Randy Wittman: ‘A commitment to fncking playing defense, that’s what it is’
He’s trying, I’m sure of that. But is he in over his head? Maybe.
Great coaching wins championships, but it’s still indeterminate—like Okafor’s neck injury and seemingly the Wizards’ perpetual hope—where the line of coaching effort ends and where the players’ responsibility begins.
For good teams, all are on the same line. Wittman’s Wizards are most certainly not on the same line. But it’s only been two games—two games that could ultimately determine a playoff berth. So, team casualness of ‘welp, there’s still 80 games left’ crushes the sense of urgency that should be a prerequisite with a middling, nay, less-than-middling franchise. It could come back to bite Washington.
Nene or no Nene, this team goes as John Wall and Bradley Beal go. And while Beal had his moments in the preseason and Wall had a couple in the regular season, neither have come close to showing the maturity needed. Over-confident, cocky, brats … that’s how they’ve acted. And it’s translated to bad body language when times are tough, chest-thumping for individual accolades, and defensive commitment whenever the hell they feel like it. ‘My guy scored on me? We’ll get those points back.’ Not for the entire game, mind you, but too many times to win.
Wall and Beal should get there, eventually. The rest of the Wizards might. These are mostly correctable mistakes … as long as the budding talent of the two leading guards gets over itself. Grow up, there are plenty of games left.
Otherwise, “A commitment to playing fucking defense, that’s what it is. That’s what it boils down to. This thing our guys … we haven’t learned, and I got to figure out a way. You could see it coming out of the locker room [after halftime]. You’ve got to respect … the game.”
That was Randy Wittman’s diagnosis.
Below is the first 45 seconds of the coach’s two-question press conference after his Wizards lost to the Philadelphia 76ers, 102-109, in their 2013-14 season home opener, giving them 0-2 starts four seasons in a row. I’ve watched this clip several times already, and to me, it’s an instant classic … perhaps a 7.5 on the scale of Jim Mora’s playoffs rant at 10 (and perhaps even on par with Flip Saunders’ “Don’t think it can’t get any worse…” line).
Only time will tell what type of memory this Wittman-ism will bring. Because with the Wizards, it will always be fun—not only while it lasts, but also during what some like to call “the process.”