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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?


By Ivan Carter  |  October 9, 2006; 10:01 AM ET
 
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Next: Wizards Insider, heading for Chicago

Comments

So what's the over/under on number of games before Jarvis shatters his kneecap again?

I'm disappointed Blatche hasn't broken into the second team rotation, looks like he will be getting just dribs and drabs of minutes, not much of an improvement from last year.

I'm anxious to see this alleged "increased focus on defense." Particularly I'd like to see our perimeter defense improve. I won't name names but certain point guards whose initials are GA didn't shown me anything on defense last year, steals be darned. I'll forgive this PG's bad press over the summer if he pops a screener in the teeth on his way to forcing a bad jump shot.

An overall increase in just plain toughness/edginess is what I'd like to see -- I want to see some grumpy old men out there, like the Pistons or Spurs.

Posted by: Zonker | October 9, 2006 12:41 PM | Report abuse

What does it say about Ramos that he can't get minutes on a center-needy team like the Wiz? It's not like he's got Shaq and Yao in front of him...

Agree with Zonker about Gilberto. He likes to talk the d-talk, but not walk the d-walk.

Posted by: keith | October 9, 2006 1:16 PM | Report abuse

I think jarvis is going to be fine. they did surgery for the FIRST time this offseason. and he doesn't have to start so he can ease into the grind a bit.

I think no matter what Deshawn improves their D from last year.

Here's my question, when are we going to see something from etan or haywood that makes us think we have a true starter?

Posted by: greg | October 9, 2006 1:54 PM | Report abuse

If I was Gilbert, I think I'd be pretty disappointed. He asked for the Franchise to make some moves that might get them to the finals. As far as I can tell, they haven't done that. Haywood and Thomas are really nice guys....the kind of people you'd have over for Thanksgiving, but they need low-post help. They need a #4 who can threaten the paint and dish off to them. Jamison needs to keep playing small forward, while dealing for someone in the mold of the Knicks old Larry Johnson...
As far as I can tell....far from the front seat or from Richmond, they are no closer to winning any of their matches with Miami than they were last year. Ruffin is as strong as Larry, and works twice as hard as Larry used to, but can essentially be ignored on offense--while Larry was a sure bet when he was within striking distance of the hoop. Hey how about the other ex-Kick, CURT Thomas...is he "free"?

Posted by: Wizard of Bowie | October 9, 2006 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Starting tonight, I'd like to see the guys in the paint knock some peple down when driving to the hole on a regular basis. I actually think this might happen this year with Caron and Stevenson.

Posted by: CarlosTerrydays | October 9, 2006 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Where is the courtside?

Posted by: Angus | October 9, 2006 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Is this a blackout? Where is the "live from courtside" coverage?

Posted by: Angus | October 9, 2006 9:19 PM | Report abuse

Wizard of Bowie, Antwan Jamison is a significantly better player than Larry Johnson ever was with the Knicks. In fact, Johnson was almost a poor-man's version of the 2005 Jamison. When LJ was 29 years old (1999), he was an undersized swing forward that had shooting ability and so-so rebounding ability. Jamison at age 29 is a swing forward with better shooting ability and significantly better rebounding ability.

LJ averaged 11 and 5 while shooting 36 percent from three point range in 1999 at age 29. Jamison, at age 29 last year, averaged 20 and 9 while also shooting nearly 40 percent from three. You tell me who you'd rather have.

Obviously, if the Wizardscould have a 1999 version of Larry Johnson instead of Michael Ruffin, they'd do it, but that's why they signed Songalia. Songalia's 2006 numbers aren't that far off from LJ's 1999 numbers, and Songalia is still young enough to keep improving.

Obviously, it's too early to tell whether the Wizards' offseason moves are going to ultimately be successful, but getting a player like a 1999 version of Larry Johnson when they already have two such players in Jamison and Songalia is not the answer.

-Mike Prada
Bullets Fever blog
bulletsfever.blogspot.com

Posted by: Bullets Fever | October 10, 2006 12:19 AM | Report abuse

Wizard of Bowie, Antwan Jamison is a significantly better player than Larry Johnson ever was with the Knicks. In fact, Johnson was almost a poor-man's version of the 2005 Jamison. When LJ was 29 years old (1999), he was an undersized swing forward that had shooting ability and so-so rebounding ability. Jamison at age 29 is a swing forward with better shooting ability and significantly better rebounding ability.

LJ averaged 11 and 5 while shooting 36 percent from three point range in 1999 at age 29. Jamison, at age 29 last year, averaged 20 and 9 while also shooting nearly 40 percent from three. You tell me who you'd rather have.

Obviously, if the Wizardscould have a 1999 version of Larry Johnson instead of Michael Ruffin, they'd do it, but that's why they signed Songalia. Songalia's 2006 numbers aren't that far off from LJ's 1999 numbers, and Songalia is still young enough to keep improving.

Obviously, it's too early to tell whether the Wizards' offseason moves are going to ultimately be successful, but getting a player like a 1999 version of Larry Johnson when they already have two such players in Jamison and Songalia is not the answer.

-Mike Prada
Bullets Fever blog
bulletsfever.blogspot.com

Posted by: Bullets Fever | October 10, 2006 12:20 AM | Report abuse

Love the Wiz blog here, but it is almost impossible to find. It's not on the list of blogs on the front page. Of course, I have it bookmarked, but tough for new readers to know about it.

Posted by: Columbia Heights | October 10, 2006 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Wahh, can't post to the latest blog...

Posted by: Zonker | October 10, 2006 12:09 PM | Report abuse

I really think Ruffin should be getting more playing time. With no true center, they should look for more opportunities to get Ruffin into the game, especially if they want to stick by their defensive approach this year. Even if Ruffin can't score, Gilbert, Caron and Antawn can, so Ruffin should be in there to help play defense and rebound, two things that he does exceptionally well.

Posted by: Ruffin=beast | October 16, 2006 7:31 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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