More Les Wiz from Day 2
The Wizards did their first intensive scrimmaging this afternoon during the lone workout of the day. If you have NBA TV (it's on my comcast feed back in DC) you would have had a chance to see the fellas get up and down while actually playing some real basketball. Refs were on hand and Eddie Jordan split his squad up for around 40 minutes of real basketball.
Jordan used several different lineups including one that had Gilbert Arenas and Antonio Daniels at guard, Caron Butler and Michael Ruffin at forward and Brendan Haywood at center. He also went with a grouping that paired Arenas and DeShawn Stevenson at guard, Butler and Jamison at forwards and Etan Thomas at center. To this point, it's hard to figure out if Jordan has a set unit in mind but I'm sure that will come together as the preseason goes along.
Butler had some nice back-and-forths with rookie Mike Hall, the former GW star who is trying to stick as a backup to Butler at the small forward spot. Hall did a good job of getting into Butler as soon as Butler caught the ball but the veteran countered on one play with a nice spin move and short jump hook for a basket. Hall has been drawn praise from several vets, including Butler, and it appears that he's going to have a shot to stick. Basically, Hall, former Virginia guard Roger Mason Jr., Donell Taylor, Peter John Ramos, James Lang and Kevinn Pinkney are fighting for three potential roster spots. The Wiz have 12 guys with guaranteed deals and can keep up to 15 for the regular season.
Butler hurt the top of his left foot towards the end of practice and had to get his foot wrapped in ice but he said the injury was "no big deal." "They stopped building brotha's like me in 1980," Butler said. "I'll shake this off and play right now if I need too."
(Side note: George Washington coach Karl Hobbs and assistants Roland Houston and Darrell Brooks were on hand for practice and got an up close look at their guy, Hall. Conspicuous by his failure to show was young GW assistant Greg Collucci the former GW baller and alleged 3-point threat who unknowingly disappointed the co-eds at VCU by remaining in the district today. Remarked one obviously distraught young women who snuck into the Siegel center: "I was really hoping to see Greg today. I guess watching Gilbert Arenas is cool and everything but c'mon, he's no Calooch." We can all agree on that, no?)
One of the other interesting exchanges involved Antawn Jamison and Andray Blatche. Jamison ran down the wing on a break, caught a pass and drilled a three over Blatche. On the ensuing possession, Blatche caught a pass from about 18 feet out and knocked down a long jumper over Jamison.
Following the scrimmage, Jordan was asked about Blatche.
"Right now, I'd give him an incomplete," Jordan said. "Everyone is jacked up at the start of training camp. Let's see how he is when he's a little soar, a little beat up, a little bruised...when he gets tired. Let's see if he stays in it."
Darius Songaila missed a second day of practice and remains "day to day" with a pinched nerve in his lower back. The plan is to allow Songaila to come along slowly so the back problem does not turn into a bigger issue.
You can go ahead and list Gilbert and several other Wizards among NBA players who are not big fans of the NBA's new, non-leather basketball. Shaq has compared the new rock to something you'd buy at the local sporting goods store to play outdoor ball with. I kind of like it because I can really get a grip on the new ball but I've only messed with it when it's dry. Players say the problem comes in once sweat starts flowing.
"The only thing good about it is that it's grippy when you first touch it," Arenas said. "Once it starts soaking up sweat, it gets slippery. Guys are going to be turning the ball over like crazy this year because you can't hold onto the ball."
Coach Jordan is playing the role of the good soldier: "Whatever the NBA is good with, I'm good with. If it has David Stern's name on it, it's fine by me (note: Stern and Jordan went to Rutgers). Go RU." Jordan by the way, is pumped about his undefeated Rutgers football program though he's nervous about facing Navy.
"That's going to be a tough one."
(Note: This blog has been put on hold thanks to consecutive home runs by those scrappy Minnesota Twins. Holla later)
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