Les Wiz Day 4
If Team USA's experience at this summer's World Championships didn't serve as a lessson, then how about Philly losing to FC Barcelona? I know it's just preseason and the Sixers are hardly championship contenders but still, that's a bit shocking. The World is catching up. By the way, that was Juan Carlos Navarro scoring 18 points for Barcelona. The Wiz still own his NBA rights but Navarro has a nasty, multi-million buyout with FC Barcelona so don't hold your breath over seeing him anytime soon.
But hey, at least we have soccer right? Oops.
The Wiz take the floor for the day's lone practice at 11 a.m. Tomorrow, we get to see the squad in a full scrimmage. If you are coming down for the 4 p.m. scrimmage (it's an easy drive from the district and it's free) get here a little early. There has been a ton of construction on the streets of Richmond and traffic has been backed up on Broad Street where you'll find the VCU campus.
People have been sending me e-mails asking me to assess where this team is right now. It's a little disappointing that Darius Songaila is down with a pinched nerve in his lower back but other than that, I'd be encouraged. I like the overall depth and it appears that DeShawn Stevenson will bring a litlte bit more of that Caron Butler swagger. Those two just make this team look tougher, know what I'm saying? In general, it seems that the guys are already clicking. The holdovers from last season have welcomed the new guys and you can see the chemistry as guys hang out in the gym after each practice, shooting extra shots, busting each other's chops and making dinner plans. There is a quiet, unspoken air of confidence about this group that I can't quite put a finger on. It just seems that they know they are going to be good. I didn't have that same feeling last year at this time.
By the way, it appears that Songaila could be down for a little while. Anyone who has experienced lower back pain can imagine what Songaila is going through. When he walks, it looks like he's feeling serious discomfort. However, I hear that the injury is purely muscular so as soon as those back muscles loosen up, he should be OK. Songaila said he has no idea when he'll be back adding he doesn't want to rush it and turn it into a longterm thing. Coach Eddie Jordan is preparing as if he won't have Songaila. The kid, Andray Blatche, is running with the second unit at forward and should get nice long look in the preseason games.
I also keep getting e-mails and comments about the new, alternate road uniforms. I hear they are black and bronze but I haven't seen them. If Gilbert had his way, the team would go back to red, white and blue uniforms. I think he just wants to wear Arizona colors again.
A word from strength and conditioning coach Drew Cleary, the Australian born workout Wiz whose accent makes it sound like he fishes for great white sharks on the weekend: "I've been around the NBA for 10 years and this is the best conditioned team I've seen in training camp. I've never see a team of guys work so hard in the summer and come into camp so in shape."
By the way, it's a good thing the Wiz are in Richmond because there is no way to overstate just how hideous PR man Zach Bolno looked yesterday in a team-issued sweater vest. Zach made that questionable choice worse by wearing the sweater vest over a ribbed t-shirt. Needless to say, just about everyone had a comment and none of them were nice.
Drew Cleary: "I don't know how a grown man can go out in public like that." Well said.
I'll check back later after practice.
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