Wizards Open Practice Brings Crowds, Kids and #PositivePixels | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

Wizards Open Practice Brings Crowds, Kids and #PositivePixels

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Updated: October 15, 2015

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On Monday, the Washington Wizards hosted an event for fans at the Verizon Center. Admission to the Wizards team practice was free, and throughout the concourse of the arena, there were numerous stations for kid-friendly activities. Wiz Kids Club Members even got to hone their hoops skills in a Jr. NBA Clinic.

The turnout was excellent. One Wizards employee told me there were more fans in attendance that Columbus Day afternoon than were at the previous night’s preseason game against Brazilian pro team Paschoalotto Bauru. (The Wizards won, 134-100.)

Considering the Wizards had played less than 16 hours prior, the noon practice was low key: no full-court scrimmaging or intense action. It was mostly defensive drills that focused on rotations. Coach Randy Wittman got animated a few times when players were not in the correct spots, but he was mostly positive and encouraging. The team ran also through their offensive sets … and that was about it for the hour-long affair.

Wittman was lukewarm regarding the additional eyeballs on his team. “It is harder to get a practice in because you can’t hear,” he said. “We conducted as we do every day. Get our work in.”

John Wall appreciated those who came to see his squad on the Monday holiday.

“They probably wanted us to do some more competitive stuff than we did in the past. But it was tight to be out there and let them see us, see all the fans that support us throughout the whole city,” Wall said. “We love to give back. Try to give as much support and love to those people who supported us through the tough times.”

At the conclusion of the practice, players threw T-shirts into the crowd and signed autographs. There was a half-court shooting contest, which Wall won (video below), and every young fan was able to shoot one free throw on the Verizon Center’s main floor.

Notes.

  • Alan Anderson had another procedure on his left ankle to remove a “small bony fragment,” per a team release. The Wizards did not provide a timetable but the Washington Post reports that he could be out for two months.
  • Marcin Gortat did not participate in Monday’s practice due to dental work.
  • There are no updates on Martell Webster’s strained right hip and Coach Wittman said that it still needs to “calm down.”
  • Jared Dudley walked through at half speed on Monday and participated in his first full practice with no restrictions on Wednesday.
  • Garrett Temple is close to returning from a sore hamstring.
  • This is a must-read feature on John Wall by the Washington Post‘s Dan Steinberg. Simply, John is a good human being. His foundation is sponsoring the “Light the Night” fundraising walk for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society on Saturday. The event begins at 5 p.m. ET at Freedom Plaza (1455 Pennsylvania Avenue) in D.C.; Wall, however, will not be able to attend since the Wizards have a preseason game in Milwaukee.
  • The Wizards have a preseason back-to-back test coming up. Washington plays at Philadelphia on Friday night (7 p.m. ET) and in Milwaukee on Saturday (8:30 p.m. ET).

Quotes.

Wall on the new offense:

“It is an easy system, but guys have to get used to [the fact that] there is going to be 15-to-20 extra shots. There are going to be guys that are going to get extra shots, so the ball has to keep moving. The most important thing is being in condition and playing defense on the other end. That is our key. No matter if we have great or bad offensive nights, we have to commit ourselves on the defensive end. That is something we have to train our bodies to get ready for

“It is simple. You ain’t gotta do nothing but get to the corners and the boxes we draw up. And then just make reads and plays off of that. If that is too hard, then I don’t know what else to tell ya.”

Wittman on the new “small ball” offense:

“It is not really a new offense. We have played this. Everything we are doing now, we did it at a small portion last year, so it is not like a foreign subject. Some guys, we are trying to put them into that position of spreading the floor—Humphries, Drew did, anyway, Otto has done that. Even when we go big, keeping the spacing is really the main thing, getting accustomed to it being the main thing. We don’t want to lose our identity to be physical, too. We will eventually get back to some of that also.”

Wall on the roster with several players on the last year of their contracts:

“I just tell them that I am going to help them get paid. The rest of my teammates are going to help them get paid, like we did in the past. Just play your role, take open shots, and you will find yourself getting another contract. You won’t have to worry about how many shots or minutes you are getting.”

Wittman’s assessment of their pre-season preparations:

“We have a lot of things that we still need to improve upon. That is what preseason is for. Lots of ups and downs on things. Keep focusing on what we need to improve on and get better at, like we did going into the game last night. Communication, transition defense, and pick-and-roll defense needed to improve. I thought that did, so that is kinda what you take out of things we need to work on in these next two games and get into our first back-to-back situation in the pre-season, this weekend.”

Wall’s evaluation of where Washington is at so far in training camp:

“The key is your offense. You are going to have your ups and downs. You are going to make shots, playing well, and moving the ball. But when we are not doing that, we have keep our defense at a high intensity, a high level. That is something we did last night. But against the Knicks, we didn’t do it. So coaches wanted us to get back to giving our ball pressure like we usually do [against Bauru]. We did a better job at deflections and causing them to have turnovers.”

Wittman on adjusting to a new style of play:

“We are going to look to move in this direction anyway. It just was kind of tough last year because I wanted to limit Paul’s minutes during the regular season, so it is hard to play him at both positions and keep him under 27 minutes. We knew we could have success doing it and, obviously, we did have success in the playoffs doing it.”

Wall on his leadership, which was highlighted recently in this excellent feature:

“When I came in, I didn’t say nothing. I just led by example. I was already the No. 1 pick and didn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Now my teammates trust me and believe in me … I can take the criticism, just like I give it to those guys. The most important thing is how you can talk to certain guys in different ways.”

Pictures.

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Gortat shared an amazing photo from the summer with Drew Gooden:

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Video.

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Adam McGinnis
Reporter / Writer / Media at TAI
Adam is a bro from the Midwest who's been bopping around the District of Columbia for years. He's down with a range of sports, etc. and has covered the Washington Wizards for TAI since 2010.