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News » Dream team . . . 90 minutes away

Dream team . . . 90 minutes away

Dream team . . . 90 minutes away
As the fan with the best seats in The Q, Steve Demetriou has ample time to chat with Cava-

liers coach Mike Brown. He sits elbow-to-elbow with the Cleveland coach during every home game, and sometimes uses his access to the team tactician to make suggestions for what the Cavaliers should do.

Because the Cavaliers have surged to start the season, there aren't many areas of their game that need improvement. So Demetriou has angled his advice in another direction.

"Lately, it's been about how I would love for him to send one of his young players down [to Erie] for 3, 4 games," Demetriou said, chuckling.

After all, the Erie BayHawks would undoubtedly benefit from one of the Cavaliers' young players at the end of the bench joining the NBA D-League squad.

And Demetriou has a vested interest in the success of the BayHawks. The chairman and chief executive of Beachwood-based Aleris International is the majority owner of the first-year NBADL team about 90 minutes away, and wouldn't mind a player or two with an NBA contract to boost Erie for a bit.

For now, it's just a wink-and-a-nod suggestion from Demetriou, but the possibility that the Cavaliers will use the BayHawks as the kind of genuine minor-league feeder system it's intended to be is more legitimate than in years past.

With its NBADL affiliate closer to Cleveland than it has ever been and with the two teams sharing a strong partnership that stretches from the owner to the coach to local players, the BayHawks figure to be a prominent part of the Cavaliers player development for years to come.

"We're making it a very strong partnership," Cavaliers General Manager Danny Ferry said.

Though the BayHawks have affiliation with both Cleveland and the Philadelphia 76ers - meaning that both NBA teams can designate players to the team - the Cavaliers have been involved with the formation of the Erie squad from its inception. Demetriou bought the team after searching for a site in a market near Cleveland.

He asked for the Cavaliers' input in finding a coach, and Ferry suggested hiring John Treloar, a former LSU assistant coach. Treloar joined the Cavaliers staff at summer league games in Las Vegas, and was on hand for Cleveland's training camp this fall. The BayHawks even use a variation of the Cavaliers' defensive scheme to help ease the transition between the two teams if players are called up or sent down.

"To me, this is exactly what we had hoped for and dreamed about, is to be able to have an NBA D-League team that is close in proximity but far enough away that it really doesn't compete," Demetriou said. "They complement each other."

That complementary partnership is what Ivan Harris is counting on. The 6-7 former Ohio State forward turned down an offer to return to Finland, where he earned a comfortable salary last year as one of two American players on the roster. He opted, instead, to play for the Erie BayHawks, which is close to his Springfield, Ohio, hometown but also pays much less.

The difference is that the NBADL is the most-scouted Basketball league in the world. NBA scouts scour the teams for possible additions to their squads, while keeping an eye on players on NBA contracts who have been designated to the league. Last season, 18 players were called up from NBADL teams to the NBA, the most players in the league's seven-year existence.

"It's easier to be noticed," Harris said. "It's hard for [NBA] guys to see you overseas, definitely if you didn't get drafted. I figured it'd be a better look for me as far as an NBA team to see how well I'm developing my game."

The game is different, too, and Harris knows that if he wants to play in the NBA, he's going to have to play the NBA style.

"It's a lot more physical over here," Harris said. "In the NBADL, we run a lot. And it's just mind-boggling how much more thinking there is."

The increased level of brain power probably has something to do with the fact that the BayHawks essentially run the same defense as the Cavaliers, thanks to the two teams' close partnership. The BayHawks' focus on defense falls in line with the Cavaliers coach Brown's emphasis on slowing opponents.

"We've created an atmosphere where those guys can come down, come on the floor and play and try to keep them in a system that's reinforcing what they're running and learning there, especially on the defensive end," Treloar said.

"Obviously, on the offensive end you have to build around whatever it is you have, and we don't have LeBron James, so we're not going to run the same exact offense they do. But on the defensive end we're going to try to do what they do, and do it in a way that doesn't cause the 76ers to feel like they're being in any way pushed to the side."

It's a delicate line Erie must tiptoe while accommodating both teams' players. Eventually, NBA officials expect each of the 30 NBA teams to have their own NBADL counterparts to form a true minor-league system.

But the way that the Cavaliers are partnering with the BayHawks this season, it might already be a legitimate minor-league system for the NBA.

"Yes," Ferry said. "Absolutely."

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-4654


Getting closer to home

The Cavaliers have had a different NBADL affiliate every year since NBA teams began partnering with minor-league squads from the league. With the formation of the Erie BayHawks, however, Cleveland has found a nearby affiliate.

Year Team

2005-06 Arkansas RimRockers

2006-07 Albuquerque Thunderbirds

2007-08 Rio Grande Valley Vipers

2008-09 Erie BayHawks


NBADL working with the NBA


A player assignment can happen only to NBA players in their first or second seasons. Each NBA team can assign no more than two NBA players at one time to play with its affiliated Development League team. A player can stay with the D-League for as long as the NBA team wishes, and be recalled at any time. A player can be sent to the D-League only three times during the season. Since the inception of the assignment system, NBA teams have assigned 76 players a total of 130 times.


Not just a call-up, a Gatorade Call-Up is the official name for any D-League player signed by an NBA team. Since the league's inception, 73 players have earned 119 Gatorade Call-Ups. Some notable current NBA players who are among those 73 players include: Rafer Alston, Kelenna Azubuike, Matt Carroll, Mikki Moore, Bobby Simmons and Ime Udoka.


BayHawks roster

Cliff Clinkscales Pos. Ht. Wt. George Washington

Player Pos. Ht. Wt. College

Tejay Anderson




Youngstown State

Geary Claxton




Penn State

Cliff Clinkscales





Erik Daniels





Jarvis Gunter




Ark.-Pine Bluff

Ivan Harris




Ohio State

Oliver Lafayette





Jackie Manuel




North Carolina

Taj McCullough





Maureece Rice




George Washington

Coach: John Treloar. Assistant: Benjamin McDonald


The BayHawks

Arena: Louis J. Tullio Arena, 809 French St., Erie, Pa.; capacity 6,000.

Office: 110 East Eighth St., Erie, Pa. 16501

Phone: 814-790-5600.

Web site:

Single-game tickets range in price from $10 to $40.


Home Schedule

Note All games start at 7 p.m., unless noted.

Saturday Reno Bighorns

Sunday Bakersfield Jam

Wed., Jan. 7 Albuquerque T-Birds, 6:30

Friday, Jan. 9 Fort Wayne Mad Ants

Saturday, Jan. 10 Iowa Energy

Wed., Jan 14 Anaheim Arsenal

Thurs., Jan. 22 Sioux Falls Skyforce

Saturday, Jan. 24 Iowa Energy

Sunday, Jan. 25 Iowa Energy

Wednesday, Feb. 4 Idaho Stampede

Monday, Feb. 9 Utah Flash

Thursday, Feb. 26 Dakota Wizards

Fri., Feb. 27 Rio Grande Valley Vipers

Thursday, Mar. 5 Tulsa 66ers, 11 a.m.

Friday, Mar. 6 Sioux Falls Skyforce

Sunday, Mar. 8 Sioux Falls Skyforce

Friday, Mar. 13 Dakota Wizards

Wednesday, Mar. 18 Austin Toros

Friday, Mar. 27 Colorado 14ers

Sun., Mar. 29 Los Angeles D-fenders, 2

Sat., Apr. 11 Fort Wayne Mad Ants

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: December 27, 2008


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