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Our Time

RICHMOND -- Antawn Jamison emerged from the first practice session of training camp on Tuesday looking like a walking billboard for the Flip Saunders regime. Around his neck, Jamison hung one of the iPod Touch that Saunders purchased for every member of the team. The devices have an application with videos and diagrams of Saunders's playbook to ensure that every player fully understands where they need to be.

"No excuses," Jamison said.

He also wore one the new shirts Saunders handed out on Monday night with the two-word theme for the Wizards' season: "Our Time."

"It means a lot to me," Jamison said of the theme. "It's not about talking about it. It's about going out there and getting it done. If you believe it's our time to take it to that next level or get the job done, it's going to happen. I definitely believe everybody on this team believes it. If you don't believe it, we'll get you out of here."

Jamison has been vocal about his belief in the Wizards' chances at winning a championship, but he said that Saunders expressed in confidence and belief in the team when he gathered them on Monday night. Saunders handed out the "Our Time" shirts and caps to get the players on one accord and place that mental image in their heads (there really was a reason for the hypnosis). This talk might seem delusional for a franchise that won 19 games last season, hasn't won more than 45 games since 1979 and hasn't played much defense in the second half of this decade, but the talk must be rubbing off.

"We're excited," Mike Miller said. "For the first time in a long time, we're going out and thinking we're going to win a championship and we honestly believe that. That's what's fun for me. It's got me a little more excited and I just want to win."

You may have read about Saunders's trek from scrawny high school point guard to coach of the Wizards in Tuesday's story, but the players got a real sense of his attention to details and precision in his first practice. Saunders had each minute of the workouts mapped out, focusing on a few offensive and defensive sets.

After sitting out a full season, Saunders said he didn't feel like he really was away from the game.

"I liken it sometimes to when you have real close friends and you maybe haven't seen them for 12 months, and then you spend two hours with them and it feels like you saw them three days ago," Saunders said. "When you've been coaching and that's what you've been doing and you're so familiar with it and it's something you enjoy. When you get back into it, it feels like you haven't been gone."

And now that he is back, Saunders is working to convince this team to look beyond its past accomplishments. He also is demanding that they are focused and ready to learn. I heard that the entire 250-page playbook hasn't been downloaded on those iPods -- they do, however, have the scheduled plans through March, Jamison said. But Saunders will provide gradual updates throughout the season, basically forcing the players to pay attention. Chances are, he will have what equates to a pop quiz or two.

I heard that Gilbert Arenas either jammed or dislocated a finger on his left hand last week. A team spokesman told me that it wasn't serious and that Arenas is fine. Arenas was the first player on the court on Tuesday, arriving several hours before practice began at 10 a.m.

At media day, Arenas vowed to take fewer three-pointers than in the past. On Tuesday, Arenas was shooting long jumpers -- about an inch or so inside the three-point line.

Caron Butler said he can tell that Arenas is serious about this season. "When I came in, he was getting shots here. I was the second guy in here -- and I was here two hours before everybody else," Butler said. "It meant a lot seeing one of the leaders on this team showing up this early and showing the dedication and commitment. I thought that was great."

As Butler spoke, he was wearing his "Our Time" cap.

"That's what we believe -- it's our time, participating in winning a championship," Butler said. "It would be great to bring that to the city and we think we have the pieces in place and we're ready to take a shot at it."

By Michael Lee  |  September 29, 2009; 6:12 PM ET
 
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Next: Day I, Evening Practice

Comments

We all know Gil won't completely abandon his off-court demeanor (nor his fondness for 3s on the court), but if he can just stay healthy and become more team-oriented in his approach, the Wiz could surprise all of us.

Posted by: Firuz1 | September 29, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

so many grammatical errors in this.

1. "like you say them three days ago"
2."when you've coaching" wtf?
3.250-playbook? you mean 250 page?

Besides that, I'm hoping that the wizards will join the capitals as the other respectable sports franchise in the DC Area. Wiz could be a sleeper this year in the east.

Posted by: augustusmay | September 29, 2009 8:02 PM | Report abuse

Maybe Flip will get copies of The Little Engine That Could (I think I can...I think I can) for NY and AB. Considering the way they act it would be about their reading level.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | September 29, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Mike, for giving us the story quickly, and I was happy to read right through those grammatical errors. I'm sure your copy editor will clean it up soon enough, but we got the scoop.

The excitement on this team could very well be contagious. At least, I'm already hyped. Let's hope these attitudes keep striving through a though season.

Posted by: zinger1 | September 29, 2009 8:40 PM | Report abuse

It's payback time. Go Wiz! I can't wait to get this thing going. I still would like us to trade a couple of these guards to get a veteran power forward/center. It's going to be some hard match-ups with some of these teams with us starting 2 undersized forwards at 6'7 and 6'9.

I was watching the video of today's practice on the Wiz site. Miller was just burying 3s.

How many teams in the NBA can boast having 4 players that were invited and participated in USA basketball?

Arenas, Miller, Jamison and McGee!This shows the NBA really thinks highly of these players which is why they have to bring it this year.

Posted by: ptp23 | September 29, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Depending on how this season goes, we'll look upon these words and either think these guys were delusional or had incredible foresight.

Posted by: tundey | September 29, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

That is what they have to tell to their mind,it is positive.
50 or more wins is the ideal target for this team.

Posted by: gtefferra | September 29, 2009 9:38 PM | Report abuse

"augustusmay"

If you are anal-retentive enough to painstakingly catalog every grammatical error in Mike's bog-entry, then you are smart enough to know that the standards for getting a blog-piece up are different from what might appear in the printed edition of the paper. Get a life!!

Love the positive vibe Flip is bringing to the team and I love how the team appears to have bought-in to what Flip is sellin. Love it, I hope it works.

Posted by: closg | September 29, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

how many teams in the league have a different theme each year? the theme stuff is beyond old. how about just going out and winning.

Posted by: sargeantmofo | September 29, 2009 10:23 PM | Report abuse

Hey;
while you are here in Richmond be sure to get down to 5th and Main for Cafe Rustica, great food.

Posted by: sethandsunny | September 29, 2009 10:51 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like Flip is a poor mans Phil Jackson.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | September 29, 2009 11:42 PM | Report abuse

"Sounds like Flip is a poor mans Phil Jackson.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | September 29, 2009 11:42 PM "

Yeah, before MJ got him the rings at that.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | September 29, 2009 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Man I am counting the days til the opening tip!

Signs of life hopefully with this team.

Need some positive vibes with the skins making me feel depressed all the time. Lets go wiZZZ

Posted by: m1ke3i6 | September 30, 2009 12:03 AM | Report abuse

Choo! Choo! Chooooo! Choo! Choo! Choooo! The Little Red Engine That Could!

Thas' ah' real' nice' analogy' Mista' BullitsFanzSevntyAight'. Butcha' kno' I'uh' don' thank' any of dem' boys wud' have uh' problem reading Da' Liddle' Red' Injen' Dat' Cud'.

You know BulletsFan78, you and that fellow called DCMan88, sometimes yawl' need to understand wisdom of not showing up at a Halloween Party dressed as yourselves.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | September 30, 2009 12:04 AM | Report abuse

anyone else feel like a dark cloud is looming over the relationship of Gil & Flip? Hopefully we can with this lmao "championship" before things deteriorate.

Posted by: prescrunk | September 30, 2009 3:25 AM | Report abuse

LarryInClintonMD.......DITTO!! :-)

Posted by: garrybrown | September 30, 2009 7:10 AM | Report abuse

the quest for 43 wins begins

Posted by: garyhalperinyoga | September 30, 2009 9:59 AM | Report abuse

I, for one, hope Gil doesn't stop shooting 3 pointers. We are always among the league's bottom teams when it comes to 3's. We're better offensively when he's a threat from out there. The jumper 'an inch or so inside the 3 point line' is supposedly the worst shot in basketball.(besides any shot by Michael Ruffin.)

Posted by: original_mark | September 30, 2009 10:05 AM | Report abuse

I'm really glad to see that Gilbert has accepted, verbally and with his commitment by getting to practice early, his role as a leader. I've very excited about this season.

Posted by: justman1 | September 30, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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