- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 15, 2002

TORONTO Jerry Stackhouse is uncomfortable.
Most of his uneasiness is because his new team, the Washington Wizards, is in the throes of an ugly stretch that has seen it drop nine of its last 12 games.
But adding to Stackhouse's angst is that 22 games into the season, he is not comfortable in coach Doug Collins' offense, which is based on rapid ball movement and catch-and-shoot philosophies.
"It's a lot of movement, a lot of motion stuff," Stackhouse said after a 5-for-18 shooting performance Friday in the Wizards' 79-65 loss to New Jersey. "The strongest part of my game has always been to slash and beat people one on one. And now I'm like a catch-and-shoot guy, and that's not my strong suit.
"My strong suit is that my man can't guard me, so somebody's got to help, and that's going to get a good shot for somebody else, not running around. But that's how our offense is structured now. I can't totally deviate from that without breaking the offense."
Stackhouse wants it made clear that he is not questioning Collins' coaching, he's just stating the obvious: This offense doesn't play to its top player's strengths.
Stackhouse is a scorer, not just a shooter. Last season at Detroit, where he played his previous four seasons, the Pistons' philosophy was to let Stackhouse relentlessly attack the basket. If he didn't score, the chances were great that he would still get to the line.
But the Wizards prefer to deploy a capable big man in the high post who can help the ball rotate around the perimeter until it finds itself in the hands of the player with the best look at the basket.
That player, for obvious reasons, is quite often Stackhouse or Michael Jordan, the team's two leading scorers. It probably works better for Jordan because now, at 39, he is more apt to rely on creating space on the floor with the dribble and then taking the shot.
But Stackhouse, for all of his basketball-playing life, likes to put the ball on the floor not to create space but to go to the hoop.
Now, though, he must adjust his game for the good of the team, which is not a unique situation for him. Last season the Pistons wanted Stackhouse to get more players involved in the offense, and he responded. Stackhouse's 5.1 assists were his career high.
"It's a Catch-22 situation, but I think we're committed to having this style of play and running this system, so I've just got to adjust," Stackhouse said.
"But the things that I feel I do well, I'm not taking advantage of it in what we're doing right now. We've got to have some discussions, talk through it and hopefully we can find some common ground."
Although the Wizards' problem Friday was their inability to score the 65 points marked their worst offensive performance in the 42-season history of the franchise they continue to be inconsistent defensively.
They forced the Nets into a bad-shooting night and still had an opportunity to win when they narrowed what had been a 16-point lead to just two with less than seven minutes to play.
Three nights earlier, their defensive effort against Portland was terrible as they suffered their worst loss of the season 98-79.
Stackhouse is not the only player in a funk about what's wrong with the Wizards, who play four of their next five games on the road. Everyone seems to be in its grip.
"I don't know where we are in terms of just getting out of this funk that we're in," Jordan said. "We need something that gets us back into a good rhythm. Right now you don't know what we're going to bring to the table each and every night, s and that's confusing."


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