Wednesday - October 2 - Day 5
11:00 pm: The equipment truck has been packed and we have moved out of the Patriot Center. Camp started earlier this year because of the trip to Brazil and now we are already finished and it's only October 3rd. Just because "camp" has concluded, doesn't mean the next few weeks will not be used as a trial and error period as the coaches try and get a gauge on the roster. But, our time at George Mason is up and now it's back to Verizon Center for practice.
Randy Wittman indicated that he was pleased that the team bounced back today after a slow day on Tuesday. He mentioned guys feeling fatigued on Tuesday, but that he challenged them to fight through it and give a better effort for the final practice at Mason. Well the message was received because the players responded with a great practice to conclude #WizCamp and it may have been the most competitive session of the week.
The team did run a few more simulated scrimmages today, which were more designed to work on late-in-game situations. This was a good chance to see the guys get up and down the court. It's certainly fun watching a healthy John Wall and Bradley Beal play together, because we only saw it in about 25% of the games last year. They could form something very special in DC as they compliment each other beautifully.
Trevor Ariza returned and was a full participant in today's practice after missing yesterday's session with a calf injury. That was the good news, but Otto Porter (hip) and Trevor Booker (knee) were held out again and are still listed as day-to-day.
Before practice began, John Wall, Bradley Beal, and Martell Webster threw the football around. I was impressed that all three could throw a pretty good deep ball and looked like they had some natural football skills. Check out some video of them tossing around the pigskin:
After practice, we heard from Glen Rice for the first time who talked about his first training camp in the NBA and adjusting to the league:
We also heard from Bradley Beal who spoke about the week at camp, putting on some more weight and being an even more complete player in 2013-14:
That will do it for the #WizCamp Blog, we'll be providing more updates and blog posts as practices continue throughout the preseason with plenty of special coverage from Brazil next week.
4:00 pm: We are back for the final day of the George Mason portion of #WizCamp. The last practice at the Patriot Center is underway with the players looking as energetic as ever. We had a Brazil briefing meeting earlier this afternoon where all of the players and staff were informed of proper protocols, logistics, & safety measures to take when we get to Rio next week. For those not aware, the Wizards will take on the Bulls in Rio de Janeiro on October 12th in the first NBA game ever to take place in South America. There is plenty of stuff planned for the trip before the game takes place, so make sure to stay tuned for a lot of behind-the-scenes content right here on Monumental Network.
Before practice today, a few of the guys were tossing around the pigskin to get loose. I was impressed with their spirals and if they weren't so good at basketball maybe they could have a career in the NFL. Here's a sneak peak of some video, with some more coming soon:
Back with more coverage later...
Tuesday - October 1 - Day 4
11:00pm: Four days down, one to go. We've got just one practice left out here at Mason before returning back to D.C. and Verizon Center for the rest of the year.
The above highlights package shows some live action from tonight's practice, including some end-of-game situation drills the team worked on at the end of practice. The last sequences had some drama, as you can see Beal sink a long three to tie the score and then Eric Maynor answered on the other end with a game-winner. I'm looking forward to seeing who the go-to guy will become in end-game situations this year. There are so many options and good options that we could see a mix of plays and calls for different players depending on the game.
After practice today, Witt explained that this is the time of camp where guys start to experience soreness and fatigue, but that's the time they really need guys to dig deep. He's balancing getting the most out of his team and keeping guys fresh, which many of the players have mentioned in post-practice media sessions. They are all focused on being ready for the Oct. 30 opener in Detroit and everything from now until then is designed to be ready for that night.
Trevor Ariza (calf) joined Otto Porter (hip) and Trevor Booker (knee) as limited participants at practice tonight, though Wittman indicated he didn't think Ariza would be out for more than a day or two and his hip already felt better today than yesterday. It sounds like it was just a precaution to hold him out and make sure he's good to go before returning to full practice. No updates on Porter or Booker, both remain day-to-day.
We heard from Eric Maynor, Jan Vesely, and Garrett Temple after practice today, who all spoke about the positive vibes from camp. Maynor and Temple echoed many similar sentiments and it was interesting how they said they've built a bond off the court while competing for a similar role on the court. Maynor is pegged as Wall's backup point guard, but Temple is capable of playing multiple positions in the backcourt and could see his way into the lineup depending on matchups. Temp also spoke about the team-bonding going on through playing card games, Madden 2014 and FIFA 2014. Vesely spoke to his big summer and solid camp thus far and how his confidence is at a new level here in 2013.
We'll be back again tomorrow evening for the final time from the Patriot Center and then we're heading home. We'll have some insight from Glenn Consor and Phil Chenier coming to Monumental Network soon!
4:30pm: We're back at the Patriot Center for Day 4 of camp. An evening practice today after three straight morning sessions. We have a special guest on hand to watch today's practice, as MSE's majority owner & CEO Ted Leonsis is here to watch his team. He greeted some of the players before we got underway:
The guys are really going hard in some of the early drills today and the vets won't have it any other way. It can't be understated the importance of having hard working vets on a roster so the younger guys can see what it takes to make it in this league.
We've been expecting a scrimmage at the end of practice for a few days now, so maybe today will that day. Expect some more video and photos later tonight.
Monday - September 30th - Day 3
7:00 pm: We've crossed the halfway mark of our time at George Mason and are now done with morning practices. The last two practices are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday evening before the team heads back to D.C. and their usual practice site at Verizon Center.
It was another good day of practice on Monday. Coach Randy Wittman exclaimed "that's three really good days of practice," at the conclusion of today's session, which is high praise coming from Witt, who is about as straight a shooter as they come.
It was a more eventful practice today, with the talk of practice being the monster slam from the "Dunking Ninja" Jan Vesely.
Vesely not only is producing highlight-reel dunks, but also is getting praise from his coaches, who have noticed a more confident Vesely and said that Day three was probably his best practice yet.
At the start of practice, the Wizards brought out soccer balls as part of their warmups, which was a fun way to get the day rolling. Afterwards, a few of the foreign-born players (Seraphin - French Guiana, Vesely - Czech Republic, Mensa Bonsu - United Kingdom) decided to have a juggling contest with their head, where Vesely was the unofficial winner tallying 35 juggles.
There were a few more casualties to practice, though nothing too serious. Nene said that Kevin Seraphin stepped on his foot and was a little sore afterwards, but nothing that should keep him out of practice. Trevor Ariza also said he felt some tightness in his calf and was icing it after practice. He did not seem too concerned with it, so it probably won't be something that lasts more than a few days. Otto Porter (hip) and Trevor Booker (knee) both were limited again today and both are still day-to-day.
It was also interesting to hear Martell Webster tell us after practice that through three days, he would give the starting SF spot to Trevor Ariza. He praised the veteran forward for his defensive prowess and ability to hit open shots. Webster is the ultimate team player and said he truly does not care whether he starts or not because he'll have fun coming off the bench and sparking the second unit. Wittman said it will be a competitive battle for the starting spot and the team will keep their options open.
I think regardless of who starts, both Webster, Ariza, and Porter (once he gets healthy) will all see plenty of time on the floor and contribute to this team in a positive way.
We are back at the Patriot Center tomorrow at 4pm for Day four out here at Mason. See you then
11:00 am: Checking in today from the RAC, the student recreation center at George Mason. With a concert scheduled for the Patriot Center tonight, we were moved to this location, where the internet doesn't work and there are a limited number of chairs and outlets, but we're making do. I snuck out for a few minutes to get this post up, but I'm going to head back in for the rest of practice and will provide an update later in the day.
Have a few pics of the guys playing soccer as part of their warmup, which will be posted soon.
Sunday - September 29th - Day 2
Today's practice looked similar to yesterdays, with a lot of focus on defense and rotations. Though in the second half of today's practice they did start working in some of the offensive sets in a live 5x5 setting. They also like to run some fast-break drills where they'll start in a fast break and come back the other way in a live 5x5 drill. So we're getting closer to a live scrimmage, but they haven't been let loose yet. Maybe tomorrow we'll see our first one.
We did hear from Trevor Booker today, who spoke about his knee injury. He sounds optimistic that he won't be out too long and said that he spoke to the doctor and got good news on that sore knee. His focus is on being 100% for the regular season, but hopefully he'll get to 100% before the end of the October so we can see him get into a rhythm before the games count.
12:30 PM: A lot more of the same today as far as emphasizing defense and defensive rotations. Almost all of the 5x5 on drills are focused on properly rotating and how to defend different plays. The team has mixed in some 5x0, or dummy offense, but nothing live yet. The refs have arrived so we could see a scrimmage at the end of today's practice.
One thing I've already noticed is the respect all of the guys have for veteran Al Harrington. He looks like he will not only be key for this team on the court, but also a big presence in the locker room. I've already seen him talk to some of the younger guys and pull some of them aside for a bit of advice. The coaches also seem to really like having him around, it's something we'll keep an eye on for the rest of camp and throughout the preseason.
The refs should be here later and maybe we'll see the first 5x5 scrimmage of camp, which is always the most entertaining to watch. Stay tuned...
Saturday - September 28th - Day 1 5:00 pm: Day 1 of #WizCamp is in the books. A few interesting developments already, the first being that it appears that we will only be having one practice per day. This is something different than years past, where we will usually see at least five or six consecutive days of two practices a day. Normally, the morning session is more drill based and the evening session features a scrimmage, but it looks like this year the team will have one three hour practice each day rather than break them into two separate sessions.
For it being the first day, the team looked pretty crisp for a majority of today's practice. A lot of emphasis was placed on defense, which is something coach Randy Wittman said will be a staple again this year. I don't think there's any question that this team wants to build there identity on the defensive side of the ball, and having the first practice of the year focus almost exclusively on defense probably was a good way to get that message across to the players.
There are already a few casualties here at #WizCamp, though they happened prior to camp starting. We've already documented both Emeka Okafor and Chris Singleton's injuries, but the team also began camp without the likes of both Otto Porter (hip flexor) and Trevor Booker (knee). Porter got nicked up recently in a voluntary workout at Verizon Center, where he slipped and tweaked his hip. He didn't give a timetable for when he thinks he'll be back, but said to consider him day-to-day. Hopefully we'll see him before we break camp on Wednesday. As for Book, he mentioned yesterday on our Live Stream that he had a procedure on his knee a few weeks ago, but said he doesn't expect to be sidelined for too long. He's also day-to-day.
Here is Porter on his injury:
Other than the injury talk, things are pretty positive around camp so far. The feeling seems to be more that they expect to be good, rather than just hope to be good like in years past. There is a good mix of both veterans and young guys on the roster that seems to be a nice blend for coach Wittman to work with.
Witt seemed pretty pleased with today's practice, here are his post-practice comments:
John Wall and Bradley Beal also spoke with the media following practice, here are their post-practice videos:
We'll be back with plenty more from tomorrow's practice, where we will probably see our first 5x5 scrimmage of camp. Stay tuned...
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11:15 am: Hello Wizards fans! I'm sitting courtside at the Patriot Center for today's morning practice. It's a great sight to see the entire team all back together and out on the court again. It's been a little over five months since we've seen everyone together in this setting.
Practice is underway and is scheduled to run until about 2pm, with media availability after. We will post interviews, photos, and video from practice later on in the day.
You can check out officialwashingtonwizards on instagram for some clips throughout practice!
8:15 am: We are just a few hours away from our first practice of the season. After months of anticipation, it's hard to believe the day has finally come. While it's the first official day, many of the players have been at Verizon Center for much of September working out together and playing pick-up games. The difference here will be having organized practices with coaches.
One positive this year is that 11 players are returning from a year ago, so there won't need to be too much time spent on terminology or learning new calls. Most of the guys know what the coaches expect of them and know the system that head coach Randy Wittman has put in place. Of the 15 players who enter camp with a guaranteed contract, only Al Harrington and Eric Maynor have yet to be coached by the Wizards staff (Porter & Rice had a taste of it during Summer League).
The first day of camp will still likely be a feeling out process as it usually takes a few days to start getting into a rhythm. We normally won't see any true 5x5 scrimmaging until Day 2 or 3 of camp, but we'll have to see what's in store for this team.
There are two practices scheduled for each day, one in the morning and one at night, but that is subject to change. We'll keep you posted on the latest schedule changes and what's going on out here at Mason throughout the week.
Expect updates from practice and then extensive coverage following each day with video & photos from camp.
Next update will come courtside from the Patriot Center!