When speaking in terms of Wizards basketball, losing has become routine just as much as traffic on K Street at 5pm on a Tuesday.
Customary with losing is the subsequent rash of fans and media spewing their opinions and reasoning for why the team fell short: pinpointing coaches and players, using injuries as an excuse, or, like in the case of last night’s defeat to the Orlando Magic, whining about the refs.
You can’t really expect much of a different reaction. After all, not many happy headlines come out of a loss, especially when it’s the 18th of 22 games played this season.
But, with that said, you can’t really negate some of the facts:
- The refs did in fact call a bad game. When you’ve got 39 free throws attempted by the Magic to only 9 for the Wizards, it’s always going to raise an eyebrow. A thick one.
- Nick Young was the anti-Lebron, scoring 20 of his 24 points in the fourth. As impressive (and late) as his performance was, it did not make up for his offensive absence in the first three quarters, partly due to foul trouble. Young tried to pull every trick he had up his sleeve in the final minute to help the Wizards miraculously overcome a 9-point deficit, but Orlando’s Ryan Anderson gave a better show, one that concluded with a stabbing 3-pointer to halt Washington’s uber-late spark of momentum.
- If it weren’t for the 10 assists, I would have called this this game John Wall’s worst in a long while, maybe his whole short-lived career. Despite at times being victimized by referee negligence, Wall put up a terrible stat line and was held scoreless until midway through the fourth. Progression? Or lack thereof?
That, in a nutshell, is my brief synopsis detailing some of the major shortcomings that earned the ‘Zards yet another defeat.
Now, what I intend to do en lieu of my steadily progressing venture into sports journalism is attempt to mix the good with the bad.
Losing on a consistent basis is obviously detrimental to the progress of a franchise (duh, thanks John Madden), but what I also noticed is the effects it has on a writer, especially a writer in his first season covering a franchise that’s been so accustomed to losing. I never get to write about anything happy!
So far, the appointment of Randy Wittman as head coach seems to be an advantage for me as I attempt my different approach.
When Wittman took over his counterpart’s position, He went Gregg Popovich, stating:
"You have to prove you deserve to be on the floor."
I heard the teenage blond side of me scream, “Omggg i LOVE this.”
Luckily for me, I screamed it loudly only in my head during the press conference or else I would’ve been the second reporter exposed by Wittman in less than week.
Trust me I wouldn’t cause that sort of a melodrama. Wittman already has enough incompetence to deal with on his own team.
Anyways, Wittman has truly implemented his “no work, no dinner” philosophy with every player that's not named Mo Evans, and it has revealed some of the not so often seen talents on this roster.
Besides the notable improvement of guys like Shelvin Mack and Trevor Booker, the one player that has specifically upgraded his game is Kevin Seraphin.
After dropping 12 points, 7 boards (3 offensive), 2 blocks and only one turnover in just over 20 minutes of action, Seraphin is not only earning his time on the floor, but earning respect and credibility.
Most of Seraphin’s minutes came when JaVale McGee was sent to the bench after earning his fourth foul only a minute into the 3rd quarter. Nick Young joined McGee on the bench shortly after and while the Wizards are normally terrible in the 3rd quarter, playing without two of their starters had all the makings of a catastrophe.
However, Seraphin rose to the occasion and was part of the reason the Wizards were able to hang around for most of the second half.
What Wittman’s thought process is, or rather should be, is when a player of Seraphin’s stature (an unproven, inexperienced bench player) takes advantage of a rare opportunity and subsequently earns more minutes, it should encourage his teammates, especially the ones that are being replaced.
That is one thing I can only hope for.