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Wizards grab up guru of defense

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The Washington Wizards yesterday named veteran assistant Tom Thibodeau an assistant coach, replacing Bill Berry.

Thibodeau was hired as the Wizards prepare their camp for rookies and free agents, which stars Friday at Verizon Center. Those players will play in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas on July 10-15.

Like Berry, Thibodeau was hired to address the team's lackluster defense.

"We are excited and fortunate to have one of the top NBA assistants join our coaching staff," Wizards coach Eddie Jordan said. "Tom has had a tremendous amount of success during his professional career and brings a great deal of experience and energy to our team. His teams have consistently been among the top defensive teams in the NBA, and he has an outstanding reputation in player development and game preparation."

A coach for 17 seasons, Thibodeau has been an assistant coach with Houston, New York, Philadelphia, San Antonio, Seattle and Minnesota.

During that time, Thibodeau's teams have finished among the top 10 in fewest points allowed 14 times.

Perhaps his most notable stint was as an assistant with New York (1996-2003). In 2000-01, the Knicks set an NBA record by holding opponents to fewer than 100 points in 33 consecutive games.

Thibodeau became the only Wizards assistant under contract. Assistants Mike O'Koren, Phil Hubbard and Wes Unseld Jr. have not had their contracts renewed.

The Wizards also announced their summer league roster. Along with recent draft picks Nick Young and Dominic McGuire, the team will include last year's top pick, Oleksiy Pecherov, and Mike Hall, the former George Washington standout who made the Wizards' roster last season.

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