Martell Webster leading a break-dance circle, rapper Wale jumping into the stands during a performance, and most of all a lot of hard-fought basketball; if that’s what you came to the Patriot Center for on Tuesday night, then you definitely left pleased.
The Wizards closed their training camp at George Mason University with a free event for fans to come out and see the new-look Wizards squad. The team started their practice around 5:30PM although the doors didn’t open to the public until 6:30PM. The squad didn’t seem to be too dejected after their preseason loss to the Charlotte Bobcats the other night, and instead seemed more determined to improve in the aspects of the game that failed them.
An inter-team scrimmage, consisting of four six-minute quarters, was played in front of the nearly 2,100 people in attendance. While there was a lot to break down from the scrimmage (too much for one article), there were some keys that, if you were paying detailed attention to, you really took away from the practice.
- Cartier Martin is going to be a strong weapon for this team. He played like he was a starter who had been with the team for years (which really isn’t all too false). He had a lot of confidence on the court and that confidence was infectious to his teammates. He showed with his communication during breaks that he can serve as a leader to some of the younger guys on this squad.
- Randy Wittman was REALLY hard on Kevin Seraphin. Whenever Wittman saw something that he wasn’t pleased with concerning Seraphin’s play, he let him know. Loudly. Seraphin is no longer a rookie or a second-year player, and with his higher level of play as displayed last season, Wittman is clearly holding him to a higher standard, seeing as he could be one of those “future of the franchise” players.
- Jump-shooting is going to be an issue. While A.J. Price and Martell Webster were sinking some threes, a lot of the guys weren’t making the fifteen foot jumpers that they really should be making. Jordan Crawford stuck out in my head as someone I was surprised to not see sinking those shots. Maybe they weren’t playing 100%, but it’s definitely a bit unsettling to see the shots rim out on these jumpers.
The fans seemed almost as excited about the Wizards as they were about Wale, who’s name drew raucous applause every time it was mentioned. He performed three songs (Chillin, Slight Work and Bait for those wondering) to a very receptive crowd, some of whom may have just come to see the Maybach Music Group representative.
The organization also brought along the hype squad and the Wizard girls to pump up the crowd and give something a little extra for the children in attendance. The event was very similar to the one held last year at the Verizon Center, but the fact that it was held at the Patriot Center on the campus of George Mason University really added an extra feel of excitement to it. The Wizards should be applauded for working with the University this year instead of keeping it in DC. The team definitely drew a buzz on the campus the past week, and hopefully gained some new fans for the franchise.
Armed with a new look, a new fan base, and a season that will begin with a full period of time to prepare, the Wizards are armed with the weapons they need to compete in the Eastern Conference, but the chemistry and dedication lay ultimately in their hands.