’s going to be interesting to see how it all unfolds. If the young guys listen to Mike and try to play the game the right way, it’ll be successful. And, really, the key is: The guys who don’t want to listen, you get rid of them. It’s as simple as that, because that’s the only way you’re going to win.</p> <p> You have to have a system that everyone buys into. When I first came to Cleveland, it was the same way. The first two or three years, we didn’t have the guys we wanted. So it took us two years to get rid of the malcontents and all the guys that winning wasn’t the <strong>only</strong> thing to them.</p> <p> And once we got to that point, we took off as a team. Once everyone was on board with the proper mindset: Winning comes first and the accolades come second.</p> <p> We know one thing – the team will be better on the defensive end. They’ll be much better defending the pick-and-roll up high. That was something that really hurt us. Our weakside defense will be a lot more solid, as far as who’s going to guard who and who’s going to be where.</p> <p> And there will be much more focus on the little things – out of bounds plays, setting picks properly. The attention to details is what’s going to make this team better.</p> <p> The Cavs left a lot of wins on the table last year. And to an incoming coach, that has to be encouraging. To know that you gave up 28 games in which you had a double-digit lead and lost. That shows the team can be fixed. It’ll take tweaking. And naturally, we’re going to need more personnel. But that just takes tweaking to cut that number in half or better.</p> <p> As far as the personnel Chris brings in this offseason – through trades, the Draft and free agency – I’d like to see them bring in some tough guys. Guys who understand that if you’re going to play defense, you’re going to <strong>get</strong> some bumps and bruises. And you have to be willing to <strong>hand out</strong> bumps and bruises. And you have to be willing to <strong>play with</strong> bumps and bruises. So you have to get tough-mindset guys. You can’t have guys that are worried about getting hit in the mouth. This isn’t a league for pretty boys.</p> <p> Look at the teams competing in the playoffs right now.</p> <p> You look at Memphis. They’re not a bunch of superstars. That’s a team with just a bunch of tough dudes. Look at Chicago, how banged up they are. They’re in the next round and have already beaten Miami <strong>in</strong> South Beach. Do you know why? Because they play tough, hard-nosed defense!</p> <p> That’s one thing that Mike Brown teaches. Like he used to say: ‘I want the other team to <strong><em>feel</em></strong> me.’ And that’s the kind of defense you have to have to be successful.</p> <p> The Cavaliers have a great core of youngsters that are continuing to develop. But their ‘Core 4’ from the last two Drafts are still a work-in-progress.</p> <p> Kyrie needs to take his defense to the next level. He knows that. He knows it’s the only thing keeping him from making that next leap.</p> <p> I understand his success in the fourth quarter, and that’s great. But you can’t hang your hat on that.</p> <p> Put it this way, that’s a part of the game the Cavaliers <strong>know</strong> that we have – a guy that can finish in the clutch. Now, it’s the rest of the game that he needs to understand, so we don’t <em>need</em> him to finish games like that all the time. We can finish the games as a team, not simply relying on an individual.</p> <p> I think Kyrie’s already understanding how to run the team better. His assist numbers were way up towards the end of the season. He decided to get <em>this</em> guy going and then get <em>this</em> guy going. And he’s not getting as upset when he makes a good pass and the guy doesn’t make the shot. Because nobody’s perfect. You don’t want it to happen consistently, but you can’t get down on guys and show it. That’s the kiss of death for a point guard.</p> <p> For Tyler, he’s got to get in the weight room and get stronger. And he needs to understand that although it’s not football, it’s still a physical sport. And being a good guy in the middle is not a good thing.</p> <p> For most teams, not only does toughness permeate from the coach down, but the center also sets the tone. Perkins in OKC; Chandler for the Knicks, Noah for the Bulls, Gasol from Memphis. Gasol can’t jump a lick, but he’s physical and he loves to compete inside.</p> <p> These are nasty dudes, and the team develops that personality. And that’s what Tyler’s got to understand that’s what he’s got to deal with. Most of the remaining playoff teams – (Miami’s an exception, they’re unique) – have that tough guy in the middle.</p> <p> You can’t touch-foul guys as a center. You’ve got to foul them; let them know that you’re there. You have to set the tone.</p> <p> So Tyler needs to get stronger and – more than anything – <strong><em>use</em></strong> his talent. He’s one of the most talented big men in the league. He can put the ball on the floor, he can shoot the jumpshot, he can play with his back to the basket, he can shoot the hookshot. Use all that! Use all of your arsenal. And understand that your living is going to be made in the post.</p> <p> Tristan made huge leaps this year, and I think he can make another one next season.</p> <p> Mostly, he just needs to work on that little jumpshot. Because teams are starting to play off of him. And they’re giving him that 10 to 15-foot shot. Now, if he can add that – as quickly as he is going around people and as strong as he is finishing – he is going to be <strong>extremely</strong> tough to handle.</p> <p> If Andy can come back healthy and Tyler can develop, you’ve got three very skilled, extremely versatile big men in the middle that keep the action going, keep it physical inside and let the little guys do what they do on the perimeter.</p> <p> That’s why it’s key that they get back to Cleveland, work together and understand one another and how important they are to the success of the team.</p> <p> The last guy I want to talk about is Dion, who also really improved throughout his rookie year.</p> <p> Dion started playing much better defensively toward the end of the season. And his thing is more mental – seeing the <strong><em>whole</em></strong> game and not just <strong><em>his</em></strong> game. That’s the key – if he’s able to see the whole game. That’s what he has to work – how he relates to the other four guys and how they relate to him on the floor.</p> <p> And, as I often say, his game is better when he goes inside out – attacking first and relying on his jumper second.</p> <p> Now, he just needs to add the mid-range game. Learn those floaters and those bank shots. It’ll save a lot of wear and tear on your body.</p> <p> I was hard-headed when I first came into the league. That’s why I got hurt so much. My first three or four years, I kept trying to fight the system. And back then, centers were camped in the lane.</p> <p> Dion will learn aspects of the mid-range game the more he plays with Kyrie. Kyrie is <strong>superb</strong> at the mid-range game. He has an old-school game. But then again, he <strong><em>is</em></strong> Uncle Drew.</p> <p> Like you guys, I’m keeping my eye on the postseason. It’s getting interesting now. And as you can see, the physical teams are the ones that are moving ahead.</p> <p> Golden State-San Antonio should be a great series. They play conflicting styles. But if the Warriors can get David Lee back, that’ll be big. And those two guards from Golden State can put the ball in the basket. That changes your entire gameplan, because it draws the defense away from the basket. So if Golden State can get anything inside, they’re going to give the Spurs all they can handle.</p> <p> Memphis-OKC – that’s another physical series. You have Perkins in there, Gasol, Zach Randolph. That’s blood-and-guts right there! It’s not about points. It’s about who’s going to do the rebounding, who’s going to be the more physical team – and we’ll worry about the points at the end.</p> <p> In the New York-Indiana series – I just think Indiana is physically and mentally tougher than New York. And those are the types teams that advance. This is what the Cavaliers need to become.</p> <p> Everybody sees it and knows it. Our management knows it, our coaching staff knows it. Now the players have to understand: If we want to take the next step, this is what we have to become.</p> <p> Then there’s Bulls-Heat. If the Bulls weren’t depleted, I think they’d have a shot. But Deng being out really hurts. I’m praying for him. When they have to give you a spinal tap to see what’s wrong with you, that’s nothing too fool around with.</p> <p> But without Deng and Rose, it’s going to be tough – although Noah is playing great ball. He might be the MVP of the playoffs up to this point. And doing it with plantar fasciitis! Do you know how painful that is?</p> <p> Now I know why Florida won back-to-back championships. Him and Horford! In college, nobody could deal with them.</p> <p> I’m going to take in the playoffs and take a little time to unwind and cool out. I have a lot of community stuff I’m going to do. And I’m gonna decompress for a while.</p> <p> But you know me. After the Fourth of July, I’ll start missing the season and getting antsy to get things rolling again.</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:8cd0b3ef-c8d6-49fa-bc2e-0bff28092c47 Running Through the Finish Line http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_running-through-finish-line Thu, 11 Apr 2013 16:51:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/2/7/d2ed5c5d-adbc-4765-870d-4d5faf320eff.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img height="299" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/2/7/d2ed5c5d-adbc-4765-870d-4d5faf320eff.Large.jpg?1" width="655" /></a></p> <p> Hey, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics! It’s Austin, checking in for one of the final times this season. What’s happening?</p> <p> After winning a couple straight, the Cavs dropped a pair of tough games. Tuesday’s loss in Indiana really hurt. I guess that’s why they call them “growing pains.”</p> <p> I know it’s frustrating for everyone that they’ve been unable to finish off some of these games. You can look at it two ways. Either they aren’t learning how to finish. Or you can say there’s a learning curve that’s still there. I don’t know which one it is because it’s been befuddling to me. I just don’t know what it is because I’ve rarely seen this type of situation, coughing up leads like this.</p> <p> So it’s still a learning experience, but maybe our guys are a little more hard-headed than normal.</p> <p> Back when I first started with the Cavaliers, until we learned how to win, we weren’t too much different. We were a “three-and-a-half-quarters” team. Teams would beat us just on experience.</p> <p> We played hard, because Fitch wasn’t going to let us play anything but hard. If you didn’t play hard, you’d sit down, he didn’t care who you were. He even sat me a couple times and when he did, I was like: ‘Well, I won’t do <strong>that</strong> ever again.’</p> <p> And it just got <strong>so</strong> frustrating, we’d get in the locker room and we’d say: ‘Man, we’ve got to cut this out! We have to stop this! We have to do something!’ And our big men back then were vocal. I don’t think our big men now are as vocal as they should be.</p> <p> Right now, our big men are getting into foul trouble because they have to play their man and the man who’s coming inside. Why Miami is so tough is because they don’t let you come north and south to their basket. You have to go east and west against Miami. And what they do is when they force you to the sideline, they double-team you and don’t allow you an entry pass. And that, to me, is a simple form of defense – trap, foul-line extended on both sides and cut that first pass off.</p> <p> Part of the problem for young teams is that they have that competitive spirit, but they’re still friends with opponents because they’ve played with each other over time.</p> <p> I didn’t know who Phil Chenier was. I didn’t know who Maravich was. I read about them in Street & Smith’s magazine, but that’s about it. So I had a competitive attitude against them. They weren’t my friends. They <strong>became </strong>my friend after I got to know them, but by that time, the competitive juices were flowing for both of us. And on the court, we went after each other—because we didn’t grow up with a “fuzzy feeling” for one another.</p> <p> And, not that this is an excuse, but you saw it in Indiana: young, struggling teams just don’t get the ref’s calls that better, experienced teams do. Everybody goes through it. You lose, you don’t get the calls. It’s as simple as that.</p> <p> When I first came to Cleveland, for the first two years, we did <strong>not</strong> get the calls. I mean, they beat me up so bad and you’d never hear that whistle. But when we started winning, all of a sudden – <strong>tweet!</strong> – the whistle started blowing for us. Because the referees are human like everybody else. If you’re not one of the better teams, you’re not one of the better teams. They always favor the aggressors.</p> <p> I really like that Dion returned to the lineup and didn’t shut down for the rest of the season. That’s very important for the whole team. You want to have everybody healthy coming out of the season and get guys into an offseason workout program – especially lifting.</p> <p> We have to get stronger and more physical inside. And that’s from Kyrie on down. You don’t lift weights so you can be football player out there. You lift weights so you can take the punishment of 82 games. So when you twist your ankle, your ankle is able to bounce back quickly. You get your shoulder hurt, you’re strong enough where it doesn’t dislocate. That’s why you lift. You lift to <strong>create</strong> a stronger body.</p> <p> It’s hard to lift during the season, but guys like Kobe and LeBron lift after games. (Although that’s mostly to maintain.) You have to do that also. We didn’t do that in our day because lifting wasn’t considered as important as, say, cardio. If I played now, I would do the same thing LeBron does – I would lift after every game. Some little regimen I’d do before I took my shower – legs or upper body, switch back and forth.</p> <p> It becomes maintenance, but you want to get to that point – where you only need maintenance. Right now, our team needs strength. They don’t need maintenance. They need to add the strength first.</p> <p> From where Dion started, he’s come a long way. Not just playing-wise, but attitude-wise and personality-wise. He’s starting to become a man. And he’s understanding what effect he has on the team. So he’s starting to feel a part of something. I’d give him a high rookie grade.</p> <p> Actually, I do the same for Tyler. When Tyler first started, he was afraid of his own shadow. But now you can see he’s starting to fight back.</p> <p> Tyler has more talent than a lot of big men in this league. He can put the ball on the floor, he can shoot left hand or right hand, he can run the floor, he can hit the 15-footer, he can block shots and he can be physical. Now, he has to <strong>WANT</strong> to be physical.</p> <p> He needs to realize that if he wants to be an All-Star in this league, he needs to be more physical – get that smile off his face and play the game. And, like a lot of young guys on the team, he’s got to get stronger.</p> <p> But as far as improvement is concerned, Tyler’s done a great job. He just needs to understand the next level that he needs to get to.</p> <p> And I don’t want to forget about our third rookie, Kevin Jones, who’s been seeing a little bit of action recently and who’s been pretty impressive in small bursts.</p> <p> Kevin was really on it against Detroit. I was impressed. But that was his reputation in college. In the paint, that’s where he gets his action. Once he gets that 15-footer under control, I think he’ll be a player. But around that basket, he’s getting comfortable.</p> <p> Once he gets another good training camp under his belt, we’ll be able to tell more.</p> <p> One pleasant development we saw towards the end of the season was the emergence of Tristan as one of the team’s leaders.</p> <p> He and Livingston have the personalities to run the clubhouse. Livingston has it; he is solid in the locker room. And Tristan, I think, is becoming the leader of the team. Kyrie is not quite ready yet; he’s still feeling himself out. But I think Tristan has that type of personality where leadership is something that comes naturally. That first year, you couldn’t see it. But now, it’s apparent.</p> <p> The team will not get to the level they want to get to until they’re able to criticize one another and not take it personally. Use that criticism to go to the next level. Right now, you can tell, you say something funny to guys, they have a tendency to hang their head. But you have to take the criticism and use it to improve. But until they take that, where they can communicate with each other like that, they’re not going to be where they want to be.</p> <p> You <strong>have to be</strong> all in. You have to put all your chips on the table. They’re not to that level yet. And that’s where they need to get to.</p> <p> It’s not going to happen overnight or even in these next four games, but they <strong>will</strong> learn to finish.</p> <p> See, the positive aspect of it is this: We’ve had 20-something games where we’ve had double-digit leads in the second half and we’ve lost the game. But that tells me that we have what it takes to get there. We just don’t know how to finish the journey.</p> <p> So I look at it in a positive way. What we have to learn to do now is hold on to what we’ve established. We establish it. We go out and play solid defense, make baskets, do our thing. And then we stop.</p> <p> The fact that you <strong>CAN</strong> get a 27-point lead on Miami or a 20-point lead on the Pacers says something! It needs to be like what they say when you’re running track. What do they tell you when you run track? Run THROUGH the finish line.</p> <p> And moving forward, that’s what this team needs to learn to do … run through the finish line.</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:8ac6db17-1f0c-46c2-94ae-61b9c6b144bd Running with the Big Dogs http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_running-big-dogs Wed, 20 Mar 2013 13:35:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/3/15/b3b034a9-83bb-48c9-8f44-07263de69d89.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img height="309" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/3/15/b3b034a9-83bb-48c9-8f44-07263de69d89.Large.jpg?1" width="662" /></a></p> <p>  </p> <p> Hey, Cavaliers fans and CavFanatics! It’s Austin, checking in again. What’s happening?</p> <p> Right now, the Cavaliers are probably going through the toughest stretch of the season, opponent-wise. I believe eight of their next ten opponents are either in the playoffs or are looking to get there. But like Coach Scott says, this can be a good thing because, actually, they’re going to learn what kind of attitude they’re going to need to bring to the table on a consistent basis.</p> <p> I mean, when you look at the teams that we’re playing against – all those teams <strong>need</strong> these games, and they’re looking at us as a “must-win.” And they’re bringing their best to get it over with as quickly as possible.</p> <p> And this is a learning period for the young Cavs. Because they’ll learn what type of attitude and intensity that they’ll need to bring to the floor <strong>every night</strong>. They’ll learn that they have to focus for more than two or three minutes every quarter.</p> <p> Look at these playoff teams – just watching Monday night, Boston vs. Miami, for example.</p> <p> The last two minutes of the game, Boston lost their focus on the offensive end and they couldn’t execute. They were executing up until that point. Whereas Miami, just weathered the storm – Green was having a great game, the Celtics were scoring. And then all of a sudden, when it was time to clamp down, Miami got their focus defensively and finished the ballgame.</p> <p> And that is a level that our team has to get to. They have to understand that, and hopefully they will.</p> <p> They’re starting to understand that just going out and doing your thing, having fun, it doesn’t win ballgames. You have to learn how to play consistently from the opening tip until the fourth quarter buzzer. And stick with your gameplan. You have a gameplan because your coaches figure that’s the best way to beat this specific team.</p> <p> In other words, if you want to double-team LeBron every time they run that low-post play, then you have to do that <strong>every time</strong>. Regardless of what happens, you <strong>have to</strong> stick with the plan. That way, the other guys know what they have to do. When you break down in those situations, that’s when you have chaos on the defensive end. And that’s what we have to learn to avoid, especially in key situations late.</p> <p> In the first two Miami games this season, that’s basically what happened. And figuring out how to avoid those breakdowns comes with experience and understanding what’s going on around you.</p> <p> It’s becoming frustrating and I know <em>they’re</em> getting frustrated. They play well for two or three quarters. But there’s one quarter where they don’t seem in-sync, and that can cost them the ballgame. <strong>Those</strong> are the quarters where they need to get more focused, especially on the defensive end.</p> <p> The Cavs have played the Heat tough this year in two games on South Beach. Wednesday’s game is going to be tough without our backcourt intact. Those two guys – Kyrie and Dion – are guys that beat you off the dribble, which destroys a defense.</p> <p> So we’re not going to have that penetration like that to cause problems. But because we’ve played them well the last two games, it’ll give us some encouragement going forward. The Indiana game on Monday took a lot of zap out of us. Because we thought we were there, but we found out we weren’t there.</p> <p> Wednesday night is going to test their will to win. It’s going to show us how mature we really are, coming back off a game where a team manhandled us. To come in and play a solid game right behind that, it will test our fortitude.</p> <p> We’re getting toward the last month of the season here and you want to see some good habits develop heading into the offseason.</p> <p> More than anything, I want to see consistency. And our effort on the defensive end has to improve. You cannot give teams 50 percent shooting and beat them. I don’t care how many points you score. We’re scoring points now, no problem. But the defensive end is where we have our problem. And if we don’t improve defensively, that’s where we’re going to have issues.</p> <p> There has to be a commitment to that end. And I mean by the players. The coaches are committed to it. But the players have to understand that it’s about <strong>getting stops</strong> and learning how to stop teams. When you really look at it, the Heat don’t stop you <strong>all the time</strong>. They stop you <strong>when they need to</strong>. And that’s the situation we have to get to.</p> <p> It’s tough to adjust to the growing pains. But you have to go through it. There’s no other way to get there.</p> <p> After Wednesday’s game with the Heat, I’ll be interested in how my Irish do in the NCAA Tournament that starts this week.</p> <p> First of all, I hope they don’t wear those ugly green uniforms that they wore in the Big East Tournament. Those were horrible! The camera couldn’t even adjust to them, they were so bright.</p> <p> But I’m thinking they should at least get past the First Round. That was the building in which I set the record, so they have good vibes for Notre Dame in that gym. So the Irish should get to the second round.</p> <p> After that, I have no idea, because if they win this round, they play Ohio State. And if they do, I have to go with the Irish – although that would be a very conflicting game for me.</p> <p> If they play Ohio State, I don’t even know if I’m going to watch the game. (But you know I will.)</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:3e1d47d3-2896-4a5c-8afa-eb8dffb0f4f0 Surging in the Second Half http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_surging-second-half Thu, 28 Feb 2013 18:14:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/1/5/d1568597-adfe-45ef-b5dc-e4fd15dc4749.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img height="310" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/1/5/d1568597-adfe-45ef-b5dc-e4fd15dc4749.Large.jpg?1" width="664" /></a></p> <p> Hey Cavs fans and CavFanatics! It’s A.C., checking in after four-in-five-nights. What’s happening?</p> <p> It’s been a heck of a run for the Cavs after the All-Star Break. I loved Wednesday’s win over Toronto. But I was really impressed with our win over Chicago – a team that’s <strong>really</strong> had our number recently.</p> <p> That game definitely shows that the team is starting to grow up. Because going into Chicago – coming off the game with Miami – I was wondering how they would react.</p> <p> But they played like they were upset that they lost to Miami, and that’s what I like. They played physical, and they <strong>needed </strong>that against the Bulls – because the Bulls try to bully you if you don’t stand up to them. Once they realized we were not going to back down, it’s a whole different game.</p> <p> I was really happy to see the Cavs step up and fight. And really, they should be on a four-game win streak. They just couldn’t quite close out the Heat on Sunday night.</p> <p> The bench has been the key to this season’s turnaround.</p> <p> Not only do they communicate well, but they defend well – they trap when they get you in a bad position. They just automatically know to do that. I know we’re coaching it, but they’re just doing it instinctively.</p> <p> And offensively, they move the ball <strong>so</strong> well. You get so many backdoor plays. They play the game right. They look to push the ball up the floor. They do exactly what the coaching staff is trying to get the starters to do.</p> <p> And hopefully the starters are starting to learn from them. A couple times last night, Tristan got a steal then took off and ignited the break. Because Dion, in the open floor, there’s not too many guys are going to stop him. He’s going to take everybody because he’s just that strong going to the basket. So the more you get Dion into the middle of the floor early, the better the fastbreak is going to be. And Dion’s also willing to give it up when the opportunity presents itself.</p> <p>  It’s just a solid feeling. The team just looks completely different now.</p> <p> The entire bench has been good. C.J. Miles, you can tell, he’s starting to feel comfortable now.</p> <p> What we’re seeing is: the first part of the season, the coaching staff was searching for rotations, searching for who plays better together. And all that is coming to reality now. Everybody is being put into a position where they can be successful. C.J.’s  a perfect example of that.</p> <p> Mo Speights has been a godsend. And you can see he’s starting to influence Tyler. Tyler is trying to be more physical, which I think it comes from watching Speights play, because Speights is a very physical player around the rim. He’s not a “leaper,” but he’ll throw you in the basket.</p> <p> Tyler has the leaping ability and the size. Now he’s starting to see now that sometimes instead of laying the ball in, you’ve got to dunk it. Because you’re trying to set a precedent for people to understand: <em>Don’t fool with me when I’m around the basket!</em></p> <p> Wayne Ellington is very solid. He plays the game on both ends of the floor. He’s a solid defender. He comes off picks with a purpose. He can shoot the ball, he’s a good passer. He’s just a solid player; a great pick up.</p> <p> And Luke Walton, to me, he’s the glue of the whole thing. Because when he’s out there, the way he moves the ball and passes it, he’s keeping everyone involved. When the gets the ball in the middle of the floor, he never holds it. It swings from side to side. Bang! Make the defense move!</p> <p> Luke knows what he’s doing, he’s a super passer, and guys love to play with him because they know he knows the game. I wish he was physically healthier. You can tell his back still bothers him a little bit, but at the same time, we’re getting some great minutes from him.</p> <p> To me, this is part of the team’s maturation – what he’s teaching out there on the floor. His leadership is definitely a big factor.</p> <p> But it’s not <em>just</em> the bench. The starters have been good, too – especially Dion lately.</p> <p> Dion plays angry. He’s on the attack. He reminds me a little of the way I played. My whole first thought was to go to the hoop. I didn’t care <strong>who</strong> was in there. I’m going in there and find a way to score.</p> <p> I really love what he’s doing. And when he starts inside first, his jumper is pure. When he starts outside, that means he’s guessing and maybe taking shots he’s not too comfortable with.</p> <p> The mid-range game dying art, but both he and Kyrie are very good at it. They both have the mid-range game. And I’ve said it before: That’s where ALL THE ACTION IS.</p> <p> The mid-range game, it’s not as hard on your body. Defenses are set up to keep you away from the basket and from shooting the three. There’s nothing set up to stop you in the middle. Once you get past that front line, you can pull up and have your way.</p> <p> Tomorrow’s game against the Clippers is going to be a tough one. You’ve got Chris Paul, the best point guard in the league. And I think we’re close to having “1A” right here in Cleveland.</p> <p> It’ll be good for Kyrie to watch CP3 and watch how he runs the team. Because that’s one of the only areas in which Kyrie needs to improve a little bit. But we’ve needed him to score so much so far. In my mind, Kyrie will be most efficient when he can go 18, 10 and 5. He will be off the charts. And the team would be flying. That’s when we’ll be at our best.</p> <p> It’ll be a fun game on Friday. The Clips like to get up and down the floor. They have an athletic team. You have to be physical with them.</p> <p> We have to compete on the interior. Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan – they’re very physical, very athletic. So you have to stay close to them. In other words you don’t want them to have running leaps on you. You want to stay close to their legs. You want them to be worried about you hanging around them.</p> <p> And basically, you just go at them. You have to make them defend. The teams that have beaten them pretty handily go right at them. Attack them. Run your offense through to your second and third options. Those are the teams that beat the Clippers.  Because the Clippers don’t want to defend for 24 seconds; they’re impatient.</p> <p> What you want to do against the Clippers is very simple: make them play.</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:5fec2646-ba69-42c5-bbd8-0ab94d67f31a Headed for the Halfway Point http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_headed-halfway-point Tue, 12 Feb 2013 23:33:00 GMT <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/15/0/8fcedb91-c96f-4a99-b0fd-97624c8a6427.Full.jpg?1" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/15/0/8fcedb91-c96f-4a99-b0fd-97624c8a6427.Large.jpg?1" style="" /></a>Hey, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics! It’s Austin, with one last blog entry before the All-Star Break. What’s happening?</p> <p> The Cavs have some work to do before they get to the Break, and it’s a tall order with the Spurs coming to town on Wednesday.</p> <p> I know Coach Scott is frustrated with the ups-and-downs the team is going through, but it’s still part of the growing pains with a young team.</p> <p> Right now, they need to find their identity and embrace it. It’s ok to be “the hunters” when you’re a young, growing team. Until they embrace that, they’re going to have hot and cold nights. And that would be a great image to hold on to.</p> <p> When they put together a couple little win streaks lately, you could tell they were starting to understand their identity. They’re starting to push the ball up the floor. They’re looking to run at all opportunities. So they’re learning who they are.</p> <p> They struggle when they don’t understand their identity.  For example, on Monday, they had 13 fast break points in the first quarter and seven the rest of the game. How do you forget your identity that quickly? You are who you are – and you have to play that way.</p> <p> Against Minnesota, I thought we’d blow them out of the building. But we backed off a bit in the second half; we stopped running off turnovers. They just don’t have the right mindset yet. And I know it’s frustrating to the coaching staff. They preach it every day.</p> <p> The reason it’s important to understand who you are is so you can do what you <strong>every night</strong> – even when you’re not playing well. Play <strong>your</strong> style.</p> <p> The Rockets are a good example. Houston wasn’t playing well against us; their style beat us. Like Denver, we lost because of their style. They kept it on us the whole game. We wilted a little under the pressure and they kept going.</p> <p> It’s a matter of attrition. You start the first quarter with 13 fastbreak points, you get 10 the second quarter, you get 11 the third quarter. By the time you get to the fourth, you’ve worn them down. And those are 30-plus of what we call “easy baskets.” And <em>that’s</em> what they have to understand: the more you play your style, the more you wear your opponent down.</p> <p> They have the weapons and I’ve seen some really nice things. Dion pushes the ball extremely well. He flattens the defense. He’s very good at attacking the rim. He makes the defense have to deal with him.</p> <p> The Cavs can make a real positive statement in the second half of this season. They’ll have less than 30 games left to get themselves prepared for next season. You have to establish who you are and who you’re going to be next year over these next 30 games. That’s the way I see it.</p> <p> Last week, Coach Scott said his two rookies weren’t hitting the rookie wall, but they were “leaning” on it.</p> <p> Both rookies need the little bit of rest they’re going to get after the Rising Stars game on Friday. Tyler needs the rest. Dion, the same thing.</p> <p> All the travel and all the play, it takes a while to get used to it. It’s as simple as that. And <strong>all</strong> rookies go through it. About this time, they’re used to getting ready for the tournament. But now they have to keep going. You get a few days off. Then you get 30 more! Half of your first season is just getting used to the grind.</p> <p> Tyler’s lost a little of his confidence lately. But, again, he’ll get a chance to reevaluate and look at some film over the break. (We called it film, but it’s DVDs now.) And hopefully, he’ll come back ready to attack any problems he’s having. That’s how you do it. I did the same thing. And when you watch film of yourself – especially when you’re getting your butt kicked – it does something to you. At least it did to me. I did not like it.</p> <p> Like any rookie, Dion’s had his ups and downs, too.  As a starting two guard, I wouldn’t want any less than five points, two rebounds and two assists every quarter. In the second quarter, you try for 6, 3 and 3. You compartmentalize it instead of looking at the whole picture. That’s what Lenny Wilkens taught me when I was a young player.</p> <p> You get out of whack thinking about the whole grand picture. This takes the pressure off a rookie. And it helps you focus on the defensive end.</p> <p> If you miss two or three shots in a row, your head is still in the ballgame. You’re not worried about X-amount of points; you’re concerned with the here-and-now. It really helps to break it down that way.</p> <p> One aspect of the team that hasn’t had ups and downs is the second unit. Byron’s bench has been fantastic. And they are starting to get a little swagger about them.  I like that, because eventually that should spill over to the starters.</p> <p> But right now, the bench, when they come in, they <strong>expect </strong>to play well. The pace of the game picks up. And defensively, they really pick up the intensity. They trap, they press, they don’t allow you to dribble up the floor, they give you a little token pressure. And Coach Scott will ride them if they’re playing well which, I love. It says: If you’re playing well, you’re going to play. Period.</p> <p> When they take the floor, there’s a tangible feeling: something good’s going to happen.</p> <p> Before I wrap up, I want to wish good luck to all the Cavaliers heading to Houston this weekend. Tyler, Tristan, Dion and Kyrie. They’re all deserving of the honor and Cavs fans will get a glimpse of our bright future. It’s a tribute to them and the organization.</p> <p> I think Kyrie is going to do very well in the Three-Point Shootout and the All-Star Game.</p> <p> In the Shootout, he’ll do well because of his effortless motion. He’s not a big jump-shooter. His whole thing is going to be his rhythm – getting the ball out of the rack and getting it up. It’s still a grueling contest. By the time you get to the finals your legs are going to be tired.</p> <p> He’s got a good shot to succeed in the actual All-Star Game on Sunday. He plays that kind of game. It’s going to be interesting. I’m looking forward to seeing him in the open floor with some of the other All-Stars.</p> <p> As for me, after we wrap up on Wednesday, I’m going down to Florida to play some golf. I’m getting right off the plane and heading right to the golf course.</p> <p> Good luck this weekend, Cavaliers!</p> <p> See everyone in the second half …</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:a3ef2350-5a3f-41eb-8e65-31e011627ebf A Win Streak, the New Guys and One Baaaaaad Man http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_win-streak-new-guys-one-baaaaaad-man Mon, 28 Jan 2013 19:22:00 GMT <p> <img src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/8/13/d8cc03df-8827-4daa-bdc3-2efde028c411.Large.jpg?1" style="" />Hey, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics! It’s Austin, checking in from Cleveland in the middle of a three-game win streak. What’s happening?</p> <p> Last week was a wild one for the Wine and Gold – especially Kyrie Irving. On Monday, he was named the Eastern Conference’s Player of the Week and it was well-deserved.</p> <p> I’m not breaking any news to say that we have something very special here with Kyrie. He may not be as dominant physically as LeBron was, but he’s the man in Cleveland right now. Kyrie’s picture should be up on that wall across from the Horseshoe Casino.</p> <p> That game-winner he shot on Saturday night took some real guts. At first, I thought it was a little bit of a long shot. I was sitting there, thinking: ‘Because I have Kyrie, I’d go for the two and try to win it in overtime.”  But with the confidence the young man has been playing with – after Coach Scott gave him the right-of-way – I can see why he feels comfortable taking it.</p> <p> As that last play unfolded, you could see Kyrie was just setting Alan Anderson up. Anderson was thinking he was going to kind of lay back and guard the drive. Dwane Casey was yelling for Anderson to ‘Get up! Get up!’  But you could see Kyrie was gathering himself – and he walked right into the shot.</p> <p> BANG!!</p> <p> That game-winner over the Raptors capped off a fantastic week for the young man. I was on-hand at the Greater Cleveland Sports Awards when he won Pro Athlete of the Year (moments after being named to the Eastern Conference All-Star squad), and it was a great night for the Cavs. I thought Coach Scott and Chris did a good job presenting the award. And it was big that Kyrie was there. I’m not sure LeBron was ever there for one of his. To have Kyrie there was a nice touch, and the people really received him well.</p> <p> The GCSA is a big deal – locally and around the country. You see who they bring in as emcees. So it’s pretty big. At last year’s ceremony – when I won the Lifetime Achievement award – I was sweating and emotional. But this year, it felt good to be able to sit back and enjoy and watch Kyrie win that award. It gives the Cavs a nice shot in the arm.</p> <p> And with Rondo’s injury on Sunday, there’s a chance Kyrie could start the All-Star Game in Houston. It’d be fun. His game is suited for the All-Star Game, because he can handle the ball so well. All-Star Games are never system games; they’re one-on-one games. So he should be fine. He’s one of the best one-on-one players in the league.</p> <p> Kyrie’s play has been great, but the whole team is starting to gain confidence right now. The Cavs are playing more to <strong>their style</strong> to win now.</p> <p> They’re pushing the ball more; they’re playing tired. (You have to play tired if you want to be a running team. There’s no such thing as stopping when you get tired. You keep going. Look at Houston – they never stop. They might be standing at the foul line, bent over holding their shorts. But as soon as that ball’s back in play, they’re gone again.)</p> <p> And the thing I like about what the Cavs are doing: They’re using more traps and things on defense to force turnovers and get out on the break. They’re running off made shots now. They’re doing a lot of things right. They’re pushing the ball via the pass instead of the dribble. They’re doing all the things that running teams do.</p> <p> You’re also seeing a big difference now that they’ve brought in a couple veterans – Wayne Ellington and Marreese Speights – in last week’s trade.</p> <p> Ellington and Speights have bring a lot to the table. They communicate so well. The coaching staff has been always preaching communication all year. But with the new personnel – everybody’s out there talking. You can see a lot more communication now. And when you have Speights, Ellington and Livingston on the floor together, you can see the defense pick up.</p> <p> It’s about veteran leadership – guys not being afraid to lead.</p> <p> Speights gives you an inside presence, a guy you can throw the ball into with his back to the basket. That, to me, is huge. Now you have a guy who’s rugged around the basket. He’s not a leaper like Tristan. He uses positioning.</p> <p> He’s going to bring a little nastiness in there, and it’s already rubbing off. Even Tyler’s starting to bristle up a little bit, because he was getting knocked around a while and now he’s starting to fight back. A lot of good things are starting to happen.</p> <p> I don’t want to say that this team has “turned the corner.” But we’re close. It’s going to take a lot to get us back near the top. But you can see that change is happening. The confidence is there, the know-how is there. And when you have an ace like Kyrie – you just want to get to the last five minutes of the game.</p> <p> The Cavs will get an excellent test on Tuesday night when the Warriors roll in. The key is how well we can defend in transition. That game’s going to be up and down. You have to keep their main guys from going off. Don’t let Curry get 30. And try to keep David Lee from beating you up on the boards.</p> <p> And we need to play <strong>our</strong> style. Don’t be afraid to play our style. We play a running game really well, but it has to start on the defensive end. When we have no energy on defense, our offense does not work.</p> <p> When we play tough defense, we run better, we shoot better. Basically – we play better.</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:c1edd013-ff66-44da-9dfb-a49f966ca49a California Dreamin' http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_california-dreamin Sat, 12 Jan 2013 21:10:00 GMT <p> <font face="arial, helvetica, sans-serif"><span style="text-align:right;">Hey, </span></font><font face="arial, helvetica, sans-serif"><span style="text-align:right;">Cavalier fans and CavFanatics! It’s Austin, checking in from sunny California. (Although I heard it’s pretty nice back in Cleveland, too!) What’s happening?</span></font></p> <p> <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/2/9/e259a104-80f2-48d5-99e6-141bef71a3a8.Full.jpg?1" style="font-family:arial, helvetica, sans-serif;text-align:right;" target="_blank"><img src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/2/9/e259a104-80f2-48d5-99e6-141bef71a3a8.Large.jpg?1" style="margin:5px;width:130px;height:170px;" /></a></p> <p> The Cavs dropped a tough one in Denver. Once again, they built themselves a nice lead. But they couldn’t match Denver’s intensity in the second half. Coach Scott wasn’t happy with the third quarter and how his team closed the game. But that’s part of the growing pains that a young team goes through.</p> <p> The guys have to regroup because the trip is just getting started AND they have the Lakers up next.</p> <p> The Cavs will go into this one with a little bit of confidence – after already beating the Lakers this year at The Q. And right now, the Lakers are struggling and the Cavaliers are starting to play better. They just have to find a way to play better, LONGER.</p> <p> But if you beat them at your home, you definitely have a confident feeling when you play them at their home.</p> <p> Fans ask why the Cavs are able to beat the Lakers but struggle against teams on their own level. Again, that’s part of the growth process. Young players sometimes don’t understand <strong>consistency</strong>. It takes you a while to understand that the games you play at the beginning of the season are just as important as the ones at the end.</p> <p> Right now, it’s a process. First, you just start thinking about winning games. Then, you’re just thinking about making the playoffs. The next step is winning the Division, then the Conference. You take it in steps. The games have a different meaning, depending on what your mindset is.</p> <p> I’m seeing some improvement of late. I would say the offense is definitely improved; we’re just scoring more points. And defensively, we’re playing better individually. We switch so much on defense, we sometimes get caught in mismatches. And teams are taking advantage of that. So that means the individual defense has to get better so you don’t have to switch as much. It has, and that has helped a lot.</p> <p> Right now, the Cavs are benefitting from some young veterans who are showing them the way.</p> <p> Luke Walton is a glue person for your offense – he keeps the ball moving and he’s an excellent passer.</p> <p> See, young people learn from <em>watching</em>.  So when they watch Luke, they see how he gets in a certain position in the offense and makes a pass. So the next time a young guy gets in there, he sees that – he sees the opportunity. So that’s how our young people are learning.</p> <p> And Shaun Livingston, I <strong>love</strong> his game. Before he got hurt, he must have been unreal, because he shows flashes now. But I think the difference now is he can’t do it as long because of the injury. But he’s been a godsend.</p> <p> Plus, you can already see: Shaun’s a <strong>leader</strong>. He knows how to lead. He gets people in the right spot. He comes right in and communicates. He does all the right things right off the bat.</p> <p> You hear us talk about communication on the floor all the time. It’s huge!  </p> <p> When I played, we got to the point where if the team would come down the floor and yell “two-down” – we knew, for example, that was a pass to the wing and a guy cutting baseline. We would call it out. “He’s cutting down, overplay the wing!” That gets into their heads. You almost get to know their plays as well as you know your own.</p> <p> Communicating. Knowing the league. That’s a veteran is about. That’s what being a professional is about.</p> <p> Right now, some of our young guys are just making their way through the league for the first time. Some for just their second time. This is a very important time in your development because you get to see all the talent in the league, how they play and – most importantly – how they play <strong>YOU</strong>.</p> <p> I wanted teams to double-team me. I wanted them to do special things against me. Because that meant I was doing well. <em>If they ain’t game-planning for you – that means you ain’t doing anything!</em></p> <p> The Cavs will look to sweep the Lakers on Sunday, but it won’t be easy. They must keep the pressure on them on the offensive end. (It’s understood that you have to play defense.) But you have to force the Lakers to score points because, if you don’t, they can put out a lackluster performance and beat you. You have to score 100-plus points on Sunday. That puts a lot of pressure on them.</p> <p> On Monday, it’s a rematch with the Kings. (And maybe our last trip to Sacramento.)</p> <p> When you play the Kings, your main concern is obviously DeMarcus Cousins.</p> <p> He moves so well for a guy his size. The best thing you can do with his is try to eliminate his inside game and let him have the outside game. Inside is where he does most of his damage. And he’s an excellent passer down there, too. Keep him away from the basket as best you can and make him put it on the floor.  Understand where the passing lanes are.</p> <p> The kid is a hell of ballplayer and we’ll have our hands full again. If his head was on straight, he’d be one of the best players in the game. He <strong>sees</strong> the game well when he’s on the floor.</p> <p> Hopefully, we can take a couple wins with us out of California. There’s not much time for fun on the road, but I’ll try to enjoy a little bit of it.</p> <p> I always look forward to a trip to the Nike store in Portland. Everything I’m wearing is from there! In California, there’s a new place in Marina Del Ray called Tiger Shrimp that I really like and Tad Carper and I will probably hit that up. I usd to live over in the Marina back in my playing days – so those are some good memories back there.</p> <p> In Portland, there’s a place called El Gaucho that I really like. Fred and I will probably eat there. And Utah has a couple places that I like.</p> <p> But mostly on the road, you’re constantly on the move and you’re too beat for much. Like, right now, as we’re get into L.A. in the middle of the night. When we get in this late, that’s a killer.  </p> <p> I’m going to bed.</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:4fa7532f-8f52-4399-b443-51712b51d0ea Walking in Memphis http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_walking-memphis Mon, 26 Nov 2012 20:20:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br /><img id="0b2248b2-efde-4db9-9a69-ab1e2e87d248" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/11/10/0b2248b2-efde-4db9-9a69-ab1e2e87d248.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" />Hey, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics. It’s A.C., checking in from Memphis, Tennessee. What’s happening?<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Today’s blog comes to you from Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken on Front Street in Memphis. Just about every member of the traveling staff makes the stop here. They do it right!<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The Cavs face another tough challenge on Monday night in Memphis and get right back after it on Tuesday night when we come home to face the Suns.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I really thought we had both of the first two games on this trip won. Just knowing how to finish is our biggest problem right now.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The team plays hard; they play hard the whole game. But they just don’t know how to close it out. And it really showed in the Miami game, because they didn’t get the ball to the right people to execute the plays in the closing minutes. And defensively, they seemed to break down. They played solid defense for three-and-a-half quarters, and in the second half of the fourth, they seemed to lose their assignments.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The schedule has been tough, especially for a young team with new parts this early in the season. Right now, there’s some mental and physical fatigue. Even thought the bench is starting to step up right now, some guys are playing heavy minutes. And it can wear you down.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">For some of these guys, they’re logging ‘starter minutes.’ And starter minutes are much tougher mentally than coming off the bench.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But again, as I’ve said – this first month is an adjustment month, guys getting used to new roles.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Jeremy Pargo didn’t see any action earlier this season. Now, he’s stepped into the huge role of starting point guard.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I think Jeremy’s playing well. <span> </span>We couldn’t ask for a better backup situation. The only thing I’d like to see is a few more assists. But other than that, he’s playing well. He’s defending, he’s scoring, running the break. I like the way he attacks the basket in the transition game. He’s a solid defensive player. Scrappy. He doesn’t go over the picks, he goes <strong>through</strong> the picks.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">He’s a tough guy. I like what he brings.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I mentioned the bench picking it up and that’s been good to see. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Everybody’s starting to understand their role and where they fit in the offense. Because at first, you could see we were running around with no organization. But now you can see people starting to get it. ‘This is where I do mine; this is where he does his.’ And the production is there now.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And that’s why these games are closer against the better teams.<span>  </span>Because we’re starting to get some support from the bench.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Like Pargo, Dion Waiters’ role has changed early in his first season here. But I think the young man is representing himself well. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">He’s not overdoing anything. He’s doing everything within himself, without sacrificing his aggressiveness. And he’s really starting to understand the difference between the 2-guard and the 1-guard. When he’s playing the 2-guard, he’s looking to be more aggressive with the ball. When he’s on the ball, he’s looking to get other guys involved. So he’s getting that part of it right away.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">This first month of the season was an adjustment month. The second month is going to test their resolve.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">They have a road-home back-to-back every weekend and a few stretches of four games in five nights.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The key to getting through a stretch like that is, you have to win some games in order to keep the emotional level where it needs to be. You can ‘rah-rah’ all you want, but if you’re not winning some of those games –where you work hard and can’t quite cross the finish line – it won’t matter. That’s the leap you have to make.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Back in my day, I found that when we’d play hard and wouldn’t win, it wore us down mentally and physically. We were doing the right thing and it wasn’t paying off. But once you start winning those games, now it gave us more momentum and energy and confidence moving forward.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">That’s what I’m concerned about with these four games in five minutes coming up. You can say whatever you need to say. But you have to get some wins.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">To get through any NBA season, you have to have mentally toughness. That’s what it comes down to. Because none of these young guys are used to taking it on the chin like they have. And yet, it’s something you almost have to do in this league, like a rite of passage.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The young Cavs will figure it out. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You have to take your lumps in this league to learn how to win.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">A good example of that is my beloved Notre Dame Fighting Irish. (You know I had to mention them before we left!)<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I never thought they would reach this level and go undefeated. Because the last 10, 15 years or so, whenever they would do this, they would stumble before they got across the finish line. Something would happen. But it just shows the toughness that they have. They’re a very resilient team. And that mental attitude is a big advantage that they’ll take in the championship game.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It doesn’t make any difference if they play Alabama or Georgia. Because they’re both SEC teams, and the thing about SEC team is they’re going to be strong, fast, hit hard and bring a ton of talent at every position. That’s just the SEC. We just have to match them pound-for-pound. There’s no way around it. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But I think my Irish can get it done.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Put it this way: I’m not going to doubt them anymore. I doubted them at least five times this season, and they proved me and everyone else wrong. So I’m not doubting them anymore. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> </font></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:6cb23a3b-bd16-4238-a526-626564830e07 Picking Up the Slack http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_picking-up-slack Tue, 20 Nov 2012 18:57:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/14/11/9eadf2d0-0d6b-43f4-ab6b-7daee2da02a0.Full.jpg" target="_blank" title="Click here to view this image at full size in another window..."><img id="9eadf2d0-0d6b-43f4-ab6b-7daee2da02a0" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/14/11/9eadf2d0-0d6b-43f4-ab6b-7daee2da02a0.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" /></a>Cavalier fans and CavFanatics … it’s A.C., checking in. What’s happening?<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The big news is obviously Kyrie’s injured finger that’ll keep him out for the next four weeks. It’s a big blow, but as professionals, you have to stay focused, carry on and try to get some wins.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">With Kyrie out, I still say our best option is to be a running team. This way, everybody gets a chance to participate and help carry the load. This team needs 15 fast break points every night to be competitive. When we don’t get those, it’s tough to win in the halfcourt.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">You can run without Kyrie. You just have to get in that mindset right from the opening tip. The best way to run the fastbreak is to move the ball by passing anyway, not through the dribble. Move bodies – station to station. In the old days, the Celtics ran the best fastbreak with the slowest team in the league. They moved the ball, quickly, station to station.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">So, I think that we’re going to have to focus more on rebounding, focus more on individual defense and run at every opportunity we get. I don’t see any other way we can do it.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">We’ve been running a lot of our offense through Andy, and that’ll have to continue. We’re going to have to do a lot of high pick-and-rolls with Andy and let Andy read it. And hopefully somebody will step up and start making some shots.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Winning without your best player has to be a joint effort. I can’t see any one guy going from 10 points a game to 20 points a game. I don’t see that. So that means we have to have more guys who aren’t scoring having to score, and take that mentality. We need more production off the bench and the starters to average three, four more points than they’re used to. I don’t see us having one guy that’s going to come in and save the day.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The Cavs will also probably have Dion on the ball more. In Summer League, he played his best on the ball.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">He’s going to have to grow up fast, because if they’re going to put the ball in his hands on a consistent basis, he’ll have to take care it – we can’t afford turnovers. And he’ll have to pace himself because he’s going to play more stressful minutes and you have to pace yourself for situations like those – where you’re prone to turnovers.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It’s also times like these that you love having a player like Boobie Gibson – a versatile guy who can play the point and the two. And provide some veteran leadership in the backcourt.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Coming off an injury-plagued season, I think Boobie’s playing very well. He’s having a solid year. Along with Zeller, he’s one of the only guys you can depend on off the bench. They’ve been pretty solid, pretty consistent off the bench.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And again, you saw a different second unit with Zeller out there this weekend. He made the whole second team more cohesive. Things just seem to fit better when he’s in there.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And I thought Tristan had a nice weekend, put up some solid numbers. I know he’s getting frustrated, having his shot blocked in the low post. But he’ll figure it out.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’d like to see him pass the ball back out of a crowd and re-post after he grabs a board in traffic.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">If he gets the possession and has three or four guys on him – find a teammate and re-post. He’s getting his shot blocked too much in those situations, and it’s got to be frustrating. Nobody likes getting their shot blocked. And he has to be a little more creative on how to get shots off. Guys are as big and strong as he is on this level. You can dunk all your points home. He’s got to get a little more creative on how to finish around the basket.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">He’ll be busy against the Sixers frontline again this Wednesday. They’ll play the same game on Wednesday at The Q. It won’t be any different. They might try to run a little more on Wednesday, but they don’t really <strong>look</strong> to run. They’re not built to run, with guys like Brand and Hawes.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The Sixers like to execute in the halfcourt and beat you because they execute better than you do.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">After Wednesday, the Cavaliers hit the road for another tough trip.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">We can beat Orlando, but Miami’s gonna be tough. And in that building they play a wide-open style. LeBron’s having another great year. And Memphis is playing better ball than Miami. They’re playing the best ball in the league right now. They’re extremely tough. They’re built for the postseason. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It’s going to take a big effort by the Cavs to get wins on that trip, but it can be done.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’ll probably Tweet some thoughts about those games from the road. I’m finally giving in to Twitter and I’m actually enjoying it.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">My iPad and I, we have some misunderstandings. I have some conversations with it every now and again. It’s been a love-hate relationship, but right now, we have a little treaty.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But I enjoy Twitter and I think I’ve got around 5,300 followers. It’s fun. I do mostly tweeting out myself. I don’t answer a lot of followers during the game. Very simple stuff, I’ll answer. But I’m not quick enough yet to do that during a game. I don’t know how Fred does it!<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’ll wish the viewers a Happy Thanksgiving on our FSO broadcast on Wednesday night, but I’ll wish all you reading now a healthy, safe Happy Thanksgiving. I hope you enjoy some good food and your family and friends and some football. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And when we return next week for leftovers, let’s hope we bring a couple wins home with us. </font></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:508c3095-8570-49a4-b0cc-d70954c51246 The Boys Are Back in Town http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_boys-back-town Thu, 15 Nov 2012 20:39:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br /><img id="8637390c-412d-4962-97aa-dafb187fd111" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/6/7/8637390c-412d-4962-97aa-dafb187fd111.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" />Hey, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics! It’s Austin, back in Cleveland after a couple weeks on the road. What’s happening?<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Record-wise, it was a bit of a tough trip. There were some positives and some negatives.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Kyrie and Andy are playing excellent basketball. I’d have to say, right now, Kyrie and Andy make up the best guard-big man tandem in the league – as far how well they work together. They’ve become like two peas in a pod. They work so well off each other.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Right now, they’re running some of the offense through Andy.<span>  </span>And it gives you another focal point in your offense. I would go through Andy at the top of the key all the time. Kyrie uses that so well with the back-door play. He gets two or three of those a game – just passing to Anderson and going back-door.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Those are two really high basketball IQ guys.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">What we need now is a jump shooter to go with those two. It’s going to take almost all five guys to guard Andy and Kyrie. So somebody’s going to be open – you can see it.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And Dion’s that guy. But right now, he has to learn how to play off Kyrie and Anderson. Flow to open areas. Watch film and understand: When they do the pick-and-roll on one side of the floor, where are the open areas, so you can be the recipient of the pass when those guys are being double- or triple-teamed. That’s all it is. That’s Ray Allen all the way. That’s how he made his living.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Move without the ball – get to the open spot.<br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br />Right now, Dion’s taking his rookie lumps.<span>  </span>Inconsistency is what happens in your rookie year. I went through the same thing. I went through some games where I was in the mid-30s, high-30s and had some games in the teens. You’re going to have that.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">First of all, he hasn’t been through all of the league and he came right out the box on a long road trip. And it just takes a while to learn how to get comfortable and become a veteran.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Some people thought he got overconfident after that big game in Los Angeles. But I don’t see, as a scorer, how you get overconfident. You’re <strong>always</strong> confident. If you’re not confident, you’re not a scorer. Because you’re going to have almost as many bad days as you have good days. The key is: don’t let your bad days be horrible days. So you have to set a regimen and a routine and you play off that routine to keep your consistency.<br /><br /></font></span><strong><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The key to professional ball is consistency.<br /><br /></font></span></strong><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">That’s why Andy and Kyrie are so good. They bring it every night. And even though they might not shoot the ball well, they bring that style and that energy to the floor every night.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I know Byron wasn’t happy with the defense on the trip. You can’t let a team shoot over 50 percent and expect to win many games as a young team on the road.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">A lot of times on this past trip, they broke us down individually. And if you want to be a great defensive team, you have to have great individual defense, too. You have to keep people in front of you.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">If a guy’s right-handed, you can’t just let him have his right side. If everybody on the team understood that, it would change a lot. You can’t let a guy have his strong side. You just can’t let him have it.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">There are guys like Chris Paul and Kyrie – they can go either way, so it doesn’t make any difference. You just have to <strong>try</strong> to stay in front of them. But most guys, you can cut off their strong side just by shading your body on that side. And that’ll take a lot of the angst out of the whole process. I just think individually is where we broke down defensively on the road.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The inconsistency is an issue and right now, that’s our biggest problem as far as the bench is concerned. Boobie’s a solid performer, but we need two more guys to go along with him on a consistent basis, now you have 30 points coming off your bench. And that’s huge.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It’ll be a big help to get Tyler Zeller back this weekend.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">He contributes by running the floor, defending the basket. And offensively, he gives us at least a threat. He was really starting to pick it up before he got injured and, hopefully, he’ll get back into playing his game. But running the floor and defending is what we need from him. And really, he mixes it up pretty good. Even though he doesn’t have that demeanor about him, he’s pretty competitive.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The bench overall is playing a little tentatively. And it’s sort of an ownership/pride thing. The bench has to take pride in supporting the starters. Give yourselves a nickname or do something well enough where you <strong>earn</strong> a nickname. “The Bench Brigade” or something like that. You have to take some pride in what you’re doing. It was really frustrating watching those leads disappear on the road.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But that’s the game. You learn from your bumps and bruises and hope you can come back.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It’s only been eight games. We don’t need to make major changes; we need to go out there and understand what our roles are. And go out and perform. Go out there to make a difference – don’t go out there just to fit in.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">You’re not going to play long periods of time, so you have to affect the game. That’s the way I looked at it when I started having my injuries and couldn’t play the heavy minutes. You have to look at it as when you come in the game people will <strong>KNOW</strong> that you’ve been in the game. And you have to have that mindset every night.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">This weekend, I want to see the second unit support the first unit. That’s the glaring weakness right now. But if we can do that and get the second team to support the starters, then we’re on our way.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It’s time for guys to put up or shut up. Byron’s already made some of the changes he wants to make. Now guys have to produce – that’s all it comes down to. It’s about production. To lose a 20-something point lead like they did last week, it should eat at you. You let a win fly right out the window. We cannot have that again. We have to get in there and fight.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The bench support the starters moving forward. If the starters get a lead, I want the reserves to hold the lead or perpetuate it. And if the Cavs are down, cut into the lead in a positive way.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">If we do that, we can turn this around and start getting some wins. </font></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:11b31665-d7f5-4cd0-a51e-ebd1adf50dba Scenes from the Road II http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_scenes-road-ii Thu, 08 Nov 2012 13:16:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br /><img id="06f36d8f-7a65-45b8-8ec0-93316562e5fa" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/6/14/06f36d8f-7a65-45b8-8ec0-93316562e5fa.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" />The road trip rolls on for the Cavaliers. After Wednesday night’s odd 108-101 loss to the Warriors, the Wine and Gold start their slow migration back east.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Of course, not everything that happens on the road takes place on the hardwood. So, here are some basketball and non-basketball scenes from the road.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> The Cavaliers came into Wednesday’s game shorthanded with Tyler Zeller back in Cleveland and Anderson Varejao on the shelf. But they also had two guys – Kyrie Irving and C.J. Miles – suffering from a stomach virus.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Kyrie was definitely under the weather at shootaround on Wednesday morning and Miles was in pregame later that night. Golden State’s David Lee and Jarrett Jack were also feeling ill.<br /><br /></font></span><font size="3"><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';">“It was</span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"> the worst thing I’ve ever done – </span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';">I’ve never really pla</span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';">yed under the weather like that,” Kyrie said after the game.</span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"> </span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';">“</span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';">It was tough… I tried to get out there for my teammates and still compete. I was sluggish in the first quarter. I started to pick it up once I got warm but</span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"> it just wasn’t enough tonight."<br /></span></font><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br />It was still pretty good. He still led everyone with 28 points to go with seven assists and is averaging 24.6 ppg through five.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> Clipper Darrel (pictured) is a boss, and he deserves all the credit he gets. For starters, he’s not a Johnny-come-lately. He’s been with the Clippers through thick and thin. And he’s an original in a city that is known for producing some original characters.<br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br /><a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/8/14/189815d6-7804-486b-9e5c-7b7396fae902.Full.jpg" target="_blank" title="Click here to view this image at full size in another window..."><img id="189815d6-7804-486b-9e5c-7b7396fae902" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/8/14/189815d6-7804-486b-9e5c-7b7396fae902.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="left" /></a><br />He dresses in a red-and-blue suit – one half on each side. He’s in a corner section, diagonal from the visitor’s bench. He leads cheers, but he also torments visitors at the free throw line.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">My favorite Clipper Darrel story came back in 2009, when Delonte West was with the Cavaliers. With Delonte shooting the first of two free throws, Clipper Darrel broke out the old taunt: “U.G.L.Y. you ain’t got no alibi” – and Delonte started laughing at the stripe. Then the entire crowd laughed. The next free throw, Darryl did it again and Delonte patted the ball to the chant.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The Cavs won a 102-101 thriller. It was the last game of a west coast trip and everyone had a blast at the team hotel lounge afterward. <span> </span>Clipper Darrel showed up at the bar.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">This year, he pulled the “U.G.L.Y” chant at Kyrie, but it didn’t take. He yelled at Tyler Zeller: “Hey, 4-0. Who are you?” Zeller proceeded to notch 15 points and 7 boards before leaving the game with a fractured cheek. <br /><br />* (Fan-wise, closing in on Darrel is "The Clipper Stripper" -- a guy who busts off one Clippers t-shirt after another in rapid-fire succession, working the crowd into a frenzy, until he reaches his final t-shirt: a black one with "The Clipper Stripper" on it.  I love L.A.!) <br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> Samardo Samuels is definitely changing his look. First he dropped a bunch of weight this offseason, and before Wednesday’s game with the Warriors, he broke out the NBA nerd glasses. I think he’s the first Cavalier to go with that look.) <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Samuels did pretty well in his first start of the season, spelling Andy – who sat with a right knee contusion. (Varejao worked out on the floor before the game, but felt some soreness and couldn’t go.) <span> </span>Samardo – sans nerd specs – went 5-of-9 from the floor for 11 points, seven boards, two assists and a blocked shot.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> Watching the Election out in San Francisco was like watching a sporting event. In Ohio, I have to believe most bars and restaurants were split as states went to Romney or Obama. On Tuesday night out in San Francisco, the President was the Giants or Niners or Warriors. <span> </span>Mitt Romney was anybody else.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> The Cavaliers stayed within walking distance of Venice Beach when during the L.A. visit. Venice Beach is still very cool. (Is there a California beach that isn’t?) But it’s definitely commercialized.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I tried to take a photo of that guy that you see in every movie with a Venice Beach scene – he wears the long robe and roller blades playing a Fender. When I did, he stopped playing and put t-shirt in front of himself, wanting me to buy it for six clams.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I don’t blame the guy for trying to make a buck. But I needed those six bucks for two slices at Big Daddy Pizza.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>* </strong>It’s not going to come as smoothly to Dion Waiters as it did on Monday night in L.A. (Wednesday’s performance proved it.) But it’s worth noting that a kid whose draft selection generated a lot of heat set an NBA record with his explosion against the Clippers.<br /><br /></font></span><font size="3"><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';">Waiters, who was playing in just his fourth professional game on Monday, became the first player in NBA history to have seven or more three-pointers in one of his first six games.<br /><br /></span></font><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The South Philly native talked about how far he’s come – and how far he has to go – at Wednesday’s shootaround. He said he’s in the best shape of his life – thanks to Camp Scott – and he’s learning a ton from Kyrie. And what Cavs fans have loved about his so far is his passion. The kid definitely wears his heart on his sleeve out there.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">“I love the game,” he smiled. “I play with passion. I’m caught up in the game – that’s just me. I’m having fun. You only get to live once, and it don’t come around too often like this. So I’m just having fun. I’m playing the game I’ve always loved out there with my teammates.” </font></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:1f28f835-04a8-4c46-b4da-ad4186f02df3 Two Down... Four More to Go! http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_two-down-four Tue, 06 Nov 2012 22:32:00 GMT <p class="MsoNormal"> </p><p class="MsoNormal">The road trip is on! What helps is no back-to-backs, so a chance for the guys to get some rest, but yet, hit the practice floor and keep working. It sounds like an old cliché, but it’s true... if you work, work, work on getting better, everything takes care of itself...</p><p class="MsoNormal">I love Coach Pressey’s line... ”take care of your game, and your game will take care of you.”</p><p class="MsoNormal">The young guys keep clawing and scratching, and keep maturing... you can’t rush it. Dion’s 28 point explosion was so great to see because he stepped up and took some pressure off Kyrie and the guys in LA. Don’t you love how pressure doesn’t seem to phase him one bit... he’s not going to hit 7 triples every game, but he clearly wants to take on the moment head on...</p><p class="MsoNormal">Tyler’s break out game showed his array of skills, and shows why Chris Grant and his scouting staff were such big believers in him. He’s just so solid in all the things he does... really, good hands for a 7-footer, and can use either one...</p><p class="MsoNormal">Off to practice... gotta improve my note taking skills! Day by day, getting better...</p><p> </p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:75a62a8d-42f1-4d8f-a830-9fbe260e0fb1 West Coasting http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_west-coasting Tue, 06 Nov 2012 21:20:00 GMT <p style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br /><img id="112961f6-213c-4228-af14-1fad5a23b4f3" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/1/15/112961f6-213c-4228-af14-1fad5a23b4f3.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" />Hey, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics. It’s A.C., checking in from the West Coast – San Francisco, to be exact. What’s happening?<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I hope you were able to stay up late for Monday’s win over the Clippers. So many of our guys played well and it seemed like the light came on for a couple others.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">They got off to a slow start, but Byron called a timeout, read them the riot act and got them straightened out. And you’re seeing that the team is starting to mature and understand who they are. They’re learning on the fly what they have to do to win ballgames – and the effort they have to have. And the second unit came up huge. Tyler was big; C.J. looks like he’s starting to get it together.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I think the Milwaukee game showed them what they have to do – and how they have to play, what <strong>pace</strong> they have to play. And the key was for them to play that way last night against a good team. Because that tells me that now they understand the style and speed they need to play and be successful at it.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">You can teach guys a lot of different things, but until they have success doing it, it’s not going to work. You have to see success as the result of what you’re teaching them for it to work.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Right now, they know <strong>who</strong> they are and <strong>what</strong> they are. Yesterday’s game was so important, especially after the way they lost in Milwaukee. As a team, a win like that means big-time growth game. They could have laid down and felt sorry for themselves after that loss on Saturday.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">There were so many impressive aspects of that win. And not all were seen in the boxscore.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Alonzo Gee was huge last night. I think his play – especially on the defensive end – set the tone for the entire game. He didn’t let Chris Paul go where he wanted to go and it seemed like the rest of the team had that same attitude. And once they got the offensive end straightened out, the defensive end was already taking care of itself. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But Alonzo has become the stopper. And he’s setting the tone for this team.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Tristan was almost as good on the defensive end. He takes up a lot of space around that basket, and he makes it very difficult for teams to do what they want to do down there. He fights guys.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The only thing Tristan has to start doing is converting on some of those put-backs. He’s getting himself a little too far under the basket. Other than that, his effort on the defensive end is solid. And offensively, he gives you what he can. Offensively, you’d like to see him start cracking double-figures. He doesn’t have to score a ton. He and Andy both have the capability to be double-double men. <br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And then, there were guys who did make a splash in the boxscore – especially Dion Waiters.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">He’s definitely proven that he was worthy of being the fourth player taken in the draft. Every night now, he’s playing at a very high level. And he and Kyrie seem to be developing a good rhythm with one another out on the floor. And he’s understanding how he fits in. When the ball is swung to his side, there’s no indecision.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">To be honest, we haven’t had that many scoring two-guards in the history of the franchise. It’s been an Achilles heel at times. With Dion cementing that role, now you’re able to keep everybody in their proper position.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">When we made our run, Tyler was at center and Andy was at the four. And Tristan is able to play both power forward and center. So you’re seeing guys getting comfortable with each other and their roles. We have some versatile big men.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Tyler came up big last night. And, along with Miles, he was the impetus for the second unit.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">When the first unit got back in the ballgame after the slow start and got everything going, the second unit is what sustained it. They outscored their bench 15-10 in the second quarter and that was a major factor in the win. All of sudden, instead of the first team coming back at a deficit, they were up – and the energy level stayed that way.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’ve talked about this a lot, but it’s critical that guys understand their roles. It’s huge because now you’re comfortable when you go in there. When the play is run, you know if it’s coming to you, if you have to set the pick, if you have to make the pass. You know where the point of attack is now. And that’s so important when you’re trying to establish a camaraderie on the floor.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’m starting to see that now and it’s perfect timing for them to try to get some wins on the rest of this road trip.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The Cavs will have their work cut for them on Wednesday night against a young, running team that’s not that different from them. The Warriors are going to up and running with us. So the key will be to defend the fastbreak and at the same time, play our game – run off of defensive turnovers. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="line-height:115%;font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">That’s the perfect formula for us. </span></p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:39dfc41a-333c-427f-ae8e-0a2b27798d98 Scenes from the Road http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_scenes-road Mon, 05 Nov 2012 20:43:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br /><img id="bf4d70a7-72b7-45b1-a4cb-d532759ed1ea" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/15/4/bf4d70a7-72b7-45b1-a4cb-d532759ed1ea.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" />On the road with an NBA team, not all the action happens between the white lines.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The Cavaliers are in L.A. on Monday where they’ll take on the Clippers at Staples Center. It’ll be the first meeting between Byron Scott’s former pupil Chris Paul and his current one, Kyrie Irving.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">As the Wine and Gold’s early-season junket rolls on – heading north to San Francisco for a Wednesday matchup with the Warriors – here are some sights, sounds, and scenes from the road so far …<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> As long as we’re talking about Kyrie and Chris Paul, Coach Scott said before Monday’s shootaround that he’ll get Irving up to date on his Clippers’ opposite. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">“After Kyrie was drafted, Chris and him talked about what to expect from me,” said Scott. “So I think they’ve bonded a little bit. But I think Kyrie – because he didn’t play against him last year – doesn’t really understand who Chris Paul is. And Chris Paul is great off the court as your friend. But on the court, Chris Paul is not your friend. Chris Paul is a silent assassin. I don’t know if that’s something Kyrie knows about him, but it’s definitely something that I’m going to have to tell him, because (Paul) is going to come at his throat.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> Speaking of quotable head coaches, Milwaukee’s Scott Skiles didn’t pull punches as a player, and slices it just as thin as a coach. Before facing off against Cleveland, Skills was asked about success in the NBA.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">“Part of the difference of being a high-level NBA player, being average and being below average is bringing it every night, doing it every night, that’s just the nature of our business. If a team is not successful for a long period of time, everyone is always looking for a glimmer of hope. If a guy has a good game everyone is on the bandwagon, if a guy has a bad game everyone jumps off.”<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> Once they won the opener, the Bucks were assured a win in their first three games. Milwaukee has now gone 36 years without starting 0-3. (The Lakers were at 33 years before sputtering 0-3 out of the gate last week.)<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> UNC head coach Roy Williams sat courtside for Saturday’s game at the Bradley Center. Both his former big men – Cleveland’s Tyler Zeller and Milwaukee’s Jon Henson – were taken in the first round this past June. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> Before the Milwaukee game on Saturday, some of us were watching the 3<sup>rd</sup> overtime of the Notre Dame-Pittsburgh game outside the Cavaliers locker room. The Cavs have their share of interested Golden Domers – including Luke Harangody, Austin Carr, and radio play-by-play guy John Michael – although not all were watching.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">With the Irish on the 1-yard line, Luke Walton walked over to the TV and cut through the tension, saying: “Hurry up and fumble so we can get this game over with.”<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> In terms of football watching – and falling under the headline of “Only in L.A.” … <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Some of the guys from the Cavaliers traveling caravan (FSO guys, including Austin Carr, some Cavs training staff and a couple assistant coaches) went to a bar/restaurant next to the hotel to watch some Sunday football on a day off following a back-to-back. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">During halftime of the first game, we could hear yelling, cheering, table-pounding – the usual sounds fans rooting for their football team. The only problem was, there was no live NFL game that was going on. We thought maybe they were watching a tape delay of yesterday’s college football games. So I decided to go into the next room to find out. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It was entire room of (mostly) women – boisterously watching professional roller derby. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> The Cavaliers have won 12 of their last 14 games against the Clippers dating back to 2005. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> On the eve of the 2012 Presidential Election, Coach Scott was asked if he encouraged his guys to vote. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">“Our guys are 20 years old – can most of them vote?” joked Scott. ”I don’t talk to guys about voting. I don’t talk to guys about religious beliefs. Now if they come to me and ask me a question, I’m obviously gonna give them an answer. But I went and voted last week, so I got mine done way before we ever left for the road trip.”<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> In last year’s lockout-shortened season, the Cavaliers didn’t travel to L.A. to face the Clippers. But the previous season, they encountered one of the weirdest events at an NBA game.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">About 90 minutes before tip-off, with most of the squad already in the building – (and several players already shooting around) – a man wielding a steak knife rushed through arena security and made it down to the playing floor, where he kept building security and LAPD at bay for over half an hour. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">About 20 minutes into the standoff, police fired beanbag pellets at the man as he made a move towards the tunnel. When he dropped the knife, officers swarmed him, placed him in cuffs and led him out of the arena. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Samardo Samuels was one of the Cavaliers who remember watching that morning unfold. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">“That was a weird day – I didn’t really know what was going on,” smiled Samuels. “I thought it was a gun, I didn’t think it was a knife – from the scene that they made. I would think a knife to all the cops at Staples Center wouldn’t be a big threat.”<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">“That was crazy for an NBA game. That’s at the top of the list when it comes to crazy stuff I’ve seen in this league.”<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> Alonzo Gee is off to a great start in 2012-13 – averaging 11.3 ppg through three games and coming off a 16-point, career-best six-assist game against Milwaukee. Coach Scott loves what he sees in his starting small forward. But he knows neither he nor Gee is satisfied. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">“Once you say, you’re happy, then you’re at a standstill,” said Scott. “I expect more; I hope he expects more. That means he’s trying to grow and get better. When he says he’s fine with what he’s doing, it’s time for us to trade him. I think he has a lot more to improve and a lot more improvement left in him. And that’s what we expect.”</font></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:fb38626c-9d69-46cf-88e7-485a100d5b86 Ready to Roll http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_ready-roll Thu, 01 Nov 2012 20:15:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br /><img id="92e7a5b5-3f0a-481e-9395-2f1eef18329e" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/2/3/92e7a5b5-3f0a-481e-9395-2f1eef18329e.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" />Hello, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics. It’s Austin – gearing up for one more home game before a long early-season trip. What’s happening?<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The Cavs came out of the gate strong on Tuesday night. I loved their edge and their energy. They’ll need to bring that same juice to Friday’s game against a tough Bulls team – even without Derrick Rose.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">A lot of guys made an impact in Tuesday’s win.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I was really impressed with the rookie, Dion Waiters. It looks like he just has an extra gear come game time.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’ve heard people say that maybe he’s one of those players that’s just better in the games than in practice. I believe there is such a thing, but I don’t think that’s the case with Dion. Byron wouldn’t allow him not to practice hard. But it seems like he’s keener, he’s a little more focused when game time comes.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">You could tell that he wanted to prove something to Bradley Beal. When stole that ball and dunked it, you could tell. I hadn’t seen that much emotion before Tuesday night. I didn’t know he had that in him.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Dion is a tough dude with an edge – and I like that! (As long as he controls it and doesn’t take it overboard.) He’ll learn that what he did to Washington’s bench – that kind of stuff you don’t do. You just come back down the floor and do your thing. You want to pound your chest, come back to your side and pound it. But not at the bench. That has a way of coming back at you. All that stuff – that’s part of his learning curve.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But I love to see the fire in him. He’s a competitor – you can tell. And he played good defense; he played both ends of the floor.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And what I like about our offense with him out there is when they overload to Kyrie, if we swing the ball quickly and get it to him – like we did several times – there’s nobody there but him and one guy to beat. And he can beat that guy. And we score from the other side of the floor.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">In the past, teams would do that to Kyrie, he’d swing it to the weakside and the ball would stall. Defenses would just cut the floor in half. The defense had a chance to recover. But now, when we swing the ball, they don’t have a chance to recover. You catch them halfway – which he did a few times – and got something out of it, either a good pass to a teammate or he got in there for a score.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Another great thing about Tuesday was the way our big man played and distributed the ball because of the way the defense was being played.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Once Kyrie saw that that was working, he kept going to the well. He realized that off the pick-and-roll, when they double-teamed him, he just waited for Andy to get into position, made the pass and let Andy facilitate. Those three dunks from Tristan were all the same play: off a pick-and-roll, instead of diving to the basket, Andy flared out to the free throw line, hit Tristan, and it was two-on-one.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">They did that three straight times – and it broke the game open.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Andy does so many things well, including passing. Having big men who can distribute is huge. Because, first of all, it takes a big body away from the rim. Plus, Andy can go by most big men. He’s a triple threat. When Andy pulls the ball away from the basket, Kyrie’s getting easy back-doors, Dion’s getting back-doors, Tristan’s getting dunks. All that stuff opens up without the big guy in there.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Anderson is critical to this team. We saw what happened last year. We were building momentum and building confidence when he went down. And I really think we’d have had a chance at that 8<sup>th</sup> spot if he had stayed healthy. You can see what he means to the team.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">He’s an intangible, you can’t put your finger on it, but he has a value to our team that you can’t define. He makes the whole system go. And what you’re finding now is everyone’s role is being defined. Now, everybody understands who’s being relied on for what. So now when you go into a game, you know what to focus on. And you make sure you do <strong>your</strong> job to help your team win instead of going out there hit-or-miss. Everybody’s starting to understand where they fit in.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Tristan looked good. He’s not trying to hit a bunch of 15-foot shots. He’s doing everything right around that lane, and the opportunities are coming because now you have two guys – Dion and Kyrie – that can beat you off the dribble. And that opens up a <strong>lot</strong> on the inside.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The best way to play this game is by “reading.” And by that I mean: If you can beat a guy off the dribble, somebody has to help. As soon as he helps, then you play the game of basketball. You get it to the open man and he makes the decision – ‘do I get it to this man or do I take the shot?’<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">To me, with good basketball, you never have to run a play if you can beat a guy off the dribble and play the game. You don’t need to run plays. When you dribble down into the frontcourt, you may call a play to get the motion going. But once you beat one man, then it’s a sequence of what can and should happen. The closer you get to that, the more efficient you’ll be and the better your team will function.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It’s almost impossible to set up a defensive plan against a team that “reads” well.<br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br />A guy who can almost speed-read a defense is Kyrie Irving. It looks like he’s taken it to another level already.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">When the Cavs lost the lead and he came back in the game, he closed it right out. And what I like about it, it wasn’t all just <strong>him</strong> scoring. He was setting things up for his teammates. That, to me, is showing where he is starting to develop as a player. Because he sees the game now in a total picture instead of an isolated picture.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">One area of a little concern was the bench. That’s where we have to get some consistency.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">They may have to tweak it a little bit, but I thought Boobie played well. Now we have to get Miles involved. And if we can get one of the big people off that bench to get some positive minutes, we’ll be alright. But you have to have three or four guys off our bench to produce. I feel that we need at least 15 fast break points per game and 25 bench points. If we can get that, we can compete with anybody.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Before the Cavs head out for their first big road trip, they’ve got a tough Bulls team coming to town. And like everybody, I’m looking forward to the matchup between Joakim Noah and Anderson. It’s going to be a great matchup. Noah is like Andy’s alter-ego.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">After that, it comes down to the other areas. For example, you can’t let Boozer go crazy. But, basically, we just have to play our game. Run off of defensive mistakes. The better we get at forcing turnovers, the better we’ll be, because that’ll allow us to run more. For about five or six minutes every quarter, we have to play OUR style of game – up-tempo on the defensive end, run n the offensive end. You don’t want to set up in the halfcourt against Chicago. Defensively, they’re too good. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">After Friday night’s game, we’re off on the road.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">A game like tomorrow is good – Friday at home against a tough Division opponent. It can get you off to a good start going on the road.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">If we can pull a win out, our confidence is rolling. But the young guys are still going to have to get used to the travel and how to govern yourself as far as practice, game-time habits, pregame habits. All that stuff is going to be on their minds as well trying to go out and compete. (And competing against good Western Conference teams.) It’s going to be interesting.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Put it this way, the guys will get their first test of “us-against-the-world.” And they have a core of guys who have gone through it before to help the other guys. But telling a guy what it’s about doesn’t get it done. He has to experience it for himself: playing in the enemy’s gym and executing the gameplan, taking the crowd out of it. It’s stuff that you have to go through to know how to deal with it next time.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And again: <strong>rest</strong> is the most important thing. I know Coach Scott and his staff – that’s the one thing they’re going to preach. <strong>You have to get your rest. </strong>You cannot function if you can’t play four good quarters a night.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But if you do manage your time right on the road – get your rest, minimize distractions and stick to your routine – there’s no reason this young team can’t have an extremely successful road trip to start the season. </font></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:e3598087-2099-477e-b79a-0064bec822e1 Opening Observations http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_opening-observations Wed, 31 Oct 2012 16:38:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br /><img id="995284fc-b627-480d-9dd9-8bf985bf3bae" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/9/13/995284fc-b627-480d-9dd9-8bf985bf3bae.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" />Well that went well.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">In a recent installment of “By the Numbers,” we saw that the Cavaliers haven’t exactly fared well in season openers over the years. Before Tuesday’s 94-84 win over Washington, the franchise was 12-31 all-time.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But Tuesday’s victory was the second all-out opening night celebration in the past three years. (Two years ago, in the wake of LeBron’s departure, Cleveland dropped the Eastern Conference Champion Celtics, 95-87, after trailing by double-digits in the third quarter.)<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">If the Kid Cavaliers were looking to get off to a good start, they did that and more against the Wiz.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Granted, Randy Wittman’s squad was without John Wall, Nene and Kevin Seraphin. But the Wine and Gold were sharp and focused on Tuesday and it might not have mattered.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Some observations from the Opener …<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>Tristan Under the Radar</strong> – Anderson Varejao’s massive night drew most of the attention – and rightfully so. But his partner in the frontcourt had a pretty big night of his own.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Thompson was the top volume rebounder among rookies last year and he picked up right where he left off, doubling-up in the season opener with 12 points and 10 boards. Most surprising, of course, were his five assists. (After tallying just 27 all of last year.)<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">“It’s great when bigs can pass out of the post – you’re more deadly,” said Thompson. “Shaq was one of the best at it. So, whenever you’re able to get other guys involved – especially being on the block, where you attract so many people – kick it out to jump-shooters. They make shots and make it easy on you.”<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Thompson benefitted big time from having to start at center through the final two months of his freshman season. In 26 starts, the former Longhorn has now logged 10 double-doubles.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">He was the team’s hardest worker over the summer, spending most of it at the Cleveland Clinic Courts. He put on 10-15 pounds of muscle in the offseason and he brings some solid game experience into his second year. He’s back at his natural position at the 4 nd he’ll benefit big-time from playing across from Andy.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>Dion Waiters, Silencer</strong> – Before ever playing a game for Cleveland, Waiters had become one of the most highly-scrutinized draftees in recent Cavalier history. And, at least for a night and two days before Chicago rolls in, he quieted his critics.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The 20-year-old rookie from Syracuse showed off his scoring arsenal on Tuesday night. He scored on a soaring dunk early in the game and his three-pointer in the fourth – leading to a four-point play that stemmed Washington’s momentum – showed fans why Chris Grant tabbed the athletic combo guard at No. 4 overall. (One pick after Washington’s Bradley Beal, who was held to just eight points in his debut.)<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">On the night, Waiters was 6-for-14 from the floor, including 2-of-5 from beyond the arc. He led the Cavs with three steals but didn’t turn in a single assist on a night where the starting center and power forward combined for 14. He grabbed just two boards, but the second was huge – with the Cavs clinging to a four-point lead with 3:06 remaining.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The South Philly native also brings an edge to a team that had been lacking it. I asked him if he was thumping his chest at the fans or the Washington bench after a nasty second-half dunk. Without the hesitation most rookies might have answering that, Waiters was almost insulted by the question. “Their bench, man,” he grinned.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>Reserve Judgment</strong> – On Tuesday night, Omri Casspi, Jon Leuer and Samardo Samuels got DNP-CDs and Luke Walton saw 12 minutes of action. How many of you had that one?<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Coach Scott was asked about going with Walton following the win.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">“With (Walton) in the second unit, they run the offense better,” said Scott. “He’s a veteran guy who understands how to play, he’s got great experience. He’s a leader out there for that second unit and they have a lot of respect for Luke.”<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Aside from Boobie Gibson, the second unit didn’t shoot the ball well. (Gibson was 3-of-5 from the floor, 2-of-4 from beyond the arc.) But Scott’s reserves did play solid ball until Washington’s early fourth quarter run.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>Young Guns</strong> – The Cavaliers don’t have a true superstar – (although Kyrie’s knocking at the door) – and will have to bring the kind of energy they did on Tuesday all year. (Easier said than done when they’re in the midst of a midseason three-games-in-four-days stretch.)<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">In the opener, the average age of the Cavaliers starters was 23.7 years of age. (The roster’s average is only 24.9.) The guy who wrecks the curve is 30-year-old Anderson Varejao – and you’d be hard-pressed to find a player who brings the youthful energy that Andy does.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">At varying points this season, the Cavaliers youth will giveth and will taketh away. On Tuesday, it was the latter.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>Big Stage Player</strong> – In an interview with Irving this offseason, he admitted that he got nervous performing on stage in a production of “High School Musical.” On the basketball court, he’s never nervous – and it shows. Whether it’s All-Star Weekend or the home opener, the kid doesn’t shy from the spotlight.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">You know the Cavaliers had a great night when Kyrie can score 29 points without that being the lead story.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Irving was 11-for-20 from the field, 3-of-6 from long distance, with six boards, three assists and a blocked shot. More importantly, he guided the Cavaliers home when the Wizards made their fourth-quarter push, taking a two-point lead after trailing the entire night.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Byron Scott praised his young point guard after the win.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">“I told Kyrie at the eight-minute mark that we have two time outs left, and he patted me on the leg and said, ‘Don’t worry about it coach, I got it.’ He basically kind of took over from that point on and that was really good to see.”<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">He’s hands-down the team’s leader. And he doesn’t turn 21 until March 23.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>Odds and Ends:</strong> Great to see so many Browns at the opener last night. Loved that Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson sat together and the ovation each received from the fans … The new pregame open featuring Cleveland’s own Machine Gun Kelly was fantastic. Kelly, wearing the new gold Cavs jersey – No. XX – with his trademark tattoos exposed watched the fourth quarter on the baseline with Browns DT Phil Taylor … Kelly and Taylor sat a few seats down from Dan Gilbert and his ownership partners – Nate Forbes and Jeff Cohen – all nattily-attired in matching wine sport coats with embroidered C-swords<span>  </span>… Speaking of the gold uniforms, what did you think? I thought they were vibrant and bold and hope the NBA eventually allows the Cavs to wear that for all home games. Right now, the Lakers are the only team that wears gold (almost) exclusively at home. </font></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:9979a0cc-052c-4087-b548-cad8f3051d96 Approaching the Opener http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_approaching-opener Mon, 22 Oct 2012 19:55:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/6/0/c68f5cb7-bcf2-4b6a-a024-fc22cc7be319.Full.jpg" target="_blank" title="Click here to view this image at full size in another window..."><img id="c68f5cb7-bcf2-4b6a-a024-fc22cc7be319" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/6/0/c68f5cb7-bcf2-4b6a-a024-fc22cc7be319.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" /></a>Hey, Cavaliers fans and CavFanaics! It’s Austin, checking in with about week remaining before the regular season. What’s happening?<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Right now, the Cavs are getting ready for opening night. They still have some roster moves to make, and it looks like one of the best competitions in Camp is at the backup point guard between Donald Sloan and Jeremy Pargo.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It’s been very competitive. Both are very aggressive players. Sloan has had a little better Camp, maybe offensively. But they’re both solid backup players.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Again, it shows where the franchise is right now and the direction that it’s heading. We weren’t talking about having two guys at every position to choose from last year. So now you have Pargo and Sloan who are both solid backup players – and you won’t go wrong with either one. It all comes down to who fits in the system better.<br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br />It’s been a good Camp for the rookies, but you can tell the game’s still moving a thousand miles an hour for them. It’ll take about half a season for the game to slow down. And the reason why is because you go through every team.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Being a scorer, I had to go through a lot of defenses early, because everyone knew what my forte was, and they were game-planning to stop it. And we weren’t that good of a team back then so they could focus on me. So that was a whole different approach.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">These rookies don’t have to worry about that because Kyrie takes on so much of that pressure. So they have an opportunity to play one-on-one ball instead of one-on-five, because the concept we’re running is more of team concept. And Kyrie fits in like a single piece of a puzzle. And the sooner the rookies fit in as pieces of the puzzle, the sooner I think you’ll see good production out of them.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">A lot of the focus has been on Dion Waiters. But I think he’s starting to understand the offense right now and how he fits in.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">At first, he was hanging around the perimeter, not wanting to get engaged in the offense. But now I think he understands, that 2-guard position is a little different than it was in college. Even if you’re not facing an All-Star, it’s a guy who belongs in this league. And he’s going to take your lunch if you’re not ready to protect it.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Being the fourth player in the Draft – guys are hunting for you, they’re coming after you. And you have to be ready to fight back. And I think he understands that now. He’s starting to get it in his system that you have to bring it <strong>every night</strong>. There are <strong>no</strong> nights off.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Like I try to tell some of the young guys: one night I’d play Jerry West, then Oscar Robertson, then Phil Chenier, then Jerry Sloan, then Pete Maravich. There’s no such thing as a night off. You take a night off against those guys and they’ll make it a point to embarrass you. <span> </span>And your off-the-court life has to be geared towards your on-the-floor living.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The game will slow down halfway through when they’ve gone through the league and see how opponents are going to play them. And then you get immersed in the competitive part of the game.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Right now, they’re going through trial-and-error. But they’ll learn the ins and outs of how plays work and what people are like. And they’ll even get to learn opponents emotionally. I knew, when I played against those guys I was talking about, if they were ready that night or a little sluggish. You could tell right away.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Those are little nuances that you learn and that slows the game down. It’ll come to all the young guys.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">A big thing fans forget about players is that they’re people, too. Rookies are moving to a new city, with new responsibilities and every thing that goes with it. As a rookie where you have to prioritize. You have to get to the point where some things you just <strong>don’t do</strong>.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I started out giving out a ton of tickets to my games. But I stopped. I said, ‘If you want tickets, let me know during the summer. But I’m not dealing with it during the season.’ My mother, my father, my brothers and that’s it! But I’m not going to be chasing tickets during the year. It would just distract from what I had to do. If you’re guarding Dave Bing or Phil Chenier, I don’t have time to deal with tickets.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I had to focus on what I had to do and to stick with my routine. After practice, get my rest, get ready, go over my gameplan, get my clothes ready and get on the bus. That’s my religion; that’s how I did it.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Routine should be a rookie’s best friend. Find a routine that fits for you – and <strong>stick to it</strong>.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">In terms of the youth, the key for our team – it’s not <strong>just</strong> experience. Because a lot of our young guys – Leuer, C.J. Miles, etc. – have played in the league. The key is they’re being depended upon to play <strong>major</strong> minutes. They’ve never been <strong>depended</strong> on for that before. That’s why it’s starting from scratch in a way. Your mentality has to change when you’re playing against the best players in the league every night and you have to be productive.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It’s a lot different than coming off the bench. Coming off the bench, you have to be productive, but it can be ‘sometimes’ thing against the second unit. You can’t be a ‘sometimes’ guy in the starting lineup. You have to bring it every night.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Before we get to the opener, I’d like to see this team turn up the defense and start to get in that running mentality. Defending is the key to a running game. We’re a running team, but right now we’re reluctant to run.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I would love to play for a coach like Byron Scott who <strong>wants</strong> you to run. Man, I’d live on defense! Because when you get a turnover on defense – it’s time to have some fun! <span> </span>So you work harder on the defensive end to get that turnover. I think the team hasn’t yet equated ‘defense’ to ‘fun.’<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">We don’t have a half-court style team where we can be really successful. We’re not loaded with guys who can just fill it up. We have to do it by committee. And we have to get more fastbreak points. The team, the way it’s constructed now, without an automatic guy like Jamison, they have to average 15 fastbreak points a game. It just takes so much pressure off your halfcourt offense. You have to have that. We have to keep the game ‘open.’ We’re not a grind-it-out kind of team.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But right now we’re on the right track and I’m already getting geared up for the opener.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And, of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my Notre Dame Fighting Irish , who stayed undefeated after beating BYU on Saturday.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But the game against Oklahoma will be their ‘Come-to-Jesus’ game. You’re going to have to put up or shut up against Oklahoma in Norman.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">If they beat them, they have a chance to win the National Championship. I know the Southern Cal game is going to be tough. But if they can beat Oklahoma with their fast style, then they can beat USC with that style of game. This is the pivotal point of the season.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">With the regular season bearing down, we don’t have many free Saturdays from this point out. So I’m going to enjoy this one. </font></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:7fb22fcd-05b6-446e-92a1-afcd5585188e Finding an Identity http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_finding-identity Thu, 11 Oct 2012 16:58:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br /><img id="d44c1a11-137b-4fd4-a6f5-829e67b2c418" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/4/6/d44c1a11-137b-4fd4-a6f5-829e67b2c418.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" />Cavalier fans and CavFanatics – it’s A.C. What’s happening?<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Well, the preseason is underway and we’re off and running. I’ve seen some good things and some bad things so far. That’s the way it is for a young ballclub.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">As they get closer to the regular season, I’d like to see the Cavs start to establish a team identity. They don’t seem to understand that if you’re going to be a running team you have to play tired and know how to push past that. If you’re a running team you have to <strong>keep running</strong>.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">That’s your advantage.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’ve said this many times before, but Kyrie is the tempo setter. Even when he’s not scoring, he still has to <strong>push the ball</strong>. That’s what Coach Scott wants – putting constant pressure on the defense. And t hat means running the floor, not stopping at the baseline – cutting through. That means moving the ball to the open man. That means setting picks and going right into your offense off the initial fastbreak.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">That’s how a good running team functions.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Kyrie’s very good in the halfcourt. He’s an excellent shooter. But he has to set a quick pace for the good of the team. That’s the most important thing. When you have guys like Tristan, Andy, Leuer, Zeller. When you have big men that can run the floor, you have to run to take advantage of their skills. You can’t take advantage of their skills pounding the ball in the halfcourt.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">They’re going to have to make up for Antawn Jamison’s scoring. And I don’t want the entire load to fall on Kyrie. <span> </span>When your point guard is your primary scorer, you don’t always function well as a team. You have to have a balanced attack where Kyrie’s points become additional – instead of necessary.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">You don’t want all your points to come from the backcourt. But right now it is. And that could be a tough situation for the team. Somebody in the frontcourt has to step up. It’d be nice just to get 10, 10, and 10 from our three frontcourt players. That would make a huge difference.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Right now, CJ Miles has been the star of Camp. He’s been the one who’s stepped up. You can tell he wants it. He <strong>wants</strong> the position. He’s not afraid to take the shots, he runs the floor. And that game against Siena – in the second half, he started to show me what he’s about. And he carried it right through to the next game.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And what happens is, as one player finds his role, the rest of the team starts to define <strong>their</strong> roles. And that’s all that’s happening now. Now we just have to find out: What’s <strong>our</strong> style? We know what we want to be. How do we execute to become like that?<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Another guy who’s impressed me so far is Samardo. It’s not just the weight loss. He’s a better player mentally. He’s understanding how to give it up and how to get it back. He’s moving better now into his sweet spots on the floor. He’s understanding: Don’t let the defender take you out of your position. You put the defender in the position <strong>you</strong> want him in.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Right now, Dion Waiters is just getting himself going. Remember, he’s a 20-year-old rookie two preseason games into his career.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’d like to see the young man get more involved in the offense. Right now, he stays on the perimeter and isn’t moving well without the ball. In Byron’s system, if you don’t move without the ball, you look like you’re isolated – because everyone else is moving. So, like most young players, he has to learn how to give it up and how to get it back. You have to have a “scorer’s mentality” from the 2 spot.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Mentally, you have to be able to overcome <strong>not</strong> making every shot. I expected to make <strong>every</strong> shot. But you’re not going to do that. And if you miss three or four in a row, you have to think you’re going to make the next one.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Lenny Wilkens told me one time: You can’t stop shooting because you missed three or four shots. You’re depended upon. We need you to score. When the ball comes to you, we know something’s going happen. So the rebounders get into position, the guard gets into position. Everybody gets into position. When you don’t shoot, that throws everything off.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Right now, he’s got a little tendency to get a little down after a miss. He’ll get over that. I’m going to have an opportunity to talk to him about it. You have to have thick skin. You’re going to miss shots. But you <strong>must</strong> have confidence in your own ability and the confidence that you <strong>will</strong> make your next shot.<br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br />And, as a 2-guard, you have to learn to get free throws. I knew on certain plays that were run, that I could get a foul shot. I knew what the defender was going to do. I knew, even if I was struggling from the floor, that I could get to the line and get my rhythm.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">More than anything, Dion needs to just keep learning on the floor. This is stuff that you can only learn from going out there and playing through those situations. It’s really the only way. I can go out there and tell him all I want. But until you go out there and see it and feel it, there’s not much you can do. You have to experience it to know it.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But overall, I think he’ll be fine. He’s a tough kid and a talented ballplayer. He’s just got to take his lumps like all youngsters do.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Moving forward this weekend, I want to see the team continue to find their identity.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">If you’re going to be a running team – <strong>RUN</strong>. If you’re tired, that’s what they got those other guys on the bench for. Get your rest and get back in there. That’s why Coach Scott has such a tough training camp.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Each possession is a push – even after made baskets. (I would have loved to play like that. But Fitch didn’t want that style from his starters. That’s why I was happy to come off the bench. He just cut us loose!)<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Find your identity and commit to it.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">If you’re a running team, I don’t care if you’re eight points up or ten points down, you <strong>don’t</strong> slow the game down! You learn to use that as your weapon. Use your running game as your weapon!<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">What you want on the mind of your opponent is: ‘If we turn the ball over, we have to get back!’ Now, your defense becomes a weapon. And you’d be amazed: you can use it to the point where it affects their offensive efficiency.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">That’s what the Cavs want to be. That’s what Byron wants. And when they find that identity, that’s when they’ll become an effective team.</font></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:eddcdd6b-5835-4119-a431-b14e96abf31b Scenes from Media Day http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_scenes-media-day Mon, 01 Oct 2012 22:59:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/8/12/f87dd47c-1149-44c6-8cf7-2c3d02d52695.Full.jpg" target="_blank" title="Click here to view this image at full size in another window..."><img id="f87dd47c-1149-44c6-8cf7-2c3d02d52695" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/8/12/f87dd47c-1149-44c6-8cf7-2c3d02d52695.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" /></a>On Monday afternoon, the Cavaliers hosted the annual Media Day festivities at Cleveland Clinic Courts in Independence. Of course, Media Day signals the start of Training Camp – which tips off on Tuesday. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">With “Camp Scott” looming, Media Day is the players’ last chance to relax at CCC. It’s like the first day of school – one that’s necessary and useful without much work actually getting done. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The real basketball stuff starts on Tuesday. Some observations from Monday included …<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> Dion Waiters, making his first appearance with the Cleveland media following his Summer League stint.<span>  </span>There was some question about Waiters coming into Camp in shape, and a simple eye-test said that he was. He dropped a few pounds, but also insisted that he’s a thick guy and would be considered so even if he dropped a few pounds.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">“I worked my tail off after Summer League,” said the No. 4 overall pick. “I was in the gym 3-4 times a day and I got back into shape.”<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Waiters was asked about staying in Cleveland, and he offered a telling comparison between the North Coast and where he’s from in South Philly.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">“You have everything you’d ever want here,” said Waiters, looking around Cleveland Clinic Courts. “There’s no need to go back to Philly. It’s rough and tough down there. You don’t need to be around that. You have everything down here that you need. You can stay away from all that negativity.”<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> As is usually the case after a few months off, players come to Camp with (hopefully) improved physiques. Samardo Samuels and Dion Waiters have dropped weight – Samardo most noticeably. Sophomore Tristan Thompson and Kyrie Irving put on a couple pounds of muscle. Kyrie added five pounds and it’s noticeable in his upper body. (The R.O.Y. also looks a little older with some added facial hair.) Tristan also joined the “gained-weight club” – adding around 10 pounds to his frame. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> Kyrie and Tristan are two of the club’s best players and also two of its funniest. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The outgoing Thompson, as he did at times last year, spent part of the day interviewing other players as part of a bit with “Access Cavaliers.” He and C.J. Miles had a particularly interesting back-and-forth that fans will soon see on the broadcast.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Kyrie likes to break chops just as much. While he and some players waited to be photographed, Irving took turns pumping Alonzo Gee up – calling for him to enter the Slam Dunk Contest in Houston – and breaking him down – calling him the squad’s thriftiest player on the road, teasing that all he gets is a new keychain in each new town.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> A late addition to the Training Camp roster was Justin Holliday – the 6-6 swingman out of Washington. Holliday was impressive on the Cavaliers’ Summer League squad – showing quickness, a deft shooting touch and the ability to guard three positions. His arrival expands the roster to 20 players. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> As entertaining as the comic exploits of Kyrie and Tristan were, the biggest laugh of the day probably came courtesy of the Wild Thing, Anderson Varejao. In years past, Andy would furrow his brow at the mention of “flopping.” But Varejao, who – media-wise – is light years ahead of where he once was, admitted that “Yeah, (I) used to flop a little bit.”<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> On an extremely young team like the Cavaliers – and without the services of guys like Antawn Jamison and Anthony Parker – veterans like Daniel Gibson (as well as Varejao and C.J. Miles) will have to provide the leadership moving forward. Gibson seems ready for the challenge.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">“I have experience, which is kind of weird to say because I still consider myself a young guy,” said Boobie. “But I have a lot of experience in this league. I know what it takes to win; I’ve seen it. So I’ll be that voice for these guys to let them know what it takes to get to that level that we’re all trying to get to.”<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> The squad’s elder statesmen will definitely assume a leadership role with the Cavaliers, but Coach Byron Scott spoke of wanting his young point guard to start becoming a team leader. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">“I expect for him to grow in that area,” explained the Cavs’ third-year coach. “I think last year, he knew he was a young guy on this team. It’s a lot of the same situations I had with Chris Paul during his rookie year. He had a lot of trouble telling guys what to do or where to go because they were a lot older than him and he just didn’t have that experience. I think Kyrie feel s a lot better this year about being one of the leaders on the team.”<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> The Cavaliers were photographed in their alternate home golds. They’ll be sporting their new threads in the Oct. 30<sup>th</sup> opener against Washington. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><strong>*</strong> From this point forward, things move quickly. The Cavaliers will have the Wine and Gold Scrimmage on Saturday afternoon at The Q before welcoming Montepaschi Siena of the Euroleauge in a little less than a week</font></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:c51c666b-18df-457a-aab7-cbd75312907e Camp Around the Corner http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_camp-around-corner Mon, 24 Sep 2012 16:45:00 GMT <p style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3"><a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/2/12/b207e6d7-bf77-4dfd-ac90-1693aa6006de.Full.jpg" target="_blank" title="Click here to view this image at full size in another window..."><img id="b207e6d7-bf77-4dfd-ac90-1693aa6006de" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/2/12/b207e6d7-bf77-4dfd-ac90-1693aa6006de.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" /></a>Hey, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics. It’s A.C., checking in exactly one week before Training Camp gets going.<br /><br /></font></span><font size="3"><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">The guys have been working out down at Cleveland Clinic Courts. And right about now, they’re chomping at the bit to get after it. It’s a hungry young team – and I think we’re in for a fun season.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">Looking forward, I think the 2 and the 3 are where we have to get points from on a consistent basis. If we have a problem, it’s going to be there. And one of those two guys – Dion Waiters and C.J. Miles – if not <strong>both</strong> of them, is going to have to bring it. And by that, I mean averaging double-figures, even if they’re coming off the bench.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">We need points from the 2 and the 3, and we have to find a way to get them. Whoever delivers them, I don’t care. I just want to make sure that all the pressure doesn’t fall on Kyrie Irving.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">You can’t put it all on him because he’ll break down if you do. Not too many point guards have really done it for a whole season like that since Tiny Archibald – just dominating for a team the whole year. Carrying a team as a point guard for an entire season is a tough thing to do. We can’t put it all on him this year.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">Dion Waiters will have to assume some of the ball-handling duties, too.<span>  </span>He’s almost like Kyrie as far as that’s concerned. He’s not a typical jump-shooter at two-guard. That’ll help to have two guys out there who can create off the dribble. It’ll help the offense run smoothly and not get stagnant.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">I’m looking for some of last year’s youngsters to make a step up – guys like Tristan Thompson. He looks like he added some upper-body strength. And he’s added the knowledge. The last part of the season – being able to start – helped him big time. I’m looking for him to step up because you’ve got to give some support to Andy. You can’t put it all on him, either.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">I really like Samardo. He looks totally different now that he’s dropped some weight. I’m looking for him to play well too. And I think C.J. will break out, too. He’s always been waiting for that opportunity – and he’s got it now. I’m expecting him to break out.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">Either way, someone has to emerge as the second scorer behind Kyrie. And we need that bad.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">Like they do with any great player, teams will start game-planning for Kyrie. Teams are going to start packing the lane to make sure he doesn’t have a clear path to the basket.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">This year, Kyrie’s going to have to be not just the team’s best player, but its leader as well.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">A lot of the leadership is going to come from Coach. But Kyrie’s going to have to grow up fast. He’s going to be force-fed that aspect of his development. As a player, he’s almost there now. He’s very mature as a player. But leadership is where he needs to step up and earn his badge of honor. He’s got to learn to be the Man.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">Last year, as a rookie, naturally he was reluctant. I was reluctant during my rookie year. But after you play a while, you realize that the team looks to you for leadership. And that’s the area in which Kyrie’s going to have to make his growth this year.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">One thing about basketball – like most sports – the best player commands that leadership role, unless there’s a veteran that’s been around a dozen years or so. (And the Cavaliers don’t really have that guy this year.) Andy’s going to have to step up and be more than a supporting cast member. He might have to be that guy, as well. But Andy leads more by example.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">But I think Kyrie will be able to handle the leadership role. He just needs to realize that he’ll need to be more than a good basketball player to contribute. He has to be a leader. <span> </span>Where this team is going to go, he’ll have to take them.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">He’ll be fine. Kyrie’s a grown-up. But I think Coach will show him how to lead. And once coach turns him loose, it’ll be up to him.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">Coach Scott is starting to get the type of players that he wants – guys who can, and are willing, to play his style. The third year is usually Byron’s year. It gives him time to weed out the guys who can't or don't want to understand his system. That third year, he’s got enough guys that understand and have bought into his system.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">Like I said earlier, this will be a fun young team to root for. I’m really curious to see how the youngsters on the front line perform.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">The bigs are athletic, they have good size and they can run. And the biggest thing – they’re hungry. Now the key is: how do you use that energy to be productive?<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">They’re going to take their bumps and bruises because they’re young. But I just think they’ll develop into a solid unit. And they need to keep tread on Anderson’s tires this year.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">You don’t need Andy out there killing himself. You need players out there to support him. That’s the key. You need a 3 or a 4 who can score. It’ll take so much pressure off him. His points should be gravy. You don’t want to depend on Anderson’s points to be your main points. You want those to be added points. Then, he can play the rest of his game the way he plays it.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;">One week away from Camp, we are way better on paper than we were a year ago. (And I believe had we stayed healthy last year, we’d have challenged for the 8<sup>th</sup> playoff spot last year.) </span></font></p><p style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="line-height:115%;font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3"><br /></font></span></p><p style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="line-height:115%;font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">The big question mark is: Who will be our Jamison? That’ll be the key. We need to find another player on that roster who can give us the consistent point production as Jamison. If we find that, we have something. You just can’t put all the pressure on Kyrie and Andy. </font><br /></span></p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:f1fada95-4382-4eb9-adf5-760f7b0c1dd3 Behind the Scenes with Mr. Cavalier http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_behind-scenes-mr-cavalier Wed, 05 Sep 2012 17:09:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br /><img id="4d7aa4c9-8daa-4f33-961c-2d130147fa57" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/13/6/4d7aa4c9-8daa-4f33-961c-2d130147fa57.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" />Hey, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics! It’s Austin, checking in as the calendar turns to fall. What’s happening?<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Training Camp is less than a month away now, and I can feel the season coming soon. Once the weather starts to change, I know it’s almost game time!<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I thought I’d do something different today. A lot of you ask me basketball questions and some of you want to know about the broadcasting world. So I thought I’d tell you about my <strong>second</strong> basketball career.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I never thought I’d get into broadcasting when my playing days were over. I had no idea. My whole mindset, after I played ball, was to have something to do on the basketball side. I never thought I’d end up on the “entertainment” side! I always thought I’d be general manager or something like that. I even thought of coaching. But now I’m pretty much locked in.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It’s funny: over the years, fans have encouraged me to try coaching. But that’s not for me. I don’t have the patience.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">That’s one thing that Byron has. He has good patience, but he also knows when to rule with the iron fist.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I don’t know if I’d have the patience part of coaching down. I might be iron fist <strong>all the time</strong>. But all the coaches that I’ve ever played for were like that! It’s a privilege to play this game, and I don’t think I’d have patience for a guy who had the talent but didn’t have the drive to give it his all every night. I’d blow up and the next thing you know … I’d be out.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’d rather work with the guys I work with now. And I have to start with my fantastic broadcast partner: Fred McLeod.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Fred is a great one, a true pro. And he’s also got a little bit of a temper – which I love. <span> </span>You see it mostly on the golf course. During our telecast, you don’t see it. But <strong>I</strong> see it!<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And, the thing about Fred – he’s definitely a Cavaliers fan. When it doesn’t go right, boy, he gets upset! But that’s what I like about Fred. He’s passionate about the game. We both are! <span> </span>And we kind of mesh together because of that reason.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It probably took us one full season to get a good feel for each other. Really, Fred was the one who started calling me “Mr. Cavalier.” And that in itself has developed a life of its own. Now our chemistry is automatic. I think we’ve developed a great rhythm.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I talk about Fred getting excited during games, but I’m the same way. You’ll hear Fred joking about me catching him with an elbow during games, and that really does happen.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But, just like Fred might get excited during a game, I might get excited too! And I’m used to being physical. It’s just that he happens to be a little too close! That’s all. So once in a while I’ll catch him and I’ll hear that “ooohhhh.” But it’s all in good fun. Sometimes, especially when Kyrie makes a nice move in a critical part of the game or someone makes a good play, I get into it.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’m definitely a fan. We both are.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">One thing I appreciate about Fred is that he makes it easy to be myself. He almost encourages me to be myself. So we just kind of get into the ebb and flow and, maybe at a certain point in the game, I’ll do a little of his job and he’ll do a little of mine. And we understand when to back out, when to stay in – and there’s just a good flow and a good rhythm.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">On the road, we socialize together. We golf together pretty frequently. To me, that makes it smoother on the air. People can sense a fake friendship. And our friendship is real.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Of course, when you travel throughout the league, there are good arenas to work in and some that, let’s just say, aren’t that good.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Utah is probably the worst place in the world to do a game. But see, their people are in discomfort as well. It’s like being in the cockpit of a plane. And you’re in there and you might as well be strapped in.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">For me to go to the bathroom, three people have to get up, move out of the isle and I have to jump over some chairs to get out. It’s the most uncomfortable place to do a game – you can’t move, you’re stuck. Even the stage manager, who sits next to Fred and I – she has to literally jump over the table if she wants to move.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Philadelphia’s tough too. People are telling us this is going to be the way it’s going to be in every arena, but we’re so far away from the floor that the players on the opposite end look like ants. You can’t really see anything. And we’re actually behind the basket. It’s just the worst place in the league to watch a game.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But people are saying that radio and TV are eventually going to be up off the floor in most places, so it’s something we’ll have to get used to.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">There are some great arenas to broadcast in, too.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Naturally, I enjoy our arena. It’s very comfortable. I like the Garden, too. It’s away from the benches so you can see the bench reaction and everything is right there. Miami is good. Most of the arenas where you’re on the opposite side of the floor are good. You can see everything. I like L.A., too. There’s good freedom at the Staples Center. It’s open – you can stretch out.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And just like the arenas, you get used to the players, coaches and refs during the course of the year. And I talk to almost all of them and have a good rapport with most of them.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It’s funny, though: the referees, they’ll listen to the games and I might say something about a call and they’ll actually come over during a timeout and tell me: “Nah, A.C. You didn’t see that one right.”<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Some of the most entertaining coaches are (or were) Stan Van Gundy in Orlando and Doc Rivers in Boston. Doc jumps on the refs right away – he doesn’t fool around. Gregg Popovich is on the refs, but he’s quieted down a little bit. He whispers his problem with the ref now. He waits until they get down near him and he gives it to them … right in their ear. Now you see the refs running down to the opposite end of the court.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I try not to get too technical – too much into X’s and O’s – when we’re doing a broadcast. <span> </span>I don’t want fans to ever think we’re talking down to them. I want fans to feel that we’re watching the game together. And Fred and I kind of follow that rule: You’re watching the game <strong>with</strong> us. The only difference is – you’re having a beer and I’m not.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Fans don’t see all the preparation and teamwork that goes into a broadcast. The whole day is about the telecast, and the people behind the scenes – they’re extremely hard workers. They work their tail off to make Fred and I look good. And I take my hat off to all the people that work behind the scenes – director, camera man, sound man, everybody.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It’s a full day on broadcasting a game on the road.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’ll get up in the morning and get to the gym around 7 a.m. Get on the bus to shootaround around 9:30. We come back and have our broadcast meeting. (That could be before shootaround or after.) Then, the rest of the day – right up until we leave for the game, maybe around 4:30-ish – you’re on your own.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But once you’re on that bus, it’s non-stop until you get to that next city. And once that routine starts, that doesn’t stop for the next seven months. It’s a never-ending battle once the season starts.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">We’re getting a new sideline reporter this year, too – Allie Clifton. I don’t know much about her, but I hear she’s excellent. And it’s going to be an added attraction to our show.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The think I love about our show is that we constantly tweak it to make it better. And I think Brett Valenti has done a great job of breathing new life into the broadcast. I fought the change at first because it was uncomfortable and wasn’t what we were used to over the years. But now I understand, and I like it. We’ve changed the X’s and O’s of doing the show. And I like what we’re doing.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">This upcoming season should be fun.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I think the team, what they’re going to have to do is figure out a way to score because you’re going to lose some of that with Jamison. But I think it’s going to be more well-rounded scoring. We may not have a 20 ppg guy, unless it’s Kyrie. But I’m not sure we want Kyrie to score 20 points. We want him to be a 15-10 guy. If he can be 15-10, we can make the playoffs.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">If we have a few guys scoring 10-15 points per game and you have a couple guys averaging 9-12 rebounds a game and that’s the kind of team that you can sustain over the course of an 82-game season. That’s what we’re shooting for. We have some young guys – and some big guys – who can run the floor.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And what they’re doing is getting players that fit into their system – guys that get up and down the floor and can play on the move, not be stuck in a halfcourt offense. And you have two guards that can beat you off the dribble in a half-court set, and that keeps the offense moving.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">You can tell that I’m fired up and ready to go. I’ve had enough vacation. I’m anxious to get moving and get back into the game. And most of the fans I’ve talked to are saying the same thing. They’re ready to get it going.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Once football starts, the tumblers in fans’ minds get going – and they know that basketball is just around the corner. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> </font></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:6a014591-b342-4b62-b450-d5a1d4bf6605 Thoughts from Summer's Turn http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_thoughts-turn Tue, 07 Aug 2012 18:47:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/4/12/c4dd21a1-6353-4741-9ce0-3adee8781ff0.Full.jpg" target="_blank" title="Click here to view this image at full size in another window..."><img id="c4dd21a1-6353-4741-9ce0-3adee8781ff0" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/4/12/c4dd21a1-6353-4741-9ce0-3adee8781ff0.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" /></a>Hey, Cleveland. It’s A.C., checking in from the offseason. I’ve been decompressing. Playing some golf. I’ll tell you more about it later.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The Cavs will be getting back into the gym soon. I liked a lot of what I saw during Summer League.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I thought Waiters showed he can get to the basket. He has good form on his outside shot; he just needs to work on it. And I think he has to understand that if he’s going to be a starter in this league, you’ll have to be in a little bit better shape.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And I think it’s a learning process for him.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">He’s a competitor and I like that. He has a chip on shoulder, which is a good thing. He just needs to learn to control it. Just like when he called the timeout when we didn’t have one in the first game. You can’t get your head out of the game. You have to keep your head in the game at all times.<br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br />Summer League was a great learning experience for him to understand what he’s actually going to be involved in. Because when you’re the fourth player picked in the Draft – just like when I was the first player in the Draft – everybody’s gunning for you. You have to be in better condition than they are. And you have to be a better player. You have to think clearly. And all those things, he’ll learn.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">On defense, he’s physically strong and quick enough to defend. It’s just a matter of the “want to.” If he wants to, he’ll be OK.<br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br />I also like the other rookie: Tyler Zeller. He’s going to be a solid player. He runs the floor well. Shoots the little 15-footer. He can almost play the big forward. And he shoots a hook shot!<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I love it! I like his competitive spirit. The knock on him was that he’s a little soft. But I didn’t see it. He came ready to play.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Now – for the sophomores. Kyrie Irving goes into the season as the team’s unquestioned leader. And that’s going to be something new for him. But I think the team is ready for him to lead. And that’s very important.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">He was close to perfect in his rookie season. Very few guys have had a first season like that. The only things he needs to work on are his stamina. He’s going to need that. He needs to understand also the pace that we need to play and win with. He needs to keep the pace up, even if he’s not scoring.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Last year, he was either all the way or nothing as far as pushing the ball and tempo. And the team starts to sag. When the team starts playing at that pace, they need to keep playing at that pace. And as the point, you need to be in the best condition on the floor. It’s as simple as that.<br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br />He needs to keep the tempo up and resist slowing it down. Byron doesn’t want that. He wants to defend and run. Rebound and run. Advance the ball, push the ball, get the ball to the right guy at the right time and take your shots when you’re open and have the opportunity.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It’ll be interesting to see how he works with Waiters. It’s going to have to be a meeting of the minds.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">We have two guys who can beat you off the dribble now. So the offense won’t get stagnant. But the one thing that he has to understand is the importance of playing without the ball. Because Kyrie is going to penetrate and draw defenders to him, and Waiters has to be the floater – a Ray Allen-type guy – to hit the open jump shot.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">That’s what I had to learn. I was always barreling to the basket. I thought I could take anybody in there. But you have to learn to be the off-guard. Be ready to hit that 15-footer. Catch-and-shoot, catch-and-shoot. I was used to attacking. In his position, he’s going to have to learn his spots: when to be there for Kyrie when he attracts the defense’s attention.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I also think Tristan’s going to have to take another big step. I think starting the last part of the season will help him tremendously – helped his confidence.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I hope in the offseason, he’s learned to shoot with an extended arm as opposed to always trying to shoot a half-hook, half-jump shot. He gets the position, but he gives up his advantage. And so once you have a guy pinned, you need to learn to shoot with an extended arm in order to maximize that position.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It’ll make life a lot easier for him. Because he does everything else pretty well.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">You talk about speed. You have Andy, him, Zeller, a slimmed-down Samardo. Our big guys will be on the move.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">He’s seen the whole NBA now, which is vital. Because first of all, you get a mental dictionary on each player. What he can do, what he can’t do. How he likes to guard you. As soon as you hear his name – BOOM! – you should have a picture of everything he does: Can’t go left well. Always drives to his right. Will pull up if you sag on him. Likes to turn his back. All those things you learn and store away as a rookie.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Kyrie should have a huge advantage this year. You also how certain teams like to defend: They double you in the post, they trap you on the wing. So now, you go into a game and you have a mental picture on how you want to attack and how they intend to defend you.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The key to success this year will be staying healthy. If Andy had stayed healthy, we’d have been fighting for the eighth spot, maybe even the seventh spot. If we stay healthy, we’ll surprise a lot of people this year. And the way you stay healthy, you get a good back up for Andy so you don’t have to play him too many extended minutes.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I think there’s going to be a power shift in the East this year. Even though Miami is the king.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I don’t see New York being a big player. I don’t think Carmelo and Amar’e co-exist well on the same team. Atlanta’s cleaning house. We can definitely sneak into the bottom half of the playoff pictures.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But you’re going to have to stay healthy. You‘re going to need big contributions from your rookies. Waiters will have to be a 10-15-ppg game man, and as a rookie, that’s tough. But it can be done. But you have to grow up fast.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But with an improved frontline, I think we’ll be a factor. Not a big factor, but not a pushover.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But all that will come in time. I’m going to enjoy my summer while I can. I’ve been unwinding a little bit. Playing a lot of golf.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’ve played with Coach Scott early in the summer. But I’ll catch up with him again. It’s competitive when we’re out there. He can play too! It’s a good battle and t all depends on who’s playing well that day.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I like playing with Coach, but I play all over. I belong to a traveling league in the summer. We play all over. Canton, Youngstown, Lorain, Elyria.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Summer’s great but once the schedule comes out, I start getting my mind geared on the season.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It’s funny! You have a feeling of total freedom when the season is over. But once that schedule comes out, you start feeling like you have to get into that work mode. It’s time to move!<span> </span>I’m starting to ease back into that feeling. Once the weather starts cooling down, too.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">That’s your life. You get used to being on the move. And there’s nothing like it.<br /> </font></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:651c36e4-3d4a-4cc1-b949-d072b675006d Leaving Las Vegas http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_leaving-las-vegas Mon, 23 Jul 2012 16:34:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;"><br /><a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/6/8/96a6e334-678b-4100-982f-68eaf4417dc9.Full.jpg" target="_blank" title="Click here to view this image at full size in another window..."><img id="96a6e334-678b-4100-982f-68eaf4417dc9" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/6/8/96a6e334-678b-4100-982f-68eaf4417dc9.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" /></a>The Summer League experience wrapped up for the Cavaliers on Friday afternoon and a couple hours after whipping the Knicks, several of us who made the junket to Vegas got on the plane for Cleveland.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">The Wine and Gold finished the annual invitational at 3-2 – following up their worst performance of the week (Thursday’s loss to Minnesota) with their best (Friday’s drubbing of New York).<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">Many of the players from this week will be back to work in Independence before long. But the NBA’s dog days are also approaching. We’re about two months from Training Camp.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">Before the league takes its summer slumber, here are a few thoughts from this past week in Sin City …<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;"><strong>*</strong> If not for the sloppy ending against Charlotte in the opener, the Cavaliers could’ve gone 4-1 on the week – not that a final record is the best barometer of team’s success in Summer League.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">Some squads – like the Cavs Blazers and Warriors – were loaded with players that’ll be integral parts of their team this season. Others – like the Knicks – had a squad full of players that’ll be hard-pressed to make an NBA roster. <span> </span>The closest thing New York had to an actual Knick on the floor Friday afternoon was J.R. Smith and Raymond Felton sitting courtside in street clothes.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">The Cavaliers looked sharp at times, but that 34-point win was a bit inflated. The Knicks didn’t win a single game in five tries. (The D-League select team, by comparison, was 2-3.)<br /><br /><strong>*</strong> </span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">I’ve always liked the Portland Trailblazers. They’ve always struck me as something of a “Cavaliers West.” <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">The Blazers had easily the biggest fan contingent in Vegas. At times, it was like they were playing a home game at Thomas & Mack or Cox Pavilion. And they’ve got a lot to be excited about; the first of their two first-rounders – guard Damian Lillard – was the best player in Las Vegas last week.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;"><strong>*</strong> No final decision has been made on the decision to allow teams to place corporate advertising patches on uniforms beginning in the 2013-14 season, but will likely come in an</span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;"> e-mail vote in September. The patch would be on the front of the jersey – 2 ½ inches-by-2 ½  just above the heart.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">This new “revenue stream” is expected to generate $100 million annually, so its ratification is likely. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">Most fans aren’t crazy about this idea, and I’d put myself in that camp. (A poll on NBA.com showed 79 percent of fans opposed, a <em>Houston Chronicle</em> poll, 84 percent and a poll by NESN in Boston, 85 percent opposed.) I’m all for revenue streams, but I think it’s a slippery slope.<br /><br /><strong>*</strong> </span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">Dion Waiters led the Cavaliers in scoring this past week at 12.3 ppg, despite not shooting the ball very well (30 pct FG, 17 pct from long range) or playing in either of the squad’s final two games. The injury was nothing serious, but the No. 4 overall pick did experience some soreness in his left knee after an awkward play against Markieff Morris in Tuesday’s game against Phoenix. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">Waiters is billed as a combo guard, but played off the ball in the Cavs first three games. Against the Suns, he came off the bench and played the point for the duration. The Philly native notched 16 points and, more importantly, flashed the aggressive style that made him so attractive to the Cavs brain trust.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">Even after the third-quarter play against Phoenix – (if you didn’t see it on SportsCenter, Waiters pulled up on a fastbreak, slipped oddly and had his shot blocked by Morris) – Waiters continued to attack the Suns defense and propelled Cleveland to the 89-74 win.<br /><br /><strong>*</strong> </span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">The Cavs leading scorer in that 15-win (also off the bench) was Samardo Samuels, who seems like an entirely new person only two months after the 2011-12 regular season ended. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">It wasn’t just the much-reported weight loss, although that’s a huge factor. At 243, the former Louisville standout gets up and down the floor much better and, more importantly, gets off his feet much quicker. He’ll be a greatly-improved defender in 2012-13. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">Samuels is one of the more laid-back players on the squad – always off the floor and, to the aggravation of Coach Scott, sometimes on the floor. But he showed a nasty streak on the boards and defensive end during Summer League. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">The Lockout contributed to Samardo’s sophomore slump. This year, a productive offseason can get his career right back on track. Byron Scott spoke to Samuels after this past season and told him, essentially: ‘I can’t want (success) for you more than you want it for yourself.’<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">Looks like Samardo got the message. <br /><br /><strong>*</strong> </span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">One of the most entertaining combos on the floor in Vegas was Samuels and Luke Harangody – a pair of Big East bruisers.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">The two former college adversaries, who once got into a memorable push-up contest on the team plane, complement each other well on the floor and neither shies from contact. (From paint to perimeter, Luke can seemingly find contact anywhere on the floor.)<br /><br /><strong>*</strong> </span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">For most of the week, rookie Tyler Zeller was the most impressive player on the Cavaliers roster. The ACC’s Player of the Year averaged 11.4 points and a team-leading 7.2 boards and 1.0 block per contest. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">Zeller was as advertised. He had only one poor shooting game, was a strong offensive rebounder – exactly half of his 36 boards were on the offensive end – and shot 90 percent from the stripe. Experts who said he’ll be a solid-to-very-good NBA center for a dozen years look to be right on target.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">It was also cool to hear his teammates calling him “Z” – especially with Zydrunas Ilgauskas sitting just a few rows up in the stands.<br /><br /><strong>*</strong> </span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">Injuries took some steam out of the Cavaliers Summer League experience -- especially the absence of how Kyrie Irving interacts with his new mates. But those injured players should be ready to roll when Camp opens in September. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">Dion Waiters missing the final two games was purely precautionary. Irving had successful surgery on his injured right hand. Kevin Jones’ bruised heel should be healed. And Kelenna Azubuike, who worked out with the squad in Vegas, looks to be bouncing back from his bad knee. <br /><br /><strong>*</strong> </span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">Tristan Thompson was on my flight home from Cleveland and was sporting a decent shiner and some redness in his right eye after being poked by New York’s Ahmad Nivins in the third quarter of Friday’s game.<br /><br /><strong>*</strong></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;"> Of the non-roster players last week, forward Micheal Eric and guard Justin Holiday were probably the most impressive and most likely to take the next step – a Training Camp invite. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:11pt;">Eric, a bruising 6-11 big who played four years at Temple, proved to be a rugged defender in the post. A native of Nigeria, Eric was long and strong and could find himself on the Cavs roster. Holliday, a defensive specialist at Washington – and younger brother of the Sixers’ Jrue Holliday – closed out the week very well, defending three positions and showing a deft shooting touch. </span><p style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNoSpacing"> </p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:2bb4990a-1e1d-4273-afca-9022a5cd60fb Changing of the Guard http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_changing-of-guard Wed, 18 Jul 2012 17:49:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br /><img id="a42384a8-7a74-4baa-af6f-639cdac9f9da" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/4/15/a42384a8-7a74-4baa-af6f-639cdac9f9da.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" />The Cavaliers’ summer league squad got a well-earned day off on Wednesday, the day after blowing past the Phoenix Suns at the Thomas & Mack Center in Vegas.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I know it’s mega-hot back in Cleveland, so I won’t mention that the mercury is rapidly rising here in Vegas, too. But here are some quick observations from Tuesday night’s Summer League action …<br /><br />*</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The biggest development in Tuesday’s game was watching rookie Dion Waiters run the point. He’ll obviously play across from Kyrie Irving once the season starts, but it was great to see that he really is a combo guard – vocally directing teammates, pushing the ball, forcing the action. <br /><br />*</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Tyler Zeller has simply been the Cavaliers’ best player in this year’s Vegas invitational. He doubled-up on Tuesday night and led the Wine and Gold with a dozen boards. Yes, it’s only Summer League and he hasn’t gone against the NBA’s true big boys. But the kid looks completely comfortable holding his own. He’s a pure center, but he can really run the floor. <br /><br />*</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">After the Cavs game wrapped up, there was an excitement in the air that Michael Jordan was to show up and watch his Bobcats in Summer League action. But there was still no sign of Air Jordan as the Cavs bus pulled away from the arena.<br /><br />*</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Talk about no love from the desert. Vegas has the odds of the Cavaliers winning the 2013 NBA title at 150/1. Only New Orleans and Charlotte have higher odds at 200/1. (Cavalier fans probably don’t want to know who’s the favorite at 9/5.) <br /><br />*</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">In other futures news, Indiana University (which features Tyler Zeller’s younger brother, Cody) is a 5/1 favorite to win the NCAA Championship, USC is a 3/1 favorite to win the BCS Championship, and the Browns ‘ odds – according the Sam Rothstein and the oddsmakers in Vegas – is 75/1. The over-under on Browns’ wins in 5 ½. <br /><br />*</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Former Cavalier and current Pittsburgh Steelers fan, Donyell Marshall, sat with me during some of the Cavs game against Phoenix and said there’s no way the Browns would win six games. He’s still easily one of my favorite former Cavaliers and still has a home in Cleveland.<br /><br />*</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Thunder Dan Majerle, who’s coaching the Suns summer league squad, looks like he could <strong>still play</strong> for the Suns summer league squad. <br /><br />*</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">If Zeller has been the Cavaliers best player and Dion Waiters has been the team’s most heavily-scrutinized, forward Samardo Samuels has been the biggest (and most pleasant surprise). Not only has he dropped weight – allowing him to run the floor and get off his feet faster. But his outside touch has been fantastic. He also showed off his deft shooting touch on Tuesday, confidently canning a pair of 18-foot face-ups and going 9-of-9 from the stripe.<br /><br />*</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The Cavaliers will take on Derrick Williams and the T-Wolves on Thursday night and wrap up the week on Friday afternoon against the Knicks. </font></span><p style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNoSpacing"> </p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:f25b9972-5737-4ed1-814f-22404e389d6f Landing in Las Vegas http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_landing-las-vegas Tue, 17 Jul 2012 16:44:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/14/9/2e378d0a-6cf2-4424-a90a-8185f93cb0d4.Full.jpg" target="_blank" title="Click here to view this image at full size in another window..."><img id="2e378d0a-6cf2-4424-a90a-8185f93cb0d4" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/14/9/2e378d0a-6cf2-4424-a90a-8185f93cb0d4.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" /></a>Through nine seasons with the Cavs, I’ve traveled almost everywhere with the club – from preseason games in Columbus to exhibitions in Shanghai and Macao. Summer League in Las Vegas is one experience I’ve never had.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">This year’s Cavaliers summer league squad, as everyone knows by now, is completely different than any we’ve had in the past. This year’s team – minus a veteran or two and Kyrie Irving – shouldn’t be all that different than the team that takes the floor in November.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I arrived at Cox Pavillion just in time to catch Monday night’s win over the D-League Select Team.<span>  </span>And, like Carrot Top, I’ll be here all week. I’ll check back throughout, but here are some first impressions from my first foray into Vegas Summer League …<br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br />* After witnessing games at The Q for almost a decade, I’m used to my games being <strong>LOUD</strong>. As you can imagine, the crowds are small and about half of the spectators are GMs, coaches, media – and networkers looking to access the NBA world. That means <span> </span>when a fan heckles a ref or when a player drops a big F-bomb after a missed free throw – like the D-League’s Jerry Smith did on Monday – everyone hears it. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">* Tristan Thompson got the night off on Monday. He’s perfectly fine, but coaches wanted to get an extended look at Luke Harangody. The former Domer had a nice night, going 4-of-6 from the floor for 12 points. (During the game, another writer leaned over and said, “Everything he does looks like a collision.” He’s right – Luke goes full-bore at all times and <strong>never</strong> shies from contact.)<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">* A lot is going to be made about Samardo Samuels’ weight loss – and it should. He looks like a different person and is down to 243 pounds. But the difference is obviously more than cosmetic. He runs the floor better and gets off his feet much quicker. He also seems to have a calmer, veteran demeanor. He’s a different player on both ends of the floor.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">* I know the Cavs miss Kyrie, but only <strong>one</strong> player (Dion Waiters) with more than one assist? Let’s attribute it to (working out the kinks in) Summer League. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">* If you’ve ever seen a Toronto Raptors game on TV or certainly if you’ve ever seen one in person at the Air Canada Centre, you’ve seen their “super fan.” He’s a bearded guy in a black turban and he never misses a game. (Even summer league, apparently.) I saw him as I was entering the arena on Monday and he waved at me. I actually felt like I had a brush with greatness. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">* I’m not going to see Carrot Top or the Jersey Boys or Celine Dion while I’m out here. But I am interested in the Guns and Ammo Garage that’s advertised all over town. I’m not a gun guy and I don’t own one, but the billboard ad – featuring a girl in a bikini holding an AK-47 – promises to let you fire off a real machine gun.<span>  </span>It’ll be tough to resist. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">* Three summer league Cavaliers that are going to make their bones on the defensive end are Micheal Eric, Justin Holiday and Garrett Temple. Holiday – who, at 6-6, is much longer than his brother who plays for Philly – was a standout defender at Washington, as was Temple at LSU. Eric is raw but aggressive and the coaches seem to like his tenacity. I mentioned how quiet Cox Pavillion can be during a game. You could hear Cavaliers assistant Aubrey McCreary praising Eric's hustle from the bench. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> * One strange aspect of Summer League is how the games are stacked, like a college or high school tournament. As the Cavaliers were taking on the D-Leaguers, the Timberwolves and Clippers were flowing into the arena – gear slung over their shoulders. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">* Some high-profile players from last year’s Draft are here, making this summer league slightly unique. Kyrie and Tristan were here for the Cavs. Derrick Williams, last year’s No. 2 overall, is going for the T-Wolves. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">* Speaking of former high draft picks in action: Adam Morrison looks<span>  </span>completely different without his trademark mustache. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">* Tyler Zeller has impressed everyone so far in Vegas. It was cool to hear his teammates calling him “Z” on the floor. And maybe that sounds strange to …<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">* The newest member of Cleveland’s front office – Zydrunas Ilgauskas – was in the stands with the rest of the Cavalier brain trust last night. He was joined for a bit by former teammate (and current Maine Red Claws assistant) Donyell Marshall. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">* Finally, big-time congratulations to Cavaliers assistant coach – and one of the nicest and funniest guys in the league – Joe Prunty. On July 13, he and his wife L<span>aura (and their son, Luke) welcomed the newest member of the Prunty family, Emma Loraine, into the world.  <br /><br /></span></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Congratulations, Coach!</font></span> <p style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNoSpacing"> </p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:71de3e02-23fd-4085-b0bb-aedf1345ead2 Wrapping Up and Looking Ahead http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_wrapping-up-looking-ahead Tue, 08 May 2012 21:08:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br /><a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/9/9/499a318c-cba3-47ad-b9b0-af6b1164eeef.Full.jpg" target="_blank" title="Click here to view this image at full size in another window..."><img id="499a318c-cba3-47ad-b9b0-af6b1164eeef" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/9/9/499a318c-cba3-47ad-b9b0-af6b1164eeef.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" /></a>Hello, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics!<span>  </span>It’s Austin – checking in for the first time this offseason.<span>  </span>What’s happening?<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It was a crazy last couple weeks of the regular season and everyone needed a minute to decompress. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The Cavaliers went through another difficult season, in terms of wins and losses. But I thought a lot of the guys grew up this year. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Some of the younger guys struggled. Samardo was late coming on – he had an up-and-down year. But the one thing he seemed to realize towards the end is what type of effort you need to bring <strong>every night</strong>. And that’s very important for him if he’s going to take the next step with the team. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I think the same thing happened for Manny. The light came on towards the end of the year. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And again: Manny, Samardo, Tristan, Alonzo – this summer is very, <strong>very</strong> important for them. They have to continue their development this summer. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’m looking forward to see all those guys improve, but I’m very curious to see how Tristan improves his game this summer. This offseason is huge for him – especially because now he’s had a chance to experience being a starter, what it takes every night to be good and not just average. He knows that now.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Tristan knows what level he has to take his game to. And with the coaches working with him early this offseason (and during Summer League) he’ll get a chance to get into the right frame of mind, ready for his sophomore season. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But I think all the youngsters will come back much better. They should. If they don’t, that means that they didn’t work on the things they should work on. And you should be able to see the areas of improvement in all of them. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Manny has to work on his ball-handling skills and his jump-shot – how to get more consistent with it if you’re going to be a two-guard in this league. Samardo has to learn to use the left side of his body and finding his efficiency areas – where he <strong>should be</strong> shooting from. And, more than that, to bring energy to the floor <strong>every night</strong>. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Tristan’s going to learn how to play in a crowd; to be more productive in traffic. He got a lot of shots blocked and committed a lot of turnovers by not knowing how to handle the ball in a crowd. Tristan needs to learn how to use that length that he has. He was the wing-span – <strong>use it!</strong> Shoot it with an extended arm, not a chicken wing. And he must add the 12- to 15-footer to his arsenal. He has to add that.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Gee also has to learn to handle the ball with a crowd around him. He commits too many turnovers for a guy with that type of skill.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The Cavaliers could look like a completely different team next season. And there’s a chance they’ll be without a pair of their most solid veteran leaders from the last couple seasons – Antawn Jamison and Anthony Parker. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Losing those veterans is huge, but I think they’ve imparted a great deal of wisdom on the youngsters. <span> </span>Because one thing I know they understand is how to deal with adversity. With injuries, the schedule, etc. – the whole season was filled with adversity. The Cavs never really got on a roll. Maybe a couple back-to- back wins. The youngsters may have to learn how to deal with success as their careers go on. But they definitely know how to handle adversity. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I think the vets gave them enough knowledge to start with, but you’re going to have to bring a veteran in here that has a similar personality that those two guys had. They had a sharing-type personality. You can’t bring in a veteran that’s selfish. It won’t work, I don’t care how good he is. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Regardless of who they bring in, Kyrie Irving is now the leader of this team. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">As a 19-year-old rookie, he wasn’t demonstrative this past year. But I started seeing that in him towards the end of the year. He’d throw guys passes and they’d miss the shot and I started to see him be little more vocal than he was at the beginning of the season. So, it’ll come.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">He is the leader, there’s no doubt. And everybody’s going to follow him. If he understands how to win, he’s going to have to be more of a vocal leader. <span> <br /><br /></span></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">You watch Chris Paul play. And Chris Paul understands the pace his team has to play at to be successful. Now, he might not be scoring, but he’s still keeping the pace going. And Kyrie started to learn that as the season went on. You’ll see Chris Paul pushing the ball up the court, not even looking for his shot. He knows his team functions better at that pace. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And I think Kyrie’s understanding that the team needs to play and keep them at that pace <strong>all the time</strong>. Playing that way <strong>some of the time</strong> will get your butt kicked. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It’s difficult, as the top overall pick, to get used to losing. Like Kyrie, I lost more games in my first year as a pro than I had in my life combined. <span> </span>And though I don’t believe you learn much from losing, you <strong>do</strong> learn that you don’t like the taste of it. It knocks you down a few notches, but it tells you what kind of spirit you have inside to fight your way back to the top. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And even though I went through a bunch of injuries, it felt so good the year before the Miracle year – when we started winning. It gave me more energy to keep going. But professional basketball – unless you come in like Magic Johnson or somebody – it’s a completely different world to a rookie.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">This offseason is going to be as big as any I can remember. And quite honestly, the team needs an infusion of talent. They have a good core. But right now, we have more bench players than we do starters. We have good guys that we can bring off the bench. But the Cavs need to get more frontline talent, and that’s what the team is working on this offseason. You have to get more frontline guys. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’m anticipating Andy and Tristan as the starting center and power forward. Right now, we have Gee at the three. I’d rather see Gee coming off the bench and get a guy who can give me 15-20 points at the three and a guy who can give me 15-20 points from the shooting guard to go alongside Kyrie. You’d have a nice mixture there. And that’s a group you can really grow with. But, minus a pair of veteran starters, you have to bring 25 points in from somewhere. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Right now, I’m dialed in to the NBA Playoffs. And as much as fans hate to hear it, I’m seeing Miami come out of the East. I can’t see anybody stopping them. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I see a Boston-Miami Eastern Conference Finals, but Boston can’t do it in a seven-game series. If they had Perkins, it’d be different. That’s a different team – with and without Perkins. <span> <br /><br /></span></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Philly is just a hodge-podge. And Indiana, with Granger – he’s good, solid guy. But he doesn’t have the bravado. Those teams aren’t going to roll over and die, but I don’t think they’re ready to roll with the big boys just yet. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The Western Conference is a different animal. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I see San Antonio and Oklahoma City battling for the West crown. And I think, between the two, it’s a total toss-up. You have a total team effort versus two-and-a-half superstars. (James Harden, who’ll be the Sixth Man of the Year, is close for OKC.) San Antonio can beat you with their second team. Their bench can give you 40 minutes, maybe 50 on a good night. And they’re going to defend you. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">So I think San Antonio and OKC, it’s a toss-up from there. But I think either team can knock off Miami in the Finals. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’ll be checking out the postseason, but I’m also ready to hit the links. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’ve been out and played a few rounds, but I’m still a little rusty. I’m having trouble finishing a round – after I get to about the 15<sup>th</sup> hole, I’m beat. I’m hooking the ball and missing putts that I normally make. But it just takes a while to get into the golfing frame of mind and get going for the year. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">My course is Stonewater. But we played in Huron at Thunderbird Hills a couple times. We played in Chippewa. All over the place. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I have my tournament coming up at Stonewater in a couple weeks, on May 21. It’s for Youth Opportunities Unlimited. We raise money to help at-risk kids. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">We’ll have guys like Reggie Rucker, Kevin Mack, Ben Davis. I’ve been trying to get Hanford Dixon to play, but I can’t catch up with him. And I’m trying to get Josh Cribbs, but I don’t know if he plays or not. We’re trying to get Larry Nance to play, Coach Scott’s going to play. Of course, Fred McLeod is going to play. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">We have a nice little time and I’m sure the guys will talk some Cavaliers out on the course.<br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br />And the next time I check back in on CavFanatic, we’ll be talking about the Draft Lottery and whether Nick Gilbert and Co. can do it again. </font></span><p style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNoSpacing"> </p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:9925fe1b-813e-4073-b97e-0b631cfe79a2 Welcome DJ Kennedy to the Mix http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_welcome-dj-kennedy-mix Mon, 23 Apr 2012 12:39:00 GMT <p class="MsoPlainText">Say hi to the newest Cav, DJ Kennedy, up from Erie of the NBDL...he's a Steeler fan, but he has a good excuse...he's a life long Pittsburgher...in fact he grew up with DeJuan Blair of the Spurs and the two teamed up to win a state high school title together in 2007..</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">DJ's a 4 year guy from St. John's, who had a knee injury which kept him from playing in the big dance his senior season last year...</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">But he played well in Erie this past season, averaging about 15 ppg while teaming with Donald Sloan and Jeremy Lin to name a few...</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">He's a 6'6" swing man who played a lot of PG by necessity...he actually has some similar skills as Alonzo Gee, although not the high flyer Zo is...</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">But it's another story of opportunity as DJ will play with Kyrie, Tristan and the new rookies this summer...</p> <p class="MsoPlainText">I hope he makes it, then we can work on him to become a Browns fan!</p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:96a8903d-4f43-4ef7-b1af-d777ae8c0074 Wrapping Up the Road Trip http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_wrapping-up-road-trip Mon, 09 Apr 2012 14:58:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;"><br /><a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/9/6/19bf30e1-7b58-4531-86ca-3454b7a0d2de.Full.jpg" target="_blank" title="Click here to view this image at full size in another window..."><img id="19bf30e1-7b58-4531-86ca-3454b7a0d2de" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/9/6/19bf30e1-7b58-4531-86ca-3454b7a0d2de.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" /></a>Hey, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics! It’s A.C., back in Cleveland after three games away. What’s happening?<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">We got back last night after a really entertaining Easter Sunday game. The Cavs went 1-2 on the trip, but I think the team got a little confidence back. They played hard. They competed.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">With Kyrie down, they needed to get something out of Lester Hudson and Donald Sloan. And I think Coach Scott got more than he expected, which was great.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">With Hudson, he is just determined. He knows what he <strong>doesn’t</strong> want – which is to go back to the D-League. And he’s playing lights out. He’s a very competitive individual, and it’s good to see him have success. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">What I like is that he’s being aggressive out there. The team needed that. He said that before, when he signed 10-days with other teams, he was very passive. But he realized he has to be himself – within the system. And I think that’s what he’s doing.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">And he’s playing well; he’s taking the challenge every night right now.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">I also like the way Sloan is running the offense and ran it over the weekend. He’s got a good pace. He’s starting to understand how he fits into the scheme. He knows when to slow it up, when to pull it back and when to force the issue. He’s playing well, too.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">Defensively, Sloan fights through screens, he gets over the pick. He’s a solid player.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">But right now, for both of them, it’s a matter of consistency. You have to keep doing it. If you keep doing it, then I think we’ve found some real diamonds in the rough.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">Before the Cavs left on this trip, they were flat. They weren’t competing; had a little lull in emotion. But I think they’re coming back now, and feeding off the energy that Donald and Lester have brought. Sometimes that’s what it takes – a new player or a small change, an infusion of something new. And right now, that energy is starting to re-energize the team.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">What I’m hoping is that the Cavs can use a little of this road trip’s energy heading into these last couple weeks. They’re going to have to because the games are going to come so fast now. You’re not going to have time for many practices. I think they’ll only have two or three more the rest of the way.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">So you have to use any energy you can get right now and it’s important that they’re back to competing. The momentum comes from the games you play. And if you play them well, you can sustain the energy level. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">I don’t see any problem with Kyrie fitting right back in when he’s ready. You’re bringing in another guy – who’s produced in the system – back into the system. I think this can work out well. So I don’t see why the new guards shouldn’t be able to keep the flow once the rookie returns.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">We’re going to see the team tested over these next couple weeks. It’s the toughest stretch of the shortened season – seven games in nine nights. It’ll separate the men from the boys.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">And it’s going to be a test for even the veterans because they haven’t played this type of schedule either. It'll be a test for the young guys and the veterans alike – and team camaraderie is going to be the key during this stretch.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">Buckle up and let’s see what happens!</span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:41cc4e14-4912-41f9-adc7-898f6f0bdeb0 Getting Back on Track http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_getting-back-track Mon, 02 Apr 2012 19:45:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;"><br /><a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/0/7/70dac563-d9a5-4ea7-97f7-eb8f0544d2f5.Full.jpg" target="_blank" title="Click here to view this image at full size in another window..."><img id="70dac563-d9a5-4ea7-97f7-eb8f0544d2f5" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/0/7/70dac563-d9a5-4ea7-97f7-eb8f0544d2f5.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" /></a>Hey, fans of the Wine and Gold! It’s Mr. Cavalier – checking in from Cleveland. What’s happening?<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">It’s no secret that the Cavaliers haven’t been playing well lately – losing seven straight and 10 of 11. Right now, I think it’s a combination of everything – injuries, fatigue, losing Sessions, plus the schedule got tougher. And it caught up to us. We’re playing a lot of teams that need to beat us. So they’re coming at us strong. And I think that little extra edge is something that we haven’t learned to deal with yet. <br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;"><br />More than anything, the slow starts have been our undoing. You can see that Kyrie is aware of it, because he tried to come out aggressively on Friday night. But they just don’t seem like they have that competitive edge at the start. It’s as if they need to get smacked in the face first before they’re ready to fight. </span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;"><br /><br />Teams they’re playing are too good and have too much to fight for. They’re not going to let you back into games. And it becomes an uphill climb. And if you’re going to do the uphill climb every game, with the way these games are coming every other day, it’ll wear you down. <br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;"><br />I’m a little disappointed in some guys who’ve gotten opportunities because of injuries and so forth and haven’t stepped up. And I’m hoping they realize what’s going on. Because there’s a lot of teams in this league that wouldn’t give them this opportunity. And for them to get the opportunity – getting major playing time – this is what they should have been waiting for. And if they don’t take advantage of it, when you look in the mirror, you can’t blame anybody but yourself. <br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;"><br />If I were in their shoes, I’d stay in the gym all day. I’d watch film all day. I’d work on my weaknesses. </span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;"><br /><br />You’re talking about only 400-some of these jobs in the WORLD! I don’t care where you go – there’s no place else you can go to make this kind of money. The President of the United States can’t make this kind of money! I’d be ready to kill somebody for this opportunity.</span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;"><br /><br />And you’re not just auditioning for Coach Scott and the Cavaliers. Everybody has scouts and they come to all the games. And they’re all waiting and watching. And if you catch somebody’s eye, they go back and report that. And if they need somebody – if you get released or something – they pick you up because they’ve seen you play.</span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;"><br /><br />A positive example of this is Donald Sloan. He’s played solid ball. He gives you a little bit of everything – passing, shooting, rebounding. And he’s one guy who, I think, is trying to take advantage of this opportunity. You can see that he understands.<br /> </span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;"><br />Right now, it’s tough to snap out of a funk like the Cavs are in, but it can be done. </span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;"><br /><br />I call it a “competitive dreamland” that you have to get into. In other words, you forget about all the outside problems, the losing streak – all that. And you get focused on each quarter – winning the game quarter-by-quarter. You must get immersed in the game. Forget about feeling sorry for yourself and all those outside influences. Cut all that loose. </span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;"><br /><br />I know Byron Scott has been looking for players to get p*ssed off about the losses. What he’s trying to do is find who are the leaders on this team. That’s what he’s trying to find out. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">He’s played on World Championship teams. Everybody knew who the boisterous leaders were, everybody knew who the quiet leaders were, everybody knew who the B.S. leaders were. That’s the locker room. There are people who talk and back it up, people who talk and can’t back it up, and people that just go do it.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">Byron is looking for leaders who are going to step up. And you’re going to have guys who do it by example. The bold ones are the ones who can talk about it and then go out there and do it. That’s what you’re looking for. </span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;"><br /><br />Anderson Varejao is set to return before the season is over and he’ll definitely provide some veteran leadership.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">Bringing Andy back does two things: It gives Andy the confidence that he’s over the injury. We already know what he can do. And, two, it gives the organization the understanding that he’s healthy and ready to go. And you want him to get a couple games under his belt after he comes back so he feels comfortable that the injury is healed.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">You’d like to finish the season strong with Andy. But I don’t know if I buy into the theory that a strong finish carries into the next season.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">Personally, as an ex-player, I don’t care how I ended the year. If I didn’t win the Championship, I’m coming back next year to win the Championship. That’s what my thinking was. My first year, we lost 59 games. I hadn’t lost 59 games in my life combined! But the one thing I did understand was that I never wanted to go through that again and the following season I was going to do everything in my power to change it.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">And until we got 12 guys that felt that way, it was never going to change. It took us two years to weed out all the guys who didn’t have the same focus. Guys said: ‘Last year left a terrible taste in our mouths and we’re not going through it again this year.’ And you come back with a different resolve – and that’s what needs to happen.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">But I’m still pleased by the development of some of the younger players. Even during this tough dozen games or so, it’s been great to see a guy like Tristan’s development. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">Right now, he’s learning angles. He hasn’t learned the proper angles yet. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">If he’s going to use both hands, it’s easier to make a move and use the backboard than make a move and try to float it in or dunk it. And you learn angles from repetition. At some point, he’ll know where his shot is coming from and it’ll just be a matter of dealing with the defender. He doesn’t see that yet. He’s not visualizing it. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">But those are things that’ll come as he matures. He’s relied on his size and athleticism to get him this far, but at the NBA level, everyone has that. </span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;"><br /><br />He’s getting there. And one day, he’ll learn all the tricks of the trade. </span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;"> </span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:53eb4cf8-9d06-466b-af8d-73fbd6b29c6a Checking in from the ATL http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_checking-atl Tue, 20 Mar 2012 20:42:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;"><br /><img id="f40772f8-9348-4a38-a3b6-af76b926f27f" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/4/3/f40772f8-9348-4a38-a3b6-af76b926f27f.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" />Hey, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics – it’s A.C., checking in from the Dirty South. What’s happening?<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">The Cavs are coming off a really nice win on Monday night in New Jersey. They needed that one.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">The star of Monday night’s show was Tristan Thompson. I thought he looked like he was at ease, because he’s beginning to get used to starting. Changing roles is difficult. It takes a while to learn how to start, how to come off the bench.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">I remember when my time came to come off the bench – basically because of injury. It was tough to gear your mind down and approach things from a different angle. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">But Tristan looked very comfortable – he looked quick and strong – and he did it the whole game. And the kid really has an innate skill in protecting the basket area and being active around there. And that’s something I’ve seen in him right from the beginning. But coming off the bench, he just didn’t know how to pace himself. As a starter, he can just go get it. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">A guy who did come off the bench well on Monday night was Donald Sloan. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">You can tell: he understands the game. He was a four-year guy and he’s mature. He understands the difference between the D-League and the NBA – what we expect of him and what he needs to do. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">He knew we needed penetration, the ability to find the open man and hit shots when he had to. He looked very good. Defensively, he’s a strong guy. You can feel his presence on the defensive end. And as a former boxer, he’s definitely not going to shy away from any contact. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">In terms of the team, I think you’re starting to see the effects of the Trade Deadline starting to fade. It can be a tough time for teams and players. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">I’ve seen it, even when I was playing – around that time there’s always a problem, because certain guys can’t take the pressure of dealing with that. They lose some intensity and focus. But once the Deadline goes by, you’ll see the pace pick back up. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">With the Deadline behind us, the season will start hitting the homestretch. This will be a learning, growing experience at this point in time. To me, next season is starting right now. You’re looking at combinations; you’re looking at rotations – all while still trying to win ballgames. But in some ways, you’re preparing yourself for the following year right now.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">It’s going to be a tough schedule, a tough traveling schedule. And it’s going to be interesting to see how it all unwinds.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">Like they have been all year, the Hawks will be a tall order for the Cavs on Wednesday in Atlanta.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">You have to attack them inside and you have to keep Joe Johnson from being the center of attention. You need to make him work hard for his buckets. When he’s the center of attention, they’re hitting on all cylinders, because that allows Josh Smith to almost fly under the radar. He’s kind of geared his game down. With Joe being the top man, he’s become the second option. And that works for their team. You have to force Joe Johnson to give it up and make Josh Smith be the man.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">Zaza Pachulia sort of manhandled Tristan on Sunday afternoon. But that was his first game starting. Now he understands the attitude you have to bring to the floor, and it’ll all come to him. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">Being a rookie, he’s actually just getting his feet wet. Tristan knows what kind of player Pachulia is. He’s a strong, active, competitive guy – and Tristan’s got to come with his feet on the ground ready to play. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">What I’m looking for on Wednesday is the Cavs to come out with that same us-against-the-world attitude that they’ve brought on the road over these last couple weeks.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Arial Narrow','sans-serif';font-size:10pt;">It seems like this team plays better with their backs against the wall. For some reason, I don’t know what it is, it seems like they relax at home. I don’t know if they think it’s supposed to come easier at home. But on the road, they have that edge to them. And these things are going to be part of their growing pains. They’re going to have to learn how to approach the home game just like it’s a road game – and bring that same edge.</span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:fde9f115-dff7-47ba-bad1-06dc6ff08b5c Back in the Hunt http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_back-hunt Mon, 12 Mar 2012 20:47:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Hey Cavalier fans and CavFanatics! It’s A.C., checking in from the Cavs’ three-game win streak.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I don’t know if I’d have believed someone if they’d said we would have swept three straight Western Conference teams. Because I just didn’t know the mindset of where we were. And actually, when you look at it, beating those two teams that we beat on the road – Denver and Oklahoma City – makes up for stumbling out of the blocks after the All-Star Break.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Western Conference teams want to run. And <strong>we</strong> want to run. But we want to <strong>control </strong>the game and run. When you run your set offense and run through your second or third option, it slows them down. They don’t like that and they don’t function well like that. And it happened with all three teams. The Cavs plan was simple: have patience, run your sets, run off defensive stops.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Now, we’re back into position – especially with the Knicks falling back – that opens up the fight for that 8<sup>th</sup> spot. Before, that 8<sup>th</sup> spot was starting to fade into the distance. Now, we’re one game out. It’s going to be interesting. And we get to go to New York in about two weeks. It’s going to be awesome. It’s almost becoming a little bit of a rivalry – and lately, we’ve had their number. You can almost feel it in the fans when we get there. They’re thinking: ‘Oh no, here it goes again.’<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The Cavaliers are getting a great lift from Antawn Jamison all year. He’s been the one – when the team is dragging and not sure of itself – he’s the one who’s kept them going throughout the game. That is, until it’s “Kyrie Time.”<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Kyrie seems to live for those moments. He almost rope-a-dopes for three quarters. Look at Sunday night’s game. His jumper was off. He looked lethargic. But once that fourth quarter rolled around, his jumper starts falling, he gets to the basket and the line, he hits the open man. And the whole team starts to feel it. Their energy level goes way up. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">What excites me most about the team right now is that we’re not at full complement. When Andy comes back and we slide Andy in there and that puts everyone back into their correct rotation – we’re going to be tough. Put it this way: We’ll be in every game. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’m really excited to see Andy and Tristan on the floor at the same time. There’ll be no space available out there; they’ll cover it all. That’s a combination that I’m really looking forward to seeing play together.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Besides Tristan up front, I thought Samardo played well, within himself, on Sunday. He and I were talking before the game. And I said: ‘Look, if you get the ball at the top of the key, take two more dribbles – it’s the foul line and the elbows that you want to get to.’ <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">As a player, you have to understand where your “efficiency areas” are. When you watch film, look where you <strong>make</strong> your baskets. Look where you <strong>miss</strong> your baskets. Now, you’re a smarter player when you’re out there because you’re aware of your efficiency areas.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">That’s what the pro game is about. It’s about understanding your weaknesses and strengths and trying to function as much as you can in the strong areas and working to improve your weak areas. It’s about work, work, work. And you stick to it. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I think Samardo took one crazy outside shot. But everything else was right in that area. And if he gets the ball around the basket, look out! Because he’s a load down there.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I like the way the second team is playing right now. When Coach Scott first made the lineup change, the bench was having a problem trying to identify the leaders. You knew Sessions was going to be there. But you needed other people to score and rebound and do the work. And it takes two or three or four games to get into the flow. Now it seems like they’re in the flow and know who’s going to assume which role. Each game, they’re starting to score more points off the bench. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Sessions is just killing it. He’s at the top of his game. He and Gee – I’m so happy for those guys, because they work <strong>so</strong> hard. And to see the fruits of their labor show up on the court is fantastic.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">This time last year, Sessions was struggling. And the lightbulb just came on and now he’s a complete point guard. He knows when to attack. He knows when to back off and bring it out. He’s picking out the hot hand – getting Jamison involved in the pick-and-roll when he’s scoring. He’s learning all the nuances of being a point guard.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And Sessions and Gee added to their games in the off-season. Sessions is a much better shooter from long-range. He doesn’t look to shoot the three-pointer often, but he does it enough to where you can’t always go under the pick with him.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And Gee is beginning to add that mid-range, pull-up shot to his game. He <strong>has</strong> to do this. He’s such a good driver, but sometimes he’s so hell-bent on getting in there that he’ll turn the ball over. There are just too many people down there! So why kill yourself? Take two dribbles, pull up and shoot yourself an uncontested 10-footer. If he adds that, he’ll be extremely tough to guard.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Right now, the Cavs have the playoff picture to focus on. It’s a great motivator. They were starting to lose sight of it in the distance. And now it’s back in focus. And all that does is give you that extra little oomph heading into the final month-and-a-half.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The schedule is going to get much tougher, but they’ll have to adjust to it. They’re going to have to – just like everyone in the league is going to have to. They’re not alone in this. The key is to stay healthy. But the Cavs style of play – when they’re on – will wear teams down. Sessions is more prone to it than Kyrie. Sessions <strong>really</strong> puts pressure on a defense. And he can run <strong>all day</strong>.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I think as long as we stay aggressive and stay focused on what we’re doing, we’ll be fine.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">First up this week is the Raptors, and they’ve already beat Cleveland twice. But mentally, we’re in a different place now.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It’s been a competitive two games, but now I’m looking to get a win. The problem we have with them is that Bargnani’s a tough guard because he’s a 7-foot jump shooter. We slack off him, and that’s what he wants. And it takes people out of their defensive rotations. So, it’s going to be interesting how we match up with them.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But I think we’re a different team than we were back then. And I’m looking for some different results.<br /></font></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:b16b0c3e-6055-45eb-8031-e2c639f00bf5 Opportunity Knocks http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_opportunity-knocks Wed, 07 Mar 2012 19:51:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;"><br /><img id="bc181d55-ca35-4dad-a03a-91b1e1416702" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/12/0/bc181d55-ca35-4dad-a03a-91b1e1416702.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" />Hey, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics! It’s been a while, but it’s A.C. – checking in from Denver. What’s happening?<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">The Cavs are in a bit of a funk since the All-Star break, and it won’t get any easier out West. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">Right now, it’s apparent that the team really misses Andy. I’ll put it this way: Andy is one of the few non-scoring players that have such a huge effect on their team. There’s not a lot guys in the league like that. He’s a non-scorer who has an MVP-like effect on the game. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">His energy and confidence level really affect the team. They don’t have the same confidence level as when Andy was out there. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">But Andy’s absence has given the Cavs bigs a golden opportunity. The opportunity is there and it’s knocking. Pretty soon, it won’t be knocking. Pretty soon, the opportunity will be gone. There are only so many chances that you get, and some of these guys are on their third opportunity. And they’re lucky they’re playing on a team like we have, where they can get that many opportunities. Sooner or later, they’re going to have to wake up. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">Tristan Thompson has taken advantage of his extended minutes after the Break. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">He’s much more confident, first of all. He’s definitely grown more on the defensive end than the offensive end. And now he has to take the offseason and work on moves after he gets a rebound under the basket, moves facing the basket, things like that. He’s got to work on developing the offensive aspect of his game. But defensively, he’s done a super job, I think. <span> </span>He’s been almost a double-double guy since he’s started getting consistent minutes. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">Tristan needs to keep this pace up. Consistency is king. Guys like Andy and Ramon Sessions prove it. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">That’s what professional ball is all about. The key to professional ball is being able to play the game well, but being able to do it consistently – night-in and night-out. So that means you have to have a different mindset, a different understanding of the game – it’s how you play over the long haul. It’s not about flash-in-the-pan games, one or two good games and a bunch of bad games after that. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">I learned that from Lenny Wilkens. He’d tell me: ‘You’re going out here trying to score 40 points in one quarter, you’re dead for the next three quarters – and the team suffers. Divide that up – five points, two rebounds, two assists every quarter. You get 20 points, eight boards and eight assists and you’re an All-Star.’ Give your team positive minutes over the whole game instead of for a few good minutes. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">Kyrie’s been very consistent, but I think he has to play more and get in better shape. He just hasn’t played much. That toe situation cut his conditioning down because he didn’t play. Now he’s been pushed into the fire and you’ve got to have lung-power and leg-power. And he has to work on that in the off-season; it’s almost impossible to get that now. So just keep working on it until you get it. But he’s been superb, I think. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">It’s just like when I trained with Nate Archibald. His whole thing was: ‘I’m not going to let fatigue make a coward of me. The only advantage I have is to use my quickness and my speed. I have to be in condition where I’m able to use it <strong>all the time</strong>. I have the control instead of letting others control me. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">A guy who continues to impress me is Alonzo Gee. He’s a great story because, what you like to see is a guy who works on his weaknesses and you see him turn that weakness into a positive the next year. Right now, he’s done so much to improve his game. This year, he added the outside game. Next year, hopefully he’ll add the mid-range game. <span> </span>He has a little bit of a tough time controlling the ball in traffic. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">If he gets that to go with his shooting and his driving ability, he’ll be almost impossible to guard. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">For a lot of guys around the league, this next week heading towards the Trade Deadline is going to be difficult.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">I don’t care what era you play in, whether it’s my era, the Magic-Bird era, this era now – the Deadline is always a factor. It’s always in the back of your mind, especially if you’re in the last year or your contract or have one more year left in your contract. All that is definitely a factor. These guys hear things – they have agents, they read the papers. And some guys can handle the pressure and some guys can’t.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">What the Cavaliers have to worry about is how they’re going to approach these next two games. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">They must control the pace of the game, which is going to be tough against Denver because they have seven or eight guys that average double-figures. That means every position is going to have to be defended. Individual defense has to be good tonight, or we’re going to have a lot of trouble. <br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">And Oklahoma City is an entirely different animal. You have two guys with skill-level that’s off the charts. And then they have Harden coming off the bench.<span>  </span>But I like the role their big people play. They have Ibaka and Perkins and those guys play solid roles also. They may not be prolific scorers, but they’re solid at every other part of the game.<br /><br /></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';font-size:12pt;">It’s going to be a more physical game than the Denver game – although Denver is one of the league’s best rebounding teams. But these two games will show us where we are and, more importantly, where we need to go.</span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:105c45f8-d3ff-4ccb-93a4-70270d7cb83e Big Night in Beantown http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_big-night-beantown Mon, 30 Jan 2012 20:29:00 GMT <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/7/0/776b67fa-65b2-4247-a060-f051c8e72257.Full.jpg" target="_blank" title="Click here to view this image at full size in another window..."><img id="776b67fa-65b2-4247-a060-f051c8e72257" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/7/0/776b67fa-65b2-4247-a060-f051c8e72257.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" /></a>Hey, Cavalier fans! It’s A.C., home from Boston and ready for the rematch. What’s happening?<br /><br />Sunday’s win over the Celtics was real nice. It’s always a great atmosphere in Boston. Even though the Celtics are not up to par yet – because of injuries – they and their fans still have that Celtic bravado, that cockiness. <br /><br />The Celtics are a good matchup for the Cavs. Our styles are much different. They don’t beat you off the dribble. They beat you by executing their plays. It’s always the third or fourth pass that’s the killer. That’s how they do it. They’re familiar with one another and they execute to perfection. <br /><br />The Cavaliers, under Byron Scott, are trying to be a running team, an up-tempo team. And we’re starting to see that. <br /><br />It’s something that has to become your identity. Even when it’s not there, you have to push the ball. And by the end of the third and fourth quarter, you start seeing what you saw at the end of the game on Sunday night. <span> <br /><br />By the fourth quarter, the Celtics were tired. And it forced them to keep Garnett out of the game maybe a little longer than they wanted to because of the pace.   At one point, Sessions came down the floor and blew past everybody. <br /><br />Our system, our style wore them down at the end. And you saw how Kyrie closed them out.  <br /><br />Kyrie is starting to become respected by everyone throughout the league now. Everywhere we go, either one of the TV people or one of the opponent’s coaches will come up to me and say, “Now THAT kid can play.”  Doc Rivers said he’s stronger than most people think he is. <span> <br /><br />Personally, I think it’s amazing the way he finds his way through the maze. He seems to get better, game by game. <br /><br />Almost lost in Sunday’s big win – and Kyrie’s big shot – was the play of Andy down the stretch. He proved again why my nickname for him is “Priceless.”   How many guys in the league do you see do the things he does? It’s all about heart. I call it “want to.” It’s all about “want to.” And Anderson wants it. He wanted it more than anyone on that floor on Sunday night. <span> <br /><br />To me, he’s playing not just All-Star-level, but in a way, MVP-level. Because you look at this team last year without him – we were awful. We lost 26 straight games! And all we’ve done is added a couple rookies and a healthy Varejao, and we’re already back to respectability.<br /><br />Andy’s a quiet leader. He’s not the type of guy to go around beating his chest. But he wanted that game Sunday night. When he plays against the big boys, he steps his game up, and he takes it to heart. Garnett does a lot of talking, but Andy ran circles around him in Boston. <br /><br />I was talking with one of the scouts on Sunday – I won’t say with which team – but he said something to me that I found interesting. (Byron had mentioned this at the beginning of the season.)  The scout said, “The Cavs play with heart and they play for each other. They play like they like each other.” <span> <br /><br />You can see it on the floor. That is the ingredient that you want to have with a team. It makes up for a lot of things you may not have. <br /><br />The Cavaliers aren’t a one- or two-man team anymore. They get contributions from everywhere, and that was the case again on Sunday night. <br /><br />Alonzo Gee was pressed into more time than he usually gets, and he responded. <br /><br />Alonzo’s definitely improved on his jump shot. The only thing he needs now is a pull-up shot, a mid-range game. Right now, he determines he’s going to the basket, come hell or high water – no matter how many guys are there. As he develops, he’ll learn to read that more effectively. He has to work on that in the offseason, but other than that – WOW!<span>  <br /><br />All Gee needs is one dribble to get from Point A to Point B.  And that dunk on Garnett: He wasn’t expecting it and neither was the crowd. When he threw that down, the crowd at the Garden just went “Whoa!” <span> <br /><br />We’re going to need a guy like that – especially against the LeBrons of the world. Because Alonzo is extremely physical. <br /><br />I was also impressed with Mychel Thompson. He came into the game in a crucial part of the game.  I was a little surprised Byron threw him in there. But he stepped up big time and he shot with a lot of confidence. <br /><br />Coach Scott just has an excellent pulse on his team. He strung Samardo along to where Samardo was just really hungry and he couldn’t wait to get in the game. <br /><br />Byron must’ve told Mychel to be ready. And he came in and played like he was looking for some playing time. He defended well, getting over picks.   I thought this was interesting. <br /><br />What we’re seeing is what I think many of the smaller market teams are going to have to do. (Even though I don’t consider us a small market.) You have to develop your players.<br /><br />The league doesn’t do that anymore.   They don’t develop guys. <br /><br />That credit goes to Byron and the coaching staff. It seems like we focus on weaknesses and try to bring players up to a certain level. I don’t see other teams develop guys like Gee and Mychel Thompson and Samardo – guys that nobody knew about that we turned into serviceable ballplayers.   And it’s a credit to our organization – scouts, coaches, player development guys. <br /><br />On Tuesday night, the Celtics will be back looking for a little revenge.  It’s going to be a blood battle. That’s who they are and you know it from the get-go. So you better be ready to get in the trenches. <br /><br />The key is even when the fastbreak is not there, you have to rush it up the floor and make them continue having to backpedal. They should be backpedaling that whole first half. And you’ll see towards the end of the third quarter and into the fourth, you’ll start being to go by them.<br /><br />That’s how we have to win – by wearing people down. Let’s see if we can do it again on Tuesday. </span></span></span></span></span></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:77e8c2c4-ecb6-49e5-a5c4-81da530720c2 Back on Track http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_back-track Thu, 26 Jan 2012 19:19:00 GMT <br /><a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/9/3/3925ab1f-2692-4586-934a-8288e54ff950.Full.jpg" target="_blank" title="Click here to view this image at full size in another window..."><img id="3925ab1f-2692-4586-934a-8288e54ff950" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/9/3/3925ab1f-2692-4586-934a-8288e54ff950.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" /></a>Hey, Cavalier fans and CavFanatics! It’s A.C., checking in. What’s happening?<br /><br /> I felt great about that win over New York on Wednesday night. They haven’t beat us in Cleveland since 2006, so it’s fair to say we have their number.<br /><br />The thing is: the NBA is all about matchups. And we match up well with them.<br /><br />They play helter-skelter, fastbreak ball. We play systematic fastbreak ball. So, pretty simply, the difference is: our style beats their style. They don’t respect situations within the game, they just play the game. They can be up 15 or down 15 and they’ll play the same way. We’re going to defend you. We’re going to set plays up when the situation calls for it. They don’t do that. <br /><br />The system is hurting that team. And that’s why I think we beat the Knicks. Because our system is better than their system.<br /><br />Even in a nice win, we still turned the ball over too much. But I think that problem is going to work itself out. <br /><br />Now, you might think I’m a little bit crazy writing this, but I still think the turnover problem was because of fatigue from the road trip.<br /><br />When you stay out like that, that long, your first game back is still like you’re on the road. And you still have to recuperate. And you look at the last two games we lost before the Miami game – the blowouts against Chicago and Atlanta – most of the turnovers are because you’re tired. You don’t think right. You don’t have the sharpness, the quickness to see moves ahead of time. <br /><br />And then, you could see it against the Heat – you saw their energy coming back. They were starting to play the way they did before the trip. The quickness was there, the passing was sharper. The defense was there; the offensive cuts were there. Their legs were under them on the jump shots.<br /><br />You could see as the game went on: We got stronger and Miami got weaker. We got our second wind. And in the bad losses before that, we could NOT get our second wind, because we didn’t have it. And I think a lot of it is being fatigued. <br /><br />You can lie to your body that you’re not fatigued, but you are. It definitely happens. I noticed it myself, and I didn’t even play on that West Coast trip! The other day, I got home from work and started watching TV, and the next thing I knew it was morning.<br /><br />One guy, however, who NEVER seems fatigued is Anderson Varejao – who might be playing the best ball of his career. He’s playing at an All-Star level. <br /><br />Andy’s absence is why we had so many problems last year. If he would’ve been healthy, it would have made a HUGE difference.<br /><br />My nickname for Andy is “Priceless.” There’s nobody in the league like him. The closest guy is Joakim Noah in Chicago. And believe it or not, Andy is better offensively than Noah. He knows the game. He knows how to get you off your feet; he knows how to use his left hand, his right hand. He uses hook shots, reverses, up-and-under moves. And he’s got a decent little jump shot. <br /><br />We’re also getting better production behind Andy at the 5, as well. Ryan Hollins had a heck of game on Wednesday and Samardo looks like he’s starting to find himself again.<br /><br />I think Coach Scott has brought Samardo along slowly and made him understand certain things.<br /><br />Number one: You have to play within the offense. If it’s not there, give it up and get it back. In other words, it’s not always just ONE option. The way I was taught to play the game, if I go to make my move and it’s not there, that means Option 2 is available. That means someone is out of position to stop Option 1. <br /><br />Samardo has got to understand the sequence of plays. Because he knows: around the basket, nobody can handle him. There’s nobody in this league that’s strong enough to handle him. Maybe Andrew Bynum in L.A. But on a consistent basis, there’s nobody that can handle him around the basket. He has to know that and he doesn’t know that. He’s still searching.<br /><br />If you want to survive in this league, you must learn to defend and learn the sequence of an offense.<br /><br />Number two: The one thing Samardo really needs to understand is that fatigue makes a player a coward. You must be in shape.<br /><br />The thing I always had to make sure of was that I was in great shape. When you’re a scorer like I was, conditioning is your biggest ally. You can’t afford to get tired. You can’t stop. The team depends on you to score. I didn’t want to lag down the court, tired, when we need baskets! <br /><br />Understanding condition is HUGE in this league. You can have better talent than a player you’re going against, but he can dominate you if he’s in better shape. And I NEVER wanted that to happen.<br /><br />Aside from Samardo, another guy who’s getting more comfortable on the floor is Omri Casspi. <br /><br />Omri’s starting to see the pace with which we want to play. He’s starting to understand how he can be effective on this team. He’s starting to relax now and he’s stopped worrying so much about missing shots. The kid just wants it SO bad.<br /><br />On his shot, he’s starting to finish the shot – and Jamahl Mosley has been working with him diligently on that. He was leaning back and pulling the string. Now he’s leaning forward and following through. Jamahl’s been working big time with him on that.<br /><br />He’s got the quickness to slash. He was taking a beating when he wasn’t’ “playing positive.” Now he’s “playing positive” and he won’t take as many beatings. He’ll start handing out the beatings. <br /><br />This weekend, it’s another pair of tough games. New Jersey is playing better ball – better than the last time we faced them on New Year’s Day. <br /><br />Boston – now, that’s going to be interesting. <br /><br />One thing I always respected about the Boston franchise, they don’t care who they put out there – those guys are going to compete. They have a certain “bravado” about them. They think they’re supposed to be better than they are. And they’re going to look down their noses at us. <br /><br />That’s where we have to spank them. BANG! <span> The first time you see them this year, you lay it on them. Then, when they come here, we have them a little bit on their heels. But you have to spank them in the first game up there. And that’s what I want to see.  <br /></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:82853a03-c60b-4490-9f4d-a4fd78693913 Welcome Home Z http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_welcome-home-z Thu, 19 Jan 2012 18:01:00 GMT <p>I think it's great news that Z is back in the Wine and Gold family, and I'll tell you why...He has so much to give, and more importantly wants to work at it to be the best...He IS Cleveland and by seeing and thinking the game the way he always has, he'll provide just another perspective for Chris Grant and his basketball operations team...<br /><br />Chris readily admits he will learn as much from Zydrunas, as Z will from him....This is not a cushy, post career gig, where a former player signs autographs and shakes hands...this is a roll up your sleeves/get after it kind of position, where experience, and more imporantly the human factor comes into play...<br /><br />And that is why Z will be a success, because of who he is...I often speak to young aspiring broadcasters, and when they ask what the number one component for success is, the answer is simple---Be a Good Person...and it applies in this next phase of Z's life...as he says, he looks forward to the challenge, and because of who is he is, and the kind of person he is, I'm telling you, he's a can't miss, and the Cavs will be the better for it...<br /><br />How will you fans see a difference? In the continued committment to excellence, which comes from the top man, and trickles all the way down the everyone in the organization, and as you know, Zydrunas Ilgauskus is a Cavalier to the core, and for that, we saltue him, and say welcome home! </p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:9b316591-27b9-4991-a0b0-d414bbfa565c The Wild, Wild West http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_wild-wild-west Thu, 12 Jan 2012 20:15:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3"><br /><a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/12/14/7c7d941e-8725-4e99-ae99-6a0b7a433a87.Full.jpg" target="_blank" title="Click here to view this image at full size in another window..."><img id="7c7d941e-8725-4e99-ae99-6a0b7a433a87" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/12/14/7c7d941e-8725-4e99-ae99-6a0b7a433a87.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" /></a>Hey Cavalier fans! It’s A.C., checking in from the wild, wild West. What’s happening?<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">We’re almost ready to wrap up the road trip – or at least move it back east where we finish with Charlotte.<br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">Right now, I think the team is right about where it should be. You sort of know that the road is where all your faults and your shortcomings come out. And we were looking to see where we needed work and where we didn’t need work.<span> <br /><br /></span></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">And right now, they’re playing hard. That’s one good constant. They play hard every night, they come at you strong. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">Utah made us realize that we have some deficiencies on the interior that we have to work on. And the only other glaring thing is that we have nights where we don’t shoot the ball well. But at least our defense stays constant. And that’s a good building block. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">At this point of the season, the Cavaliers are looking for a consistent third scoring option. You want three. Right now, most of the activity is coming from the bench. So, that third scorer comes in production from the bench. It’s not one person, it’s just the bench has to make up for the lack of that third scorer. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">But the two things you can control are how hard you play and what pace you play at. You can’t always control your shooting. Because some nights, you’re just not going to shoot the ball well. But you can get out and force teams into turnovers by being aggressive on defense and playing your game. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">And that’s something that, right now, we have a tendency to get away from. On nights where we don’t hit shots, we stop playing our game, which is forcing the issue. <span> <br /><br /></span></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">The Cavs got beat up on the inside a little in Utah. Really, Andy was battling by himself. I almost felt sorry for him. He really had nobody to support him. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">So we’re also still waiting for someone to step up and be that solid backup to Varejao. Andy’s still playing out of position – he’s basically a power forward. And so we need to find a solid rock in that middle. You don’t want to slow his development down by force-feeding him. Right now, between Semih and Samardo, somebody needs to step up. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">Samardo has struggled on and off this year, but he just has to hang in there. Every dog has his day. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">And so far, I love what I’ve seen from Tristan. He’s got so much upside, it’s silly. He needs to work on his jumper – that little 15-footer. But he’s got everything else. He just has to develop that. He’s definitely got the upside you want in a young player. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">Tristan is learning how he fits in, where he fits in. And around the basket, he seems to know what he has to do. <span> </span>One thing he’ll learn is: when he grabs a rebound, instead of bringing it down to reload and dunk, you don’t bring it down. You make the layup. When you bring it down, guys are all over you. (This is the pros now.)<span>  </span>You need to catch it and put it back. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">As far as the other young buck, Kyrie, he’s been just as good – maybe better – than I thought he’d be after watching him on TV last season. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">He’s a quick learner. His defense is so much better than it was in those first two or three games. Once he learns that he’s the voice of the team, his leadership skills will come out more. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">The one thing he has to understand is the way we’re constructed now, he has to be the one setting the pace. And he has to be in-shape enough to push the ball at all times. Even on made baskets, you have to get that ball across the line, because that’s the advantage that we have. <span> <br /><br /></span></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">Just like the Miami Heat – when they play half-court, they lose their advantage. And that’s the way we are. In the half court, we lose our advantage. Our advantage is to get up and down the floor. Byron’s teams are built to use the defense to run. And we’re not quite doing that yet on a nightly basis. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">You can tell, Devin Harris was going at Kyrie, testing him. Then he realized that Kyrie could go around him, so he backed off the young man. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">But guys are going to go after him hard. He’s the number one pick, so of course they’re going to come after him. I remember when it happened to me. They were coming at me like I had stole something. But that’s what you expect. And that’s competition – and you welcome that competition. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">Being the No. 1 pick on what’s not a top team, YOU are the one who has to start making them a top team. And the point guard is the head of the snake. The team will follow the tone he sets. He’s only 19 years old. But pretty soon, he’ll recognize that he’s the alpha dog. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">After Phoenix, the Cavaliers wrap up the west coast trip with plenty of drama in L.A. You’ve got Mike Brown against Byron Scott. Coach Kuester. The 55-blowout in L.A. and the upset at The Q. You’ve got the No. 1 pick’s L.A. debut. You’ve got Kobe. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">And right now, we have to figure out a way to slow Kobe down. He’s on a tear right now and the offense is set up basically for him. When he as an off-night, they’re going to have a hard time winning. He does everything. And for his age, will he burn out by the end of the year. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">Friday night’s going to be quite an experience. <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed', sans-serif;"><font size="3">I’m expecting the Cavaliers to have a good shot at Thursday’s game in Phoenix. But if we can win one of these last two games, I’ll consider this trip a success.</font></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:83d58608-17b9-42be-bfd0-61b16b34595d On the Road Again http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_road-again Fri, 06 Jan 2012 18:11:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><img id="407afdf4-8345-4d12-b023-40530418f6d2" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/0/0/407afdf4-8345-4d12-b023-40530418f6d2.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" />Hey, Cavs fans back in Cleveland! It’s Austin, checking in from the road. What’s happening?</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">We’re just starting the team’s longest road trip of the year and looking to get a win on Friday night in Minnesota. We got off to somewhat of a rough start the other night in Toronto. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The young guys talked about not quite being ready for back-to-backs. That’s natural. <span> </span>I don’t think that they understood the preparation and how it goes.</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">What happens in a back-to-back is, once you break your sweat and you get going, it’s difficult – once you cool down at halftime – to get it regenerated again. And that could be just enough for you to lose the game. So you push yourself a little more and try to find that extra bit of juice. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But basically, they just had tired legs. You could tell. All their jumpers were short. They weren’t sharp with their movements. Defensively, they were slow. It’s just something that they need to figure out. Of course, wait til they get to the back-to-back-to-back. By that third night, it’s going to be a monster. You can kill yourself in the warm-ups. If you break a sweat in your warm-up, it can be tough to get it back.<br /> <br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Kyrie Irving had another rough night against Toronto. I don’t put much into his first game. That was mostly jitters. But Toronto is playing Kyrie a certain way. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">They do a lot of pick-and-rolls on the point guard position. And I think Kyrie has to understand: certain teams are going to treat him certain ways. And you have to be aware of that. And with Toronto – we haven’t seen this from any other team yet – they purposely try to put him in pick-and-rolls. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">As a rookie, teams are going to do that – they’re going to pick on you. So the better he gets at dealing with it, the less they’ll try it. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’m not worried about it. Kyrie’s a competitor, he makes adjustments. If he has a bad game, he’ll bounce back with a good one. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">He knows the game. And he’s starting to understand his teammates and where they like the ball. He gets Jamison the ball when he’s facing the basket, he gives Andy the ball with his back to the basket, he’s looking for Parker in the corner. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">He’s a young player that’s figuring it out. But a couple of the younger Cavs still haven’t gotten their season going. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Right now, for example, Omri is pressing. He wants to do well so badly, you can just see it. And it’s coming. He’s an active guy, he knows the game. But he wants it so bad that you almost root for him to get it done because he’s such a hard worker. It’s going to come, he just needs to relax. That’s all. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">As far as Samardo, he also needs to get it going. I think he needs to seize the opportunity. It doesn’t come but once – especially coming into the league the way he came into the league. When opportunity comes, you have to be ready to jump on it. And that’s what he needs to understand. It’s time to be on time, it’s time to be hard working and it’s time to go out there and produce. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">All of these young guys – and veterans – will figure out how to deal with life on a long road trip. You have to make sure you get your rest. You have to eat properly. Get into a routine and stick to your routine. If you shoot 20 minutes before every game, make sure you shoot 20 minutes before every game. Stay in your routine. The minute you get out of your routine, you start running into problems. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And they’ll find out, firsthand, that this is the way it has to be. If you’re playing a lot of minutes and not getting your rest or eating well, you’ll find out. You’ll find out by getting your butt kicked. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">This weekend should produce a couple of entertaining games. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">On Friday night in Minnesota, you have the No. 1 pick, you’ve got Rubio and you’ve got the No. 2 pick. And you’ve got, what I call, the best stat-producer in the league in Kevin Love. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">He’s just a phenomenon – a guy who can score inside, rebound and shoot the three. What’s going to have to happen is the Cavs are going to have a very strong idea on how to defend him. What he’ll do is drift outside and if your big men don’t come with him, you end up with a small forward on him. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">It’ll be interesting to see how we defend him. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">As far as Portland, that’s going to be a tough, tough game. They’ve done a great job of retooling the team. A great job. They have good athletes outside, good athletes inside. They can defend you now. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">That team is going to be tough for the long haul if they stay healthy. And the Cavs are going to have to bring it on Sunday night to beat them.</font></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:32e35417-7ea9-4bb4-aafc-e61f4da79d2c Grand Central http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_grand-central Wed, 28 Dec 2011 16:34:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/2/7/e25b970c-77d1-444b-87e7-0dcce43d543d.Full.jpg" target="_blank" title="Click here to view this image at full size in another window..."><img id="e25b970c-77d1-444b-87e7-0dcce43d543d" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/2/7/e25b970c-77d1-444b-87e7-0dcce43d543d.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" /></a>Hey Cavalier fans! It’s A.C., checking in from the Motor City. What’s happening?</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">We’re one game into the season and already on our first road trip. It should be a pair of tough Central Division battles. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">First some thoughts from the opener …</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Kyrie performed pretty well in his first game as a pro. I thought that getting used to the real pace of the game caught him a little bit by surprise. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I tried to tell him that before the game – it’s not going to be the same pace as preseason. But I think the pace surprised him a little bit. When he started missing his shot, he looked like he lost a little bit of confidence. But, hey, missing shots is just something that happens when you’re playing 82 (or even 66) games. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">In time, Kyrie’s going to find out: To be a professional, you still have to continue to play, because you have a major role on this team. And the team plays off of you. So you have to continue to play regardless of how your offensive game is going.</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Tristan Thompson looked very solid on Monday night. He came out and just <strong>played</strong>. He knows his way around the basket and he doesn’t mind mixing it up. He has good instincts, good reflexes. And he’s very strong around that basket. He may not block a lot of shots just yet, but he’ll change a ton of shots.</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Another guy who impressed me the other night was Alonzo Gee. There was a lot of focus on that hard fall, but the rest of his game was the real story. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">In terms of that spill, I want fans to understand one thing: You have to be a <strong>great</strong> athlete just to survive a fall like that. The one thing that saved him was he didn’t put his arms down to break his fall. He broke it with his shoulders. Bogut got hurt that way; Kobe got hurt that way. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Alonzo put in a lot of hard work this offseason. They sent him away after the season with one thing on his mind – and that’s to improve his jump shot, which he’s done. He has much more air under the ball now, it’s a softer shot. He does everything else pretty well. He defends you, he runs the floor. He can pass the ball. He does a lot of good things. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">So to see Alonzo improve like that it’s just a testament to his hard work and his willingness to change. And I love to see it because I like the young man. He’s a good guy. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And I have to mention the job Ramon Sessions did. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Sessions is a point guard and he knows <strong>how to be</strong> a point guard. He knows when to back it out when the team is in scrambles, he knows when they need a basket. Watching him orchestrate the other night was beautiful. He’s really starting to understand what he’s doing from the point guard position. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Ramon is a real quiet guy. But I see him talking to Kyrie all the time, especially before the game and during warm-ups. It’s going to be a great partnership because it’s going to bring Sessions out of his cocoon as well. He doesn’t say much, but now he’s got to step up and guide a young guy. That’s going to help his career as well, I think.</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">With a pair of tough games this week, there’s a couple things I’d like to see. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’d like to see us come out and handle the pick-and-roll better. That was the difference on Monday – the way we handled it. We need to get back to communicating on defense. <strong>We have to communicate better.</strong> And that was the main reason we were having problems – because we weren’t communicating. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I attribute it to opening night jitters. The coaching staff preaches communication, and if you go out there and don’t do it, I see it as a matter of the bright lights getting to you a little. But you have to make your adjustments moving forward. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Indiana is one of the most improved teams in the league, and that’s going to be a test on Friday. That team plays hard and plays strong. They have good starters and a good bench. They have good size and balance. (And what I mean by balance is that they have everyone playing in their natural positions.) You have to have guys in their natural position to have good chemistry. Tyler Hansbrough’s turned into a double-double guy off the bench. So, they have a lot of weapons and it’s going to be a tough contest. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">These are tough clubs. I don’t want to see any smiles this week. No smiling against these two teams. </font></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:b4c707a8-d9e8-4ef4-b9a8-6f0ffc211507 Kyrie and High Handoffs http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_kyrie-high-handoffs Sun, 18 Dec 2011 20:38:00 GMT In a short period of time, we've come to see how unselfish of a basketball player Kyrie Irving is...yes, you'd expect your point guard to be so, but he truly is a pass first, shoot second kind of player...you can see it in his make up...<br /><br />For example, he threw 4 lobs in the Wine and Gold scrimmage, a pass that Chris Paul throws so well...it takes some skill, timing and anticipation...Kyrie says he has thrown that pass as long as he can remember, even to fellow 8th graders who could not even dunk...he knows that pass gets his teammates involved, not to mention the crowd...he threw 3 of them to Omri in the scrimmage...it's a great way to reward his big guys for playing D, or just flat out running the floor...<br /><br />And we can all imagine in the near future, Kyrie sending high handoffs in the direction of Tristan Thompson...not only can the rookie from Texas get off the floor with that 7'4 wingspan, but he runs like a deer...Kyrie says the art is making a basketball play, then knowing where his teammates like the ball, right hand, left hand, or in Tristan's case above the square works fine...<br /><br />The duo will be well connected! <br /> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:eb1cf4ff-3413-40a3-946f-4431df90a493 Ready to Rumble http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_ready-rumble Fri, 16 Dec 2011 18:04:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><img id="9c7b35ef-b707-495b-bb84-7abcd74d06e3" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/12/11/9c7b35ef-b707-495b-bb84-7abcd74d06e3.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" />Hello, Cavalier fans! It’s A.C. – checking in (finally!) for the first time this season. It’s good to be back!</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">On Friday night, Cavs fans will get their first chance to see the No. 1 pick, Kyrie Irving, in action. I’ve had a chance to watch him in practice – and I’m impressed.</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I like the way he handles himself. He always goes at <strong>his</strong> speed – he’s never rushed. He’s not fast, but he’s very deceptive. He handles the ball exceptionally well and he goes to where he wants on the floor. And that, to me, is the key to any point guard at any level – the ability to get to where you want to get when you want to go there. And he can do that. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">He’s a pass-first type of point guard, but he can score. And so, when the offense breaks down, if he’s got the ball in his hands, he’s the guy to keep things flowing. He’s just a solid player. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Of course, like most rookies, he’s got a lot to learn. He’s making a <strong>HUGE</strong> jump. Now, he won’t be playing against high school stars, he’ll be going against the best in the world – guys like Chris Paul. So, it’ll be a different world for him. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Kyrie won’t have the huge pressure of being the top overall pick. It’s not like it used to be. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">When I was No. 1, they gave me the ball and said, “Go do it <strong>NOW</strong>.” It was a different mindset. I think the mindset now is: “Work him into it. Let him get his feet wet.” But I think he’s ready for the challenge. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’ll also be very curious to watch Tristan Thompson – the Cavs <em>second </em>first rounder – in action, as well. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I love the kid. He’s a very physical player, he runs the floor really well. The kid has a lot of energy. He’s got to work on his jumpshot a little bit. But every other part of the game, he plays well. He’s got a very quick jumper and he covers a lot of ground laterally. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’m anxious to see Tristan and Andy on the floor together. There’s not going to be much room out there with those two guys. They can both cover a lot of space. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The rookies aren’t the only ones who’ll have an adjustment period. With the short training camp after months off, guys may not have their “game-legs” right away. That’s going to be the biggest thing. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Once training camp is over, it’s much different from when the lights come on for real. When the bright lights come on, your adrenaline is pumping, your nervous system is at work. Everything is working – and that takes energy from you. So it’s going to take the league a while. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The established teams will get off to a better start than young teams or teams making a transition. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The way the vets and young guys mesh is going to interesting. We have enough guys that understand the system from last year. And that’ll help. But our leaders are young, and that’s where Jamison and Andy need to step up.<span>  </span>Because the one thing about a quick season like this – if you get going on a negative roll, it’s hard to come out of it, because you don’t have the practice time to straighten it out. The games just keep coming. As best you can, you need to stay out of those long negative periods. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The guys I’m curious to see are, naturally, Alonzo Gee, Samardo, Ryan Hollins. All the guys who were here last year – I want to see who’s going to step up and who worked to take their game to another level. Those are going to be your keepers. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Byron Scott will see if these guys fit his system and have the mindset. You can see Coach Scott’s footprint on the team. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">First of all, there’s an up-tempo pace with an emphasis on defense. They want to use their defense to run more. So you have to get guys understanding that if you execute on the defensive end, you can have fun on the offensive end. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">A perfect example is Detroit, where they’re trying to establish that mentality right now. They’re trying to make their guys understand that they must play defense first. It’s hard to change that culture with a short training camp and a short season. Our guys have already had a year under their belt with Coach Scott. They understand what he’s looking for and they can bring along the young guys – explain it to them. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">I’m expecting this team to make strides. Maybe not big strides, but we should make some strides early in the season. And getting guys like Andy back will be huge. Because our last year our interior defense was a big problem. Andy and Jamison being healthy is going to make a huge difference.</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">If we get our interior defense together, we get more rebounding and shot-blocking and we get more breaks, more chances to run. Everything improves with improved interior defense. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">What this team needs to avoid in the early-going is a negative trend, like last season. In other words, develop the mentality that if you lose two in a row, that third game you’re going to fight, scratch and claw to get that third game. <strong>Never</strong> drop three straight. That’s the mentality you have to have as you climb the ladder towards a championship contender. After two games, you should be ready to kill the world. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">With only two preseason games, I’d like to see that the guys are getting used to the system and getting their feet wet – understanding each other. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">When the bright lights come on, guys play different. And so everybody has to understand that, especially the point guard and the guys who run stuff. They need to understand that when the lights come on, guys slip into their comfort zone. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> </font></span> <p style="margin:0in 0in 0pt;" class="MsoNoSpacing"><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br />Come out and establish yourself early. Don’t be gun shy. And let’s see where the preseason takes us. </font></span></p> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:da4184b8-2df7-4f9d-9f69-25cccfc763af 381 Memorable Minutes http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_381-memorable-minutes Thu, 15 Dec 2011 17:08:00 GMT <span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><img id="eb9a1278-40b9-4998-b91d-da1a8488e4c0" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/11/9/eb9a1278-40b9-4998-b91d-da1a8488e4c0.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" />Over the extended offseason, Cavs.com did a revolving feature called “Blast from the Past” – looking back through some of the unique aspects of Cavs history. The last installment was called “Journeyman’s Gallery.” It detailed some of the players who made a big splash during a small window of Cavaliers basketball. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">On Wednesday night, the Cavaliers waived guard Baron Davis, designating him as the team’s amnesty player. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"><br />In his short stint in Cleveland, the two-time All-Star played in 15 games, nine starts, for a total of 381 minutes. But there’s no denying: Even in a 19-win season, Baron Davis’ 381 minutes packed a punch.</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">On the first day of this year’s training camp, Coach Bryon Scott asserted that, in terms of the best mentor for Kyrie Irving: “You’re looking at him.” And after not practicing over the weekend, the 32-year-old Davis was absent on Media Day – getting a second opinion on what turned out to be an L2-3 bulging disk in his back. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">So when the news of Davis’ departure came down on Wednesday evening, few were surprised. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">But unlike some of the situations Baron left behind, the native southern Californian left nothing but good vibrations in Cleveland – repairing his relations with Byron Scott in the process. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">“I love Cleveland – I love the fans, I love my teammates and this organization has been a great organization for me and my transition,” said Davis, in what turned out to be his last meeting with local media. “I just appreciate each and every moment that I’m here working out in these facilities and being with my teammates.”</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Coach Scott, who butted heads with Baron in the Big Easy, shared that love when asked about No. 85 on Wednesday. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">“I love Baron,” said Scott. “But I also want the best for him and I also want the best for this team and this organization.”</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Davis – along with the lottery pick that eventually became Kyrie Irving – came to Cleveland at the Trade Deadline in exchange for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon. He arrived with career averages of 16.5 points and 7.3 assists per game over 801 contests. Among all active players, he ranked fourth (behind Jason Kidd, Steve Nash and Andre Miller) in total assists.</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">In his 15 games with Cavaliers, he averaged 13.9 points and 6.1 assists per. But here’s where his numbers depart from his brief run with the Wine and Gold.</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Baron Davis came to Cleveland during one of the most difficult seasons in franchise history. In his first contest, a March 4 classic against the Knicks at the Garden, David made his debut by leading Cleveland to a thrilling 119-115 win – its 11<sup>th</sup> straight over New York. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">In his first game in a Cavs uniform, Davis came off the bench to notch 18 points and five assists in 26 minutes of action. He went 4-for-7 from long-distance in the win – but no trey was bigger than the bomb with 10.9 seconds remaining that put the win on ice. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">After Davis canned that huge three-pointer, he pointed demonstratively at Coach Scott, who pumped his fists in a rare display of emotion.</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">After leaving the team to be with his family after the passing of his grandmother in Los Angeles, Baron returned to lead the Cavaliers to a 6-6 mark over their last dozen games – no small feat considering the team had lost 26 straight before the Deadline deal. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Davis further endeared himself on March 29, when he helped the Cavaliers avenge an embarrassing early-season loss to the Heat. In that 102-90 watershed win, Davis canned a bomb to end the first quarter to curb an 8-0 Miami run and sunk a late basket to deflate the eventual Eastern Conference champs.</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">The Cavaliers averaged over 10 points more per contest (101.4 vs. 91.1) in Baron’s nine starts. And no player embodied the improved mindset and mentality than Ryan Hollins – Baron’s fellow Bruin – whose entire attitude changed after the trade. Just ask Dwyane Wade.</font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Nate Thurmond played just 114 games with the Cavaliers. Ben Wallace played 78 games, Joe Smith, 48, and Flip Murray, 28. Those players made the most of their time in Cleveland, as did Davis. Cavalier fans remember that. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">Clevelanders loves players that like them back. And they can smell a carpetbagger or a guy who doesn’t want to be here. (See Clyde Frazier, 66 games.) Cleveland sports fans can dish out the disdain with the best of ‘em. But we also appreciate a player who appreciates us. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">And it shouldn’t be underestimated that Baron is a well-respected veteran and will spread his impressions of Cleveland throughout the league. Word of mouth is a bigger factor in free agency than many people think. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> <br /><br /></font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3">On Friday night, the Cavaliers turn the car keys over to 20-year-old Kyrie Irving. Baron had them for only 15 games last year. But it was a heck of a short ride. </font></span><span style="font-family:'Tw Cen MT Condensed','sans-serif';"><font size="3"> </font></span> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:e5bc4f87-589d-4ea0-828b-6cadb0577198 Hoops Come to Canton http://www.cavfanatic.com/blogs/from_deep_in_the_q/_hoops-come-canton Mon, 03 Oct 2011 18:11:00 GMT <a href="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/2/8/8208e885-2dbb-4735-b838-e163058f80fb.Full.jpg" target="_blank" title="Click here to view this image at full size in another window..."><img id="8208e885-2dbb-4735-b838-e163058f80fb" src="http://pluck.cavfanatic.com/ver1.0/Content/images/store/2/8/8208e885-2dbb-4735-b838-e163058f80fb.Large.jpg" alt="blog post photo" align="right" /></a>Welcome to the grand opening of the new-look CavFanatic and our new shared blog – “From Deep in The Q.” <p><br />Hardcore hoops fans are starting to feel that itch as fall inches slowly towards winter. </p><p><br />Luckily, pro basketball is coming to Northeast Ohio in the coming weeks – that in the form of the yet-to-be-named Canton D-League squad. </p><p><br />The Cavaliers are part of a growing NBA trend of teams owning and operating their own D-League team. The league itself has grown as a viable farm system for the NBA. By the end of the 2010-11 season, 23 percent of NBA players had spent time in the NBA D-League. </p><p><br />Canton’s season will consist of 50 games – 24 home, 24 away and two games at the D-League Showcase. Canton opens the Civic Center against last year’s champs, the Iowa Energy, on Nov. 25 and plays its next three – and nine of the first 13 – on the corner of Market and 12th. They’ll face their former team, the Erie Bayhawks, five times and the Fort Wayne Mad Ants seven. </p><p><br />(The BayHawks are now owned and operated by the Knicks, and they’re already looking forward to facing off against Canton. Erie head coach, Jay Larranaga has already stated: “I'm excited about having that rivalry with (Canton).") </p><p><br />The Canton team has yet to select its own first head coach, although they do have their GM – Wes Wilcox. </p><p>Wilcox feels that Canton’s coach will share the Cavaliers philosophy. </p><p><br />“At the end of the day, there’s going to be great synergy with the technical aspects that are being taught in Canton and the basketball system of the Cavs,” said Canton’s newly-minted general manager. “The coach we hire will spend time to be integrated into the Cavs basketball philosophy under Coach Scott and his staff. That’s what you’ll see in Canton.” </p><p><br />Wilcox has been with the Cavaliers for the past eight years and is currently the team’s Director of Player Personnel. In his first year with the Cavs, Wes was the team’s advance game scout, a position he held for four seasons. He moved on to become the team’s college and pro personnel scout for three seasons and was named director of player personnel in September 2010. </p><p><br />Wilcox has three methods for assembling the Canton club that takes the floor in seven weeks. </p><p><br />First, Canton will retain the rights to 17 players – anybody who played for New Mexico over the past two seasons who wasn’t on an NBA roster last season. </p><p><br />The second is the NBDL Draft, which takes place in early November and consists of eight rounds that are picked in serpentine format. Players eligible for the Draft must already have a signed contract with the league. (Teams don’t sign players in the D-League. They’re signed by the league, itself.) </p><p><br />The Draft could consist of college kids who weren’t drafted, former NBA players (who’ve been out of the league at least one year) or free agents who’ve played in Europe. </p><p><br />The third method is through local tryouts, where as many as five players can be signed by the league for Canton to choose from. The two tryouts will take place over the next two weekends – with the first on Oct. 8 and 9 at St. Ignatius High School and the second, on Oct. 15 and 16, at McKinley’s Memorial Field House. </p><p><br />From these three pools, Canton’s new club will be chosen. The team will invite 17 players to Training Camp, whittle that down to a dozen after one week, and go to battle against Iowa with just 10 players. </p><p><br />And as in the coaching search, Wilcox will be looking for players who fit the Cavaliers paradigm. </p><p><br />“Our core, guiding organizational characteristics have been set forth by Chris (Grant) and Dan (Gilbert) – beyond basketball – as hard-working, intelligent, loyal, humble, driven,” explained Wilcox. </p><p><br />Wes and Co. are putting the pieces together, and the NBDL’s newest franchise is moving full steam ahead. And the roster, which is currently being built, might just include some lucky local baller. </p><p><br />Either way, pro basketball is coming to central Stark County. And in this autumn of discontent, that’s some welcome good news. </p><hr /> Blog:50474532-5dcc-400f-85ed-c5d702690f6aPost:c2ed630e-8df9-4705-9de1-cf726c803cb8