Day 6, Flip, The Pollins & Young's Comedy Act

RICHMOND -- Coach Flip Saunders didn't bring any footballs or hypnotists to practice on Sunday, but his players have been marveling over the unique ways in which Saunders has attempted to convey his message this week.

"He keeps it fresh, keeps it fun," Caron Butler said. "We're just in training camp. We haven't even played a preseason game yet. We're just talking about how comfortable the guys are with him, after being with a great guy already in Eddie Jordan for so many years."

Butler said that expected to have a decent relationship after running into Kevin Garnett at a fight in Las Vegas and talking to Sam Cassell. "He said, 'You're going to love Flip,' " Butler said. "He's a great person, always approachable. He's an owl. He's up all night. You can call him anytime, text him, about basketball, life."

Garnett and Cassell also told Butler that Saunders likes to try different approaches to practices and game preparation. "I try to do things to bring fun to it," Saunders said of his practice techniques. "If you enjoy doing something, you'll enjoy doing it a little better and I always tried to keep them on edge. If they understand those type of things and adapt to different things, when you get to a game and get to a situation where they have to adapt, you kind of train their brain a little bit that they can adapt to the situation. Whether it's warming up with footballs ..."

Saunders said he has tried to mix up things in practice ever since he started coaching at Golden Valley Lutheran College in the late 1970s. He said the inspiration was playing for a disciplinarian in Bill Musselman, who put his players through long, punishing practices at Minnesota. "I thought, I wish we could do something different," Saunders said. "I think I've always been an out-of-the-box type individual as far as doing things. I can remember when I was a little kid. I remember going to the basement in pajamas with my name on the back, playing "Sweet Georgia Brown," and thinking I was going to play with the Globetrotters."

Wizards owners Abe and Irene Pollin and their son, Jim, visited practice on Sunday and watched the players engage in some intense scrimmages, with Saunders using the end of practice to focus on last-second situations. After practice, Butler and Gilbert Arenas were the first players to speak with the Pollins, with others following to spend time with them individually.

"It's always great seeing Mr. Pollin come out and get a chance to watch us and being able to interact with him," Butler said. "I love seeing the Pollin family. They're expecting a big year out of us. Obviously we are too. It's going to be fun. He said just to keep up the good work. He hadn't seen us in a while. I talked to him a few times over the summer. And Mrs. Pollin, she's always the mother figure, always showing us love and extending herself whatever way we need. So, it was great seeing her as well."

"It was good Mr. Pollin had a chance to come down," Saunders said. "He talked to most of the guys individually. The biggest thing was appreciating their hard work. He was impressed with their camaraderie, their enthusiasm and how hard they played and the spirit of how they were playing."

And Sunday's scrimmages were especially spirited, as Saunders divided his players with Antawn Jamison, Randy Foye, Brendan Haywood, Dominic McGuire, Mike Miller, DeShawn Stevenson and Paul Davis forming the white team, with Arenas, Butler, Nick Young, Mike James, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Vincent Grier forming the black team.

Javaris Crittenton was in sweats and wearing a boot over his injured left foot, while Fabricio Oberto was limited again with a left hamstring injury that Saunders said will likely keep him out of the preseason opener on Tuesday against Memphis.

By the time reporters were allowed to watch, Saunders was working on last-second plays, but I heard from a few people that white team dominated the black team, with Jamison and Foye leading the charge. James and Arenas shared the backcourt at times. But when asked if he planned on using Arenas off the ball much this season, Saunders explained that he went with that pairing after Butler left momentarily after someone stepped on his foot. He didn't switch back when Butler returned.

After practice, Blatche was asked about playing with the pigskin on Saturday. He was teamed up with Stevenson on the passing routes. "I was Ocho Cinco and he was Randy Moss," Blatche said of their pass-catching ability. "At quarterback, I Vick in his prime. [Stevenson] can be, I can think of him..."

I suggested Randall Cunningham. "He can't be him," Blatche said, continuing to ponder. "He can be Vick's little brother. He was Marcus Vick."

Asked if he was willing to strap up the pads for the Redskins, Butler said, "I'm going to leave that to those guys, Santana Moss and those guys."

Butler said he could already see players building stronger relationships this week in Richmond, through practices, hypnosis, walking around the city and just hanging out. He also said that some members of the team participated in Karaoke night during the team dinner on Friday. Grier did a nice job singing and Young did a standup routine.

Here is one of Young's jokes, which he had a difficult time remembering on Sunday: "D.C. is crazy. The other day, I saw a crackhead trying to steal my steering wheel. I said, 'What you doing, man?' He said, 'I'm trying to turn my life around."

After that, I'd have to say that Young really has a future in ... basketball.

By Michael Lee |  October 4, 2009; 6:23 PM ET
Previous: Communication Is The Key On D | Next: The 'Overlooked' Jamison & Flip's Rotation

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1st

Posted by: ptp23 | October 4, 2009 6:58 PM

I spotted Mike James outside of the Tobacco Company last night and dude has lost ALOT of weight! Almost didnt recognize him! Down to earth dude! Looks to be in good spirits! Lets Go Boyz! Looking forward to the season! Cant wait until tuesday's game here in Richmond!

Posted by: rf2litenva | October 4, 2009 7:04 PM

You can tell by the amount of posts on here that Washington is football town.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | October 4, 2009 7:49 PM

What could anyone say after that Nick Young joke? Way to kill your article, Mike.

Posted by: zinger1 | October 4, 2009 9:01 PM

It's ownership like Pollin and Snyder that make Washingtonians appreciate Leonsis.

Washington Caps...the only team in DC serious about winning championships.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 4, 2009 10:06 PM

"Here is one of Young's jokes, which he had a difficult time remembering on Sunday: "D.C. is crazy. The other day, I saw a crackhead trying to steal my steering wheel. I said, 'What you doing, man?' He said, 'I'm trying to turn my life around."

After that, I'd have to say that Young really has a future in ... basketball. "

Hey, another "C" to add to the Les BouleS logo.

Character. Commitment. Connection. Crackhead.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 4, 2009 10:08 PM

It seriously boggles my mind that anyone could feel negatively about Abe Pollin.

Posted by: ZachMorris | October 4, 2009 11:39 PM

@Zach,

I hear ya! The man has been a virtual prince. Yeah, there were some lean years and some mismanagement that he allowed, but nothing like what we see from Daniel Snyder. Besides, it's all been corrected. It's a very well run franchise these days. I hope DS does the same sooner rather than later.

Not to mention, he is legendary in DC in his charitable endeavors. Those that hate on him need to get a life!

Posted by: rphilli721 | October 5, 2009 5:03 AM

rphilli721,

I don't hate Abe the man....I've complained about Abe the owner.

All I've ever wanted is he either run the team like he wants to win a championship or sell it to someone who will.

Next year will tell you and me a lot about the man....will he be willing to go over the luxury cap and resign key players to keep this group together?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | October 5, 2009 6:44 AM

50-32, 2nd seed.

If these guys are REALLY buying into the D as has been reported...

Posted by: original_mark | October 5, 2009 7:12 AM

They have "bought in" year after year, and then start out a handful of games walking the walk, but then drop off.

Hopefully the depth and zone will help the defense.

Posted by: G-Man11 | October 5, 2009 8:19 AM

You have to like what is coming out of training camp so far... Now, let's see what the first exhibition game looks like...

Mike, I am intrigued by the fact the regulars have nicknamed Paul Davis "Paul Wall"... and I noticed that he had some very productive games for the Clippers a year or two ago. Do you think there is a chance that he could be signed to a minimum contract as the 15th man? Couldn't a reasonably productive 6'11" 270-pounder at least help eat up fouls against the Shaq - Z tandem and D Howard?

Posted by: khrabb | October 5, 2009 8:25 AM

Keeping Paul Davis as a 15th man carries almost zero risk and some possible reward.
Carry him at a min. contract he can be cut at any time to pickup a needed player.

If the Wiz are concerned about the contract being quarenteed, they've got a long time before they need to cut him. In the meantime the guy could give the Wiz an extra big body while Oberto gets back into game shape.

I'd think it's going to take Oberto awhile since his activity was curtailed recovering from heart surgery. If Oberto's not ready to go on opening night, the Wiz are still really thin up front. Davis might be worth keeping around for awhile.

I'd quess we might see more of Mike James out of the gate then any of us dreamed, guy came into camp in shape, motivated, and ready to play for a new deal. Crittenton's injury gives him a bit of an opening, he made his mark in this league as a man up defender on the ball, look for him to make the most out of the preseason playing time.

I'd think Ernie and Flip will showcase him a little in an attempt to find a trading partner. He proves he can still play, that expiring contract will look really nice to a team looking to rent a guy this year.
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | October 5, 2009 9:42 AM

"It seriously boggles my mind that anyone could feel negatively about Abe Pollin.

Posted by: ZachMorris | October 4, 2009 11:39 PM "

Talk to the season ticket holders who were duped last season when Gilby's bum knee out for the season news was revealed after the renew deadline passed.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 5, 2009 9:50 PM

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