Flip: Arenas Needs to Be Aggressive; Stevenson to Start

The inside of the Wizards' practice court is undergoing a makeover. I already mentioned how Flip Saunders put up the team's retired jerseys and its 1978 championship banner. Gilbert Arenas said on media day that Saunders suggested the change to keep the court from looking like "a prison."

When the team arrived for practice from Richmond, there was another surprise -- Fathead posters of seven of the 14 players on the roster. "That's hot, right," Caron Butler said as reporters caught the last few minutes of practice.

It was supposed to be all 14 players, but apparently, the Fatheads don't work well against the cinder block walls. So while explaining the reason why Butler, Gilbert Arenas, Nick Young, Randy Foye, DeShawn Stevenson, Brendan Haywood and Mike Miller were up, while the others were not, a Wizards spokesman joked, "the adhesive was just better."

After practice, Saunders was asked about Arenas's unselfish play during the Wizards' 101-92 win against Memphis on Tuesday. Arenas took only five shots and handed out 10 assists as he spent the entire night setting up Antawn Jamison, Butler and Young. He even passed up a layup and an open three-pointer. His teammates benefited from the open looks, as Arenas made their job look easier, but Saunders said his point guard will eventually have to focus on the rim, too.

"I think he'll come into that," Saunders said. "He's got to be aggressive offensively. The way my offense is initiated, you look at the point guards I've had, they've always had high assists, but they've always been scorers. They're usually first or second on my team in scoring. If your point guard is not an aggressive scorer, it takes away. If that's not an aggressive option, it's too easy to guard the other guys. I think right now, he's trying to understand and get guys in spots, but someone like him, his scoring ability is something you don't want to take that away."

Saunders announced that Stevenson will start at shooting guard against the Dallas Mavericks for the Wizards' lone VC preseason game on Friday. Saunders said he plans on mixing players in and out of that spot this preseason. On Tuesday, Stevenson played 18 minutes, 5 seconds -- just six seconds fewer than Young -- while Miller played almost 21 minutes. Saunders said he wanted to give Young the chance to "chase around Jason Terry a little bit."

The Wizards have spent the past two days of practice working on rebounding drills, after the team was outrebounded 60-45. The Grizzlies had 24 offensive rebounds and 21 second-chance points. The Wizards also surrendered 23 points off 20 turnovers, which means that more half of the Grizzlies' points were the result of poor rebounding or poor ball-handling.

Brendan Haywood said he expects the Wizards to do a better job of rebounding against Dallas, explaining that the new defensive system sometimes left the big men in the wrong spot. "I think sometimes, what happens with us -- and I'm giving the guys a lot of the benefit of the doubt -- when you throw a lot of things at teams, as far as coverage, they are thinking of things to do. If you think and you're not reacting to things, you're going to be dead," Saunders said. His players need to "get some contact on somebody and go after it. It's hitting somebody and pursuing the ball. Those are things we're going to have to do. Rebounding is a mindset; it's a will."

Saunders, Miller, Foye and Fabricio Oberto will make their debuts in Washington on Friday, but Miller sounded like someone who is still trying to figure out his new home. The Wizards had training camp in Richmond, will play one home game and hit the road for Toronto on Saturday. "We're not here very long, won't be in too much rhythm," Miller said. "You get to come back in front of the home crowd, show them one time before the season starts."

He then joked, "I know where my house is at and I know where the Verizon Center is at."

By Michael Lee |  October 8, 2009; 2:23 PM ET
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Comments

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Gil does need to be aggressive at times. He will pass more because he has more to pass to but they still will need Agent0.

Posted by: G-Man11 | October 8, 2009 2:41 PM

oh, I forgot.....FIRST!

Posted by: G-Man11 | October 8, 2009 2:41 PM

happy birthday, Mike Lee

Posted by: prescrunk | October 8, 2009 2:45 PM

Oh no. My gut reaction to Flip publicly stating that Gil should "be more agressive" is "big mistake, coach". Gil's natural instinct is to shoot first and ask questions later and I don't think that serves this team's best interests. This team consists of guys who would be primary scorers on other teams and they should be involved early and often. Count me as one who hopes that Gil continues to have a conscience and spreads the ball around to give someone other than himself a chance to get hot. The 4th quarter is when we need Gil to take over AFTER he's established everyone else as potential scorers/threats. Hopefully, Gil's at that point in his career where he understands that he has to pick and choose his spots. If he averages 9-10 assists per game, he's a shoo-in for the All Star game to boot.

Posted by: Firuz1 | October 8, 2009 4:35 PM

What a novel idea. Putting historical memoirs in the pratice gym. You mean good Eddie didn't do that? Wow!

I like Flip. I like Flip.

LarryInClintonMD.

At least Flip won't need no historical lessons from some of us amateurs on this blog as we've called.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 8, 2009 4:52 PM

Correction... we've been called.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 8, 2009 4:53 PM

What a novel idea. Putting historical memoirs in the pratice gym. You mean good Eddie didn't do that? Wow!

I like Flip. I like Flip.

LarryInClintonMD.

At least Flip won't need no historical lessons from some of us amateurs on this blog as we've called.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 8, 2009 4:52 PM

>>>>Dear Larry in clinton,

perhaps they won't,however; what YOU need is some education, and better grammer or are you "just keeping it real for all the hommies out there that might be able to read what you wrote? In the immortal words of Chris Rock "yea you's keep'in it real, REAL DUMB!!!

Posted by: urSofakingdumb | October 8, 2009 5:54 PM

Dear Larry in clinton,

perhaps they won't,however; what YOU need is some education, and better grammer or are you "just keeping it real for all the hommies out there that might be able to read what you wrote? In the immortal words of Chris Rock "yea you's keep'in it real, REAL DUMB!!!

>>please allow me to make my own corrections.
1.Perhaps "they" wouldn't require any historical lessons....
2.the closiong " mark after the ?
3. remove the ' from you, although it is indicating plural, there is no ownership obtained or associated with the word you.

Posted by: urSofakingdumb | October 8, 2009 5:59 PM

Hey urSofakingdumb:

Your own post was littered with ugly errors, including the indefensible misspelling of the word "grammar." Get a life.

Posted by: prodiggy3 | October 8, 2009 6:26 PM

If MeShawn felt like he got clowned by JayZ after his words with LeBron, imagine if he starts something again this season and Shaq cracks down. It's not going to be pretty.

Here's a dose of what Shaq is capable of.

http://www.fannation.com/truth_and_rumors/view/93410

http://blogs.usatoday.com/gameon/2009/03/chris-bosh-tell.html

Even when Lebron and JayZ were trashing MeShawn, nobody heard a peep out of Gilby.

Gilby needs to stand up for his teammates.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 8, 2009 7:16 PM

>>please allow me to make my own corrections.
1.Perhaps "they" wouldn't require any historical lessons....
2.the closiong " mark after the ?
3. remove the ' from you, although it is indicating plural, there is no ownership obtained or associated with the word you.

Posted by: urSofakingdumb | October 8, 2009 5:59 PM

disallowed.

when you criticize grammar on a message board of all places (seriously, this isn't professional writing. it's the internet)

and turn it into a personal attack (against someone who hasn't attacked you and is one of the least deserving of attack on this board)

and then tie it into race of all things (and don't try to say it's justified because you misused a quote from a black comedian)

you'd better have perfect grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and word choice. and don't come asking for a chance to correct yourself. you're ridiculous.

Posted by: crs-one | October 8, 2009 7:21 PM

crs-one

Disallowed?! LOL. Couldn't have said it any better! Maybe he'll think twice, proofread it himself and get a "second pair of eyes" (Sherm Lewis is in town, I hear) before posting.

Posted by: Firuz1 | October 8, 2009 7:57 PM

Hey urSofakingdumb:

Your own post was littered with ugly errors, including the indefensible misspelling of the word "grammar." Get a life.

Posted by: prodiggy3 | October 8, 2009 6:26 PM

+1

What an idiot... now we all know who's "Sof*kingdumb"!!

Larry's one of the best and most thoughtful posters on this blog... urSofakingdumb is not.

Posted by: jim_arrows | October 8, 2009 9:50 PM

Why is DeShawn Stevenson still on the team? Mike James is better than him and he will be sitting near the end of the bench this season. Its a waste of time to play Stevenson. This will be Saunders first big mistake this season. Lets hope he doesn't make many.

Posted by: dandyhuffman | October 8, 2009 10:39 PM

Even when Lebron and JayZ were trashing MeShawn, nobody heard a peep out of Gilby.

Gilby needs to stand up for his teammates.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | October 8, 2009 7:16 PM
---------------

agreed. unfortunately at this point, the only comeback that would be effective against shaq are the Ws. Let deshawn talk all he wants, and let's hope gilbert backs him up on the court.

Posted by: crs-one | October 9, 2009 1:00 AM

I'm also a little unsure about Stevenson at this point. Foye is going to check Wade and the such, and Dom will get some burn against LBJ and Pierce... I think both will do a better job in the "stopper" role. It will be nice to have Stevenson on the roster in case Nick Young turns out horrible or in case of injuries but I don't think he needs to be getting any minutes.

Posted by: GshawnJohnson | October 9, 2009 2:23 AM

Why is DeShawn Stevenson still on the team? Mike James is better than him and he will be sitting near the end of the bench this season. Its a waste of time to play Stevenson. This will be Saunders first big mistake this season. Lets hope he doesn't make many.

Posted by: dandyhuffman | October 8, 2009 10:39 PM
____

Oh really, so you know more than people paid a lot of money to make these decisions and whose careers are staked on them. Right. That's not to say they don't make mistakes, but this is not the Wiz/Bullets organization of the past. The current regime is more than capable of making the basketball decisions. And, besides, why the hate for DS. He has been a pretty good player for us when healthy if you don't remember.

Posted by: rphilli721 | October 9, 2009 2:42 AM

Keep the wisdom coming LarryinClintonMD. Don't let the fool get you down.

Posted by: mugsybol | October 9, 2009 5:25 AM

Mess with Larry and the whole board comes down on you.

LOL

I think Flip's statement that Gil needs to stay aggressive is one of the smartest things he's said thus far. We don't want a 12ppg 12 apg pg on this team. We'd be better served with a lite version of Agent Zero. As was pointed out, Flip's pg's lead the team in scoring. Gil needs to look for ...and take...his shot when it's there (which it almost always is). He just needs to shoot less often than he used to, play defense and trust his teammates.
A 22ppg, 8apg, defense-playing Gil is what I'm looking for.
What we dont want is for Gil to pass up his shot all game long and when we need him at the end of a game, he's not in rhythm. There's a nice healthy mix and he needs to find it.

Posted by: original_mark | October 9, 2009 7:01 AM

If some people would just take their meds...

This stuff raises it's ugly head around here from time to time. Almost always from new, made up monikers, designed to be insulting, or one well established serial offender.

Ivan just ignored the crap, Michael has tryed reasoning with it, and slapping it down from time to time.

Larry's one of the posters around here that comes accross as a guy that you'd like to talk some ball, with and have a beer. So to go after Larry's really stretching it.

It's a shame when some people troll around this site with nothing really to say, but spew hate, and try and reduce us all to their level.

Larry, you keep posting, and I hope Gil starts firing up the ole' habichi soon, cause there's nothing that torments our resident hater(s) here more then Gil dropping 40 in a Wizards win...Swadagger...
GM


Posted by: flohrtv | October 9, 2009 7:51 AM

Larry's probably the only one here besides me who wanted the Wiz to run and gun last year. I think we're coaching geniuses.

Posted by: original_mark | October 9, 2009 8:28 AM

O'Mark, I think Gil will look to distribute more, because there's more options to pass to.

And he's playing in a system that demands the ball in the point guard's hands to distribute the ball for the best shot. It also demands a lot more catch and shoot, instead of dribble drives off of cuts which will also increase assists.

But, Flip's always encouraged his points to take good shots when they have them. Or to drive and create, Flip isn't afraid of a point guard that can score himself.

Funny, all this talk about Gil being a ball hog, and Jamison, Butler, and Hughes when he was here, never had trouble getting enough shots to score running with Arenas. Jamison(in Dallas), Butler(in Miami and LA) and Hughes(in Cleveland and Chicago) have all had trouble getting shots on other teams playing with other stars.

All three of these guys have had their best years running with Arenas. Gil's assists will go up because of the change in system. His scoring possibly won't go down a lot because of increased FG percentage due to getting better shots himself. And they're going to run more with all of the depth Flip's got to work with.

When the Wiz needed quick baskets in the past, they often abandoned the Princeton and free lanced. They won't have to abandon Flip's system, they can get a good quick shot when needed within the system.

Staying in an offense will lead to better shots and higher FG percentage which should increase scoring. No reason that we should expect the team's best scorer to score less.
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | October 9, 2009 8:41 AM

Mark, I think you and Larry will get your wish this year.
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | October 9, 2009 8:42 AM

Can a bad defensive team become a good defensive team by changing coaches, schemes and attitude--or, do you have to bring in new players? Obviously, EG is betting on the former, but I'm skeptical. I think this will be a very good basketball team, but unlike a lot of people, I'm a big believer that preseason games matter and that they say a lot about what a team (basketball or football) will do in the regular season. Hey, I'm very excited for this team and can't wait for the season. But lousy defense and poor rebounding--I wouldn't be surprised if that sticks with them all year. You watch the great defensive teams like Boston or the old Detroit squads. They are/were pissed when the other team is scoring or on a run--they take/took it personally. To these guys it's still intellectual--like something they need to fix, versus an afront to their manhood, which is what is has to be.

Posted by: jweber1 | October 9, 2009 9:27 AM

I am not sure that DS starting tonight means he will be "the Starter" at the 2 this season. I am beginning to feel that Flip will have a starting rotation of the big 3 and Haywood and put in the 2 that he thinks matches up well.

I mentioned before that DS is at his best as a fourth option on offense. doesn't need to light it up, but when AJ, CB & GA are all getting locked, a nice pass out to DS every now and then can open things up and also mean it is impossible to double team Haywood, so even he can muscle through for a dunk every now and then.

DS also adds some D to an otherwise mediocre first team on defense.

Anyway, the big improvement of this team over past years is not in the first team; they are already one of the top starting lineups in the NBA (going by the numbers from 2005-08). the big improvement is that when Gil takes a breather, Foye can play. When CB takes a breather, DM or MM can step in. This also leaves five guys to match up at the 2 in some kind of rotation.

At the 2, being on a hot shooting streak is more important, because you are supposed to be an outside shooting threat, So, who knows, maybe NY, DS are both in a slump and Mike James steps up on a hot streak. I like having the options.

Our questions still are whether or not McGee and Blatche can step up on the second team.

Posted by: Blurred | October 9, 2009 9:41 AM

I have a commitment this evening that will keep me away from the game. Can't wait to get yoru all's take on the play. Especially hope that Haywood plays better.

Posted by: Blurred | October 9, 2009 9:51 AM

One reason Gilbert got so many assists is because defenders are drawn to him out of fear of the shot. If he stops shooting, they'll stop flowing to him, and that will render him less effective.

But I didn't see any signs that he was less of a shooter than he once was. He went to the basket effectively and he got open for 3 pointers. They just didn't drop.

All in all, he looked good.

A viable outside threat from the SG spot, whether it's Young or Foye or Miller, would also help quite a bit, IMO. Doesn't mean Stevenson sits down for good, however; just that he becomes more of a role player.

The turnovers bother me a little. Any thoughts on that?

Posted by: Samson151 | October 9, 2009 10:08 AM

Thanks for the love, guys. It warms the heart when you are appreciated in any manner.

Thanks again.

Butcha' kno', words like that do not scar my armor.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 9, 2009 10:33 AM

For all those posters who think I am being to hard on DeShawn Stevenson, ESPN has him rated 292 out of 306 as far as potential impact on the 2010 teams. I think they know a little about talent or lack of it when they see it. Besides the Wizards tried to trade him in the off season and had no takers so what does that tell you?

Posted by: dandyhuffman | October 9, 2009 10:45 AM

I'm looking forward to tonight's game. Go Wizards!
I only wish that the Wizards had a regular cheer band like they had at VCU - get some cheers together, involve the crowd.

BTW folks, take a look at the other pre-season game results. Some unexpected losses and some unexpected wins. I think all the teams take the pre-season games seriously, so that they can "work out the kinks". I believe that's the case with the Wiz.

Posted by: rickgonz | October 9, 2009 11:32 AM

For all those posters who think I am being to hard on DeShawn Stevenson, ESPN has him rated 292 out of 306 as far as potential impact on the 2010 teams. I think they know a little about talent or lack of it when they see it. Besides the Wizards tried to trade him in the off season and had no takers so what does that tell you?

Posted by: dandyhuffman | October 9, 2009 10:45 AM

I would bet that whoever compiled that list was looking from a distance and thinking last year's DS. We now have reason to believe his medical treatments have been successful. He's clearly motivated and is one of the team's better defenders. He's shot 50% for fairly long stretches. Assuming he is healthy, he'll do much better than 292 out of 306, no matter who's doing the judging or what their criteria are -- unless he doesn't get much PT, which is possible on such a deep team. But I think he will.

Posted by: 7snider7 | October 9, 2009 2:30 PM

What will I be looking at for tonight? I guess the 2 guard really has my attention more than anything.

But in general in my opinion here's what is important to watch until the gun sounds for real:

1- Apart from Gil's health will he find the balance between distributing and taking over? (BTW-My desire for him to average 24 and 11/12 is still in my opinion the best way for this team to be successful. With the better support he probably could average over 30. But it would destroy the continuity. Let me clarify again because I was misunderstood a few weeks ago: Gil should still be highest scorer on team. But averaging 24/25, not 29/30. Those assists will keep everybody happy, which is very, very important.

2- Are we contesting shots better, protecting the rim on perimeter and stopping the matador defense?

3- The 2 guard competition and the rotation decisions. I am shocked that Young's stock has risen thus far. Will he keep it up?

4- How will the 3 new players fit in and which players will play best together?

5- DMac's jumper...is it really improved? If so he has got to be part of the top 9 because of his defense and intangibles.

6- Was DS a victim of health or is what we saw last year all we are going to get from him?

7- Will we run more? What will our identity be? And will replacement refs help or hinder us?

Looking forward to a great season. I really like what I heard and saw from down in Richmond last week.

BmoreRev

Posted by: stanlong23 | October 9, 2009 4:41 PM

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