Archbishop Spalding boys' basketball coach Mike Glick and his summer league coach, Andy Sachs, are quick to point out that one player does not make a team -- or a program.
It is important for them to stress that this summer as the Cavaliers begin life without Rudy Gay, last winter's Washington Post All-Met player of the year and one of the nation's top recruits, bound for defending national champion Connecticut after weeks of speculation that he might declare for the NBA draft.
Glick points out that several players who are being recruited by Division I colleges are coming back to the team. Sachs adds that the private school in Severn won titles before Gay arrived.
"Our goals will still be the same," Glick said. "It will be just like losing any other senior, except for the fanfare."
The Cavaliers indeed still have talent and experience on their roster, but there will be some bumps in the road as they learn to play without the 6-foot-9 go-to player who scored 21.2 points per game last season. All that was apparent last weekend when the Cavaliers went 2-1 at the And 1 High School Basketball Championship's East Region II tournament at Run 'n' Shoot Athletic Center in District Heights.
Spalding lost to Crossland, 82-75, in its first game of the tournament but came back to defeat Roman Catholic High (Philadelphia), 46-45, and Woodlawn, 63-46.
"We're just trying to get ready for the fall," Sachs said. "We'll be fine."
The 2-1 record at the highly competitive tournament was encouraging, especially considering the Cavaliers' abridged roster. Junior Daniel Palumbo was out with an eye infection, junior Danny Quinn will not join the team until this week, and sophomore TomMario Davis was out with a sprained ankle.
The absence of the 6-3 Palumbo and the 6-7 Quinn in particular hurt the Cavaliers as they were dominated in rebounding, giving up numerous second-chance baskets, especially to Crossland.
"That's putting it nicely," Sachs said. "We're just small right now. We're missing our fourth-, fifth- and sixth-best players."
In their absence, however, the Cavaliers' three Division I recruits -- combo guard Justin Castleberry, shooting guard Marquis Sullivan and guard-forward Lawrence Dixon -- shined. The 6-2 Castleberry assumed most of the ball-handling responsibilities for the Cavaliers and was often effective in the open court against Crossland. He also played good defense, picking up a charge late in the first half and making several steals.
Sullivan (6-0), the Cavaliers' second-leading scorer last year with 9.9 points per game, showed he could score inside and out. He hit several jumpers and made an acrobatic reverse layup late in the loss to Crossland.
The 6-5 Dixon, meanwhile, is "an emerging talent" who can create matchup problems, according to Glick.
"I feel very, very confident about our guards," Glick said.
Also helping out will be several players who will move up from last year's junior varsity team, which finished 29-3. Among them is 6-1 junior Matt Cassilly, a standout soccer and lacrosse player. "He never gets tired," Glick said. "He's a phenomenal defensive player. He's all over the court."
These talented components, however, will need some time to jell and learn new roles. While fatigue due to the limited roster was certainly partly to blame when the Cavaliers blew a 15-point second-half lead against Crossland, there seemed to be some uncertainty down the stretch as to who would take the big shots.
"The big difference is getting a bucket in the clutch," Castleberry said after the Crossland game. "We always would go to Rudy. Now we need to find our go-to scorer or go-to play. I think it kind of showed today. . . . We just need to get a better flow for each other in game situations."
Once that happens, Glick expects his players to blossom in Gay's absence.
"I think it will be kind of relaxing for the kids and the coaching staff to return to some normalcy," Glick said. "They're high school kids, so every year is different, and every year is unique, but I don't think we'll be impacted other than there won't be as much fanfare and media attention."
Glick said next year's teams will look more like his previous 10 squads at Spalding and Pallotti, with balanced scoring and multiple threats.
"This will be my 12th year coaching, and I've only had three players in that time score over 17 points per game, and only two score over 20 points per game," Glick said. "So we're returning to the style that my teams usually play. We'll play ball control. We'll spread the ball. Not that we were selfish last year, but Rudy was such a talent that we had to get him the ball."
Despite the graduation of Gay, his presence last year and the attention he and Spalding received have made the Cavaliers a team that opponents relish the chance to beat.
"Teams definitely know who we are," Castleberry said. "We definitely get everybody's best effort."