Wiz get it started tonight, kind of
Man, it's good to be back in the district after a week in Richmond for training camp. The Wizards get the preseason started tonight with their only exhibition game at Verizon Center. OK, so it's only preseason but I'm thrilled to actually see some real basketball.
After watching a ton of practice, Saturday's scrimmage and an intense morning workout on Sunday, I'm looking forward to seeing this team play someone in a different colored jersey. Coach Eddie Jordan shares that view.
"Because we have a veteran team, seven or eight days of practice is good," Jordan said. "We're ready to play some games and see where we are. If we had a younger team, a team with three or four rookies or a bunch of new guys, you might want more time."
That's exactly the position tonight's opponent, the Toronto Raptors, find themselves. The team is breaking in number one overall pick Andrea Bargnani and has some new faces like Rasho Nesterovic and long time Spanish national team star Jorge Garbajose (I hear that Garbajose is nice). Toronto coach Sam Mitchell said he plans on playing veterans like Chris Bosh for only a brief period tonight.
I'm still trying to figure out whether the Raptors made a wise move by trading Charlie Villanueva to Milwaukee for T.J. Ford. On the one hand, the team badly needed a PG and Ford fills that role and the team does have a ton of big men but man, Villanueva was impressive as a rookie last season. Wizards fans could offer a tutorial on why teams should never trade big for small. (OK, getting Caron Butler for Kwame Brown would be a huge exception)
Jordan is going with a starting lineup of Gilbert Arenas and DeShawn Stevenson at guard, Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison at forward and Brendan Haywood at center. With Darius Songaila still out with a pinched nerve in his back, the second unit will consist of Antonio Daniels and Roger Mason Jr. at guard, Jarvis Hayes and Michael Ruffin at forward and Etan Thomas at center.
Mason Jr. has been the surprise of camp. The DC native and former Virginia star seemed to make every open jump shot, showed the ability to swing between both guard spots and is a decent defender against either point guards or shooting guards. That's exactly what Jordan was looking for from that position. At this point, Mason Jr. has not only played his way onto the team, he's pushing to be in Jordan's regular rotation.
Second-year forward Andray Blatche and second-year guard Donell Taylor will also see action tonight and rookie Mike Hall, the GW star, will try to make a positive first impression. The team will likely trim two or three players off the 18-man roster before leaving for Chicago tomorrow. My guess is that you'll see James Lang and Kevinn Pinkney trimmed. Still not sure what this team wants to do with the backup center situation. Will the Wiz consider cutting Calvin Booth and his guaranteed contract in order to continue working with Peter John Ramos? Or, is it time to let Ramos go elsewhere to see if he can get a chance to play? This will be one of the most interesting roster decisions this team has to make.
Songaila is moving a little better each day. Yesterday, after an intense practice, Songaila did some light shooting for about 1/2 hour and he appears to be moving with more comfort. Earlier in the week, he looked like a guy with a a bad back. Songaila by the way, was pretty bummed out over Wake Forest's choke job against Clemson on Saturday. His alma mater was one quarter away from going 6-0 for the first time since WW II but let it get away.
"They had it," Songaila said. "Ten minutes left. At home. 10 point lead. We had the ball. Then they lost."
Guess it's still a basketball school. Also, on the football smack-talking tip, Georgia grad Jarvis Hayes took some from Pres of Bball Ops Ernie Grunfeld, a former Tennessee Vol following Tennessee's big win in Athens Saturday night.
In a completely unrelated note, is there anything more enjoyable than logging on and reading the New York papers in the days after the Yankees get bounced from the playoffs? It's like Christmas but it last's a whole week. Guess $200 million doesn't go as far as it used to....And while I'm at it, thank goodness the Lions can always be counted on to be the Lions...And, has anything been more predictable than that last Drew Bledsoe interception in Philly yesterday?
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