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Andray Blatche trying to get fit, and in the low post

You may have noticed that Andray Blatche showed up for training camp a little thicker. Blatche made focusing on his body a primary concern entering this offseason, but his plans were derailed by a broken right foot that kept him from maintaining the proper conditioning for the two months that he was restricted by a protective boot.

I hope to look a little different when you see me in a few weeks, Josh. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

He was mostly limited to working in the pool and later the stationary bike. He started running on an elliptical machine near the end of August, but he is a bit pudgy, and far being in the shape that he wants -- or needs -- to be for the upcoming season. "Definitely it was tough to watch what you eat," Blatche admitted.

Blatche said he passed Coach Flip Saunders's conditioning test earlier this week with "three seconds to spare" but he has some more work to do. In order to get back on track, Blatche has taken to doing some added running drills after practice. He has ended practice by working out with assistant Gene Banks, running backward with a basketball above his head. He had to run two sets of eight baseline sprints after Friday's brief practice concluded and is expected to make it four sets on Saturday. "I've got to get in better shape," Blatche said. "As the season goes on, I want to get into better shape and continue to get stronger."

The Wizards will need Blatche to raise his conditioning and endurance -- and in a hurry, with him serving as the best, or perhaps only, threat in the low post. After the Wizards lost to Milwaukee on Thursday, Saunders said he needed more high percentage shots closer to the basket. He also asked Blatche to use his "big butt" inside.

"We got to have a thrust inside. They keep on popping out, popping out. That just isn't going to work. We got to have more of a presence in the paint," Saunders said. "Dray's a low-post scorer. He's about a good a low-post scorer as there is if you look at fours around the league. We've just got to get his big butt down there more often and not have him keep on popping out there all the time because that's where he's most effective down there on the block."

If you recall, Blatche was suspended for one game last season when Blatche had a negative reaction during a timeout to requests from the coaching staff to get in the paint more. Blatche said back then that his teammates weren't looking to get him the ball inside. At the time, Blatche was a reserve.

He has had a much more expanded role since the trades of Antawn Jamison, Caron Butler and Brendan Haywood, but it seems that Saunders is unwilling to accept Blatche settling on being a jump shooter. He took eight of his 17 shots from beyond 15 feet, including three missed three pointers, on Thursday.

"I can work on it," Blatche said. "I don't know, that's tough. I don't want to get into all that. It's tough for me to stay on the block when everyone is setting a lot of picks. I'm just going through the flow of the game. A lot of guys are sagging off, and I'm just reading the defense, but if he wants me to get on the block more, I don't have a problem. That's where I want to be."

And, now he's working on making sure that he is in the best shape when he gets there.

Josh Howard blogging
Josh Howard has started a blog on his official website, And while he has yet to play, Howard certainly has a lot to say about his rehabilitation from his left knee surgery, the Wizards, leadership, John Wall and giving back. Howard mentions that he recently donated money to his alma mater, Wake Forest, to create the Josh Howard Scholarship. He left out the fact that he donated $100,000 to the cause. It is a very lengthy post, but well worth the full read. Howard even admits, "As you can tell I can be pretty talkative but I'm happy to give you guys a glimpse into my world."

Practice notes
Gilbert Arenas was held out of practice on Friday after sustaining a mild groin strain in the preseason loss to Milwaukee. Saunders said that Arenas is "very doubtful" for Sunday's game in New York...The team had an event for season ticket holders at Six Flags...ESPN college basketball analyst and former NBA player Jay Williams said in tweet on Friday that No. 1 overall pick John Wall and his team may be firing Dan Fegan as their representation. I spoke with a person close to Wall who told me vehemently on Friday that the information was "not true."...Also, former Wizard Javaris Crittenton's comeback attempt with the Charlotte Bobcats came to an end when he was waived on Friday. Crittenton, the other half in the infamous gun incident with Arenas, had scored 13 points on 4 of 17 shooting in four exhibition games. "Any other year, you remember some of the third point guards we have, he would have made our team," Charlotte Coach Larry Brown said. "He did what I asked of him. He's got strength, quickness. He just needs to be more of a point guard."

By Michael Lee  | October 15, 2010; 11:14 PM ET
Categories:  Andray Blatche, Josh Howard  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Forty seconds of funk
Next: Gilbert Arenas starting to reconnect with Wizards fans


Eugene Lavon Banks
Position: Forward-Guard
Height: 6-7 Weight: 215 lbs

This is the guy the Wizards have working with our big men?

I guess since they aren't going to be playing any small forwards this year Mr. Banks has nothing better to do.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | October 16, 2010 2:42 AM | Report abuse

Blatche will be ok. I'm not worried about him in the least. As far as I am concerned, he is ahead of schedule given where he was four months ago.

I've seen enough out of the small forwards we have played so far in this preseason to want to see Cartier starting at that slot when the season begins.

Otherwise, I do think we are going to surprise some folks. We definitely won't be one of the worst teams in the history of the NBA.

Posted by: bpybay | October 16, 2010 9:55 AM | Report abuse

"Dray's a low-post scorer. He's about as good a low-post scorer as there is if you look at fours around the league."

It's the not the first time Saunders had said something like this about Dray. So I hope we can put to rest the thread I some times hear on these boards about Flip only praising Wall and Hinrich and never anybody else, like AB. Personally, I think he's exaggerating a bit, but his tone with AB through offseason / preseason has been the same, and imo, appropriate. That AB has the tools to become a great 4, he just has to continue to work.

To AB's credit, one thing I didn't mention from the Bucks game was that I saw AB running harder to get back on D than I ever remember seeing. Not every time certainly, but if there were times he was trailing his man, he ran hard to get back. Another positive sign.

Also, with AB's three pointers, I'll give him a bit of a pass on at least one, maybe two of them. On at least one of them, the ball was passed to him out past the three point line with less than 5 secs on the shot clock. He was wide open. It's not a high percentage shot for him, obviously, but it was the best shot they were going to get given the clock. There was a second one where I think that there were less than 8 secs. That one, he should probably have tried to turn into a better shot, but again, the clock was running down.

It is probably fair to question why he's out beyond the three point line to begin with though.

Posted by: ts35 | October 16, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

yeah, that was quite high praise from Flip which I'd not seen before but maybe I havent been looking. Funny it was just the continuation of postgame stuff only partially quoted yesterday.

The other thing about this post is AB mentioned lilhollywood's assertion that the bigs cant really stay on the blocks when they're being asked to constantly set picks. There does seem to be a disconnect between wanting lowpost scoring while running a heavily guard-centric offense that often has 3 guards on the floor.

Great to hear Blatche is so dedicated, he'll be the best player on the team this season. Whether that's a good or bad is debateable, but between Wall's rookiness and Gil's Gilness it's easy to see AB as our go-to guy once he's fully back from injury.

Posted by: divi3 | October 16, 2010 11:14 AM | Report abuse

A Wiz fan who's screen name has John Wall in it and hates Gil wrote this to 2 other Gil fans on another site:

I'm sure many of you know I haven't been the biggest Gil supporter here since the injuries and suspension but I've got a quick story that changed all of this overnight.

Last night, I was at the Wiz Meet The Players "party" at the Six Flags in Bowie MD. It was anything but a party but I got to meet John Wall, Andray, Josh Howard and Gilbert. By the way, John Wall is not as friendly as he looks on TV folks. Don't be fooled, he is not that "humble" guy that you've read about. He was by far one arrogant piece to about 400 fans who waited in line to meet him...including Kids!!! I'll right about that separately because I want to keep this post positive...I had a pretty long funny conversation with Dre but the one that struck me the most was Gilbert. While in line, I watched the man and got to know him in a matter of minutes. Dude is down to earth big time. He was joking with each fan and he took the time in the cold to have conversations and answer questions. He kept it real. When it was finally my turn to get up, I asked him about making the playoffs and mentioned to him how John was not saying a single word to any of the fans and how I appreciated the fact he was smiling. His response was "oh it's cool there's no reason for me not to smile. I'm here for ya'll. I'm not sure why John aint smiling". The he cracks a joke "but I'll talk to him I think it got somethin to do about Kentucky Midnight Madness though but he wasnt allowed to go".

To end this, I just want to say now I know why Brock and Cube defend this man even in the toughest times. The guy is a real person man. He wouldn't care if you were the janitor, he would have a real conversation with you. You can tell he is definitely a good man. No doubt about that. And just for this experience, I want him to stay in DC for as long as he balls in the league.

Posted by: dlts2041 | October 16, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Larry Brown said nice things about Javaris Crittenton after Charlotte waived him. But the thing that caught my attention was who beat him out: Sherron Collins of Kansas, who went undrafted. Collins is short (5'10" w/o shoes) and stout (217 at the combine) and had conditioning issues in college. Since Javaris is bigger and faster, and since Charlotte already has a little PG in DJ Augustin, it has to make you wonder how well Crittenton actually performed.

Posted by: Samson151 | October 16, 2010 11:35 AM | Report abuse

"Also, with AB's three pointers, I'll give him a bit of a pass on at least one, maybe two of them. On at least one of them, the ball was passed to him out past the three point line with less than 5 secs on the shot clock. He was wide open. It's not a high percentage shot for him, obviously, but it was the best shot they were going to get given the clock."

Yeah, I don't think it represents a trend. Sort of stuff you get in preseason. Taking half his shots outside 15' is what Saunders wouldn't want to see in the regular season. So he said something.

Truth is, I'm surprised Blatche is in as good shape as he is. You know how foot injuries are. Players often fall apart completely for a month or two during rehab. Looks like Andray kept most of his focus. The rest of the weight should come off. Plus it's not like Flip has an choice about who to play at the 4 -- not if he wants points out of the position.

Posted by: Samson151 | October 16, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

"Eugene Lavon Banks
Position: Forward-Guard
Height: 6-7 Weight: 215 lbs"

LOL I'm sure Gene looks fondly back on that 215 lbs as a distant memory. People forget he was one of the better scorer-rebounders around. Three-time ACC MVP. Not quite big enough to play inside in the NBA, though he averaged 11 over 6 seasons.

Playing and coaching are really two different skill sets. Pat Ewing or Hakeem get extra credibility from us because of their achievements as players, but does that automatically mean they can teach big man skills to Dwight Howard? Of course not. The best teacher is probably some assistant coach at Butler or Gonzaga or maybe Georgetown, somebody we've never heard of who's been motivating and communicating with overgrown adolescents for fifteen years, and knows how to push stuff into their heads with a fork...

Posted by: Samson151 | October 16, 2010 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Ernie hasn't given Flip many viable options at the 4 has he? Flip/Wiz have to sink or swim with AB/Yi at the 4, Booker is a tweener and Seraphin is sushi.

Posted by: closg | October 16, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

To end this, I just want to say now I know why Brock and Cube defend this man even in the toughest times. The guy is a real person man. He wouldn't care if you were the janitor, he would have a real conversation with you. You can tell he is definitely a good man. No doubt about that. And just for this experience, I want him to stay in DC for as long as he balls in the league.

Posted by: dlts2041 | October 16, 2010 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the post. Several of my good friends from Giant in Silver Spring attended and the y basically confirm what you stated. For as much negative comments Gil gets on this blog, the organization needs to know thta Gil's still extremely popular in the city and the fan response at the vent was just as large and enthusiastic as it was for Wall.

Posted by: NewManagement | October 16, 2010 12:15 PM | Report abuse

"The guy is a real person man. He wouldn't care if you were the janitor, he would have a real conversation with you. You can tell he is definitely a good man. No doubt about that." Posted by: dlts2041

Well, there IS doubt about that, unfortunately, and it's of Gilbert's own making. Here's this really engaging, funny guy, open and friendly, which makes it all the more jarring when you learn about his other side -- the guns, the childish stunts like shoe-pooping, the undermining his coach. There's a personality trait often associated with sociopathy, known as 'charming ingratiation'. You start to wonder if you're not being taken in.

I dunno. Enough of Gilbert. We've got other problems on this team.

Posted by: Samson151 | October 16, 2010 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Well Im not going to kill him just yet. Im a huge Gil fan but it doesnt have to be a competition. Gil couldve been right about the Kentucky thing but still John should always show the fans love. Some people have to do media stuff but they are really shy around people they dont know. Some others feel uncomfortable signing things because of there writing skills. I think he probably just was having a bad day though and maybe mad at the Front Office so he was like "Im not going to be open for this" but you cant let other things turn you away from the fans.

He has to understand that no matter how bad it is, he has to put on a good face for the fans because it may be there 1 & only time to meet him and you never have a 2nd chance for a 1st impression. At the same time, we as fans have to understand that these guys are humans and will have some bad days. He's 19 & still learning. I wouldnt label him fake or anything just yet but it better not happened too often

Posted by: dlts2041 | October 16, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

As a fan of the Washington Wizards basketball team (as opposed to being a fan of individual players) I couldn't care less whether Arenas is nice to fans and helps little old ladies cross street or tortures cats and pisses in the coffee pot at the office. His only relevance to me is his ability to help the Wizards be successful as a team. And, as I said months ago after the Wiz undertook their "purge Arenas" campaign that the it's in the best long-term interests of both the team and Arenas for them to part ways. The relationship is too poisoned, and no matter how much both sides want to reconcile, things have likely gone to far to just forget it happened.

The only reason to not actively seek to move him is because they think his presence will make the difference in their winning a title between now and the time his contract is up. (Anyone who thinks that's going to happen, raise your hand.) Barring that, then they're better off getting rid of him sooner rather than later, and give themselves more time to adjust to the post-Arenas era.

That said, the market for him right now is pretty much nil. But as soon as they can move him they should. What they get back isn't even much of a consideration at this point.

Posted by: kalo_rama | October 16, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

here is another response I got from that site

Jwall, its funny cuz I thought about posting something like this. I was at the meet last night too. Got some pics with the cheerleaders by the entrance. Made it to the John Wall meet a little late but got to see him too. My impressions of him is identical to what you said. He was pretty rude and seemed to look down upon his fans. Point blank, the young fellow needs some coaching on social/personal interactions. He was definitely cranky and cocky. And I too got to meet Dray and Gil but did not get to see Josh Howard. Gil was definitely friendly. It changed my perceptions of him Ill be rooting for the guy again. Him and Wall were like night n Day, apple n orange last night. It made me appreciate Gil the player n Gil the person altogether. As for Dray, Dray promised me the playoffs so Im holding him to that lol. Overall, it was a night to remember. Wishin n hopin John Wall doesnt become permanently arrogant. And godspeed to Gil!!

Posted by: dlts2041 | October 16, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

Sad to hear these reports of Wall's disposition/ego on display at this fan Spidey sense started talking during the highlight they have run repeatedly of the Gil over the shoulder pass to Wall for the layup. Though he clearly could have scored on his own, Gil very purposely set Wall up for that...immediately after the ball drops through you can see Gill looking to connect with Wall but Wall is immersed in Wall.

Trying to imagine myself in his shoes …I would have some challenges also at that age. The kid is blowing up, has big time cash, possibly a girlfriend (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) but technically not old enough to buy alcohol. That said if starts speaking of himself in the third person we are in trouble.

Posted by: The_Shadow_Knows | October 16, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse


Good Gracious man. I am framing that comment.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 16, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

if HE starts speaking ....damn it.

Posted by: The_Shadow_Knows | October 16, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Great insights about Gilbert and Wall and the Fans. Very interesting. Kinda warms the heart to hear the comments on Gilbert though.

Lets hope Wall was having a bad night.


Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | October 16, 2010 7:54 PM | Report abuse

It is not just at the event that Wall seems distant. On the court, after games, when the players shake hands, he has the demeanor of someone who is not friendly. I like him, and his game, and his future. That does not mean I am blind. He is watching how this team, city, and media is watching Arenas. What lesson is he taking from this? That it is all a business and he must do whats right for him, just like LBJ? We should not create a monster like Cleveland did by putting all our eggs in one basket. When we run Arenas out of town will he blame Washington for not having enough talent to win? It is a different generation now!! Leonsis should evaluate Flip and his management skills. Good X's and O's, poor people skills maybe. Lets put the best players on the floor (you can not win in the NBA without talent) then coach them up and learn to play team basketball. Flip needs management coaching skills-it will help him keep a job. There are holes in this organization that can be repaired.

Posted by: 1bmffwb | October 16, 2010 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Wow. We made it almost all the way to the beginning of his first season before the criticism of Wall started. I figured we'd get at least a month into the season.

I have no idea what Wall's like as a person. I do know that most 20, 21, 22 year old guys I meet these days are cocky. How about we keep it all in perspective? It's possible certainly that Wall's not the nicest person. It's also possible that a 20 year old kid who just became a millionaire and franchise-savior might have some growing pains and adjustment pains.

How about we let things play out for a while longer before throwing out snap judgements?

Posted by: ts35 | October 17, 2010 2:39 AM | Report abuse

Dre is absolutely correct in what he is saying about not getting the ball in the post. The Wiz perimeter players don't even look at the post. This is Flips offense. If bigs work their butts off only not to receive the ball they are going to drift outside. Dre, McGee and Yi are some of the most talented young bigs in the league. Why don't Flip tell his wing players to pass the ball inside. As for Banks coaching I have seen Dre and McGee flounder under his coaching if that's what he is doing. Ted get us a real coach and maybe that coach will hire a real big man coach.

Posted by: rnbrown4 | October 17, 2010 4:03 PM | Report abuse

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