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Wizards players understand reason for extra practice

By Michael Lee
Morning brew

The Wizards have not started a season with a winning record after five games since 2005-06, when they began 3-2. In the four years that have followed, the Wizards have a combined record of 3-17, with two 0-5 starts. They have been able to come back from slow starts before, rallying to make the playoffs in 2007-08 -- with Gilbert Arenas injured most of the season -- after losing their first five games but have headed to the lottery the past two seasons.

So, while Flip Saunders may have taken a dramatic approach to get his players to snap out of some of the bad habits that they have already developed early during this 1-4 start, some of his players understand why he called for an extra session on Monday.

"We're starting off like we started off last year and that's not what we want to do," Andray Blatche said. "I talked about everybody being patient with us, because we a young team. But we have a losing record and patience is running out."

Hilton Armstrong said the difficult start has been frustrating for everyone. "Mentally it's kind of tough, but you just got to get back at it. I just don't want to have a losing record. It doesn't sit well with me. The more you practice, the better it's going to be for you, regardless. Wish we wasn't at the point where coach felt like we really need it, but we are."

Josh Howard, almost a month away from returning from his left knee injury to make his season debut, participated in some five-on-five drills in the morning practice session. "I got out there and could tell the intensity level picked up, but soon as I came out, it was like guys forgot the game," Howard said. "It's tough to watch that, to be a focal part of this team and not be able to give that extra push they need. But as a team, we have to come together."

Howard said he spoke to his teammates after practice. "I said a lot of things that hopefully guys will respond to. If they don't, it lets me know things aren't where they are supposed to be and we have a long way to go."

The Wizards opened the season with a 29-point loss in Orlando, then lost by four points in Atlanta. They came back to beat Philadelphia by one point in overtime, then lost the next game by 21 points to New York, followed by a five-point loss to Cleveland. So, if the pattern holds, they have a close overtime win in store for Houston on Wednesday, right?

FROM THE POST
Here's the story and the blog entry from Saunders's decision to end one practice early and add another in the afternoon.

You can watch Saunders and Blatche discussing the move in this video .

AROUND THE WEB
Los Angeles Clippers rookie Blake Griffin is hoping to become the fourth player in NBA history to win the rookie of the year award in a year other than the one immediately after being drafted. The others are Jerry Lucas, Larry Bird and David Robinson. He told NBA Fanhouse's Chris Tomasson that he is keeping an eye on fellow rookie John Wall.

NBA.com's David Aldridge makes an interesting trade proposal that would send Gilbert Arenas to Philadelphia for Andre Igoudala. Aldridge writes, "I hope the Wizards keep Arenas. I'd love to see him prove all of the know-it-alls in my business wrong that say he's a virus that must be protected from Poor John Wall, lest he infect the youngster."

ESPN.com's Marc Stein explains how John Wall and Arenas are inseparable -- mostly because the Wizards can't trade Arenas. Stein's lede presents an interesting stat: "When John Wall became the NBA's youngest player in 25 years to ring up at least 25 points, 10 assists and eight steals in the same game, guess who Wall bumped to second-youngest? Yup: Gilbert Arenas."

Over at TruthAboutIt.net, Kyle Weidie looks into the marketing of John Wall and Yi Jianlian and Rashad Mobley examines how Mo Williams and Daniel "Boobie" Gibson combined to vanquish the Wizards on Saturday.

By Michael Lee  | November 9, 2010; 8:01 AM ET
Categories:  Morning brew  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Lackluster effort at first practice gets Wizards a second
Next: Wizards big men meet, discuss need to improve

Comments

Combined all your big people have five assists, y'know as far as team play those aren't very positive team stats.

Is Saunders aware of what team he's coaching? Blatche alone has 9 assists.

Posted by: divi3 | November 9, 2010 9:03 AM | Report abuse

From that ESPN article on why the Wiz can't trade Gilbert:

"The Wiz, though, are realistic...They knew that moving Arenas before the February trading deadline was going to be incredibly difficult thanks to the three years and $60 million-plus left on Arenas' contract after this season's $17.7 million and those three surgeries on his left knee. And now they know it'll be even harder after Gil's messy October, which raised fresh flags about the 28-year-old's mindset, decision-making and health."

Posted by: Samson151 | November 9, 2010 9:09 AM | Report abuse

On Monday afternoon, the team announced that Wednesday’s game against the Houston Rockets will host the franchise’s first “Asian Heritage Night.” The meeting between Yi and Yao Ming will be televised in China, as the Wizards have also officially announced that they’ve entered partnerships with several Chinese corporations that will also be attending the game, including Peak Sports Apparel and the aforementioned Voit Sports Apparel.

So does that mean Yi "must" play Wednesday no matter how he actually performs? Is Flip going to be waiting (on orders from Ted) for Mcgee to make a mistake so he can be benched for 20mins? Are they going to make every effort to win this game, or is getting the Yi vs Yao showdown on Chinese TV more important?

Posted by: divi3 | November 9, 2010 9:13 AM | Report abuse

"Is Saunders aware of what team he's coaching? Blatche alone has 9 assists.
Posted by: divi3"

Blatche has 9 assists for the season (five games). That's below last year's average (2.1). His turnovers are way up at 3.6 versus '09's 2.25. But of course, it's early yet.

From today's Examiner:
"After a season-high 15 rebounds against Cleveland last weekend, Blatche said he had been inspired by hearing that a New York Knicks coach said the Wizards had the NBA’s worst frontcourt....Even with Blatche’s best night of the year on the glass and another 10 boards from starting center JaVale McGee, the Wizards remain dead last in the NBA in rebounding, with just 35.2 per game. Only five teams average less than 40 rebounds per game. Washington also is at the bottom of the NBA in defending close to the basket, allowing opposing teams to shoot 73.3 percent inside of five feet, according to HoopData.com."

That might have contributed some to the coaches' mood.

Posted by: Samson151 | November 9, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

@Samson151,

Those stats are very telling. Whom would have thought that an average Haywood could mean so much.

Also, it is why I keep saying that Flip has to change the way he plays the bigs. But Flip rather concentrate on guard play and 3-guard offense.

Flip doesn't even give serious attention to developing a good small forward in the absence Howard.

Flip coaches the same way every night and even when we might be playing well, other well coach teams will still beat us, just from knowing what our same ole stale gameplan is.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | November 9, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse

"So does that mean Yi "must" play Wednesday no matter how he actually performs? Is Flip going to be waiting (on orders from Ted) for Mcgee to make a mistake so he can be benched for 20mins? Are they going to make every effort to win this game, or is getting the Yi vs Yao showdown on Chinese TV more important?Posted by: divi3"

The above is like that tabloid journalist ploy of asking pretend questions rather than just coming right out with some gossipy innuendo...

Posted by: Samson151 | November 9, 2010 10:15 AM | Report abuse

"Combined all your big people have five assists, y'know as far as team play those aren't very positive team stats.

Is Saunders aware of what team he's coaching? Blatche alone has 9 assists.
Posted by: divi3"


How does he expect anyone else to get any negligible assist When His chosen one, JWall controls controls the ball most of the time.

Just a guesstimate, the front court probably shoots 20% of the shots which means that their touches are limited, therefor their assist potential is limited.

There is enough blame to go around but Flip has blinders on with regards to his back court.

Posted by: zxhoya | November 9, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

The Wiz' front court is playing about as well as we could have expected, given Howard's absence, Blatche coming off injury, and the team's general lack of experience as a unit. It's definitely among the NBA's worst, although hopefully things will improve as the season continues.

Posted by: Samson151 | November 9, 2010 10:19 AM | Report abuse

The above is like that tabloid journalist ploy of asking pretend questions rather than just coming right out with some gossipy innuendo

actually it's an honest question, oh Mr High&MightyLOL

Posted by: divi3 | November 9, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

"How does he expect anyone else to get any negligible assist When His chosen one, JWall controls controls the ball most of the time. posted by zxhoya"

Interior passing to the open man would be one way. Coaches like that sort of thing.

By the way, is a negligible assist worth less than an ordinary one?

Posted by: Samson151 | November 9, 2010 10:22 AM | Report abuse

"Interior passing to the open man would be one way. Coaches like that sort of thing.

By the way, is a negligible assist worth less than an ordinary one?
Posted by: Samson151"

You know what I mean.

Interior passing would be nice but you kinda have to have an instinct for it and our bigs are not that versatile.

Also when you don't touch the ball much, when you get the ball, chances are you're going to try to score.

Posted by: zxhoya | November 9, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

"actually it's an honest question, oh Mr High&MightyLOLPosted by: divi3"

No it isn't.

Posted by: Samson151 | November 9, 2010 10:31 AM | Report abuse

"Interior passing would be nice but you kinda have to have an instinct for it and our bigs are not that versatile. posted by zxhoya"

Actually, interior passing is one of those team-type skills that people are supposed to learn.

Posted by: Samson151 | November 9, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

No it isn't.

right, because Ted got this game broadcast in china, is having asian-heritage night, and is courting chinese sponsors...just to see Yi play the 1min due him based on his performance so far this season.

Pretty naive to think marketing and the bigger picture are beyond consideration given the scenario.

Posted by: divi3 | November 9, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

"the Wizards remain dead last in the NBA in rebounding"

And Yi is the worst rebounder among the bigs. He averaged 2.4 rebounds in 20 minutes. If you use the average per minutes rebounding of other bigs (Blatche, McGee, Thornton, and Armstrong) for that 20 minutes, Wizards would have gotten 2 more rebounds a game!

Note: per minutes rebounds in 5 games:
Blatche: 0.22
McGee: 0.27
Thornton: 0.19
Armstrong: 0.22
Yi: 0.12

You can see that Yi is significantly behind. While he is not doing it in rebounding, he isn’t doing much in scoring either. He has the lowest FG% as well!

Posted by: sagaliba | November 9, 2010 10:41 AM | Report abuse

And Yi is the worst rebounder among the bigs. He averaged 2.4 rebounds in 20 minutes. If you use the average per minutes rebounding of other bigs (Blatche, McGee, Thornton, and Armstrong) for that 20 minutes, Wizards would have gotten 2 more rebounds a game!

Note: per minutes rebounds in 5 games:
Blatche: 0.22
McGee: 0.27
Thornton: 0.19
Armstrong: 0.22
Yi: 0.12

You can see that Yi is significantly behind. If you take out Thornton, who plays SF, then he is even worse! While he is not doing it in rebounding, he isn’t doing much in scoring either. He has the lowest FG% as well!

Posted by: sagaliba | November 9, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

"Actually, interior passing is one of those team-type skills that people are supposed to learn.
Posted by: Samson151"

Really? Name me a team that doesn't go through the post offensively that are good interior passers.

Generally if you are a player like Blatche that gets the ball on the block and receives double teams on occasion, it becomes necessary for him to learn how to move the ball to the open man but he is the only one that gets the ball down there (rightfully so).

The rest of the bigs are supposed to hit the boards and be in position to receive the ball when a guard drives the lane and be prepared to finish.

Posted by: zxhoya | November 9, 2010 10:55 AM | Report abuse

"I got out there and could tell the intensity level picked up, but soon as I came out, it was like guys forgot the game," Howard said.

And people say Caron has a big ego.

Posted by: djnnnou | November 9, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Anyone else notice that Steelers Hines Ward did the John Wall dance after scoring a TD last night?

Posted by: VBFan | November 9, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

If you consider McGee's minutes per game at the beginning of last season, it was a major stretch to expect him to jump to a starters role this soon. He's definetly still has a ways to go to become a productive starter, but he's working and improving. Last two games his rebounds are up, he seems to be working hard on positioning and less on highlight reel plays.

Problem is the team didn't bring in a real backup center. Yi and Hilton Armstrong have not established themselves as solid NBA players, so Flip doesn't have many alternatives. Combine that with the fact that Blatche is playing his way back from an injury that required him to spend the summer in a corrective boot, and you've got a thin, inexperienced, frontline.

Blatche seems to having to play his way into shape and he seems to lack much vertical lift and explosion out of his legs. Against Cleveland he did a great job of positional rebounding which is what he needs to concentrate on right now. Lots of guys like Charles Oakley and Wes Unseld were great rebounders and were vertically challenged.

This team really needs Blatche to become an elite rebounder, and he's shown the ability to do it against the likes of Brand and Varejao. He's just got to come into every night with the mindset that he's going to be the top rebounder that night.

When a team is this weak at the two power positions putting three guards on the floor together seems to be inviting disaster. Thorton helped the Wizards play their way back into the game the other night and then took a seat and watched the 4th while the game slipped away.

When a coach blows it that badly, can the players make him run sprints in practice???
GM

Posted by: flohrtv | November 9, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

When Al Thornton comes out of the game, Flip should institute a 3-bigs lineup of McGee, Blatche and Yi, instead of going to the 3-guard offense.

Here's my reasoning: the only way the Wizards big men are going to improve is by putting in maximum minutes on the floor. All the "big man" coaching in the world is a poor substitue for on court experience. Yi is tall Small Forward trapped in a Power Forwards physique. He cannot bang with Shaq's and Al Jefferson's. He can be an effective defender 8-10 feet from the basket. His length will alter drives to the hoop. To me, if utilized properly, Yi is the front court utility player.

If Yi contributes 10 points/5 rebounds nightly, he serves a valuable purpose. Remember, we're only 5 games into an 82 game season.

Posted by: musicmanjr | November 9, 2010 11:16 AM | Report abuse

Maybe the players had a lackluster practice because they've lost confidence in their leader, Flip Saunders.

When Flip did not re-insert Thornton in the 4th quarter and pulled Javale even though he was the best option that night, the coach may have fractured some relationships with his team.

Also, the completely free reign given to JWall vs. the hyper critical reactions to other players has to be disenchanting, especially to the younger players.

I know JWall is the future but Flip is dealing with human beings that have egos and feelings and if he wants these players to play for him now, he needs to treat them like men. Firm but fair.

Posted by: zxhoya | November 9, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Yesterday there was a lot of Flip bashing. While Flip may not be the right coach for this team, the reason the Wizards have the worst rebounding numbers in the NBA and have the worst front court, is because of Grunfeld, Flip and Ernie both need to go.

Posted by: FireGrunfeld | November 9, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

Also when you don't touch the ball much, when you get the ball, chances are you're going to try to score.

Posted by: zxhoya | November 9, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

That's problem #1.

Flip is dealing with human beings that have egos and feelings and if he wants these players to play for him now, he needs to treat them like men. Firm but fair.

Posted by: zxhoya | November 9, 2010 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Oh you mean like expecting people who make millions of dollars to do something most people would do for free to come to practice and give maximum effort? Oh okay.

Posted by: SDMDTSU | November 9, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

@ LarryFromClinton
Those stats are very telling. Whom would have thought that an average Haywood could mean so much.

Also, it is why I keep saying that Flip has to change the way he plays the bigs. But Flip rather concentrate on guard play and 3-guard offense.


Flip doesn't even give serious attention to developing a good small forward in the absence Howard.

Flip coaches the same way every night and even when we might be playing well, other well coach teams will still beat us, just from knowing what our same ole stale gameplan is.
Posted by: LarryInClintonMD

I agree Larry!
I refuse to call Flip "coach" until he starts coaching!

What gets me is that Flip does not recognize that his bigs need help! Why all the focus on the "3 guard offense" when you are getting beat on the glass, an open path to the basket by opposing players?

Why are not our bigs being taught by a real big man coach? Gene Banks, no disrespect to him but did he coach at Bluefield State and again at Bennett College both women schools?

Research tells me that Dwight Howard, Kobe, Yao and even Emeka Okafor all worked out with The Dream! Yes, Hakeem Olajuwon! Can't we call and have him work with our bigs? We have a promising JaVale, Booker, Saraphin, Ndiaye, even almost there Thornton along with Andray who can improve. This is where the team is getting beat! Not points, but rebounding! Hello? (in my Herman Edwards voice)

These youngs guys would definitely respond to a former player, champion that has shown and proved what it takes to get the job done. He put in the hard work and these guys really need someone like that to guide them in the right direction.

I do not think that there is someone on the staff that can reach these young cats. What about Moses Malone, a former Bullet, talk about reaching back to the past. David Robinson? What is Horace (Not Harvey) Grant doing? I am sure you can bring someone in that these guys can say, "Oh yeah, that guy was a great rebounder!", or "he was the best at blocking out!" or "he was one of the greatest 50 players!"

Any of these guys step onto the practice court at the Verizon Center and they will have the attention of the forward/center players.

Look at Orlando, Pat Ewing.
Lakers, at least they have access to Kareem.
Miami, Bob McAdoo

Let's step up our game with the talent that we do have and get them some help!
BACK TO BASICS right!

Extra practice- get some extra help!

Posted by: Doobie_Sparks | November 9, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

doobie, it makes total sense to me, but some on here don't see the value in bringing in an accomplished former post player to guide the youngins. i guess they're happy with the results of our program vs the results they're getting in other organizations who use ex All Star Bigs as coaches to their young bigs. Everyone marvels at DH12, and at the same time undervalue the influences of Patrik Ewing and now Hakeem.

BTW if we're gonna have a women's coach on the roster; call up Pat Summit. She's had no problem motivating players and has a way better coaching resume than this Banks character (if bluefield state and bennet college are really his only stops).

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | November 9, 2010 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Research tells me that Dwight Howard, Kobe, Yao and even Emeka Okafor all worked out with The Dream! Yes, Hakeem Olajuwon! Can't we call and have him work with our bigs? We have a promising JaVale, Booker, Saraphin, Ndiaye, even almost there Thornton along with Andray who can improve. This is where the team is getting beat! Not points, but rebounding! Hello? (in my Herman Edwards voice)

Research should also tell you that those players went and got Hakeem's help for themselves.

@hollywood you said yourself that D12 is compeletely overrated and not dominant...so are you devaluing the use of Ewing too?

Posted by: SDMDTSU | November 9, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Research should also tell you that those players went and got Hakeem's help for themselves.

@hollywood you said yourself that D12 is compeletely overrated and not dominant...so are you devaluing the use of Ewing too?

Posted by: SDMDTSU

SDMDTSU,

I totally agree on your statement that those players went out and sought the help from a Hall Of Famer. Yes, but you see the youthful personalities that these guys have. Yes, it is indeed the players responsibility to want to get better but it also is the responsibility of the coaching staff as well. Some bring in motivational speakers to motivate there players right? Should the players be able to motivate themselves? Of course.

The Wizard have one of the youngest front courts in the NBA. Flip knows this so why not go do what a coach that wants his players to get better do, get them some help. His staff is guard oriented and that is the staff he put together, the guys he wanted.

There is not a real veteran big man on this team that can get the youngsters ready and prepped like they should. You can talk all day but "train up the youngster in the way he should go and he will not depart from his teachings".

Andray still has some bad habits and he is the veteran big on this team. How can he help the other guys?

Yes, it is on the players to get better but they have to be shown or directed to someone to help them get better.

BACK TO BASICS

Posted by: Doobie_Sparks | November 9, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

@Doobie_Sparks: "train up the youngster in the way he should go and he will not depart from his teachings".

Man, that's straight out of the Good Book! Personally, I'd love for David Robinson or Dikembe Mutombo to come in to help our bigs. But those guys may not be available.

The Wizards have one of the greatest centers who ever played the game in former GM Wes Unseld. Last time I checked, Wes was running private school in West Baltimore. I'm sure that Wes, even at 64 years of age, could help mold Blatche and JaVale into better post players.

Posted by: musicmanjr | November 9, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

@hollywood you said yourself that D12 is compeletely overrated and not dominant...so are you devaluing the use of Ewing too?

Posted by: SDMDTSU | November 9, 2010 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Not at all. DH12 has learned a lot from Patrick and is rounding out his game. He is leaps and bounds ahead of McGee, but still not dominant. He can influence a game, but he can't take over a game yet. Nice try though.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | November 9, 2010 1:58 PM | Report abuse

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