- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 2, 2003

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Washington Wizards’ Brendan Haywood is getting tired of the questions regarding his play — and the game of frontcourt mates Kwame Brown, Etan Thomas and Jared Jeffries.

“There comes a point where you have to stop being young in this league and start producing,” the 7-foot center said. “I think my third year is where I have to start stepping it up. In this offense, I’m going to get the ball more, and they are going to depend a lot more on me on defense, so I have to be ready for the challenge.”

The Wizards are set in the backcourt. Today the veterans join training camp practices at the College of Charleston’s John Kreese Athletic Center, which means first-year coach Eddie Jordan will get his first look at the backcourt of Jerry Stackhouse and Gilbert Arenas, the team’s strong point.

Throw in Larry Hughes, reportedly the star of summer workouts at MCI Center, and 10-year veteran Chris Whitney, and the Wizards can lay claim to having perhaps the deepest backcourt in the league.

Haywood, the team’s likely starting center when the season opens in Chicago on Oct.29, knows that in the team’s offense — which he and other young players are struggling to get a grasp on — he will get an opportunity to be a factor.

“I’m expecting a breakout year from Brendan,” Jordan said. “I’m expecting that he’s going to help us a lot.”

Haywood made the jump from reserve to starter in his second season, going from starting two games as a rookie to 69 last season. The change made little difference. As a rookie, Haywood averaged 5.1 points, 5.2 rebounds and blocked 1.47 shots while playing 20 minutes a game. In 23 minutes last season, he averaged more points (6.2) but had almost identical totals in rebounding and blocks.

The Wizards would like his numbers for the upcoming season at least to mirror what he did when he first entered the league and promptly earned NBA rookie of the month honors for December 2001.

During that stretch, Haywood averaged 7.9 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.2 blocks a game. Haywood had some of the best games of his career then, going for a career-high 19 points in an upset win at Dallas. The same week, he posted his first career double-double with 17 points and a career-high 15 rebounds against Memphis.

“He’s shown what he’s capable of at times in this league,” Jordan said. “The key in this league is to be consistent. You have to do it over and over again, night in and night out. And that’s where he has to be working to get.”

It hasn’t hurt Haywood that Jordan is significantly more reserved in his coaching style than predecessor Doug Collins. This has become a familiar refrain at this camp.

“No one likes to get browbeat,” Haywood said. “You know when you mess up a lot of times. You want your coach to let you know what you did wrong and tell you how you can correct it. But you don’t need to be yelled at and cussed at all the time.”

Note — With six veterans coming in, the Wizards have a full complement of 20 in camp. The Wizards are likely to make a few cuts following today’s practices.


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