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Going to Cleveland

Sorry I didn't post anything this morning. Had to take the dog for a walk, pick up the wife's car from the shop, hustle down to Verizon Center for practice and then rap out a story for tomorrow's paper before hitting the airport for a flight to Cleveland for tomorrow's game against the Cavs. I hear it's cold in c-town. Already.

Not a whole lot of dirt today. The team did part ways with center Peter John Ramos, a move that has been obvious for awhile now. Ramos was the only guy other than injured Darius Songaila not to play in the first two preseason games and he was getting next to no reps in practice. That leaves 16 players on the roster scrapping for a possible 15 spots. The Wizards could also bring in some other players once other teams start making cuts in the coming days and weeks.

As for Ramos, it's really this simple: he never developed the way the team hoped he would. PJ is 7-3 and moves well for a guy his size but he's never found a go-to move and he's not a particularly good shot blocker or defender. Also, he would not have been eligible to play in the D-league this season because it's reserved for first or second year NBA players. He can play in the D-League if he's not affiliated with an NBA team. As I speculated in the blog last week, perhaps it's time for PJ to go somewhere where he can play. He's still only 21 so you never know. Some big men talk awhile but eventually find their way.

Antonio Daniels turned his ankle in practice yesterday and was limited today but said he plans on playing tomorrow night. Jordan said he's leaning towards playing everyone else as well. Cleveland plays tonight in New Hampshire against the Celtics so I don't quite know what to expect from them. I would imagine that LeBron will play in a home game but Mike Brown has talked about resting his young star as much as possible during the preseason. I hope he plays because I would like to see how the Wizards defend him without Jared Jeffries. I would assume that Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson would take turns and perhaps Jarvis Hayes would get a little bit of James as well.

Word out of Cleveland is that former Wiz Larry Hughes is healthy and playing well. It will be good to see Larry because he clearly was not himself last season with that injured finger on his shooting hand. No way a healthy Larry Hughes misses that many mid-range jump shots and looks that hesitant when taking the ball to the cup.

The final six preseason games will be important for several Wizards including Andray Blatche, Donell Taylor and Roger Mason Jr. Blatche is getting some burn because Songaila is out but so far he hasn't really taken advantage of it. In two games, he's made 2 of 14 shots and pulled down eight rebounds. He's also been hit with eight fouls and looked out of position on defense at times.

In the Chicago game for instance, forward Viktor Khryapa froze Blatche with a deft pump fake, waited for the kid to go leaping in the air and then drove around him for a reverse layup. Blatche has flashed some nice ball handling skills and he's been assertive on offense so those are positive signs. These final six games will be huge for him.

Taylor is attempting to prove that he can play both the PG and SG spots and it's been a challenge. He never played PG at the University of Alabama-Birmingham where he and his twin brother (Ronell) were stars, and he was a pure scorer in high school so learning to play the point at the NBA level has been a whole new ballgame. The main thing, according to Taylor, is learning to figure out when he should go for his offense and when he should run the play, move the ball and keep other guys involved. Taylor made 5 of 10 shots, earned three trips to the free throw line and scored 12 points in Wednesday's game at Chicago but he also turned it over four times and earned Eddie Jordan's ire a couple of times for not getting into the offense.
The thing that amazed me about the NBA when I first started watching it from an up close view on a nightly basis was how fast and physical the game can be. For a young guy like Taylor, who has blazing quickness but a skinny frame, adjusting his speed and figuring out how to get to his spots on the floor is a serious challenge.
"When I have an open shot, I need to take it but they also want me to get the guys in the right spots and run the offense," Taylor explained to me after practice today. "It's just a matter of getting the right mix. I spend a lot of time watching Gilbert and Antonio, seeing how they do things. I try to copy what they do and put it into my game but once you get out there and things are moving, it's on you."

By the way, Taylor understands how important these otherwise meaningless preseason games are.
"I need these games man. If I do well out there now, that's going to show coach and the team that I can do it in the regular season. These are big games for guys like me."

By Ivan Carter  |  October 13, 2006; 3:11 PM ET
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Ahhhh! Finally!!!

You win some, you lose some. If Blatche ever pans out it makes up for PJR not making it.

How is Songaila's back anyway? Any idea when he might see some practice/game time?

You know what I want to know most of all is, are we going to beat Miami, at least once, this season? What does EJ think?

Posted by: Zonker | October 13, 2006 4:06 PM | Report abuse

If Blatche doesn't crack the rotation, it's back to the D-League for him, isn't it? Sounds like he needs it to learn all the little things that makes a player effective and not just talented.
When will the grumbling start that the Wiz should have take Rajon Rondo instead of Oleksiy?

Posted by: Henry | October 13, 2006 5:01 PM | Report abuse

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