The Washington Times - September 26, 2008, 02:11PM

Media day just wrapped up here at Verizon Center and one thing is clear: The Wizards are eager to start the season and have high expectations even with Gilbert Arenas’ return delayed.



A few of the highlights:

> Caron Butler said “I think we’re the best team in the East if we’re healthy.”


> Etan Thomas said he feels great, he’s completely healthy and ready to help the Wizards in whatever way he’s asked. He said doesn’t expect any problems between himself and Brendan Haywood, but in practices they’ll battle as intensly as ever. “We have a lot of depth,” he said. “You want to push each other, competition’s good. Just as long as you have the same respect for each other, and we both respect each other.”


> Dee Brown is excited to contribute and said the news that Gil would be out for the early stretch really didn’t have an effect on his outlook. “What, you thought I was gonna ride the bench this year? My expectation is to play all the time,” said Brown, who joined the team via trade early this summer. “Every day your role has to be that you’re ready to play. Of course Gilbert is one of the best in the league, and I was so grateful to come into this situation, but you never know when you’re going to be called. … So I’ve just worked on my game, worked hard and I knew maybe one day my opportunity will come.”


> DeShawn Stevenson’s shaggy beard is gone — he won the bet with Drew Gooden — and now it’s closely trimmed. But now, D-Steve is rockin the throwback flat top and personalized rubber bracelets that read “The wind blown, my flat top swayin’ ” on the front, and “He had hair like wool, like steve’s” on the back. D-Steve said he made the saying’s up and didn’t explain much more other than, “I’m kinda weird. Man, I’m just kinda weird.”


> Young guys like Andray Blatche, Nick Young and Dominic McGuire say they are ready to take the next step in their careers, that they’ve worked hard all summer and that they have matured.


> Veterans like Antawn Jamison and Brendan Haywood gave rather comical “yeah, right” looks upon hearing that Blatche thinks he has matured and is ready to become serious and mature.  “My message to Andray is,” said Jamison. “You want to be treated like a veteran, you’re ready for the task, well you need to show it. … Nick, he gets it. but Dray, he needs to realize that more than ever we need him. We need him to be consistent. … He’s starting the season saying the same thing, well it’s time to show it.”


> Gil didn’t speak today. He did pictures for the media guide, but then had to get to his rehab. I ran past him in the hallway as everything was concluding, and he said he was feeling good. I suspect there will be some from him this week at training camp.


> Oleksiy Pecherov said his ankle is doing well, but a little sore, but he is ready to go for training camp.


There are a few quick hits from today. Camp starts tomorrow in Richmond. Stay tuned …