At the conclusion of an afternoon session on day five of training camp, Washington Wizards assistant coach Sam Cassell cracked smiles while rebounding for John Wall, Jordan Crawford and Shelvin Mack as they performed a shooting drill. Cassell is about to begin his third season on the bench for the Wizards. Forever known for his personality, he doled out positive instruction to the young guards, sharing stories with Wall about a certain game in his playing career where he “killed it” and got the win. Cassell also proclaimed Crawford as the funniest dude he knew, the camaraderie among the trio being rather overt.
The three-time world champion with 15 NBA seasons under his belt is essential to the development of both guards. He’s constantly teaching the young Wizards moves and positioning. Even though Flip Saunders had this to say after practice,:
“Sam does a good job because he has good knowledge as far as played the position. One thing that’s a little bit different is that Sam played a lot different than these guys. And sometimes you have to talk to Sam because the things he wants them to do, as far as shoot mid-range shots and those type of things, that’s not what their game is. Sam’s speed has definitely never been close to those guys. So that’s one thing we gotta watch out a little bit. But he’s got a good knowledge of what to look for.”
Either way, certainly the athletic can learn something from the tactics of the non-athletic. Cassell has also enjoyed past friendly battles of one-on-one with the likes of John Wall, Nick Young and JaVale McGee. Something left in the tank is sometimes best spent on education.
The Sacramento Kings closed out their season with a very emotional home loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. At the time, there was a strong possibility that it was last game in Sacramento after 23 years as the team‘s owners, Joe and Gavin Maloof, looked to move the franchise to Anaheim, California. The Kings broadcasters broke down on air, and fans organized a protest by refusing to leave the arena after the contest’s conclusion. Kings players returned to the court to address their adoring fans. There was great sense of empathy amongst sports fans online in seeing a team ripped away from a fan base.
When the move appeared imminent, I caught up with Washington Wizards head coach Flip Saunders and swingman Maurice Evans to ask about their personal experiences playing in Sacramento. In the video below, Saunders talks about the Sacramento Cow Bells, and Evans provides a funny antidote about a passionate Kings fan that still supports him every time he returns.
It’s a bit of a reunion Saturday here at the Verizon Center with Mo Evans, Jordan Crawford, Kirk Hinrich and Hilton Armstrong facing their respective former teams. But there is another type of reunion going on too, one from the 1993 NBA Draft — between Sam Cassell, who went 24th in the first round that year and is now an assistant coach with the Washington Wizards, and Nick Van Exel, a second rounder in ’93 (37th overall), who is now a player development instructor with the Atlanta Hawks.
Between the two, there is 212 games of playoff experience (136 for Cassell and 76 for Van Exel), and over 28,000 regular season points scored (15,635 for Cassell and 12,658 for Van Exel). However, according to the Basketball-Reference.com database, in 31 regular season head-to-head match-ups, Van Exel holds a 17-14 advantage. That’s a lot of classic games between two excellent guards. Let’s go to the YouTube archive…
The San Antonio Spurs came into the Verizon Center last night and thoroughly dominated the Washington Wizards 118-94. They shot 58-percent for the game, 52-percent from three-point land, only trailed for 22 seconds and had six players in double figures. They were also able to accomplish this with Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili combining for just 20 minutes and 12 points.
San Antonio’s victory was even more impressive considering that the night before, they were outplayed in Philadelphia, losing to the 76ers by shooting just 33-percent from the field, 17-percent from the three-point line, and by putting up just 25 points in the second half. As Gregg Popovich said during his pregame presser on Saturday, “We set offensive basketball back a decade.”
“Just one?,” asked another reporter.
“Maybe two …. you’re right, I’m being too kind. It was just ridiculous,” responded the coach. One night later, Popovich got his team to leave that ridiculousness behind. By halftime in Washington, they scored more points (72) than they had the previous night in Philadelphia (71 points total).
Remember that goofy Bobby Knight “Game Face” display during some press conference long ago? Whether you do or you don’t, let’s take it to YouTube (it’s No. 2 in the countdown of top Knight soundbites):
But what about pre-game faces? Well, thanks to TAI’s Adam McGinnis, we have some of those faces from last Tuesday’s Wizards-Lakers game below. But first …
Truth About It is giving away more free Wizards tickets, this time two lower-level tickets to Saturday’s Wizards game versus the Miami Heat, courtesy of StubHub.
How do you win the tickets?Like last time, at around 3 PM EST this afternoon, Friday, December 17, I will be posting a Wizards-related trivia question on the TAI Twitter account: @Truth_About_It. The first person to email, NOT Tweet, the correct answer to email@example.com will have two (2) tickets — Section 117, Row F — waiting for them at the Verizon Center Will Call for Saturday night’s 7 PM game.
The trivia question last time was: “Before playing last game @ US Airways Arena in 97, the Wash. Wizards signed a player who prev. played in 345 total gms as a Bullet. Name him”
[Kobe Bryant looks to discover more about Sam Cassell - photo: Adam McGinnis]
How does one evaluate a performance like the Washington Wizards gave in a 103-89 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night? They didn’t play their worst, but weren’t even in sight of the perfect game they would have needed to beat the reigning champs. Washington did their best to fight, but continued to make the same exact mistakes that fans should sadly be becoming immune to now. Each key defensive gaffe became mundane, blending in with the others.
Already severely out-manned with no Andray Blatche, John Wall and Josh Howard, Yi Jianlian went down about five minutes into the game with just about the same injury to the same knee. That’s when the Washington Post’sMichael Lee invoked the ‘Curse O’ Les Boulez’ on Twitter. Great.
Lesser than a tale of two halves, it was a tale of two quarters, the first and the second. The Wizards “hung around” in the first quarter, moving the ball well (7 assists, 11 field-goals, 0 turnovers) and playing aggressive defense. Of course, that aggressiveness combined with the aura of a champion that seems to possess referees pinned the Wizards for 10 fouls — although some of those should certainly be credited to bad defensive positioning. After the game, Al Thornton also denoted a couple early call against him as “cheap.” Pretty much what you can expect when you have to guard Kobe Bryant and his ability to draw fouls. Watching the referees pay meticulous attention to Kobe’s presence with their whistles is akin to walking by a construction site behind of bevy of Hooters waitresses.
“I feel like I’ve been blindsided by Brian Orakpo. I mean, that was just … wow.”
-Wizards television commentator Steve Buckhantz after witnessing a first half of basketball in which the Wizards allowed 44 points in the paint, and let Toronto shoot 67% en route to a 72-52 lead after 24 minutes. The Raptors ultimately prevailed 127-108.
Let’s take a look at a screen-shot depiction of the fun, shall we?
There’s no place like home, evidently … especially when the Wizards play defense like Dorothy.
Oh, and these are the red shoes Gilbert Arenas wore against the Raptors for World AIDS Week.
From FreeDarko’s Undisputed Guide To Pro Basketball History:
“Madison Square Garden, the game’s most hallowed arena, is the Mecca of Basketball. But this nickname had little to do with devotion to the sport; it was borrowed from the Shriners’ Mecca Temple, a venue that hosted boxing and wrestling matches in the ’20s and ’30s.”
So, what happens when some of the Wizards’ big men go through their pre-game warm-up routine while some of the Knicks City Dancers do the same, on the same court? Or when Andray Blatche keeps loose with a game of one-on-one with Sam Cassell?
After a thrilling overtime victory over the 76ers on Election night in the nation’s capital, the Wizards players and coaches appeared in an upbeat mood at practice on Wednesday morning. Then again, this year’s team always seems to be in good spirits. The Four Bigs ‘(Dray Blatche, Yi Jianlian, JaVale McGee and Hilton Armstrong) were playing a rotating game of one-on-one with coach Gene Banks at one end, while other Wizards took part in a game of 3-on-3 on the side baskets at the other end. Gilbert was in this game and he looked pretty healthy. John Wall, against a wall, was chatting with Coach Saunders and observing both workout contests. The big topics post-practice were Cartier Martin’s off-balance three that sent Tuesday’s game into an extra period and the spectacular play of Wall.