"Eager, pumped and ready" Wizards get down to business -- with iPads
You already know plenty about the Wizards' Midnight Tip-off activities, but there was another practice on Tuesday, with about 3,500 fewer fans and no NBATV cameras in attendance. Coach Flip Saunders spent the first real practice of training camp -- the late-night practice was more of a scrimmage than anything else -- working on fundamentals and going over skeleton plays. He has said the motto for this season is, "Back to Basics."
The Wizards only have four players who were in training camp with the team last season -- Gilbert Arenas, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Nick Young -- and Sanders and his players said there was a different tone than in past years. There is more hunger, which Young said was proven by the players' desire to start practicing at the first available time.
"Everybody was eager, pumped and ready," Young said. "We were here early and excited. People coming back from summer time mostly dreading it, like, 'I wish I had a longer summer.' But everybody came ready to play."
From iPods to iPads
Saunders made waves during training camp last summer, when he gave his players iPod Touches with videos and diagrams of his playbook. This year, Saunders has decided to upgrade, by providing iPads, which will give him the potential to send his players more scouting videos and his entire 250-page playbook. The iPads run at about $500 each, but Saunders said it was worth the investment.
"It's not a matter of expense, it's a matter of being a great learning tool," Saunders said. "There are a lot of things you are able to do with it, with the video playbook, the edits that you can do. We don't have to give out the playbook. Last year, our playbook was so big, it cost $175 to print them up. So, I think it's very useful for them. We're able to now, send them video, from edits, and they can watch it from their rooms. So we can do a lot more things with it."
Andray Blatche said his only problem with the iPad is that he had just bought one.
"And I end up getting one. I like, 'What the...' ," Blatche said, shaking his head. But he should be okay after his new extension. "It's just like last year, but with the iPad, it's got our plays."
Kirk Hinrich has been in the league for seven seasons, but said he had never been presented anything close to the iPads in his time with the Chicago Bulls. "It's cool, man," he said. "Definitely a way that I've never had before. I'm used to looking at the old team handbook."
Andray Blatche, Josh Howard held out
Blatche sat out of the midnight scrimmage and part of the first official practice as the Wizards ease him along with his broken right foot. "This is the most difficult time for me," Blatche said. "Not being able to scrimmage, just watching them play. But I'm going to continue to work, take my time. Try to get my conditioning in shape."
Blatche has yet to take Saunders's conditioning test, but he said he would at some time before the season begins. "It was a team requirement. And I'm going to take the test," he said.
Although he has been able to go full bore, Blatche participated in some of the running drills. He even beat his teammates down the court during a sprint. "I got to lead by example," he said. "Got to let them know that even though I'm hurt, you still got to go hard. There's no excuses in this league."
Howard was limited to riding a stationary bike during most of the midnight scrimmage, but it is obvious that he is progressing. Six months since his left knee surgery, Howard is moving around freely without a limp and he looked fine as he shot stand-still jumpers after practice. He is making progress, but the team will be extremely cautious with him.
Gilbert Arenas still a shoe free agent
Arenas was dropped from his long-time shoe company, adidas, immediately after he pleaded guilty to felony gun possession last January. He has been wearing Nikes during practice, including a pair of Penny Hardaway "Half-Penny" shoes for media day, but a Nike spokesman said on Tuesday that he has not signed a new deal with the company.
I've got a crazy stat for you. The Wizards are considered less talented than they were last year, when they had a roster full of veterans and three players with all-star credentials. This year, the Wizards have two players who have made all-star appearances, in Gilbert Arenas and Josh Howard.
But check this out. The Wizards actually have more former lottery picks on their training roster this season than last season. Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler, Mike Miller and Randy Foye were the only lottery picks in training camp then, while the current team has six former lottery picks -- John Wall (No. 1), Adam Morrison (No. 3, 2006), Kirk Hinrich (No. 6, 2003), Yi Jianlian (No. 6, 2007), Hilton Armstrong (No. 12, 2006) and Al Thornton (No. 14, 2007).
Nick Young: Kevin Seraphin is strong
While Young was talking to reporters, rookie Kevin Seraphin was playfully tossing the ball underhanded at Young. Seraphin missed the first time, but he tried again and nailed Young in the back.
"I never let a rook do that. You see that?" Young said. "Back in my day, if I did that, it would've been over."
When a reporter reminded Young that, even though he put on 10 pounds of muscle, the 6-foot-9, 275-pound Seraphin was still a lot bigger than him. Young turned back, looked a giggling Seraphin and said, "And stronger."
Mardy Collins off the roster
Mardy Collins was forced to miss Wizards training camp after suffering a calf injury. With the Wizards already stacked in the backcourt, Collins was already a long shot to make the team, but the four-year veteran guard had no shot if he was hurt. As Saunders put it, "Tough to make a team in the tub."
The Wizards have no plans of filling his roster spot with a replacement.
New practice jerseys
I'm not quite sure what to make of it, but I did notice that the Wizards have new practice jerseys, where the name "Wizards" is nowhere to be found. The black side of the practice jerseys simply say "Washington Basketball," while the white side has the Wizards' "W" logo. With the team possibly switching the team colors to red, white and blue in 2011-12, it caught my attention.
| September 28, 2010; 8:31 PM ET
Categories: Andray Blatche, Flip Saunders, Gilbert Arenas, Hilton Armstrong, JaVale McGee, John Wall, Josh Howard, Kevin Seraphin, Kirk Hinrich, Nick Young, Yi Jianlian, training camp/preseason | Tags: Midnight Tip-off, Washington Wizards, iPad playbook, training camp
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