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Not a bog

The Redskins are rolling and the MLB playoffs are underway but as we all know, it's really basketball season. That's why I'm here in lovely Richmond (ridiculous construction and all) for the first day of Wizards training camp. I had a smooth drive down this morning and pulled onto the campus (it's really more like a set of buildings smack dab in the middle of a big four lane street) of Virginia Commonwealth University, which according to the local propaganda, is home to the best basketball program in the state.

The Wizards had their first workout this morning and the most newsy tidbit is that forward Darius Songaila sat out of the practice with a sore back. Turns out Songaila "tweaked" the back while playing for Lithuania in the World Basketball Championships and is still getting it worked out. Neither Songaila nor the team sounded overly concerned about the back issue and he said it's the first time he's ever had a problem. It could be a few days. I'll keep everyone posted.

A few observations:
1. Caron Butler is in great shape. I mentioned in my story from yesterday's media day that Butler said he's lost 10 pounds and is "in the best shape of my life." He must be right. Dude looks like he's been eating right and hitting it hard all summer. When I spoke with Caron early in the summer he said he wanted to come into camp ready to "dominate." It appears that he's well on his way. He averaged a career-high 17.6 points and 6.2 rebounds last season. When you consider that he didn't open the season as a starter and took awhile to get used to Eddie Jordan's system, it's not hard to imagine him having a huge year.

2. Encouraging sight: Jarvis Hayes sprinting all out during a conditioning drill at the end of this afternoon's workout. I didn't see him limping on or favoring that surgically repaired knee.

3. We don't get to see the entire practice but from what I could observe, Jordan was all about defense. At one point he stepped in, crouched in a stance and personally showed rookie Mike Hall (GW baby!) how he wants players to get around screens. Several players remarked afterward that the practice was heavy on the D.

Following practice, Jordan gave some love to DC native and former Virginia guard Roger Mason Jr,., saying Mason was one of the "top three" defenders in the practice. When you're a guy like Mason, who has been trying to stick on an NBA roster since 2002, those are good words to hear.

The team is back on the court for an evening workout at 6 p.m. and I'm hoping to see a little more. After that, the mad bogger (Dan Steinberg) and I are going to hit the town and see what Richmond is all about. Come to think of it, that's quite a combo, no? Two broke, married sportswriters living it up on the Post's per diem. Who can resist that? Anyway, I didn't get to see much of the city last year because I stayed further out. Wound up eating at a TGI Friday's a bunch. This time, I'm downtown.

I'll holla back later.

By Ivan Carter  |  October 3, 2006; 2:00 PM ET
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Next: Day 2 With Les Wiz

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