Random thoughts and takes on a variety of subjects…
1. The Cavaliers are back to work tonight in Toronto with a chance to prove they’re no one-hit wonder. Winning on the road is never easy, especially since the Raptors already have a home loss and need this one badly, and the Cavaliers likely won’t have Anderson Varejao. But the Raptors stink — it was with careful consideration that I ranked them 30th of 30 in my NBA power rankings — and if the Cavaliers are going to win a decent number of road games this season, these are the ones they have to get. They’d better get this one, too, because Saturday’s opponent is a young and dangerous Sacramento team that gets Tyreke Evans back tonight and will come to The Q thinking it can win. What would 3-0 mean heading into Tuesday’s home game against Atlanta? In the long run it would mean a whole lot of nothing, but it sure would be fun.
2. With Varejao out, the Cavaliers have extra work to do at the defensive end and on the glass. Ryan Hollins brings athleticism and experience and will hold his own; he’ll be fine against Toronto’s finesse big guys and up-tempo mentality. The Cavaliers will need a consistent effort from J.J. Hickson (not just tonight, but all season) and will need Antawn Jamison earlier and more often than they did against Boston. Byron Scott likes his team’s depth, and he hopes he’ll get Mo Williams back and quality minutes from Jamison, Jawad Williams and (a few from) Leon Powe in trying to build a real roll.
3. Sizing up the sports-viewing weekend: Two Cavs games; no Browns game; a terrible Ohio State game that airs instead of USC-Oregon; a tough, healthy and mad-as-all-heck Dolphins team coming to play a Bengals team that lacks, um, everything; a dangerous game for UC against upstart (but still terribly low on talent) Syracuse; and Joshua Cribbs gets his number retired by Kent State. So, a decent menu when you take into account two World Series games, a bunch of good national-interest college football games at 3:30 Saturday and a good Sunday nighter with the Saints trying to redeem themselves against the Steelers. I’ll have my guaranteed-to-lose football picks Saturday morning.
4. If you’ve never been (and even if you have), I’d recommend the trip to Massillon Paul Brown Tiger Stadium Saturday afternoon for the annual Massillon-McKinley game. Though there’s going to be a ton of talent on the field, it’s much more than a high school football game. Even in the years Bill Clinton doesn’t stop by, as he’s doing tomorrow to drum up votes for Democratic candidates next week, it’s a cultural experience and a sight to behold. Massillon’s stadium and adjacent facilities are NFL-level nice, and with decent weather expected there aren’t many better ways to spend a Saturday afternoon. It will be a large crowd but probably not a sellout. Kickoff is at 2 p.m.
5. If you can’t make it that far south, I’d recommend Kent and the ceremony for Cribbs. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend the Kent-Ball State football game, but Cribbs is the type of guy truly humbled by this type of honor and Kent is proud to have Cribbs call it home. In an era where athletes don’t always endear themselves to fans — and more importantly, kids who worship their every move — Cribbs is a genuine, straight-forward, class act. He’ll sign autographs, tell people thanks and actually mean it, and is more than willing give his time and energy to a variety of causes and people he believes in. A tip of the cap, Josh, for a job well done for a long time.