With a crowd of airmen coming to watch, Heat preparing for opening scrimmage of camp

By Tim Reynolds, AP
Friday, October 1, 2010

Heat ready to have 1st full scrimmage of camp

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. — It’ll be the smallest crowd for a Miami Heat game all season. Still, Dwyane Wade expects his team to put on a show.

The Heat will have their first scrimmage of training camp Friday night, playing before a crowd of airmen at Hurlburt Field, the U.S. Air Force installation they’re calling home for a week of intense workouts.

Team rosters will change often and play will get stopped as coach Erik Spoelstra sees fit, but it’ll at least be game-like.

“I will be so happy,” forward Udonis Haslem said, adding a few extra o’s to ’so’ for emphasis. “I’m looking forward to it. We’ve got a lot of guys here and everybody’s picking up the offense and the defensive assignments well. But it’s like one-play-in, one-play-out, hard to get a real sweat going and get yourself going. We’ll have an opportunity to go up and down the court.”

Unless the Heat change their schedule, the scrimmage will be the next-to-last workout Miami has in Florida’s Panhandle before returning home Sunday morning. The first preseason game is Tuesday against Detroit.

Most of the work Miami has done during camp has centered on defense, and that will be how Spoelstra evaluates the quality of Friday’s scrimmage as well. The Heat have had some sessions to start installing the offense, but the emphasis is clearly on the other end of the floor.

“It’ll be an open scrimmage,” Spoelstra said. “I know the guys will be looking forward just to getting out, getting out up-and-down where I don’t have a whistle to stop it.”

He’s right.

“It won’t be a game-feel now, of course not,” said Heat forward LeBron James, the NBA’s two-time reigning MVP. “But it will be an opportunity for us to get better.”

Airmen say having the Heat around has served as a big boost for morale, especially during a week where Hurlburt Field remembered the life of Senior Airman Daniel Sanchez, who died Sept. 16 after being injured serving in Afghanistan.

The Heat have had morale boosts as well, simply being around the military members and their families. And the scrimmage — a break from the monotony of practice — will serve as another lift to spirits.

“I don’t mind the drilling part of it, especially here right now, because I know we’re getting better,” Wade said. “It’s what you come into the season, the beginning of the year, training camp, understanding that you need to drill. I’ve been here seven, going on eight years and I still need to drill the things we’re doing.”

The fans won’t care much either way.

Only a handful of airmen have gotten the opportunity to see the Heat on the court at Hurlburt Field during this camp. And while there’s not enough space to get every interested party into the scrimmage, Miami is inviting an undisclosed number of Air Force personnel to watch a couple hours of a probable championship contender.

Wade knows this scrimmage will have a different feel than, say, one would have during a private camp in Miami.

“It’ll be good to get out in front of the troops and play and get a crowd in here,” Wade said. “I believe guys will be juiced up just for that, so it should be fun. … It’ll be good, especially for our troops, who have done an unbelievable job of opening their arms for us here.”

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