It Really Comes Down to Effort

Friday's loss in Miami was explainable in three ways: 1. Dwyane Wade took over. 2. Shawn Marion's defense on Caron Butler eliminated Washington's best offensive player. 3. The Wizards simply didn't bring it.

The first two points are understandable because Wade is that good, and Marion is and always has been one of the most unique weapons in the league. (The guy always puts up sick numbers but you can't run plays for him. Think about that for a minute.)

Anyway, tonight's rematch at the VC comes down to effort for a Wizards team that allowed itself to be outrebounded by a small Heat squad in Miami and simply didn't compete.

Case in point: Michael Beasley is going to be a very good player in this league, but none of us need a scouting report to tell us that he is extremely left-handed. Not quite Stacey King left-handed but very much lefty indeed. And yet, both Butler and Antawn Jamison allowed him to roll right past them for left-handed scores Friday night. That is not acceptable.

-Think the Wizards miss Roger Mason Jr. right about now? I know one thing: The Spurs sure are happy to have him.

By Ivan Carter |  November 18, 2008; 12:23 PM ET
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-What's the over/under on our deficit after the first six minutes when Eddie starts Etan, DSS, AD, Haywood Workman, Brent Price, Calbert Cheaney, Mark Alarie, and every other scrub who ever wore a Bullets jersey instead of NY and Lemonhead? 10 points? 15?

-Which role player will come off the bench literally chomping at the bit to get in a dozen uncontested shots against our defense? Chris Quinn? Daequan Cook?

-How many minutes will Darius Songaila play out of position at the 5? A hundred? A thousand?

-How many blog posts from Gilbert Arenas between now and the next time he makes this team a winner? A million? Infinity?

-How many more of these horrible games will I watch in disgust? Sadly, all of them.

I wish I could quit you, Washington Wizards.

Posted by: bryc3 | November 18, 2008 12:45 PM

Before it comes down to effort, the basics have to be in place: the right players on the court, the right attitude and right offensive and defensive sets. The basics are lacking right now, and that starts with coaching.

EJ makes it a lot harder to win than it otherwise would have to be.

Posted by: Izman | November 18, 2008 12:53 PM

It's good to have the basics in place. It's good to have the correct and optimal line up. All those things are good to have. But you simply can't win when your players don't give the required effort. That's why USC keeps losing to weaker teams. That's why the Terps are 6-0 against ranked teams but can't get up for unranked schools.

Posted by: tundey | November 18, 2008 1:09 PM

Ivan,
I'd love for you to track ROger Mason down and get his take on the Wiz's struggles. The Wiz under Eddie have consistently struggled on D, and now he's in San Antonio where they're always amongst the defensive elite. What's his take as to why?

Is it schematic? Accountability? Coaching/teaching? Personnel?

I know players are often reticent to speak of other teams, but RMJ's perspective would be interesting.

Posted by: TheFunBunch | November 18, 2008 1:11 PM

Shame on EJ for making the young guns play catch up all the time. They need to play from the start!

Posted by: Dave381 | November 18, 2008 1:21 PM

LOL!! Hilarious post by bryc3

After reading about how Portland put up a tall front-line of three players 6-11+, and how this tall line-up gave Miami fits, I foolishly expected Eddie to do the same thing in our last meeting...WRONG! Instead what we got was a full first quarter of Etan & a healthy dose of Song at C.

This team will never reach its full potential with Eddie Jordan as coach, healthy or not.

Posted by: closg | November 18, 2008 1:24 PM

Who cares?

I watch women's bowling, the players are more manly!

Posted by: bestmick1 | November 18, 2008 1:29 PM

Its not about effort its about talent and the wizards just don't have enough of it to compete in this league. With or without Gilly.

Posted by: beas13 | November 18, 2008 1:31 PM

"This team will never reach its full potential with Eddie Jordan as coach, healthy or not."


Couldn't possibly agree more....Feel the same way about EG

Posted by: beas13 | November 18, 2008 1:34 PM

Ernie G, It is time. Move some players especially Blatche who will not or can not work or think.
Encourage Eddie to play the skilled young people who will work most of the minutes, not only when the game is hopelessly lost.

Let's make it fun to watch the Wizards again.

Abe will never see a championship if we continue what we are doing now!

Posted by: JoeC2 | November 18, 2008 2:05 PM

Ivan,

What will it take for you to add "Eddie's coaching" to the list of reasons we lost to Miami.

It wasn't a coincidence that we were outrebounded by a small Miami team. And it wasn't all the players fault.

Eddie played a small lineup. He even started Songaila in the 2d half after stubbornly refusing to play McGee.

How do you limit McGee to 7 first half minutes after his dominating performance against Utah? And how is it possible that Eddie watched us get dominated in the paint in the 1st half against Miami and decided we needed to go even smaller to start the 2d?

Do we even have advance scouts? Did anyone explain to Eddie how Portland exploited Miami's front line? If so, did Eddie give any reason for taking an opposite approach?

Please Ivan, at least raise these issues.

Posted by: what5 | November 18, 2008 2:15 PM

Eddie Jordan foolishly showed everyone he is in charge. Everybody else wanted a tall lineup, he went with small. Everybody else wants to give the young uns more playing time, he uhhm doesn't trust them. Right now EJ, Jamison and Butler are all bark and no bite. Stevenson just disappeared, and probably won't show up until the second half of the season. So will EJ start the young uns and send a message to the rest of the team: no one is exempt from playing hard and playing well? Ehhh, probably not.

Posted by: rickgonz | November 18, 2008 2:23 PM

THE WIZ NEED A NEW COACH,FOR ALL THIS YEARS WE HAVE EXCUSES FRO LOSING BUT PAY LOTS OF MONEY FOR PLAYERS THAT DO NOT PRODUCE

Posted by: ofletcher | November 18, 2008 2:26 PM

I appreciate you pointing out Cb and Aj specifically, Ivan. The leaders on this team need to lead...on the floor and not through the media.

Also, when is the last time anyone ever heard that a defender 'eliminated' Gilbert? Can we end the argument over who's more valuable to this team? Can we also stop with the Caron man crushes and make him as accountable as we made Gilbert regarding defense? As Gil proved, steals do not equal good defense.

I personally find it hard to blame CB too much because he's overmatched physically at his position. He puts up good numbers at the sf position but that doesn't necessarily mean he's best there. MJ would have scored 50 per game if he'd played sf exclusively early in his career because no one could have stopped him. Problem is, he's have had his hands full guarding big sf's. There's a reson Cb has flourished here that goes beyond just hard work on his part. Riley made him play defense and that impacted his offense. Here, he's playing one half of the court and just playing the passing lanes on the other.

It's harder for me to blame Aj as well because there's only so much a 6'8" finesse guy can do against men younger, stronger, and taller than he is.

The coach is the problem. Actually the compsition of the team is the problem but that's another story. Coach needs to start coaching.

Posted by: original_mark | November 18, 2008 2:38 PM

... and give Pech Songaila's minutes. Songaila can't even do much in blowouts against scrubs. At least Pech did THAT. I'm keeping running totals.

Season tally on Songaila:

75 minutes in 6 games / 12.5 per game
21 points / 3.5 per game
6 steals
7 turnovers
5 rebounds / .8 per game !!!!!!!!!!!!!
5 assists

Posted by: original_mark | November 18, 2008 2:48 PM

by contrast, Pech has 11 rebounds in only 31 minutes so far this year. (4 offensive).

It may not seem like a big deal but playing the guys who are more effective is the right way to send a message to the team. Not rewarding poor play with minutes is something that EJ uses to motivate rookies and young guys. How about applying it to the vets, too, EJ ?

Posted by: original_mark | November 18, 2008 2:51 PM

the wiz are dreadful this year. i don't understand what could be worse than giving young, mcgee and even mcguire quality minutes. EJ's commitment to his veterans is stupid - all it does is ensure that the wiz start the game in a 10 point deficit. Start dixon, young, CB, jamison, and mcgee. Watching Blatche, Etan, and Songaila bumble about is a waste of my time.

Posted by: fedup1974 | November 18, 2008 3:05 PM

The other thing that's frustrating to watch is EJ's subbing strategy. Why not bench butler or jamison or anyone if they're playing poorly? Get the ball to whoever is hot and keep feeding them. What difference does it make at the end of the game if mcgee wins the game for you vs stevenson? Stevenson might be annoyed, but a win is a win.

Posted by: fedup1974 | November 18, 2008 3:11 PM

Except for Caron and AJ, I think the vets have tuned out Eddie which shows he's lost the team. Granted this team has marginal talent without Agent Zero, BTH, and Roger Mason, but they weren't even competitive against Miami who is a small team starting two rookies!!!

I questioned over the summer how Gilbert could say he 'saved' the Wiz money, but they didn't have enough to re-sign Roger Mason. Anyone who watched last year's team knew that Mason was more important than DSS. I personally never understood why they gave DSS a 4-year deal in 2007 when they had just drafted NY. Same goes for the 5-yr. deal for AB.

Let the young guys like NY, McGee, and Dixon get a lot of minutes this year and realize you'll probably only win 25 games. Next year, you'll have a lottery pick plus hopefully Agent Zero and BTH back healthy. Coupled with AJ, Caron, NY, and McGee, you'll have a nice 8-man rotation and will be able to trade AD and Etan during the season.

Posted by: wizfan89 | November 18, 2008 3:26 PM

There are a lot of undersized players who have thrived in the league...Adrian Dantley, Dennis Rodman, Alonzo Mourning to name a few. All of them were ferocious competitors and simply worked harder than everyone else on the court.

AJ is a worker but does not bring the required level of energy and focus to the defensive end. Caron is a hardnosed guy but does not seem to understand we are all waiting on him. He had some monster performances in big games last year but has been pretty inconsistent so far this year.

I am at a loss when EJ says he won't move Caron because he is a two-time All-Star at his position...WTF? What logic is this to determine the potential success of him playing big guard? How about you let him do it and see how he fares? Either Caron or NY needs to be the starting shooting guard to get DS off the floor.

Also, starting Etan seems nigh indefensible to me at this point. Ideally I would love for McGee to have a few minutes to soak up how the opposing center is playing before going in but this is yet another luxury we do not have.

Need to play the talent to try and have a game to stay in...

Ivan,
Folks pressing for you to poke EJ a little more, let me climb up on that bandwagon. Personally, I would like to know if EJ runs the Princeton because he believes our personnel are well suited to it or if he simply believes it to be so superior to other offenses even if our personnel do not have all of the preferred skill sets.

I won't ask you to ask him..."Or is that the only offense you know?"

Posted by: The_Shadow_Knows | November 18, 2008 3:59 PM

The Princeton offense is an offensive basketball strategy which emphasizes constant motion, passing, back-door cuts, and disciplined teamwork. It was used and perfected at Princeton University by Pete Carril, though its roots may be traced back to Franklin “Cappy” Cappon, who coached at Princeton in the late 1930s.[citation needed]

The offense usually starts out with four players outside the three-point arc with one player at the top of the key. The ball is kept in constant motion through passing until either a mismatch allows a player to cut inside to the basket or a player without the ball cuts toward the unoccupied area under and around the basket, and is passed the ball for a lay-up. Having a strong post player is important because this player is critical to passing to backdoor cutters, and can draw help defense to open outside shots.

The hallmark of the offense is the backdoor pass, where a player on the wing suddenly moves in towards the basket, receives a bounce pass from a guard on the perimeter, and (if done correctly) finds himself with no defenders between him and a layup. Alternatively, when the defensive team attempts to pack the paint to prevent backdoors, the offense utilizes three point shots from the perimeter. All five players in the offense-- including the center-- should be competent at making a three point attempt, further spreading the floor. (I guess this is where Pecherov comes into play)

The offense is a very slow developing one, relying on a high number of passes, and is often used by teams facing opponents with superior athletic talent, to maintain a low-scoring game (believing that a high-scoring game would favor the athletically superior opponent).

It seems this is never the case. Our team does this only 2-3 times a game, i don't get it

Posted by: BurgwithaU | November 18, 2008 4:20 PM

They need a win,in the worst way beating up on EJ won't do any good he'll be gone soon enough and I can't wait to read the blog that says "i never thought i'd be saying this; bring back EJ" Jordan has done a marvelous job while having his hands tied behind his back. If EG had any sense he would have never let Mason get away Mason took a short contract the last two seasons EG should have sat Gilbert and AJ down and told them we need Mason and its up to you two to contractually work it out cap wise instead we get Dee Brown who is D-league material and please EJ no Songalia tonite unless its garbage time.

Posted by: dargregmag | November 18, 2008 4:21 PM

Effort? It comes down to having a burning desire to win and since winning starts at the top the Wizards have no chance of doing that with the current ownership in place. Look at Kevin Garnett while he played in Minn they never went that extra mile to build a championship. Boston on the other hand has a payroll of 80 million and has a front office Danny Ainge who is a proven winner. How many people think that if you told Abe if he were to spend 80 million it would guarantee him a championship that he would think it was worth it? The ownership is cheap, the front office personal and coach are yes men and the players are here just to collect a paycheck. The last true winner this team had in its organization was MJ and look how they treated him.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | November 18, 2008 4:28 PM

Uhhh, one of the biggest reasons why Les BouleS lost to the Heat was because of Antawn "the holiest one" Jamison.

Not only did he not play any defense, but he went to the FT line ZERO TIMES!!!

http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/boxscore?gameId=281114014

That is unheard of for a power forward, nevermind a power forward in the Eastern Conference.

That means he's just busy shooting J's and dipsy do shots. He doesn't want to mix it up in the paint like he's supposed to.

Also, EJ got outcoached by a rookie coach who was busy coaching a lottery team.

EJ tried to deploy JaTravel "the secret weapon" McGee, but he's no secret anymore.

As I reported earlier, of the 6 losses so far for Les BouleS, with their one victory, 4 of those were to teams in the lottery last season, and 4 of those teams have new coaches who implemented new systems.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 18, 2008 4:37 PM

on another note, did anyone see Shaq put the wood to Rodney Stuckey? nobody stood up to him for Detroit. Rasheed Wallace tried a boyish push and ranted a bit out of his mouth. i'd be p'd off at my team for allowing that to happen.

Posted by: gregskins | November 18, 2008 4:42 PM

-Think the Wizards miss Roger Mason Jr. right about now? I know one thing: The Spurs sure are happy to have him.


By Ivan Carter | November 18, 2008; 12:23 PM ET

Again. Mason had to be let go to open the door for NY. AJ and Gil had to be signed and DS already had a 4 year deal. It is not that Ernie wanted to let Roger go, it was just a numbers game.

Would you whether have DS's contract going to Roger Mason, dang right. But it is what it is. If DS and Roger were both unrestricted free agents at the same time I know for a fact Ernie would have chose Roger over DS without question.

Seeing that was not the case, everyone needs to stop talking about how good Roger is doing and what he would have done for us. Ernie hands were tied because of the contract to DS the year before and the pending contracts of AJ and Gilbert.

Folks need to get off of Ernie's back. The only mistake the man has made was matching Etan's contract from the Bucks years ago and giving DS another contract.

Posted by: BulletsFever | November 18, 2008 4:55 PM

No more slow starts, no more slow starts..... Come on Eddie, stop being so dang stubborn and put the best 5 out there at the start of the game!!!!

Starters
McGee - 5
AJ - 4
CB - 3
NY - 2
Juan - 1

2nd Unit
OPEC - 5
Song/AB - 4
DMac - 3
Stevenson - 2
Brown - 1

Starters get 30 to 35 minutes....

Posted by: BulletsFever | November 18, 2008 4:58 PM

Are you going to post that in every thread?

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 18, 2008 5:07 PM

Again. Mason had to be let go to open the door for NY. AJ and Gil had to be signed and DS already had a 4 year deal. It is not that Ernie wanted to let Roger go, it was just a numbers game.

The only reason it was a numbers game was because the Wiz foolishly overpaid to keep Stevenson when there were no other bidders willing to come anywhere near his asking price. I said at the time (last summer) they'd have been better off letting Stevenson go and giving the starting SG to mason. had that been the case, they would have had the money to sign Mason to a deal. They (along with many of the people here who swore up and down that Stevenson's deal was "reasonable" and "fair") backed the wrong horse.

Would you whether have DS's contract going to Roger Mason, dang right. But it is what it is. If DS and Roger were both unrestricted free agents at the same time I know for a fact Ernie would have chose Roger over DS without question.

And you know this how?

Posted by: kalo_rama | November 18, 2008 5:12 PM

Great post on the Princeton Offense.

The Wiz are NOT running the princeton offense. But you are missing the real point of calling it the Princeton Offense.

There is great comedy value here. We all get to chuckle every time we combine "Blatche" and the word "Princeton" in the same breath.

See! Isn't that quite funny?

Posted by: cballer | November 18, 2008 5:49 PM

Again. Mason had to be let go to open the door for NY. AJ and Gil had to be signed and DS already had a 4 year deal. It is not that Ernie wanted to let Roger go, it was just a numbers game.

It was not a numbers game? It was about being cheap! It cost the Wizards 1 million to sign Juan and something for Dee Brown and it would have cost them 3.5 Million to resign Roger. Let’s see that’s a difference of about 2 million a year. Give AJ and Gil 1 million less each year since they do not earn it or go over the luxury cap since he is your player. Someone tell Abe you can’t take the money with you win you die.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | November 18, 2008 5:49 PM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/11/AR2008111101972.html

I think wilbon makes a solid case for calling an end to this "fire Eddie Jordan" thing. They will definitely not be better in the short run if Jordan is gone.

And if i can head everyone off at the pass, don't say they'd be better off in the long run. There's a valid argument to support that statement, but for now, everyone needs to get off the "fire eddie jordan" bandwagon until the end of the season.

Posted by: crs-one | November 18, 2008 6:43 PM

I griped incessantly to my friends that we needed to try and lockup mason during last season because he was gonna be a free agent, it burns to see someone show ridiculous potential and have it fulfilled somewhere else. roger did get a serious opportunity with his increased minutes due to duncan being the last man standing of their three stars. He has taken advantage of his heavier workload to say the least. Glad to see him do well, but whenever i hear him mentioned as a spur the word "Dagger" begins to reverberate in my head.

Posted by: bford1kb | November 18, 2008 9:44 PM

"I think wilbon makes a solid case for calling an end to this "fire Eddie Jordan" thing. They will definitely not be better in the short run if Jordan is gone.

And if i can head everyone off at the pass, don't say they'd be better off in the long run. There's a valid argument to support that statement, but for now, everyone needs to get off the "fire eddie jordan" bandwagon until the end of the season.

Posted by: crs-one | November 18, 2008 6:43 PM

"

Not be better than what?

Better than one and done in the playoffs for 3 consecutive years, nevermind a 1-7 start to date with two all stars healthy with EJ as the coach?

You've got to aim higher than that!

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | November 19, 2008 4:09 PM

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