On the first day of training camp, Cavaliers coach Mike Brown was talking hockey.
Sound strange? Not if you ask Brown, who made the Cavs' offense his focus when speaking to reporters on media day.
"We have a new hockey team coming to town (the Lake Erie Monsters of the IHL), and I believe in the hockey assist," Brown said.
In case you're unfamiliar with the sport, a "hockey assist" is the pass before the pass that leads to a goal -- or in the case of the Cavs, a basket. Brown and the Cavs will actually be keeping track of the stat this season.
"It's even more important to me than a regular assist," Brown said.
No kidding? Why?
Brown explains: "The first penetration on offense beats the defense; the second KILLS the defense." Hence, the pass before the assist is what matters most. Or something.
In the event this is all a little too complicated, just know that Brown began camp by excitedly talking about the Cavs' offense -- which may even be stranger than him talking about hockey.
After all, even with a superstar like LeBron James, the fact the Cavs are defending Eastern Conference champs is mostly the result of their defense. And Brown will be the first to tell you that.
But on media day, he repeated a sentiment initially expressed during the Finals loss to San Antonio -- that he wants the Cavs to become "a more opportunistic" and fast-breaking team.
"We have to be more efficient on the offensive end of the floor," Brown said. "We need better spacing, better ball movement, all that stuff"
How excited was Brown about the offense? So much that he walked reporters onto the court at the team's new practice facility in Independence and called for a ball. He then stationed the reporters in different positions on the floor to give them an idea of what he was talking about.
By the time he was finished, everyone had a better understanding of how Brown plans to implement hockey into the team's basketball future.
And if the players catch on quickly, who knows? The Cavaliers could turn into Monsters.
Cavs fans need not worry. Their superstar isn't about to let the team rest on last season's success, which consisted of the Finals appearance in the franchise's 37-year history.
"It's going to take a little bit more on our part to get back to where we were last season," James said. "No matter how much success you've had in the past … no one is gonna care."
At the same time, James said he's not overly concerned about the improvements made by conference opponents, specifically mentioning the idea that Boston is expected to be much better after the additions of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
"Everyone has to rekindle the flame in their own (way)," he said. "But we're already here. We're the defending (conference) champs."
In other words, it's the Cavs' turn to be the team everyone is trying to knock off, and with that comes a little bit of confidence.
Finally, James also addressed the situation involving forward Anderson Varejao and guard Sasha Pavlovic, neither of whom was in camp the first day. Both are restricted free agents who are trying to get better deals than the one-year qualifying offer the Cavs have on the table.
James was adamant about the need for something to be done.
"We need those two guys on this team," he said more than once. "I hope everything goes right and we can get them here soon."
CAVS QUICK HITS
* New shooting guard Devin Brown, signed as a free agent from New Orleans, could take Pavlovic's minutes. Brown is effective at either guard position and averaged 11.6 points last season with the Hornets. He also played for the Spurs when Mike Brown was an assistant under Gregg Popovich. "I told my agent, 'We gotta get to the playoffs,'" Devin Brown said. "I wanted to play for a contender, so this is a good place to be."
* Meanwhile, second-year forward Cedric Simmons also played for the Hornets, and came to the Cavs in a trade for guard David Wesley. Simmons was drafted with the No. 15 pick overall but played little last season (43 games, 2.5 points, 2.9 rebounds). He said he spoke to Mike Brown and Danny Ferry on the day of the trade, and that the Cavs will ask him to "block shots, play defense, and run the floor well."
* Another camp invitee who has an outside shot to make the team -- shooting guard Hassan Adams, a rookie with New Jersey last season. Adams was a big-time college player at Arizona, but may be too much of a tweener for the NBA. He's basically a forward in a shooting guard's body. Adams played in 61 games last year and averaged 2.9 points.
* Mike Brown laughed when a reporter suggested that the Cavs snuck up on opponents on their way to the Finals last season. "Who didn't know we were coming?" Brown asked. "I don't know if we snuck up on anyone. Everyone knows the schedule. And everyone in our locker room expected to be where we were (in the Finals)."
Sam Amico has covered the NBA for various Web sites, newspapers and magazines for 13 years, and is the editor of ProBasketballNews.com. He is also a columnist for NBA Inside Stuff magazine and makes regular appearances on SportsTime Ohio. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.