It was the same Wine and Gold Scrimmage that has been a tradition at the University of Akron for years, except there was one thing missing: LeBron James.
The normally packed James A. Rhodes Arena only had 4,000 in attendance after their beloved player left the Cleveland Cavaliers to join the Miami Heat.
Further injuries to other players on the team left fans watching the likes of Ramon Sessions and Daniel Gibson. Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison and Anderson Varejao all missed out on playing in the scrimmage due to injury.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the scrimmage was the opportunity to see new Cavaliers Head Coach Byron Scott and what his team mentality entailed.
Both squads ran the ball up and down the court the entire game in an up-tempo fashion, contrary to the way the offense was run last year.
Guard Ramon Sessions stole the spotlight as he ran the court and made the players around him better. Sessions will be auditioning for a starting role in the 2010-11 season, and the scrimmage definitely put his name on the short list.
I won’t say I’m 100 percent comfortable; there are still some kinks I need to learn, Sessions said. But for the first time for us getting up and down, I thought we did a good job.
Guard Daniel Gibson also impressed many with his comfort in running Scott’s offensive sets. Gibson finished with seven points and two assists.
Ramon is comfortable, as is Boobie, Scott said. That’s the one thing about both teams is that they had good leaders out there. They are two of the guys that have a real good grasp of what we are doing right now.
Many Cavaliers will be trying out to make the team. Scott has faith in his veterans, but is not sure what the rest of the players are capable of.
We’ve got a game in a few days, and we still have some guys making the same mistakes they made day one, Scott said. We have to clean that up a little more.
Like I told them, I’m very simple: You have to play hard as hell for me, and you have to defend every single night. But you also have to understand what we’re doing on the offensive end.
The Wine team came out on top, winning the scrimmage by a count of 47-41, but the progression of the players is more important than the outcome of the game.
When the best three players on your team aren’t playing, you aren’t going to have the same outcome, but it was easier for Scott to look at the other players a little more in depth.
Obviously when the top three guys come back we are a much better basketball team, Scott said. In their absence we get a chance to look at some other guys a little bit closer.
The Wine and Gold Scrimmage was just the first taste of what Byron Scott will be doing at the helm of the Cavaliers. With a little help from a more team-based squad, the Cavs may still be a playoff contender.
Regardless of the outcome in the upcoming season, it will be strange to see a Cavs team minus number 23 on the court.