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Wizards prepare for preseason opener in Charlotte

- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 6, 2012

Randy Wittman didn't mince words about what he's expecting on Sunday when the Wizards play the Bobcats in Charlotte in their preseason opener – a rocky start.

"Tomorrow is usually not a real pretty sight," Wittman said.

As the team wrapped up their Saturday morning practice session before boarding a plane to Charlotte, the Wizards coach repeated his mantra from last season – it's not about the opponents, it's about us. This first preseason game will give Wittman a chance to see if the things he's teaching in training camp are sinking in.

"I just want to see a carryover of what we've put in and our execution of it both offensively and defensively," Wittman said. "We've got a long way to go. The game on Sunday will give us a good idea of what we need to work on, what we need to add. We're coming back here on Monday and Tuesday and going right back to work."

Turnovers are Wittman's number one concern and he's hoping the team can hold onto the ball a little bit better than they have in camp so far.

"We threw the ball all over this gymnasium Tuesday morning so I'm hoping that doesn't happen," Wittman said. "The thing that I've liked about these guys so far is that our basketball IQ is pretty high. They've been able to retain things pretty quickly. Now are they going to be able to retain them come game time? That's the stuff we have to work on tomorrow."

The fatigue factor is beginning to take it's toll. Jannero Pargo sat out the morning practice after X-ray's on his non-contact rib injury showed no structural damage, and Trevor Booker sat out with a sore hamstring.

"Oh sure, they're beat up a little but, no question," Wittman said. "That's what this is about, getting their bodies back to condition of playing up and down every night, three [games] in four nights, that kind of thing. They're tired mentally and physically right now."

Despite the fatigue, A.J. Price says the team is ready, and feels pretty good about the work they've put in during the week. With John Wall out for at least eight weeks and Pargo slowed by sore ribs, Price is likely to get a lot of playing time at point guard.

Price is entering his fourth season in the league and says Washington feels like a good fit for him after spending three years with the Indiana Pacers.

"I'm very comfortable with this group," Price said. "Since I came here, since day one, the organization, management, the players have all embraced me, just made me feel at home. That's made my transition much easier."

The Wizards will have two more days of two-a-day training camp sessions on Monday and Tuesday and will have one day off before their only home game of the preseason – against the New York Knicks on Thursday. The remainder of their preseason games are all on the road. The regular season begins on Oct. 30.

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