Ups and downs, lefts and rights, ins and outs. This has been a season of mixed results for Randy Foye. He’s gone from being a featured complimentary role player, to unchallenged starter after the suspension of Gilbert Arenas, to veteran on a mix-mashed team of youthful newcomers. The one constant surrounding Foye’s first season with the Wizards has been change.
If Andray Blatche is the longest tenured, active Wizard, that would make Randy fourth on the chart behind Nick Young and JaVale McGee. Foye is 20 months older than the former, 51 months older than the latter, and has played over 10-percent more minutes this season than the two combined. Randy started the year as the ninth oldest guy on the roster.
Ask anyone about Randy Foye the player and they will probably say something along the lines of, “Well, not really a point guard, not really a shooting guard,” and then politely follow with, “He’d make a nice combo guard off the bench for some team, perhaps playing alongside another play-maker.” This is probably the role envisioned for him from last June’s trade and into October’s training camp. PlayFoye alongside Gilbert Arenas or Mike Miller and watch the magic happen. The magic didn’t happen.
Believe it or not, Flip Saunders is a relieved man. Out the door are the failed expectations of the previously constructed team. Now he can get back to what he likes to do, teaching.
Watch the Wizards coach on the sidelines now. He’s taking time to talk to his young players immediately after subbing them out the game. He’s pointing and instructing, imploring his students to do the same with each other. It’s not like Flip wasn’t giving it his coaching all before, it’s just that now he doesn’t have to stand by while the fruits of his labor go untrusted by inflexible veterans whose play insisted they knew better.
“Well, I could always apply for a job as an air traffic controller,” said Saunders when asked how his in-game teaching has increased after the Wizards’ flurry of recent trades. Since, his team has gone 3-1, defeating the Chicago Bulls 101-95 on Monday night. “As a coach, that’s what you kind of enjoy. You live for those types of things, especially when you have a group that we have. They want to learn. So when you tell them something, they’re trusting. When you get your players to trust what you’re doing, what happens is they do it a lot more aggressively and you usually have a little better outcome.”
This morning I wrote a piece on grading Flip Saunders for ESPN’s Daily Dime; I’ve included it below. I gave Saunders a C-minus up to this point of the season. Now it’s your turn to grade him. Giving the coach an ‘A’ is not an option, as should be the case.
Grading Flip Saunders
This piece originally appeared on the February 11, 2010 of ESPN’s Daily Dime.,
A framed picture of Gilbert Arenas making a goofy face, surely the reason why Antawn Jamison is laughing, still hangs outside of the entrance to the training room from the Wizards’ locker room.
Flip Saunders, 600 and counting …
Before asking Flip Saunders the first question at Saturday’s post-game presser, I congratulated the coach on his 600th NBA career win. He begrudgingly acknowledged the feat by saying, “It just shows that I’ve been in the league a long time.”
“Guys have to be disciplined. They have to be willing to turn down a shot at time. Tonight, we had no shot discipline. Tonight, it was, ‘I haven’t taken a shot, so I’m going to shoot it.’ when you do that, you shoot 38 percent from the field.”
A reoccurring theme … the players not trusting, or deviating from, Saunders’ offense. Lets see what Antawn Jamison had to say:
“We played selfish basketball at times. On the road, you can’t do that. I don’t care who you’re playing against.”
Flip Saunders didn’t care about Tuesday night’s win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Well, not like he didn’t care, care. If you ask him, I’m sure he’ll tell you that he was damn glad to have a ‘W’ notched in the record book. The win wasn’t even one of those ‘whew, that was a close one, glad we came out on top’ victories of relief for the coach.
No, the Wizards’ 105-98 win over Eddie Jordan’s Sixers was more like a ‘Dammit, I’m still pissed that I had to sub all five of my starters out en masse with eight minutes left in the third quarter just to motivate this frickin’ 8-17 team’ type of night for Saunders.
After the game, I asked Saunders about that magic moment when he subbed Earl Boykins, Nick Young, Dominic McGuire, Andray Blatche and Fabricio Oberto all at once for Gilbert Arenas, Randy Foye, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood after watching his starters commit three turnovers and three fouls on their way to getting outscored 12-5 four minutes into the second half.
“They talked, and we haven’t totally committed on that. It wasn’t an end of the game thing when we talked about it. It was a – if we do it – a how about a first-timeout play of the game. … It was designed to be an interactive thing with the fans, a first quarter you run a play and see what they have. … We’re still playing with the idea of where it really goes.”
It only took a couple more days for ESPN’s Mark Jackson and Jeff Van Gundy to get to it. During Friday’s Wizards-Warriors broadcast, Jackson started by bringing up the contest and calling it a “joke.” Van Gundy followed with: Read more »
It’s baffling how for the second game in a row the Wizards came out flat and lacking energy. You’d think that with the sour taste of a 19-win season still fresh, this team would play like they have something to prove. Guess not. Against the Pacers, the poor effort continued for the duration of the game as the Wizards fell 102-86.
So what is the reason? Is it still a matter of everyone getting used to their roles and flow in a new offensive system? Is it still a “process”?
Flip Saunders seemed to be as confused about how to maneuver his team as anyone (which immediately conjured up images of Charlie in “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia” in my mind — just see seconds 15-18 in the clip below).
Flip Saunders talks about the opening night win against the Mavericks and looks to Friday’s game against the Hawks in Atlanta. He also praises JaVale McGee for a hard practice and relates how his rotation can always change if players want to earn time.
Jamison talks about his shoulder feeling good, shooting for the first time, and being a cheerleader in Dallas.
Also, NBC 4′s Lindsay Czarniak sat down with Irene Pollin to talk about her involvement in professional sports with her husband Abe.