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Ready to get started

Just returned from Verizon Center where the Wizards went through a final practice before catching a flight to Cleveland for tomorrow's opener. No injury update really. Darius Songaila remains out but every other player will be healthy and available. I just received word that an announcement will be coming later today that Songaila will be out for at least 10-12 more weeks and will have surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back. That puts Songaila in uniform around January 3 at the earliest. Who knows how long it will take for him to get his game in order?

Coach Eddie Jordan's decision to start Etan Thomas over Brendan Haywood generated a lot of response in yesterday's blog and I have a feeling that we will be dealing with this issue all season long. To clarify one thing, I spoke with Brendan's agent, Andy Miller, because I was unable to get to Brendan yesterday. Wasn't trying to stir up drama, just felt that I needed to somehow gauge how Brendan was feeling about the decision.

The Songaila injury factors into the center situation because I visualized Eddie going small some with Songaila at the 5, Jamison at the 4, Caron at the 3 and Stevenson and Gilbert at guard. Now, it appears that Jordan will be counting on Michael Ruffing to swing some between the 4 and 5.

By Ivan Carter  |  October 31, 2006; 2:01 PM ET
 
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Comments

Great!! we go from having a scoring threat in Songaila, to having to see more of The Ruff til Spring at the earliest - remember how long T-Mac was out w/back problems?

The East will be tough this year, everyone has improved...can't wait to see the new look Bulls tonight.

Posted by: Wizzy | October 31, 2006 2:39 PM | Report abuse

Wow. . .10+ weeks out for Songolia?!? That's really too bad because I liked what he could add to the team. Good size , hands and a good mid-range jumper would have added a lot for us. Unclog the middle, create good 2-man games with the wing players. If he's not in before March, and the time it takes to play oneself into shape and fit with a team in mid-season form. . .he's basically done in terms of being an real impact for this year.

Posted by: cwb3 | October 31, 2006 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Ivan,

12 weeks from now is the beginning of February. Are you assuming Songaila will need another month past 12 weeks to get in baseketball shape?

Posted by: sting | October 31, 2006 2:53 PM | Report abuse

How can they know that he will be out 10-12 weeks? Is he having surgery? I guess it's too late to bring Pecherov in this year.

Posted by: Henry | October 31, 2006 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Songaila out for 10-12 weeks, wouldn't that put the earliest date around the beginning of February, not March? (Granted, injury sometimes lasts longer than estimated.)

As I said, I think Jordan has intended to go small from the very beginning. And his staring lineup will be the smallest next to Phoenix. But without a ball distributor like Nash, nor can everyone shoot long ball like Phoenix, whether or not Jordan can replicate Phoenix's success remains to be seen.

As a Wizards fan, however, I wish Wizards a great successful season! Go Wiz!

Posted by: sagaliba | October 31, 2006 3:58 PM | Report abuse

The blog has been changed to reflect that Songaila will be back in January at the earliest, instead of March.

Posted by: WPNI Sports | October 31, 2006 4:05 PM | Report abuse

This Songalia shabingus has got me all sorts of irritated. Hard to believe they couldn't get to the bottom of this sooner. Count on 0 production from him this year. Totally useless. Cripes.

Here is what I will say. I like Ruffin. I dig what he is all about. I get it. Here are the facts of the case: on good teams, dudes like Ruffin do not play significant minutes. If they do have a Ruffin type guy, he can at least hit a 12 footer, make a layup, or hit a free throw.

Good teams do not every have to play 4-5 in key situations on offense with a dude you can leave alone until he can touch the backboard. Think about it.

The Heat: udonis Haslem
Pistons: McDyess
Mavericks: Adrian Griffin
Spurs: Robert Horry

you get the idea. If you count on a guy like Ruffin, it means you are not good enough. Wish it weren't so, but it is. Us going small at the end of games because Jordan doesn't trust our centers, kills us as we cannot protect the rim. I'm getting worked up right now thinking about it...

Posted by: Bernard King | October 31, 2006 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Has anyone in the Wizards' organization evaluated their medical staff? They seem to miss the mark more often than not. From Rip's nose, to Jarvis' knee, to Songalia, etc. Why not just farm out the entire operations to Johns Hopkins and be done with it?

Posted by: Keynote | October 31, 2006 4:45 PM | Report abuse

Even if they knew Songaila was hurt, I think you still sign him. Songaila was not brought in to help this team win a champion ship this year, he's was brought in as part of the building of a championship team. This is not a one year deal type thing. In a couple of years, when the Wizards (with a developed Andry Blatch, rookie Pletchovitch (sp?) and Shaq retired of course), Songaila will be a part of that team. And he'll only be part of playoff run this year. So this not that big a deal. Really it isn't.

Posted by: G-in-DC | October 31, 2006 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Hey, sorry for the mess up on my original post. I was rushing and said Songaila would be out till March. Obviously, I mean't early January. I do wonder how long it will take for him to get into the flow if and when he does get back. Then again, it's a loooonnnnggg season so he'll have a chance if the surgery goes well. Good point by G-in-DC about signing Songaila for the long haul. I totally agree. From what I can tell, Ernie is building this thing with 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 in mind. By that I mean trying to win the whole thing. Still have to work a couple of other moves but I like the core of Gilbert, Caron and Antawn (if he re ups after next season) plus, Pecherov could be something nice and Blatche has some talent.

Posted by: Ivan | October 31, 2006 6:05 PM | Report abuse

Quote=Ivan: "...and Blatche has some talent."

This is key, really. Thin as we are in the front court, I expect we'll get to see a little more of 'Bulletproof' Andray Blatche than Coach Eddie would like at this point.

Whatever, at least Dray gets live fire excercise with the big boys and isn't stuck in Dakota.

Though actually if you check the resume of Dakota Wizards coach Dave Joerger it might not be a bad thing to send our guys out to the sticks to pick up fundamentals. Dude has had multiple all-defense players in whatever league he has coached, and every year brings his team to the final game. Plus since we're sharing the team with Chicago only, and they will only call up players who commit to defense, it might be a far better situation than the frickin Roanoke frickin Dazzle for cryin out loud. Dazzle. Wotthehell.

Ivan it might be nice to do a piece on Coach Dave and the D-Wizard squad. Though I can't see anyone wanting to fly out to Dakota (even if it is a skootch closer to Minnesota fer instance).

Anyway, tangent over. Point is: without JJ, and no Darius, the only back-up we got for the 4-spot is Ruffneck and 'Proof. Unless you really want to see Calvin Booth taking jumpers.

(And no, folks, Etan does not fit into any Princeton offense schemes in the PF slot. He has no face-up game whatsoever, can't survive more than 8 feet away from the basket.)

Happy Hallowe'en Wiz fans,

-doc.

Posted by: doclinkin (realgm.com/boards wiz forum) | October 31, 2006 6:34 PM | Report abuse

""Has anyone in the Wizards' organization evaluated their medical staff?""

Ok, coming from someone who has had a herniated disk(namely myself) they will try all kinds of things before opting out for surgery(ie - steroids, therapy, ect).

Surgery is the final thing they will try if nothing else works. The thing with herniated disks though is they don't really go away.

I feel bad for the guy, I've had 3 knee surgeries from basketball and a back surgery from a herniated disk. I'll take all 3 knee surgeries over that one back one any day.

Here's the thing with herniated disks...the effects linger the rest of your life even with surgery. Back spasms are horrible. This may be something that affects him during his whole career and that does not bode well for the Wiz.

I would be surprised to see him back this year. :(

Man the Wiz can't get a break at all.

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | October 31, 2006 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Ray: totally agree with you on surgery.
I had a tooth ache that 2 different dentists said the tooth couldn't be saved & I need to get it remove & an implant put in.

Went to a 3rd who did a little 1 minute painless procedure & wala, teeth feels 100%.

Just think if I would have had something screwed into my bones near my brains!

Too often surgery is jumped into without letting the body do its healing thing.

Posted by: Victor | October 31, 2006 6:59 PM | Report abuse

""Too often surgery is jumped into without letting the body do its healing thing.""

Well actually what I meant was that I did get the surgery because herniated disks don't ever really go away. Surgery provides relief, but even with the surgery the effects will linger the rest of your life.

This is what Songaila should expect. Backs are funky things to mess with.

I hope it doesn't mess him up down the line, that would suck for him.

Sorry for any misunderstandings. :)

- Ray

Posted by: Ray | October 31, 2006 7:10 PM | Report abuse

Excellent, a CSI Wizards chat. I know as fans we want to have all medical issues resolved pronto, but that's not the real world. As Ray said above, you don't walk into a doctor's office the first time and have the doctor say, "Let's operate." You try other, less invasive things first. And after surgery, sometimes there are ups and downs. I get impatient with impatient fans who know nothing about being an athlete and criticize athletes who struggle after serious surgeries. The criticism Jerry Stackhouse took here in town when he struggled with various treatments team doctors suggested for his knee was ridiculous. His one post-game proclamation that he was "shutting it down" for the rest of his last season here was an emotional moment that every athlete who has struggled post-surgery can identify with (David DuPree agreed with that assessment on Full Court Press), and the fact that fans ripped him for that just showed their ignorance.
And on that note, two points:
1. Ivan, you need to get on Full Court Press this season. What can we do to make it happen? If it takes kidnapping Wilbon, I know a guy who knows a guy.
2. As for the Wizards' medical staff, this is what I know. I believe that Stephen Haas is the Wizards' doctor. He treated me once and my experience was that he didn't really listen or try to figure out what my problem was (which was a bit unusual), so I found another doc who helped me. But I have heard that Haas has a reputation of being one of if not the best orthopaedic surgeon in town. I don't know if he would do Songalia's back surgery (probably not), however.

Posted by: Henry | October 31, 2006 7:29 PM | Report abuse

To clarify my comments:
It appears that the Wizards' medical staff has a history of misdiagnosing player injuries, or underestimating the severity of an injury. That's part of the reason why players like Jarvis Hayes "reaggravate" injuries, because a cracked kneecap is misdiagnosed. Rip Hamilton has to wear a mask for the rest of his playing career, in part because his nose is instable, thanks to initial mistakes made by the Wizards' staff.

I'm in no position to assess whether Haas or whoever could've done better by Songalia, or whether "rushing to surgery" is the right thing to do. I just hope that Pollin and EG are doing whatever it takes to field the best medical staff in the league. It doesn't make to invest top $ in players and a coaching staff and still maintain a subpar training and medical team.

Posted by: Keynote | October 31, 2006 7:52 PM | Report abuse

Wiz shoulda kept Jared Jeffries, that boy could play! Instead they brought in this guy and said, sorry don't have enough minutes for you now. Ya'll shoulda kept your homeboy and showed him some love.

Posted by: JJ | November 1, 2006 9:56 AM | Report abuse

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