- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 2, 2012

Randy Wittman is 2-3 since taking over as coach of the Wizards, and even though the wins were against the woeful Charlotte Bobcats, there’s no question that Washington is playing better under his watch.

The players are competing harder, displaying more energy and seem to have a better understanding of what their roles are and what’s expected of them.

Wittman has simplified the playbook and asked the team to run on offense and play full-court pressure defense. He also rarely answers questions about the team’s opponents; for him, it’s all about the Wizards.

“He’s put an emphasis on ball pressure, denying the ball on the wings, and he’s really focusing in on us as a team and less on our opponents,” guard Roger Mason Jr. said. “I think that’s a big difference. It’s still early, and we still have to see if we can keep this up, but I’d say that guys are responding.

“He’s just focused on us, on the guys in our locker room. Our strength is that we’re young and we have depth. If we’re not ready, we’re going to be ready soon, because I don’t think coach Witt is changing anytime soon.”

John Wall agrees that under Wittman, the team is now playing a little bit harder, and a little bit smarter.

“I think we’re moving the ball better and playing at a faster pace,” Wall said. “We just focus on our team now and on what we have to do when we get out there, and on our game plan. The only thing we do with their game plan is go over our defensive schemes for different teams.

“We’re playing better defense than we were before. We’re moving the ball more. Nobody’s really focused on who’s getting the ball, who’s scoring. We’re not doing the stuff we were doing before, catching the ball and just going one-on-one. It’s exciting to see everybody get shots and get the opportunity to play.”

For Shelvin Mack, backing up Wall has become easier under Wittman’s more scheduled substitution pattern.

“I know when I’m set to come in, and that’s helping me out a lot,” Mack said. “It shows that [Wittman] has confidence in me to get out there and run the team, and keep me in during tough situations in the fourth quarter.”

For Jordan Crawford, the team has more fight in them, and is finally starting to believe in themselves.

“Early on, when we’d get down, we’d feel like we were out of the game, and we’d stop competing,” Crawford said. “I think now, we just keep playing hard and executing. He’s [Wittman] making things a lot more simple. All the plays turn into the same kind of action. We’re starting to believe. He’s making everybody believe.”

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