What's Up With the Songaila Bashing?

Maybe it's just because I'm watching Wake Forest play so well right now (beating Clemson on my tube), but what's up with all of the hate for Darius Songaila on this blog?

I mean, we all know the guy isn't an all-star and he can't jump over the morning paper, but he was on the floor when the Wizards pulled that game out Friday night, he did have a good plus-minus (+7), he did finish with seven rebounds and four assists and he is shooting a team-best 51.6 percent on the season.

No, the guy is not a big-time rebounder, but he sets great screens (like the one that opened Antawn Jamison up for the game-winner against Cleveland), he's a great passer and cutter, he's a good positional defender and he spreads the floor. He also had the assist on the Mike James three-pointer that iced the win over the Knicks.

Now, I agree with the general thought that says: "play the young fellas and find out what they can do." I'm on the record stating that case. In fact, I'm all for finding out what Oleksiy Pecherov can do ASAP (yesterday's blog post) but Darius Songaila is a good ballplayer who is helping this team.

In fact, if I were coaching the Wizards, I'd tell the young fellas to closely watch Songaila and learn from the way he plays and the way he carries himself on and off the court. The guy is as fundamentally sound as they come, he's always professional and he's always a good teammate.

What's up with the hate?

By Ivan Carter |  January 17, 2009; 4:28 PM ET
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Agreed. It needed to be said.

I posted in another thread a play I noticed by Songaila in the Knicks game.

In the last minute, he gathered a defensive rebound. Knowing that the Knicks would foul to regain possession, he immediately passed it to Caron. Simple enough.

But after he grabbed the rebound, his back was turned to the entire court. Without hesitation, he turned and passed directly to Caron.

He didn't take a second to find where Caron was; he already knew. Which means he thought out and planned exactly what he was going to do before a rebound even existed.

It's a small thing, and yes, any good basketball player should be able to do that. But they don't. Songaila is a smart player.

That being said; yes, he shouldn't be playing center so often, and yes, his minutes should not be significantly greater than the young'uns.

Posted by: crs-one | January 17, 2009 4:53 PM

No hate from me.....I like Songalia.

Posted by: Lisa_R | January 17, 2009 4:54 PM

It's because he takes minutes away from McGee, duh...

Posted by: sargeantmofo | January 17, 2009 5:06 PM

Agreed Ivan, Songaila has good fundamental basketball skills. Most of us don't complain about his passing, court smarts, and attitude. Most of us complain about him playing center and getting outrebounded and not being able to guard centers. So many leads have been lost with EJ and Taps playing small ball with Songaila at center. Otherwise, I am cool with him playing at the 4 and only playing 5 when the other team is small and the center is Son's size. Also, it does take mins from JM and even Pech.

It's not good to hate, but you are right, there are those who want him benched entirely.


Posted by: faninAlex | January 17, 2009 5:13 PM

I have nothing against Songaila. He plays hard and gives good minutes off the bench. But it's time for this franchise to look to the future as this season's done.

To that end they should trad both Songaila and Antawn Jamison for picks/young players they can build around, and get the young big men all the minutes they can.

Posted by: Blue1971 | January 17, 2009 5:23 PM

The problem with Songaila, Ivan, has nothing to do with Song at all: he is not a center, but that's where Tapscott insists on playing him. He's a solid backup 4, and should never, under any circumstances, get time at the 5. Again, David Lee's line with Songaila on him most of the game: perfect from the field, 21 rebounds.

There's no hate for Songaila; only for mental midget Tapscott, who would rather take the short-sighted view of win now, when the season's lost, instead of building for the future by playing Pech, McGee, Critt, etc. Instead, he'd rather grinding Caron, Antawn and Mike James (shudder) into the ground.

Posted by: keithward64 | January 17, 2009 5:29 PM

You're right -- Songaila is the kind of high-basketball IQ, high-percentage shooting player that any championship contender needs as a sixth man. Teams should be busting EG's door down seeking to trade for this player. I love him so much, I can't even believe I'm writing that.

Posted by: dpclark | January 17, 2009 5:33 PM

That's true.

It's not like DSong got offered 127mil to be the franchise player, but then hasn't played any serious ball since he got hurt over 2 years ago.

It's not like he's a hypocrite like MeTawn who's always complaining about the youngin's while he himself can't spell defense and can't lead the team.

It's not like he's MeShawn who likes to talk, but can't back it up.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | January 17, 2009 5:33 PM

Terrific post. There is too much hate period towards the players and coaches. These guys are doing the best they can with a horrible situation served up by management. Ernie has fouled this up.

Posted by: erniegone | January 17, 2009 5:38 PM

The hate comes from how he is played! He is not a center so why play him there. And why put him on the floor with nobody out there to back him up? I mean, he should be out there with Mcgee or Blactche or BTH (when he's healthy) because they can rotate over and help him out. Yes, he played (and always) great against the Knicks, but what about when he was left to fend for himself against Dwight Howard? Ask him has his jaw healed any? That's my only problem with it. Let the man play the position he was born to play. Power Forward.

Posted by: CBell29 | January 17, 2009 5:39 PM


Its simple. Songaila is in the game at the 5 down the stretch of EVERY game. and in EVERY game, his presence on the floor leads to layups and dunks by opposing guards, offensive rebounds by opposing bigs, and second chance points by those guards (rebound and dish out to the wing for a reset or an open three) and big men (they go straight back up with it, knowing there is no threat of having their shots blocked).

I understand his value, veteran guy, spaces the floor, reliable 19 footer (by the way, why won't he turn that long 2 into a 3 - seems to me that's something he should be able to accomplish in a single offseason with Hopla).

Yes he's always in the right place on both sides of the ball, he always has position for the rebound, he always is in the right place to challenge a penetrating guard, etc.

But what on earth does it matter if he doesn't get the rebound? Doesn't block or alter OR EVEN CONTEST the shot? Allows the guy he is boxing out to jump over him and put it back.

Posted by: jones-y | January 17, 2009 5:40 PM

The difference in last night's game was Jamison's huge rebound and put back. Meaning that if we had more 2nd chance points, easy putbacks etc., some of those losses over the past 20 games are wins.

AB (and JM to a lesser extent, because he's so raw) at least has the potential to get the rebound and either put it back up or kick it out to the top of the key to reset the offense. We have trouble hitting the shots (typically jumpers) we get down the stretch, but a huge part of that is not getting easy looks at the basket that come from offensive rebounds and 2nd chance points. And on the other end, opponents get 2-3 looks at the basket each and every single possession, because we don't secure the rebound.

I could go on, but what baffles me is that something that's so plainly obvious to me and many here is absolutely missed by the coaches, the reporters, the on-air personalities, everyone! DS can't defend the paint, deter a shot, or grab the big rebound. AB can...

In fact, when the offense starts to bog down, I would suggest that they run a few offensive sets through AB, who has consistently gotten this offense going in the first quarter with high percentage shots that he generates from his one on one offensive moves. Why don't we ever come back to that after the first quarter??? There is no reasoning (besides maybe conditioning) to think that he can't do it in the second half, especially down the stretch. So why, against all the reasons stated above, does DSong consistently get the 2nd half minutes at the 5 over AB???

DSong is a very solid and dependable player, and he has a role on this team going forward. He's a nice reserve player, and would get 12-15 minutes per game on a number of playoff/championship contenders. But every time he plays the 5 down the stretch, opposing teams exploit this weaknesses and generally end up with the W because of it. So its not so much DSong that we're questioning, its his utilization (by EJ and now ETaps) and the philosophy behind it. Small ball is not winning games this year. AB is clearly the better option down the stretch.

Posted by: jones-y | January 17, 2009 5:42 PM

I do not see people summarily hating on Darius. Anyone with an inkling of how to play the game knows this guy gets it, does all the hard work and is an asset to the team. He is a power forward playing center, on a team with a very talented rookie big man, in a year with zero playoff prospects.

This is not rocket science. There is nothing at stake except the number of balls in the lottery. We simply want the Wizards to stop playing for today and start thinking about tomorrow now. We know what the vets can do. Let's play the youngsters, live with the mistakes and teach, teach, teach.

Sick to death of the hang on til Gilbert returns mindset. It's been 3 damn years. Sheesh.

Posted by: The_Shadow_Knows | January 17, 2009 5:47 PM

I've got no beef with songaila, like you said, Ivan, he is as intelligent a player and as skilled,(passing, shooting) as any big in the league but he has zero athleticism and at the center position playing him so reliably down the stretch of games is absurd, he is a valuable piece as a bench pf, he gets the hate not because of his game but because tap is using him so fundamentally inappropriately, we all wish the young guys can absorb some of songaila's intangibles but the fact of the matter remains while playing center the wiz have zero front line defense between he and jamison, this is what has led to the defense continuously allowing extra possessions late in games, when you can least afford such errors, and his playing guarantees that there will be no resistance on the interior for anyone who drives the lane, because of his lack of speed he also ends up with a lot of bad fouls. He is valuable, just not the way this wizard's coaching staff has decided to use him. The plus minus ratio is such on overrated stat when attributed to a single individual, no one could say songaila played better than andray in the minutes they saw last night, blatche was as active as he's ever been and he was rewarded with five 2nd half minutes? the knicks couldn't throw it in the ocean, 37% shooting, that is why the wiz barely squeaked out a win instead of running away with a game in which they held another double digit lead that almost went for naught. Songaila is fine, he is just being asked to do more than is capable of while he plays center, he should never under any circumstances get minutes at center over either blatche or mcgee and when was etan was healthy, him either. His minutes should come at pf only, then there would be minimal hate, he'd still get embarrassed athletically from time to time, i.e. nate robinson seeing him and going right at him, jumping over him to lay it in uncontested in ny, he has a foot on nate and robinson finished like he wasn't even there, leading to some scrutiny but putting him at center effectively makes him the guy who takes javale's minutes, the person the fans want to see more than anyone else, compounding the hate resulting from the fact that he is no center, but gets the fourth, at center, every game regardless of how he or blatche, or jm have played in the game. the hate on songaila is driven by how he is used, not from any of his deficiencies. it is understood that his value isn't athletic, but as a sound player who can hurt you offensively despite not being an inside factor as a big. But there is nothing more infuriating than seeing him out there on the floor as a five,it is a flat out awful personnel decision to have him logging any substantial time at the five, blatche and mcgee should play all 48 minutes at center. So let darius know that the fans are not hating on him but rather the decision to not play him where he is most effective.

Posted by: bford1kb | January 17, 2009 5:57 PM

If I was Taps, I would put AB on the following rotation:

First half:
9 minutes to start the first quarter at C.
6 minutes to end the second quarter at C or PF.

Second half:
6 minutes to start the 3rd quarter at C or PF.
6-8 minutes to end the 4th quarter at C.

That's a solid and consistent 27 minutes for AB. Let DSong and JM (and occasionally OP) split the remaining 20-25 minutes at C. Give DSong another 5-10 minutes at PF in relief of AJ. That way, AB becomes more confident in his role, DSong still gets his minutes to contribute, and AJ gets a pinch more rest.

It just makes too much sense. Now, I'll concede this strategy if we try it and it doesn't work, but the whole point is that the current strategy clearly isn't, so let's try something different for gods sake!

Posted by: jones-y | January 17, 2009 6:04 PM

erniegone: But it's cool to hate Grunfeld? The obvious answer to Ivan's question is that almost everybody who hides behind a screen name is a bitter, angry, impatient knowitall. Internet sports fans also seem to think that, no matter the sport, any 20-year-old is automatically better than any 30-year-old. You know what team people on the internet drooled over for years? The Bulls, because they kept getting younger and younger, stockpiling rookies and draft picks. And look how far that strategy's gotten them. The commenters on this blog and every other blog are babies who get bored very quickly with their toys and always want a new one.

Posted by: IrenePollin | January 17, 2009 6:13 PM

I'm thinking maybe Tapscott is playing Songaila at center because he doesn't have anyone else who gives his team a chance when the game is close.

That, of course, says more about the team than about Songaila's skills at the 5.

Take McGee. He's Tigger (bouncy, bouncy) and that's fun to watch, but he keeps sliding out of position and going for the block when the better move would be stand his ground and stretch up to his awesome full extension.

Or Pecherov. He's an elbows guy, which the Wiz sometimes need, but he trips over his own feet on defense. European center -- he wants to drift outside and wait for a pass so he can throw up a 3 pointer.

Or Thomas: once a good center, not any more. Whether it's his health or conditioning, he plays well in bursts but those seem to be shorter and shorter...

So who else is there? Songaila. He's like a Russian boxer, all fundamentals and footwork, good hands and careful play. No, he won't win you the game, but he's unlikely to lose it, either.

And that's got to be worth something, particularly if you're going to play kids like Nick Young at the same time.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 17, 2009 6:15 PM

Oh gee, I forgot Blatche. Another very talented player with a proclivity for bonehead mistakes at the end of games. Like losing his defensive position, or following up a spectacular blocked shot with a fumbled entry pass, or once again, slipping out of the box in hopes of a jump shot...

The Wiz have loads of such players -- works in progress rather than finished products.

Whatever else Songaila is, he's not rough around the edges.

Posted by: Samson151 | January 17, 2009 6:18 PM

You know what team people on the internet drooled over for years? The Bulls, because they kept getting younger and younger, stockpiling rookies and draft picks. And look how far that strategy's gotten them. The commenters on this blog and every other blog are babies who get bored very quickly with their toys and always want a new one.

Posted by: IrenePollin | January 17, 2009 6:13 PM

The poor Bulls are at least playing near .500 ball.

The "toys" we were given have been broken for years...there is something wrong with wanting to play with the shiny new ones which are not broken? How many years of playing without complaint with the broken toys will win us your favor and prove our undying loyatly to the franchise?

Posted by: The_Shadow_Knows | January 17, 2009 6:23 PM

Like others have said, I don't think people have a problem with Darius, it's how Darius is being used. The problem is that Darius, while hard-working, is limited and isn't good enough to close games playing center. He's just not good enough at what is needed. And for every time that Phil Chenier gushes about how he hedges a pick and roll well, there are two or three times where his overagressiveness leads to either a foul or a screwed up rotation (like the time in the Knicks game where he left Jared Jeffries wide open under the basket to double-team Wilson Chandler, who was picked up well by Butler. Guess what happened). Darius is averaging 4.5 fouls per 36 minutes. Dray Blatche, who's biggest weakness is his propensity to foul, is averaging 4.7.

My feeling (hope) is that Tap is playing Songaila down the stretch as a way of motivating Blatche, as if to say "Look at his effort, he's so limited, but if you did all the things he does on the court, you'd be so much better." It's a strategy that may work, but my concerns are twofold. First, Blatche hasn't exactly responded well to the whole "benching to motivate" tactic, otherwise he would have turned a corner by now. Secondly, there's always the concern that Taps really believes playing Songaila at the five down the stretch is a winning strategy. It worked by some stretch of a miracle in this game, but there are tons of other games (like the Cleveland game we almost lost) where it didn't work. Logically, it doesn't seem to make sense. Why put in one of the team's worst rebounders (Songaila's rebound percentage is 8.9, only 0.4 ahead of Javaris Crittenton) when rebounding is of the essence? If Taps is really trying to win games, I have a hard time finding a way to justify playing Songaila over Blatche down the stretch.

The other issue is Songaila's contract is a killer. It's not terrible, but we're looking at being around eight million dollars over the luxury tax in 2009/10. Darius signed a five-year deal for the mid-level exception when he's producing around the level of a eighth-ninth man. Why did we pay so much money for that?

None of these things are Songaila's faults, so there's no reason for Songaila himself to draw ire. But in scanning a lot of these comments, it's not Songaila himself who is getting killed. It's the way he's being used. The distinction is very important.

Posted by: Pradamaster | January 17, 2009 6:36 PM



Posted by: insanity999 | January 16, 2009 10:14 PM

So I see nothing has changed with our hometown Wiz.??? I took some time off watching games and posting on this blog because I could not stand the coaching from Tapscott anymore.

After missing more then 5 games (which I never do), I was hoping Tapscott may have changed his ways some. After reading over the past blogs and comments I see the dude is as stuborn as Eddie J' or if not more when it comes to letting folks (McGee and Opec) out of his doghouse.

I watched the game last night and could not believe my eyes when I saw Song. play almost the whole 2nd half and AB barely got in after having a great 1st half. I was so mad I wanted to throw something at the tv. Tapscott's coaching had took me there at the beginning of the month, thus leading to one of my reasons for not watching the games and posting on the blog anymore.

The sad thing about Tapscott decision to play Song all of those minutes is they won the game so now in Tapscott's twisted way of thinking playing Song. at the 5 for so long only justified him doing so more in future games. Not good news for McGee or Opec.

As I have said many times in past blogs, I really like Song.'s game and have no hate towards the man or his game what so ever. My problem is Eddie J' and Tapscott playing him at the "5" spot instead of the "4" is what makes me upset.

Song. is blocking McGee's, AB's and Opec's minutes and maturation process. We are wasting a golden opportunity to groom McGee and OPEC to see what they have in a lost season. It looks like EG might have to trade Song. to force Tapscott to play McGee and Opec, like he had to do when he did not resign Ruffin and tried to trade Etan to force Eddie J' to play Haywood.

I thought Ernie G. was running the show, but it looks like Tapscott is the one who is the "top dawg".....

Posted by: BulletsFever | January 17, 2009 6:37 PM

Excellent post Pradamaster, it's not rocket science.

Posted by: The_Shadow_Knows | January 17, 2009 6:41 PM

Nice that you are sensitive to Darius but can we get a post on a major issue?

1. What is Gilbert's status today? Exactly where is he in recovery...60%, 80% where? If he must be 100% to play this year, is he on any schedule to achieve that? If not, why not and what does this mean for the future of the club.

2. Is EG happy with ET thusfar? Have the issues he identified in dismissing Jordan been corrected in his eyes?

3. What is Haywood's status and projected return time frame?

4. What are ET's goals for the team for the remainder of the year? Does the team know what they are?...seriously.

Posted by: The_Shadow_Knows | January 17, 2009 6:56 PM

Good blog Ivan, and I do agree he is underappreciated. He is a smart player, and one of those guys who does the little things. He's great in that role of vet PF off the bench, does the dirty work stuff that doesn't show up in the box score type such as Popeye Jones, Michael Ruffin, The Manimal, and hopefully McGuire is developing those skills. Christian Laettner was pretty good for us for a couple seasons with a similar game to Darius.

The problem is too often these kinda guys end up playing at center, like Ruffin, and Charles Jones. Most of the complaining about Songaila is the fact he plays so much at center, which is actually a bashing of the coaching more than Songaila. I think we all agree he is a solid backup PF, but he often plays more at center than our actual centers. We get frustrated watching him play a position where he is overmatched physically, is undersized, and his lack of athleticism is exploited (he has never been the same physically since hurting his back). Although he brings some nice high-post skills to the spot, it is overshadowed by his other shortcomings (pun intended).

Posted by: Darnell1 | January 17, 2009 7:24 PM

And the other issue is people simply want to see the young guys ... McGee, Blatche, Pech.

Posted by: Darnell1 | January 17, 2009 7:26 PM

WOWWOW, now everyone seem to agree with Ivan, when earlier ALL of your guys seem to be bashing at Songaila. switching boat.LMAO

Posted by: forbid | January 17, 2009 7:52 PM

I fully admit my hate for Songaila...at the 5. He's 6'9, doesn't have a long wingspan, and can't jump. There's no situation where Songaila should be getting any minutes at the center position, except if literally all our other big men are unable to play.

At the 4, he has value. That's the only position he should ever play.

Posted by: psps23 | January 17, 2009 8:13 PM

WOWWOW, now everyone seem to agree with Ivan, when earlier ALL of your guys seem to be bashing at Songaila. switching boat.LMAO

Posted by: forbid | January 17, 2009 7:52 PM

forbid - nobody was ever bashing Song. because he was a bad player, we are indirectly complaining about why is it Eddie J' and Tapscott seem to believe they should play Song. major minutes at the "5" instead of at the "4" his natural position.

There are THREE count them THREE legit 7 footers on our squad who get little run because Eddie J' and Tapscott keep playing Song. at the 5.

All that stuff Ivan just said most of all of us had already said last year and early this year about Song. Nobody is agreeing with what Ivan just wrote, if anything he is agreeing with what we had already said about Song.

Posted by: BulletsFever | January 17, 2009 8:14 PM



Posted by: BulletsFever | January 17, 2009 8:17 PM

Maybe the problem is that Songaila doesn't look like a center. As somebody noted, he's 6'9", doesn't have much wingspan, and can't jump. All true, except he's closer to 6'8". Put him next to Brandan Haywood, he's a shrimp.

But on certain teams, smallish centers have been an advantage.

Take Utah. Carlos Boozer, ostensibly a PF, actually played center most of last season. Boozer's skills are actually rather similar to Songaila's, except he's stronger. He scores a lot because that's his role on a team with some outstanding shooters and a stellar point guard. On another team, he might score a lot less.

Be a stretch to argue that Songaila plays in order to send a message to McGee. Heck, a couple sessions of -in-your-face coaching would do that. Songaila likely plays because McGee isn't ready yet. When Tapscott (and Grunfeld) believe he is, then you'll see him oh the court at game's end.

Sure, Songaila will make mistakes. But a lot fewer than McGee or Blatche. I wish that wasn't the case, but watch the games -- it is.

He's being used because at the moment, he's the better 5. And I think Tapscott is correct in that assessment.

Maybe next year things will be different. But you're not much of a coach if you let the fans tell you who to play, are you?

Posted by: Samson151 | January 17, 2009 8:38 PM

Songaila plays smart, I don't think anyone has ever hated on him for that. The problem with him as a player is he's just simply not the athlete that most other people on the floor are at his position. He's not considerably tall or long-armed, can't really jump, and can't really finish around the basket. AND we signed him when he wasn't even healthy. If he was as healthy then as he is now, he would've been a good asset on that team.

But this year, at this point, playing him over other younger big men makes no sense. Everyone complains about how the other young big men need to learn how to play. I agree, the do, but they need to get on the court to do so. All this playing time for Blatche this season is going to do nothing but help him. It would be even more helpful if it was at his more natural position. We all see tons of natural talent in McGee. We all know almost nothign about Pesch. And we all know that playing time is one of the best ways to teach a player how to play the game. The playoffs are gone this year. Every minute of every game from this point forward should be about improving the team for next year. We need are big men to be good defenders. One great way for them to learn is to play against top flight offensive players. Learn their tricks and tendencies until reacting to them becomes second nature.

After next season, this team is going to have to make decisions on Haywood and Thomas. those decisions will be a lot easier to make if they get these young guys on the court and see how much they improve. Are we going to want to pay Haywood 7-9 million if it looks like McGee could be a solid starter after next season?

I know any and all hatred by me towards Songaila has been mostly about A. the length of his contract, and B. the fact that he takes away playing time from players we need to get on the court to develop.

Posted by: segastyle | January 17, 2009 8:45 PM

Euphoria for an 8-31 team over a HOME win over a 15-23 team that is passing time until 2010. The Wizards now has the same amount of wins as the Thunder. Here is the thing, the Thundrs core players are early 20's the Wizards key players are early to mid 30's. The reality is that this win in context is meaningless. their trajectory is going up and ours is going down.

Unfortunately with this veteran ideology a win like this is a negative all this does is reinforce the rotations that we have suffered through. The segment in the Post regarding (Tapscott) teaching young players the difference between winning and playing time is hilarious. Which veteran coach or General Manager has won either a NCAA champpionship or an NBA championship. I believe only Juan Dixon and he ain't playing. Tapscott and Jamison damn sure have not.

Teams that have made the youth iunvestment are doing good and have bright futures. Meanwhile we gloat over a win over the Knicks, a mediocre team of overacheivers.
The way they have handled the young fella McGee, publicly chronicling his weaknesses because of heat about his playing time is bush league.

Both Grunfeld and Tapscott need to be fired. The organization needs to be blown up and a coach like Avery Johnson (73.5% winning percentage and an NBA champion) should be brought in. Forget the nepotism it is tine for the Amateur Hour to end.

Posted by: NewManagement | January 17, 2009 9:01 PM


Posted by: BulletsFever | January 17, 2009 9:10 PM


As has been said over and over in response to your post. No one is hating on Darius. he is a solid ball player.

All the ire is directed towards Tapscott, who is retarding the growth of our younger players (and also utilizing Songaila incorrectly). McGee needs to be playing, and he's stealing major minutes. We have no size when Tapscott, uses his favortie terrible line up of butler, jamison, darius, mike james and mcguire.

Songaila is a SOLID backup 4, but to ask him to play center, and be the main rebounder is absurd. The guy has no hops, and we consistently get outrebounded and attacked in the lane when hes in the game.


Posted by: insanity999 | January 17, 2009 10:05 PM

The same problem I have with DSon is the same as playing ETan instead of BH. It retarded the growth of the Team. Etan Thomas was not and never will be an NBA center and nor will Darius Songala.

They both are at best backup PF's. Play them there if needed. And if they are not needed keep them both deep on the bench.

Enough said.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | January 17, 2009 10:12 PM

Wow, no one's stepping to the plate when Ivan calls you out. I guess I'll have to do it:

- I hate how Songalia read Michael Ruffin's autobiography, "How to Become the Washington Wizards' Coach's Favorite Center," and followed his advice to the letter.

- I hate how he loves the 22 1/2 foot jumper. How about working over the summer, dude, to extend that range about a foot so you can make three pointers? That actually would make you a dangerous offensive player.

- Charles Oakley couldn't jump as high as you yet managed to get lots of rebounds. What's your excuse? You average 2.6 rebounds per 17.4 minutes per game. Even Pech is averaging 1.9 in his 6 minutes per game.

- I know in the minds of many fans and sportswriters, high effort equals good play or earns you a pass, but I'm not buying it. You are the 4th best paid active player on the Wizards right now, but you're not playing like it. You wanted that contract, so live up to it.

- I'm not going to excuse you of getting beat on the court because the coach puts you at center. You've got a mouth and a brain. If you are being put in the wrong position and it is hurting the team (it is), you have a responsibility to speak up. Your teammates are going to be reluctant to tell the coach to pull a player, especially a veteran player, so you need to take the initiative.

- Good, dedicated players always seem to add something to their games each season. I can't think of one thing you have added to your game since you arrived in DC. What do you do all summer? Fish? Suduko? If you need ideas for this summer, see the point above about 3 point shooting.

- I liked the foul on LeBron in the playoffs last year, though. Thanks for that.

Posted by: disgruntledfan | January 17, 2009 10:46 PM

Great post Ivan.

As far as Pech goes, I can understand why Taps is keeping him under-wraps. Pech plays like a small forward, which means he's competing with Jamison and Butler for PT. Not clear that he brings a skills set to either side of the court that those two All-Stars don't already have (he may be a marginally better 3 point shooter -- at least based on a handful of 3 point attempts). If Pech was a point guard, or a true center, he'd probably be getting more looks right now. He's still an x-factor.

disgruntledfan, as far as comparing Ruffin to Songaila, I mean come on.

Did you ever see Ruffin's offensive game? The man hustled, but he was a liability late in games because of his terrible shooting. Songaila is shooting 87 percent from the line; he's hitting 51.6 percent of his shots -- he's got a nice 18 footer.

Ruffin didn't even have a 4 footer -- even dunks were an adventure. I can't remember the opponent, but I remember a game a few years ago where Ruffin tossed the ball up in the air late in a game trying to run out the clock -- and ended up giving the opponents a final shot at winning the game (which they capitalized on). God bless Ruffin, but Songaila is a lot more versatile than Ruffin was.

Ruffin was a marginally better defender and rebounder; on the offensive side of the court, there's no comparison -- Songaila is the much, much better player -- even at the 5.

Posted by: JPRS | January 17, 2009 11:34 PM

I think it's obvious most of us hate Songaila at center. When he plays next to Jamison that 'big' combination is athletically challenged and limited defensively. There will be no blocked shots, rebounds above the rim or any intimidation to discourage guard penetration.
Thomas was/is vastly overpaid but at least he swatted shots when players came in the lane weak and swung elbows to make mugs back off when the board was secured.

Do we even know where McGee is right now? He had a good November, awful December and now it's January. How about playing Darius at his natural position next to McGee. This gives a nice balance of youth, veteran savvy, athleticsim and toughness. Why won't Tap at least go with this tandem off the bench for a short stretch to see how it looks?

Posted by: elfreako | January 17, 2009 11:58 PM

Glad you boys enjoyed my posts earlier today defending SONGAILA and explaining to the uninitiated just how he's valuable to the team. Good article. Couldn't have done better myself. Oh wait, I already did write that article. Thanks for the compliment blogmeisters

Posted by: glawrence007 | January 18, 2009 12:10 AM


Nice take on "Mr. SOFTEE's" D. By the end of his current contract, I believe his offense will have declined to the point where he'll be a liability to the club. Maybe not like DeSHAWN or GILBO, but he's getting older.

Posted by: glawrence007 | January 18, 2009 12:16 AM


I like it. McGEE and BLATCHE/SONGAILA. Z problem is McGEE needs to bulk up. His body is still growing. When he hits 255-260 then we'll see some extended production from the youngsta'. And oh my, when he gets his legs look out league.

Posted by: glawrence007 | January 18, 2009 12:21 AM

Ivan bashes Blatche. It's okay.

Blatche is better than Songalia.

We bash Songolia. It's not okay.

Apart from the irony of Ivan's blog, the problem with Songolia is that he wouldn't fit the Wizard's style of play, if the Wiz ever developed a style of play.

And his PER has averaged less than 13 since joining the Wiz. The league average is 15. I doubt he will be improving anytime soon. Trade bait.

Posted by: Izman | January 18, 2009 12:22 AM

Songaila is playing instead of McGee because Songaila knows how to deny the entry pass to his man and force him to move out of the low block to catch it. That's why Songaila can do a reasonable job against Dwight Howard and McGee can't. Songaila also has infinitely better shot selection. (Whoever said that Songaila can't finish at the rim is an idiot--he obviously can't jump, but he's a master at reversing and using the rim to keep his man from blocking his shot.)

McGee has tremendous raw talent, but it's going to take him another year or so to learn how to play in the NBA. Getting pounded by Haywood in practice next year is really going to accelerate his development. Ultimately, I think McGee has the potential to be a much better player than Haywood, because he's got a better shooting touch and ballhandling skills and is way more explosive.

I love Blatche's size, skills and creativity, but he can't seem to avoid picking up cheap fouls. He ends up sitting down a lot because of that.

Posted by: pjkiger1 | January 18, 2009 12:22 AM


You da' man.

Posted by: glawrence007 | January 18, 2009 12:24 AM

glawrence007 -- thanks again for the good words.

pjkiger1, agreed.

I love watching Blatche and McGee play too.

As far as Ivan razzing Blatche goes, my guess is that it's like that old saying about coaches -- the only time a player needs to worry is when the coach stops yelling at 'em, 'cause it means: 1. the coach has given up on a player; or 2. the coach doesn't think the player is worth the breath.

In Songaila's case you don't blame him for the fact that he isn't Kevin Garnett or even Charles Oakley.

I think there's a sense that he's close to maxing out his potential. He's a solid, self-motivated veteran.

In the case of Andray Blatche, I think there's a sense that he could be an All-Star. He's got that ability.

But what does it take to get him there?

McGee too -- same story: "what is the best way to develop talent"?

You don't want to set young players up for failure and destroy their confidence.

You make sure that they're given the chance to prepare, so that when their number is called, they'll succeed.

No magic formula. Someone like LeBron was born ready to play at the NBA. Garnett was near ready his first year. But those are exceptional cases.

In the past, players had the chance to develop confidence, skills, and maturity playing 3 to 4 years in the college game (e.g. Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing). Not the case these days.

Posted by: JPRS | January 18, 2009 1:23 AM

"Ivan bashes Blatche. It's okay.
Blatche is better than Songalia.
We bash Songolia. It's not okay.

Posted by: Izman | January 18, 2009 12:22 AM"

Good post, Izman. You forgot to add, though, that Songalia makes 50% more than Blatche, and Songalia is 30 while Blatche is 22.

Posted by: disgruntledfan | January 18, 2009 7:31 AM

I'm still in a state of shock that Eddie got fired after 10 games when I watch this team.

I could understand doing it after the season.

But doing it just into the start of the season to me completely ruined this season. It gave us seamingly a 1 game burst (especially Blatche). But otherwise it doomed us into the season we have seen where we have fallen to one of the worst teams with no hope of playoffs.

I just don't get it how Ernie would think that move would help us this year which was the purpose of the move, if Tapscott is indeed an "interim" coach.

How does firing the guy who has led us to playoffs the past 4 seasons, through Gil being out and all kinds of injuries, and replacing him with a guy who never coached in NBA??! With Gil and Haywood going down Eddie was really our best hope to still have any kind of success this season, with his experience with this team and keeping the continuity of our team and system.

Now we have this guy who may be good, but is still learning on the job. Again I understand if Ernie wanted Eddie to go, after the season would have made sense. But to drop a bomb on this team 10 games into the season makes no sense to me at all! That move IMO made it IMPOSSIBLE for us to recover and make anything from this season.

I am still very upset and very mad about this. What a stupid move. Ernie Grunfeld completely ruined this season. You can see it in the players faces. I watch this team now and I hope they lose just so Grunfeld will look worse and worse with his idiotic decision! It was a knee jerk reaction, and it was just about the dumbest thing he could have done.

I mean what was he thinking?? Let's replace Eddie Jordan with Tapscott, that will really turn this around! That will save the season and get us on track! What ??!!

Really if I think about it too much I get so mad I can't even watch this team.

Posted by: Darnell1 | January 18, 2009 8:24 AM


At this stage, I'd say that Andray Blatche is more talented than Songaila.

If Blatche continues to develop he'll be making a lot more than Songaila is now before he hits 30.

Remember though, Songaila came to the Wiz knowing the Princeton offense. His game is still more polished than Blatche's -- although Blatche has closed the gap over the past season.

If we want to talk about differences in contracts, let's look at what Songaila's making relative to Etan Thomas -- another vet who's the same age and experience level (and these days the same position).

If the Wizards decided to move Songaila, they could pretty easily with his current contact -- even if he was clearing another $250,000 to $500,000 some teams would probably take the contract on.

In the case of Thomas, probably not at this stage -- not unless the Wiz ate part of his salary.

In Andray's case he negotiated his contract after a summer in which he had that run in with the under-cover cop.

I'm sure when the next contract negotiation comes around, he'll have more leverage if his game continues to improve.

Posted by: JPRS | January 18, 2009 10:50 AM

racism? nah, it's just people who don't know basketball or dont watch games. just reflexive hatin. good job on calling it out. songaila's been fantastic this year.

Posted by: PindarPushkin | January 18, 2009 11:43 AM

Too much bashing.
Not only on Darius but both Eddies, Stevens and anyone else that has a bad streak.
Darius knows the game and his role.
Both Eddies did/are doing all they can with what they have.
Stevens has spurts of good that make up for his bad. No one on the team has been perfect every game.

Posted by: VBFan | January 18, 2009 12:52 PM

Darius looked truly awful on some inside offensive plays against the Knicks, but his defensive positioning was often brilliant.

The big issue that people seem to have is the minutes he is 'taking away' from JVM... but, let's face it, we would not have beaten the Knicks with JVM getting 30 minutes on Friday.

Anyway, as I think Pradamaster has raised elsewhere, Darius is one of the few movable mid-level type contracts on the Wizards, and it is certainly within the realm of possibility that he could be an important trading chip going forward (as opposed to going center, I guess...).

Posted by: MaxwellR | January 18, 2009 2:18 PM

but his defensive positioning was often brilliant.

Yeah but he does nothing when he's in position. He offers easy layups, gives up easy offensive rebounds, and allows easy putbacks and tap-ins while standing in his brilliant defensive position...

Again, we're not hating DSong himself, we're tired of the way he's being used (at the 5 down the stretch), especially when there is a better option on the bench.

Posted by: jones-y | January 18, 2009 2:40 PM

It's late in the game to be raising the issue of hate in this location, but I'm pleased to see the number of people who seem to agree. Of course, the good members who've departed or changed their logon names amid the generalized hate -- only the misguided would continue to use their real names here -- would be difficult to count. I agree, Darius Songaila deserves more respect than he gets here; I also agree that Songaila-hate is probably a minor point that could have been dropped into a new entry on, say, the resolution of the point-guard/center situation. I've admired the team for decades, and I've admired your writing for a couple of years. Here's hoping you've soon got positive news to convey.

Posted by: Bullets72 | January 18, 2009 3:22 PM

NewManagement, there are so many things wrong with your post, it's a challenge to take on:
You write:
"the Thundrs core players are early 20's the Wizards key players are early to mid 30's." You might want to check your math on that; also, remember that some of the Wiz's key players are out injured.

You continue: "Which veteran coach or General Manager has won either a NCAA champpionship or an NBA championship. I believe only Juan Dixon and he ain't playing. Tapscott and Jamison damn sure have not." You seem to suggest that if the coach or GM (or player) has not won a championship, they cannot, and therefore should not be retained. That is absurd. No one has won a championship until they win it, and most who win one never do again. While no one is suggesting that ETap is the long-term solution as coach, EG is a solid GM that I think can put together a team that will go all the way. If the Wiz let him go, some other team would snap him up, and I'd bet that team would prosper.

"Meanwhile we gloat over a win over the Knicks, a mediocre team of overacheivers."
I'm not seeing the "gloating"; instead, it's happiness at seeing the team come from behind in the 4th quarter against a high-scoring opponent. It was a good win, and the team showed some promise.

"Both Grunfeld and Tapscott need to be fired." See above. "The organization needs to be blown up." Here is wisdom. Just blow everything up.

"and a coach like Avery Johnson (73.5% winning percentage and an NBA champion) should be brought in." Maybe. But as the Redskins can tell you, bringing in the name coach doesn't always result in deliverance.

"Forget the nepotism it is tine for the Amateur Hour to end." Are you referring to Wes Unseld Jr.? Etap has been a good man for the organization in other roles. Maybe he's not the future head coach, but I have the impression he was asked to take this on -- he didn't seek it, he stepped up to do it. That should not get him fired from the organization.

I'm a fan of the Wizards and I want them to do well. I wish some fans wouldn't use the forum to say unconstructive and rash things. I'm concerned that it could have an influence that I don't think would be positive.

Posted by: 7snider7 | January 18, 2009 4:00 PM

"but, let's face it, we would not have beaten the Knicks with JVM getting 30 minutes on Friday" - MaxwellR

Maybe, maybe not. I think the point many people are making is that right now, wins don't really mean much. Playoffs are out of reach. Everything the team does from this point forward should all be about next season. Winning a couple extra games, at the expense of giving a young very talented player a chance to learn and grow on the court, is not good for next season.

Posted by: segastyle | January 18, 2009 5:37 PM

Nice that you are sensitive to Darius but can we get a post on a major issue?

1. What is Gilbert's status today? Exactly where is he in recovery...60%, 80% where? If he must be 100% to play this year, is he on any schedule to achieve that? If not, why not and what does this mean for the future of the club.

2. Is EG happy with ET thusfar? Have the issues he identified in dismissing Jordan been corrected in his eyes?

3. What is Haywood's status and projected return time frame?

4. What are ET's goals for the team for the remainder of the year? Does the team know what they are?...seriously.

Posted by: The_Shadow_Knows | January 17, 2009 6:5

1. Gilbert's status is a secret, so short of Ivan finding the next Deep Throat, there's nothing new to write there.

2. If Ivan asked that question, the answer would be yes. Even if the answer is no, the answer is yes. EG didn't express any of his private reservations with EJ until he was taking action. That's just how it works; in order to keep morale, you give full confidence in your men until you are ready to change it, not a moment before.

3. Haywood will be back in time for the playoffs.
3b. Haywood will not be back this year.

4. I like this question, but I would say it would be a waste of breath. To get ET's vision on the team would involve asking him, the guy who says JVM "is a matchup problem against a big guy like Aaron Gray / against bigs who play perimeter like bargnani and bosh" I would hate to sift through whatever ET would have to offer on his vision.

Big stories go in the paper. Small stuff goes here.

Posted by: crs-one | January 18, 2009 6:39 PM

"Avery! My man. What's up. Yeah, this is Ernie. How ar...yeah kinda sucks. 8 wins. I know. Listen...I want you to coach. You know, just the rest of the year...NO! I don't think anybody better will come around this offseason, who's better than you? Just...you know...in case *you* want to go somewhere else next year. What? No, not at all! I don't think coaching a team that's hopelessly out of the playoffs will hurt your resume and chances of getting a better gig next year! I just...hello? hello?"

Posted by: crs-one | January 18, 2009 6:46 PM

I personally admit to hating on Songaila and for good reason.

The plus-minus doesn't mean as much you think it does. What it means is that the lineups are screwed up. If you put a scrub in a lineup with good players, his plus-minus is gonna be good.

For all the people that like Song, you have to look at Songaila and not just what he does but what he doesn't do. If there was a way to chart second chance points because of missed rebounds, he'd lead the league. If you could count the number of layups given because he doesn't even challenge drivers, he'd lead the league.
If you could count the number of leads and games we've lost because he's playing C out of position, he'd lead the league.

Sure he plays hard and sets good screens and can hit an open jumper. So did Calvin Booth.

I don't want to hear any crap about how valuable he is. He could not start or get anything beyond 10 minutes a game on any GOOD team in this league. Playing him is an admission that this year, we're terrible.

I didn't even mention the fact that his playing retards the growth of the young guys. That's reason enough to never play him.

Ivan, you yourself have said that you think Pech can play. IS he a better option than Pech at C? I don't think so and Pech never gets any time.

Posted by: original_mark | January 18, 2009 6:57 PM

...and another thing... NO team is this league would clamor for Songaila. Anyone who thinks so doesn't have NBA Ticket. I challenge anyone to come up with a name of a 6th man with Darius' stats and ability who has some trade value. Songaila is a 8th or 9th man at best. On a good team he'd be a 'up by 30 and resting your starters and bench' kind of guy. This is exactly what he should be here.
Again, I appreciate the basketball knowledge and effort but sometimes effort isn't enough when you're as limited physically as he is. Even Ruffin was more valuable in my opinion and I thought Ruffin was one of the worst players in the league. At least he'd block an occasional shot and grab a rebound.

Ivan, I can't believe that YOU can't believe that he's getting so much hate.

Let me sum it up with this...a lot of people here don't dislike him and think he'd have some value at PF, just not C. I think' he's borderline useless and would rather play DM, Pech, AB, JM before him even at Power forward. He's a 5th string pf and his minutes should be allocated accordingly.

A couple years ago he was being favorable compared to Nocioni because they're both white forwards that play hard and are foreign. Songaila can't hold Nocioni's jock.

Posted by: original_mark | January 18, 2009 7:16 PM


Geeze JONESY, if TAP had a better option on the bench, he;d use it. I do not agree with your take.

Posted by: glawrence007 | January 18, 2009 7:21 PM


I thought for a minute you were describing BLATCHE when he's flat or JAMISON when he's getting those minutes while resting that aging body. Or even BUTLER when his head's somewhere else. Or even BUTLER when his head's somewhere else which its been lately.I think the WIZARDS have enough of those players to go around.

Posted by: glawrence007 | January 18, 2009 7:32 PM

Darius closes out better than any player on the Wizards team. In fact, I'd say he closes out better than almost anyone in the league. I can't count the number of times I've seen Darius close out a guy off the pick & roll and cause him to waste valuable seconds, trying to restart the play. I'd like to see McGuire and some of these other young fellas learn from his example.

Posted by: satchmore | January 18, 2009 10:01 PM


New Orleans Hornets. Maybe not as a 6th man, but definitely as a guy who'll get some solid minutes. Songaila over Hilton Armstong, Melvin Ely, or Sean Marks? In most situations, I'd go with Songaila.

As far as Nocioni goes, how much is he clearing this year?

Oh, that's right EIGHT MILLION -- with another $24 million left on his contract after this season (on a team that isn't even .500 this year).

Who do you dump on the Wiz's roster to sign Nocioni? Gil, Jamison, or Butler?

If Nocioni was serving as the back-up center for the Wizards this team would still be in trouble.

Songaila wasn't signed to be a starting center, or even a back-up center.

He was signed to play the 3 and the 4 and some fill-in time at the 5. He's clearing just a little over $4 million this season. For that price, he's earning his due.

Posted by: JPRS | January 19, 2009 12:01 AM


One more thing -- on point differential -- I agree with you that it can be a misleading stat. If you have two separate units, it can be misleading. Based on any one game, it can be misleading. Over the course of a season though -- and on a team like the Wiz -- where everyone has had a chance to play with the first team -- it's a pretty reliable stat.

Right now the stat says +3 with Blatche, something like -0.3 with Songaila, -5.5 with McGee, and -11 with Thomas. That sounds about right too. Blatche is the starter. Songaila's the vet who holds the line and gives the first line starters a breather. McGee's numbers are what I'd expect from a rookie.

Let's step back for a moment too -- ideally Haywood is the starter, Blatche is the reserve for the 5 and the 4. Songaila is a great fill-in at the 3 and 4. Under normal circumstances, Songaila is the kind of player that a .500 or better team wants to have as a fill-in. When he's in the first line starters keep their legs fresh, and the team is able to maintain a lead.

Losing Arenas and Haywood to injury has hurt the team. Losing Mason to free agency has made the transition even more painful.

I don't think we point the finger at any one player and say "it's his fault" -- I don't even think we point the finger at the coach and say "it's his fault". This team needs to do better, but I don't think it's a question where Taps is making terrible decisions in rosters and line-ups. He's not conceding the season, which is exactly right at this point. The Wiz are a long shot, but you still go with the best roster to win games. If we get to the end of the season and the Wiz are eliminated with 10 to 15 games left, then I'd guess we'll start seeing some more "developmental" minutes for young players. At this point though, you don't throw the season. You keep fighting, and playing fundamentally sound basketball, and let the chips fall where they may.

At the end of the season, the team re-evaluates and makes it's moves accordingly. At this stage there are no quick and easy fixes.

It's also good to see Mike James coming along. The point differential at the PG position has actually been where this team has struggled the most relative to other teams.


Posted by: JPRS | January 19, 2009 12:44 AM

"Maybe, maybe not. I think the point many people are making is that right now, wins don't really mean much."

Anyone who followed this team through the dark days of Calbert Cheany, Rex Chapman, Ledell Eckles, Brent Price, Robert Pack, Christian Laettner, Jerry Stackhouse, Ike Austin, and the many, many more will tell you how incredibly wrong that is. On any team, but especially on a team with as many young players as the Wiz have, winning always means something. Once a team and an organization get to the point where they get used to losing or expect to lose, it becomes incredibly hard to change that mindset. The last thing anyone who is actually a Wizards fan should want is to let that kind of thinking take hold of this team/organization again, because those of us who've been around awhile remember how long it took to shake free of it the last time.

"The plus-minus doesn't mean as much you think it does."

A point I've been making for years. Stats without context or frame of reference tell you little if anything of value, and plus/minus is the king of context free stats. Funny though, how people selectively decide to agree with that perspective when it can be used against a player they don't like, but conveniently forget it when pumping up a player that they do.

Posted by: kalo_rama | January 19, 2009 2:17 AM

These young guys need playing time at some level--whatever happened to the NBA development league--is it still operating and if it is why haven't players like Mcgee or Perch. in the league for experience????? I'd be interested reading someones take on this!!!!

Posted by: vergens2 | January 19, 2009 4:17 AM

Songaila does exactly what he was hired to do, I have no problem with his play.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | January 19, 2009 8:56 AM

The problem with Darius is that he stands out near the 3 point line on offense waiting for a kick out for a jump shot. No one on this team goes into the post. Jamison does VERY rarely and most typically will turn baseline and throw up his half hook. It's all very routine.

Darius needs to play at the 4 with Mcgee on the floor. Someone who knows he needs to be inside and let Darius play his perimeter game, set screens,pass, then box out.. yada yada... Playing Darius with all these other perimeter players is just redundant. His foot speed kills him on defense guarding most 4's, and his lack of size is a problem on defense agains't most 5's.

This team needs Gilbert. Someone who can get in the lane whenever he pleases to create some inside out game. Draw fouls. Finish at the rim. Make plays for others. Right now - no one penetrates, no one posts up. they shoot too many jumpshots to win consistently.

Posted by: unkonchus | January 19, 2009 10:10 AM

One of DARIUS' attributes is his constant movement without the ball. If he's standing outside the three its to set a pick before rolling down the lane for a rebound when some other fool jacks up another brick - YOUNG excepted.

Posted by: glawrence007 | January 19, 2009 10:57 PM

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