The Washington Times - March 9, 2011, 02:09PM


Following last night’s 95-76 shellacking at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks, Wizards head coach Flip Saunders conducted a “training camp” for his team. The Wizards have three days until they face Blake Griffin and the L.A. Clippers on Saturday at the Verizon Center.


Griffin won’t have to jump over a car to excite the Verizon Center crowd, many of whom will no doubt show up just to see him make a few monster dunks, but some defensive pressure on the star rookie will go a long way toward helping the Wizards keep his offensive production down, and perhaps pull off an improbable win against the 24-40 team.

Andray Blatche’s availability for the game is questionable. Blatche had an MRI this morning and was diagnosed with a right shoulder strain, and is listed as day to day. Rashard Lewis, still bothered by soreness in his knee, did not practice, nor did Cartier Martin, who is hampered by tendonitis in his knee.

 The morning began with a film session from last night’s game, followed by a longer than usual practice.

 “Today was kind of a learning day. We’ll be doing more competitive things tomorrow. We watched film, we went through things. I think the guys are aware that there are opportunities for anybody, so we’ll see how it goes.”

 With all the injuries, Saunders plans to balance practice time as much as possible.

 “What we want to do is go hard, but make sure we go shorter and make sure we go at a high intensity.”

 As far as the all rookie lineup he went with for about a four minute stretch in the second quarter of last night’s game, Saunders hinted that we likely haven’t seen the last of it.

 “That lineup was probably as good as the [regular] lineup we had on the floor. There’s other people that have probably done an all rookie lineup; I don’t know if anyone’s put four first round picks in the same draft on the floor at the same time, and a second round pick off the same team. They played pretty good. I think we’ll give them opportunities,” Saunders said.

The lineup to which Saunders refers consisted of John Wall, Jordan Crawford, Hamady N’Diaye, Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin.

“There’s no question that our young guys did a nice job.” Will he go to it again?

“For the first time, you kind of want to see it, but we were hoping to get some of our other guys going too. That lineup can do things well for a short period, but they don’t have enough scoring to be able to sustain it for 24 period span.”

N’Diaye, who has seen limited playing time this season, finally got a chance to impress his coach.

“He did well. He blocked shots, he took a charge; I thought he did a really nice job. They gave good energy. I was impressed. If we had a bright spot, it was how those guys all played.”

With young players, he emphasized, the importance is effort, and to cut down on mental mistakes. But if the rookies were a bright spot, then the down side of would have to be the inconsistent play of JaVale McGee, who has struggled since the all-star break.

 “I don’t know if he’s hit the wall; he’s had one good game since the all-star break against Miami when he was more into a rebounding mode. I thought he played really well. He gets so anxious sometimes, and by becoming anxious, he gets undisciplined and takes the kind of shots you might have in a Horse game,” Saunders said.

 “He does some things very well, and then he does some things very bad. We just have to keep on working,” Saunders said.

 Tomorrow, the Wizards will have day two of their mini training camp, and starting roster spots are available. Let the work continue.