Sometimes, a lot can be gleaned in a very short amount of time. Or even from a distance. Take for example, the 2012-13 version of the Washington Wizards. After the morning session of the second day of training camp, everyone from coach Randy Wittman to the old players to the new players see a difference in attitude and effort.
“It’s always that second or third day of double sessions, the body gets sore, your mind gets wandering,” Wittman said. “We had some really good concentration today. We got a lot of good things done. We had a lot of carryover that was positive from what we did from the first two practices now to our third one. I’ve been pleased.”
Now entering his first full season at the helm of the Wizards, Wittman has a few new tricks up his sleeve. Wittman didn’t go into too much detail. When asked for a couple of specifics by radio play-by-play man Dave Johnson, Wittman joked that if he told him, he’d have to kill him.
“A lot of the stuff that I’m doing here early is all new to all our guys, even the guys that we were with me last year, because there were things that I wanted to integrate into this team that I wasn’t able to last year. I’m starting off with all of that right now early.”
Center Emeka Okafor said it was a little bit like the first day of school.
“Everybody’s fresh and excited out there and running around,” Okafor said. “Training camp is all about teaching, letting the young guys know whats around the corner, letting them know how to get through camp and fixing little mistakes that I see.”
Okafor, who was acquired in an offseason trade along with Trevor Ariza for Rashard Lewis, will be called upon to play a leadership role, especially with Nene out.
“I’ve been a part of young teams so again I know what to expect,” Okafor said. “I’m looking for certain things and hopefully I can address it and problems that usually plague young teams won’t plague us.”
Also emerging as a leader on the Wizards so far is swingman Martell Webster, a seven year veteran who was acquired as a free agent in August.
“Yesterday was a great day getting the rust off the lungs, running up and down the court,” Webster said. “Today was a mental day. It was a little stagnant at first but then guys started to warm up.”
Webster spent his last two years with the Minnesota Timberwolves, who were 26-40 last season, and knows what it takes to bring about a mind shift.
“Losing. When you get enough of that, you see attitudes start to change,” Webster said. “With me, I’m always going to have a smile on my face, always joking and keeping things loose. But when we get on that court, it’s business.”
Webster got a chance to watch the Wizards last season, and saw a team plagued by youthful mistakes.
“The way I viewed the team in the games I saw, they had a great chance, but that’s where that youngness comes in, not being able to finish games,” Webster said.
“There were some times you guys were up big, 20 at halftime, and blow a 25-point lead and lose. You guys were fun to watch, but in the fourth quarter what happened? That comes with experience. Guys have that bad taste in their mouth, but they also know the feeling of success from those last 10 games.”
As the morning session drew to a close on Wednesday, the team ran a 4:15 drill. Webster hopes the young guys understood the true purpose of the exercise.
“That wasn’t about getting 110 makes,” Webster said. “It’s about, ‘Oh, my body’s tired. It’s shut down. I’m about to cramp up. I’m about to fall out.’ Mentally you have to push through it.”
In other news, three former Wizards - Nick Young, JaVale McGee and Gilbert Arenas - can be seen in internet video playing paintball. Enough said.