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Any win will do

This team flat out needs a win. That was the thought running through my head as I walked out of the lockeroom after Saturday night's loss to Jersey. I'm not one for patting highly paid pro athletes on the back for playing hard and giving a professional effort but these guys have played their butts off without Gilbert and Caron, they've played the "right" way by sharing the ball, hustling on defense and working hard on the boards and they haven't made excuses.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, this team may have it's flaws but it's a good group of guys and fans can at least fell good about emotionally investing in that lockeroom. That said, the overall mood is reaching a crucial breaking point.

DeShawn Stevenson talked about a "black cloud' hanging over the team's head, Jarvis Hayes was asked about his career-high scoring night but did so with his head down while stressing the fact that it didn't matter because they lost and Antawn Jamison winced when asked about Vince Carter's triple-double. Antonio Daniels simply sat at his locker - no doubt exhausted after playing 40 minutes on consecutive nights - and stared straight ahead. I don't know a lot about Darius Songaila yet but my early impression is that the cat really hates losing. He is polite and willing to talk after games but it's obvious that the guy takes this very seriously.

There was a looseness that existed with Gilbert around but that is gone now and the losing is only making the atmosphere tighter. "I think guys are really pressing to get this win," Stevenson said after Saturday's game. "I think we need to relax a little bit." Easier said than done.

I chatted with a scout from another Eastern Conference team before the game the other night and I asked him this question: "What is the best matchup for the Wizards in the first round?"

The scout said the Wizards' best shot would come against Toronto mainly because the Raptors have guys who haven't been there before. I tend to agree with that theory though Cleveland does not scare me. Something just seems to be off about that team.

I'm heading to practice here in a little while and am very curious to see how the mood of the team is after a day off. Also, I'll be on Comcast this evening talking Wizards on Washington Post Live. Check it out.

One thought: Was yesterday a great day for sports or what? At one point during the afternoon I was watching Johan Santana pitch a gem in a win over the White Sox for my Twins in between flipping over to watch Zach Johnson fight off Tiger in the Masters. That guy showed some real poise after Tiger made it close down the stretch.
Also, I bounced over the big NHL game between the Islanders and Devils just long enough to see the Isles clinch the eighth seed in the playoffs in a shootout. Fun stuff.

By Ivan Carter  |  April 9, 2007; 8:54 AM ET
 
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Next: Wade Returns. . .To Destroy Washington

Comments

I almost feel like taking the heritical approach - to heck with the playoffs, let's get some ping pong balls going. This team needs more talent and a man in the middle would be great. Now that I have got that out of the way, and I am almost sober (no completely sober man would have asked for ping pong balls) I want us to win and tomorrow against Jersey will be good.

GAR

Posted by: Bridgewater, VA | April 9, 2007 9:31 AM | Report abuse

Ivan

I just want to not the mistake on the Wizards page today. You say Blatche did not play against the Nets. He did -- for one second at the end of the game to harass the throw in. It was in the box score Sunday.

Posted by: RJF | April 9, 2007 9:37 AM | Report abuse

I agree about Cleveland. It'll all depend on which LeBron and crew shows up. The one that is interested, or the one that says, "Ah, no need to work hard today." And I agree that the Wizards have been playing well the past few games, but it's just not quite enough to win.

Any idea why Haywood didn't play more against Cleveland? Usually he has really good games against "Z".

Posted by: TG | April 9, 2007 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Deshawn must be naive, b/c there's been a cloud hanging over this franchise for a much longer time than just this season. Curse of Les Boulez has been in full effect for 20 years, thanks to Tony K.

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 9, 2007 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Ivan, I agree great sports Sunday. Thought my uncle would have a stroke because Tiger didn't win in Augusta!
Cringed every time Wade attacked the rim. Loved watching Kobe Nash & Raja.
Fun stuff! Lakers obviously in need of some more pieces-great Parker finally stepped up.

About our Wizards; They have a great battle ahead of them and; good to see the cohesiveness - team work. I like Songalia's attitude.

My impression(I say impression because I don't know what happens at practice & locker room) the coaching staff really has to train these men like marathon runners to get them thru the 3rd & 4th qtrs. Now, they're hitting the wall by 3rd & 4th. That takes training.

Other than that, I think we need to stay positive, keep looking ahead. Santa, could we get a Ctr or a PF or 2?

Posted by: Robin | April 9, 2007 10:10 AM | Report abuse

The losing is very disheartening - especially because the guys have been playing so hard...but just can't get over the hump. Hope Indianapolis will lose and then maybe the pressure will be off a bit.

Posted by: Lisa | April 9, 2007 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Hopefully the return of Blatche will add some spark to the team. They're in tough waters right now, and the fact that their immediate playoff future is fairly dim probably doesn't help much. They'd never admit it (even to themselves) but they have to know that, unless they get really lucky (i.e., key players on opposing teams go down) in the playoffs, they're basically playing out the string. It just so happen that the string strteches into the first round of the postseason.

Posted by: kalorama | April 9, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Any idea why Haywood didn't play more against Cleveland? Usually he has really good games against "Z".

One can only assume that Jordan has lost the keys to his doghouse.

Posted by: kalorama | April 9, 2007 10:51 AM | Report abuse

"Curse of Les Boulez has been in full effect for 20 years, thanks to Tony K."

Thanks to Tony K? I didnt realize that it was Tony's fault that the franchise has has so many problems.

Did Tony trade big for small? Young for old? Kenny Green instead of Karl Malone? Losing out on Reggie Miller for Mugsey Bogues? Hot Plate? God Shammgod? Price getting injured?

Posted by: the cheat | April 9, 2007 11:06 AM | Report abuse

the cheat,

I wrote that mostly tongue in cheek. Tony pointed out a curse, and it's come true time and time again.

Everyone knows that the past 20 years of misery points to Dishonest Abe Pollin.

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 9, 2007 11:10 AM | Report abuse

The only thing worse than the Wizards free fall was flipping through the channels and watching an HBO documentary on the Villanova championship upset over Georgetown. The Cats' shot 79% in the 2nd half and only missed one shot from the field and the had a PG, Gary McClain high on cocaine.

Posted by: G$ | April 9, 2007 11:12 AM | Report abuse

G$, Any idea if we could get any of that stuff the Wildcats had to the Wizards locker room by tomorrow night!
This group of guys has to really make it a team effort to secure the ball defensively. We can have guys shooting and scoring career games but it doesn't change the most fundamental problem of this team which is securing the ball after a defensive stop. Second and third shots have sunk this season as much as the injuries to the big three.

Posted by: GM | April 9, 2007 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I just hope Jordan doesn't exhaust Daniels and Jamison in the first three quarters. They need to leave some gas in the tank for the fourth quarter. And for God sakes, get a hand in Vince Carter's face and BOX OUT!

Posted by: George Templeton | April 9, 2007 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Somebody get Hot Fudge on the phone (I always liked that one better than Hot Plate). I'm sure we can strap a hand truck onto him and have some D-Leaguers roll him around for 40 minutes.

Posted by: Gack | April 9, 2007 12:23 PM | Report abuse

So, we play the "ONE ARMED MAN" Wednesday?

For tonite?
What do you guys think about Blatche on VC? He handled KG nicely.

Posted by: rob | April 9, 2007 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Ivan,

This is random and all, but a few months back during the college football season, I was chatting w/ you at a bar in DC while watching Minnesota vs. Michigan. I was telling you that I've been working in Rochester, etc. Anyhow, we were talking about the Wizards and you gave your analysis on the potential of the season. The whole time I'm just looking at you like you don't know what your talking about. It would've been credible for you to tell me you wrote for the Wizards but mad props that you didn't. Shots on you next time!

Posted by: Senai | April 9, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse


"Sports Match.com" ?
Does anybody know: Is Ivan married?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Hi all,

I'm doing a little historical research for a Wizards-themed blog that I've recently started. It was in one of the Wizards Insider comments, I believe, where I first heard (J)arvis Hayes referred to as "Arvis". Does anyone know whether the term did indeed originate here? If not, does anyone know who first coined it? I'd greatly appreciate any help that you can provide, and of course you'd get a shoutout on my (soon-to-be world famous) blog.

Posted by: Tricky Gnosis | April 9, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

"What do you guys think about Blatche on VC? He handled KG nicely.

Posted by: rob | April 9, 2007 12:28 PM"

AB did ok against KG during the first game, but KG beat him like a drum the second game. Statwise, AB didn't have anything near a dominant game.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/boxscore?gameId=270220027

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/boxscore?gameId=270225016

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 9, 2007 3:13 PM | Report abuse

The name "arvis," or at least the idea, was original to Jayson Williams from the NJ Nets who playfully called Jason Kidd "ason" because Jason had no "J." That was a long time ago, and the first time I've ever heard a "J" removed from someone's name to signify that they had no jumper.

Posted by: DC Man88 | April 9, 2007 4:00 PM | Report abuse

The article confirms my fears that I mentioned the other day: we are a psychologically fragile bunch right now in desperate read of a win.

Posted by: BmoreRev | April 9, 2007 10:30 PM | Report abuse

oops...that should have read "desperate need of a win."

Posted by: BmoreRev | April 9, 2007 10:32 PM | Report abuse

In addition to the error that RJF pointed out in Monday's paper (the Post said Blache didn't play when he did enter the game very briefly), there was another error the same day... the Post said the Wizards have five games left while the Nets have six when both actually have six remaining.

Posted by: Also... | April 10, 2007 6:29 PM | Report abuse

The downfall of this team lies squarely on the shoulders of Eddie Jordan.

I've said many times I like Eddie. I like his offense, I like the atmosphere he creates, I like the things he says, and in general the way he runs the team.

The thing about him that I have never understood however is his player rotations and the way he manages games. His reliance on smallball as a strategy is my main source of annoyance. But also since coming here he has been terrible at developing young players, and developing a bench and establishing roles for players. His inability to do this is what lead to the complete wearing down of the big 3. Jamison and his knee surgery before, then going down again this year before the allstar break. Gil and Caron going down now, and really they both have been playing banged up for a while.

Too often throughout this season, Daniels has seen long stretches of inactivity. Blatche has been wasting on the bench. Most every player except the "big 3" has seen very inconsistant playing time throughout the season.

Players need consistant roles to establish their games, gain confidence, and build chemistry. You need a bench to win, to go deep in the playoffs, to allow everyone to contribute, and to stay healthy and rested.

Eddie's management and use of his personel this season has unorganized, unfocused, and at times downright baffling. It's his misuse of the big 3, and his lack of a consistant rotation that has led us to this outcome.

Posted by: Darnell | April 11, 2007 1:47 AM | Report abuse

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