Cavs Out of Season, Not Out of Shape

Posted by Michael Glick on Jul 17 2002 at 05:00PM PDT
Cavs Out of Season, Not Out of Shape Spalding Shines in Summer Leagues By Heather A. Dinich Washington Post Staff Writer Thursday, July 18, 2002; Page AA16 It didn't matter that Spalding's Will Bowers was absent for the Cavaliers' recent summer league basketball game against Southern Maryland Athletic Conference powerhouse Lackey at Gwynn Park High School. Even with its top player missing and a team consisting of bench players and junior varsity athletes, Spalding easily handled the Chargers, 83-57. With and without their veterans, the Cavaliers have been consistent winners in two of the area's toughest summer leagues. Entering the week, Spalding was 7-3 in the Nike Swoosh League, which features tough competition mainly from Prince George's County, and 5-3 in the highly competitive Ban the Brick League, with includes local powers DeMatha and O'Connell. The Cavaliers gave DeMatha its first regular season summer loss in three years -- again without Bowers -- and are in playoff contention in both leagues. Although months removed from the regular season, Spalding is showing signs that it can compete with some of the best teams in the area. Still, Coach Mike Glick said winning is secondary in the summer. "We're worried about player development," said Glick, who led the Cavaliers to the combined Baltimore Catholic League/Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference regular season and tournament championships last season. "It gives the players an opportunity to play together, and in basketball, the more you play together the more you can learn each other's games and define roles on the team. Secondly, it gives our players an opportunity to see where their weaknesses lie and what they need to work on from August until November." Spalding's junior varsity team also won the MIAA title last season but doesn't have much experience playing against older athletes. Sophomore Lawrence Dixon, a 6-foot-4 small forward, is using the summer to ease his transition to the varsity level. "For me, personally, since I'm young, it helps me develop my leadership skills and my overall game," Dixon said. "It makes our bench a lot stronger during the regular season." According to assistant coach Ralph Burley, who coaches Spalding in the Nike Swoosh League, playing in two leagues gives the players a chance to face different styles of basketball. "At St. Albans [site of the Ban the Brick League], the kids are bigger, they run more, and the teams have more set plays," Burley said. "Gwynn Park is more up and down the court, more physical than some of the stuff at St. Albans. "One of the advantages [to playing in both leagues] is size. St. Albans, you can get a couple of 6-9, or seven-footers, and at Gwynn Park, the tallest guy might be 6-5, 6-6. Each league brings something different." Some Spalding players look for even more variety. Bowers, a senior center, and junior guard Jesse Brooks also compete for the Baltimore Select team. "If I didn't play, I'd lose everything," said Brooks, who is working to take over the leadership role vacated by recent graduate Landy Thompson. "It also gives me a chance to play with the new guys. The chemistry is better. We get a feel for each other during the summer. When the season comes around, we're just rolling." Sophomore Marquis Sullivan, last year's leading scorer on the junior varsity team with an average of 19.5 points per game, also plays for the 15-and-under AAU Baltimore Stars. "Summertime is essential because he's had so much success against players his own age," Glick said. "Playing against older players gives him a chance to recognize some of his limitations and what he needs to work on for next season." In most cases, the absence of one player benefits another. Bowers' commitment to other teams has given Spalding junior Jason Loughry more playing time. "My game has improved a lot," said Loughry, a 6-11 center. "Skills-wise, I'm a lot better. [When I get] the ball a lot, that gives me confidence because I know the team believes in me." © 2002 The Washington Post Company


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