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02-23-2010 01:33 PM #1
For those who have stopped watching..
First, great article on espn, right side of the page.
I'll actually just post it in it's entirety here.
WASHINGTON -- 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 one another. It's not as though 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," Saunders said when asked how his in-game teaching has increased after the Wizards' flurry of recent trades. Since then, 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."
You wouldn't immediately know it, but that's a pretty damning statement about the past regime of players. When Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison, and even Gilbert Arenas for a brief time were the offensive cogs, lack of trust, in the system and in one another, was the prevalent reason why a team with high preseason expectations just wasn't clicking. "Selfish basketball" is the idea that team president Ernie Grunfeld has opted for in several recent public statements.
"Not taking away from the guys we had, but I think they thought that we'll just play and get back in it when we have to. That doesn't always work. So we [now] play with a greater sense of urgency," Saunders said, complimenting the effort of his new team. But it also serves as an indictment of yesterday's team. Who would have thought that less than a week removed from the trade deadline, Wizards fans would be saying good riddance to their former heroes?
Heading into the All-Star break, Saunders was given a C-minus for his work. And while these Wizards shouldn't exactly get their hopes up with playoff pipe dreams, fans should trust that Saunders' A-plus beginnings to the season's second session will guide the franchise toward a better future.
Trade away all of them, essentially all the stars, and we have a very different look. The guys have played hungry. They are essentially 10-12 players who have proven nothing in this league. It's like a high school tryout, except they're trying out for their future with the team, or their next contract. They play hungry..they play team basketball. They play with no fear of losing because they are expected to lose.
If you haven't watched the first 4 games since the trades, you've missed out. With 3 wins and 1 close loss, it's been the best 4 game streak of Wizards basketball this season. Even in the loss, which was in Toronto against a pretty hot Raptors team, they had a lead and just went cold in the 4th. They've played the kind of basketball you see in college..there's hustle, enthusiasm, effort the entire time..it's not commonplace in the NBA.
I'm not saying they'll make a magical run and make the playoffs. It's not out of the realm of possibility, but it probably won't happen. But they have become a fun team to watch again. I urge you all to tune it to see for yourself. It's almost like..take away all the big names, and suddenly every player feels like he could be the most important player on the team, and they play as such. It's refreshing.
I'm sure if you're a fan, you're as disgusted as I've been with this season. I ask you, give this new group a chance. You won't regret it.
02-23-2010 05:37 PM #2
It's a shame about Howard, I doubt the Wizards will re sign him, so there's another $11 million!!! Anyway, I agree that the past few games have been great. Who knew Andray Blatche was this good..He's a better defender than Jamison ever was, which is refreshing. Still need a PG (Boykins is a terrible basketball player) and Foye is a #2..That must be addressed. Maybe we luck into John Wall...
02-23-2010 08:38 PM #3
I just want to assure we have the best shot at Wall.
BTW, to me, Evan Turner is player 1A to Wall's 1. IF we get the #2 pick I'd be thrilled to have Turner.
02-23-2010 09:01 PM #4
02-23-2010 09:22 PM #5
02-23-2010 09:28 PM #6
02-24-2010 01:51 AM #7
I like Turner that much.
But yeah, Cousins could certainly be a monster if he doesn't go crazy on someone first. And it was also nice to see Derrick Favors finally have a game where he lived up to his hype last weekend. Good lord was he a beast against Maryland.
Anybody you don't like that gets mentioned among the top guys?
02-24-2010 01:54 AM #8
02-25-2010 11:50 PM #9
I think Cole Aldrich could end up being like Big Country.
02-25-2010 11:52 PM #10