- The Washington Times - Monday, December 12, 2011

The Washington Wizards will open the preseason on Friday Dec. 16 against the Philadelphia 76ers. Rookie Chris Singleton can’t wait.

“I’m sick of seeing these guys,” Singleton joked, referring to the scrimmages with his teammates.

With eight players on the roster under age 23, coach Flip Saunders says he constantly in a teaching phase. With a shortened training camp followed by a shortened season, he needs his players to learn quickly.

Fortunately, Saunders says he’s coaching a squad of players with better basketball IQs than he’s had in the past.

“It’s not even close,” Saunders said. Much of the improved intelligence quotient is enhanced by the team’s three rookies — Jan Vesely, Chris Singleton and Shelvin Mack.

“All three of those guys brought what we thought we needed into our organization. They were the kind of players we wanted to have here,” Saunders said.

Vesely, Saunders said, has a great feel for the game.

“He passes the ball extremely well, makes the extra pass. He knows when to hold it and when to get rid of it. The speed of the game is not his problem. That’s his forte, getting up and down the floor.”

Vesely has been on the receiving end of a few John Wall lob passes in training camp, and appears to be adjusting quickly to the NBA game.  

“For him [Vesely], its just working on his fundamentals, working on his shooting. Defensively, he can move his feet and play bigger people,” Saunders said.

As for Mack, his two Final Four appearances with Butler have given him a great deal of confidence in is game. During training camp, Mack has been guarding Wall.

“He’s been through a lot. He’s a solid, intelligent player,” Saunders said of Mack.

Chris [Singleton] is kind of the same way. He’s a guy that didn’t leave school too early and became a solid, fundamental player who can defend anybody on the floor,” Saunders said.

Vesely said he thinks training camp is going well.

“I think I have the system down,” Vesely said. “I’m working hard. I think every day I’m getting in better shape.”

As Day Four came to a close, the hard hat went to Ronny Turiaf.

“That’s been probably the most difficult thing, trying to decide who we’re going to give that thing to,” Saunders said. “Usually, it boils down to somebody who does something a little bit extraordinary.”