There was no need for Randy Wittman to set his alarm clock Wednesday for his first shootaround as the Washington Wizards’ new coach.
“I didn’t wake up; I never went to sleep,” Wittman said. “It’s been tough. This is tough. The last time this happened [taking over in mid-season], I said I never wanted to do it again.”
But after a 92-75 win over the depleted Charlotte Bobcats at Verizon Center, Wittman couldn’t help but say that he was just as happy for himself as he was for the players.
“A win is a win. I’m happy. I’m going to sleep tonight,” Wittman said, adding that he wanted the players to celebrate a rare win before getting down to business the next day.
“We’ll clean things up on the practice floor before we head out to Houston. We’re going to have some execution problems until we can get farther along in this process of cleaning things up that we need to.”
The Wizards’ next opponent, the Rockets (10-8), should offer far more resistance Friday night in Houston.
The items topping Wittman’s agenda are simplifying the offense, eliminating mistakes and understanding the importance of effort.
“Effort isn’t taught. Either you want to do it, or you don’t want to do it,” Wittman said. “It’s like athleticism. You don’t teach athleticism, you’re born with it. We’re all born with going out and giving effort for whatever our jobs are. It’s either you want to or you don’t, and when you don’t, you’re just telling me ‘I don’t want to do it’. We’ve got to change that.”
Under Wittman, the Wizards can expect their playing time to have a direct correlation to how hard they play. Without it, the players have already been put on notice that they can expect to take a seat on the bench.
Under former coach Flip Saunders, disciplinary benchings — such as Nick Young’s in the second half at Philadelphia on Monday — often were met with resistance or displeasure. It seems to be the least of Wittman’s concerns.
Still, Wittman is reluctant to make comparisons between his coaching style and Saunders’.
“I can’t put it into … I don’t know. I’m doing what I know to do,” Wittman said. “This is how I coach. The thing most people tell me when I’ve taken over jobs is just be yourself. I can’t be anybody but myself.”
Wittman also is quick to add that the coaching change will not suddenly make the Wizards look like the Thunder.
“It’ about winning, that’s what this boils down to,” Wittman said. “Are we going to win games at a clip that Oklahoma City is now? No. We need to win the games that this team is supposed to win.”