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Blatche More Comfortable With Saunders

With the Wizards Summer League team ahead by double digits in the second half tonight, Andray Blatche turned to Antawn Jamison, who was watching from the bleachers.

"'Tawn, I've got your numbers," said Blatche, who was on his way to a double-double.

"Nope," said Jamison with a laugh. "I'm looking at it right now. Not close."

Of course, Blatche's 21-point, 10-rebound performance was somewhat Jamison-like, although it also came with seven turnovers and a few moments where Blatche looked more like a typical Summer League rookie than a guy entering his fifth NBA season.

Blatche is actually younger than seven of the guys on this Summer League roster--including third-year standbys Nick Young and Dominic McGuire--and he said that the offseason coaching change could be a boon to his career.

"Just this whole organization, the vibe I'm getting, it's more confidence for us young players," he said. "We have great coaches that are always boosting us up. Each one of the players has a personal relationship with [Coach] Flip [Saunders]. You know, he texts us, he gives us words of wisdom, he stays in your ear, he just gives you that little push you need, and I feel that's key for us winning this season."

Blatche was clearly hinting that this was a change from the past, and he later said so explicitly.

"I just feel I belong here now," he said. "This is my first time having a real good relationship with a coach in the NBA, that he actually takes out the time and texts me and just checks on me. It gives me a lot of confidence. Eddie [Jordan] was a veteran coach, he was tough on young players, so I didn't really have a real strong relationship with Eddie."

Saunders is also a veteran coach, but Blatche has already been working with him on post moves, defense and conditioning. He talked tonight with a post-game calmness and seriousness he hasn't often displayed, and said several times how important this year is for him, especially with the vacuum in the Wizards' frontcourt following their trade for Mike Miller and Randy Foye.

"I mean, the NBA's all about opportunity, and I feel like my opportunity is coming, so I'm just trying to take full control of it," he said. [Saunders] said just keep working hard, keep busting your ass, and things will pay off in the end....Once I seen that [trade] happen, I said, 'Well, this is an opportunity. This is my opportunity to step up and get some real key big minutes next year coming off the bench....We're not sure what they're gonna do, we're not sure if they're gonna sign another big or whatever. But right now, me and JaVale [McGee], we see this as an opportunity for us, and we just want to come out here and try to compete at that position so they won't have to get nobody else."

That said, the Wizards veterans will probably wait a few months before sending Blatche congratulations for his all-star campaign. I caught up with Jamison after the Wizards' win, and asked what he needed to see from Blatche this season.

"Same thing that we've been needing from the last couple years, just to be consistent," Jamison said. "We know what he can do. We know he's talented. We just need him to bring it night in and night out, rebound, be a post threat, offensively, defensively, just going in every direction. We just need him to be consistent with it."

By Dan Steinberg  |  July 14, 2009; 10:29 PM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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Next: Obama Disses the Nationals


Imagine that. Positive reinforcement can lead to positive results.

Posted by: UltimateFootballNetwork | July 14, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

Did he hand you a flier for his next party at Fur after your interview?

Posted by: StetSportsBlog | July 14, 2009 10:55 PM | Report abuse

I was watching highlights of the game on comcast sportsynet and noticed Blatche was wearing jersey #7. At first I thought it was cuz he was a last second call but it had "Blatche" on the back. Dan, what's up with this? Did Dre change his number? Usually this is something you're all over.

Posted by: detox04 | July 15, 2009 1:18 AM | Report abuse

It's almost criminal to think that Eddie Jordan was just waiting for Blatche to "get it" as opposed to being hands on and doing everything in his power to help him "get it". At a minimum, there should have been some "good cop, bad cop" stuff going on to make sure he developed even if it was to prove the "bad cop" wrong. That being said, Blatche isn't absolved of responsibility, but a coach who knows he's only one bad season from being canned can't be so stubborn that he doesn't expedite the development of arguably his most talented (not necessarily skilled) frontcourt player. At 6'-11", Blatche may very well turn out to be a matchup nightmare this season. When the Wiz plays the 76ers this season Blatche is going to go nuts!!

Posted by: Firuz1 | July 15, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I'm SO glad Jordan is gone and we now have a REAL head coach.

Posted by: sargeantmofo | July 15, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

ok, how does the head coach being tough on young players translate to Eddie Jordan 'just waiting for Blatche to "get it"'?

Flip has already said the same thing the prior two coaches said- the rotation will be determined by the players.

AB, carpe diem...

Posted by: audiohysteria | July 15, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse


AB, carpe diem AGAIN

(remember 'i'm finally FREE!'?)

Posted by: audiohysteria | July 15, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps Kwame Brown would have not been a bust if he had a coach like Flip. Collins and MJ messed the kids head up on and off the court. The father/uncle ("Bernie") touch is needed with most young players. Eddie needs to develop that touch in with the 76ers, otherwise he could be in for a short stint in Philly (i.e. Santa Claus). I opptimistically look for the Wiz to win at least 47 games this year. Sounds like Flip, Sam & Randy have already developed chemistry with the team.

Posted by: Stevie-J | July 15, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

He a bust, but he wasn't that good to begin with so actually he sucks.....

Posted by: ENJOYA | July 15, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

"Did he hand you a flier for his next party at Fur after your interview?"

-Stet Sports


Posted by: truthaboutit | July 15, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

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