- The Washington Times - Monday, October 22, 2001

Saturday night at MCI Center provided Courtney Alexander with what appeared to be the perfect stage and he missed the opportunity.
With Michael Jordan ripping through the New Jersey Nets for 41 points, and with Richard Hamilton, last year's leading scorer, in street clothes with a bruised right elbow, Alexander knew it was his chance to regain the form from last year that branded him one of the league's rising stars.
But instead of feeding off of Jordan and being the second option that the Wizards needed in Hamilton's absence, Alexander, who captured rookie of the month honors last April, was again pedestrian. He scored only eight points on 3-for -11 shooting.
And after Wizards coach Doug Collins pulled Alexander from the game at the 11-minute mark of the fourth quarter following a play on which he jacked up an off-balance shot rather then feed struggling rookie Kwame Brown for a much higher percentage shot, Alexander did not return until just 6.1 seconds remained in the game and the Wizards were assured of falling to 1-3 in preseason.
This is how it has been for Alexander. After erupting onto the scene last year with the Wizards, Alexander is shooting just .371 percent from the field and averaging just 7.0 points in the Wizards' four preseason games.
"It's like he's not sure yet," Collins said. "I haven't see that much of him, but it's like maybe someone [in the past] has thrown him the ball and he has worked to get his own shot. Now we're working off screens and a lot of other things rather than just catch it and play one-on-one.
"I told him it's not just scoring. He's 6-5 and he can do so many different things. He's powerful. He can run, he can jump. He should be a good defender; he should be a good rebounder. So even if he shoots just 3-for-11 he can make a contribution to our team."
Collins said he is responsible for the way the team has played recently, adding that recently he has not been doing a good job inspiring his players.
But Alexander said his problems don't have anything to do with not being inspired by the coach.
"I don't feel good right now, I'm not in rhythm," said Alexander, who will likely come off the bench this season. "I'm frustrated with my play. I'm not frustrated with my numbers because my numbers are going to be there.
"My thing is if I go out there and score 10 points will I feel good about those 10 points? Right now I'm not in any kind of rhythm. I'm not myself right now."
Collins has taken notice. When Jordan scored 16 points in the third quarter against New Jersey to help the Wizards close what had been an 18-point lead at the start of the second half to a two-point New Jersey lead, Collins said those are the times when Alexander and Hamilton must step up and help carry the load simply because they are the next best scorers on a very young team.
When Jordan is not playing tonight against Philadelphia in State College, Pa., Hamilton will be on the court with Alexander. Hamilton practiced with the team yesterday, and after missing Saturday's game was given the green light to play. Averaging 18.3 points and appearing much more confident than he did last year at this time, Hamilton says he is ready to accept Jordan's and Collins' challenge to step up. He only hopes Alexander will soon be ready to do the same."
"It's something that I'm ready for, but I can only speak for myself," Hamilton said. "I don't sit back and say I'm going to just sit back and watch Michael Jordan play. I worked too hard to put myself in that situation. A lot of times I need the ball in my hands just as much as Courtney needs the ball in his hands, as much as Michael needs the ball in his hands."

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