With their preseason opener at Charlotte just 24 hours away, the Wizards wrapped Saturday's practice working on last second plays. The specific instructions from Coach Randy Wittman and his staff of when to cut or who receives the pass and where came without a defensive presence on the court. Just five offensive players learning the movements, the play designs, each other.
With only five days to get the undermanned and still learning the playbook team ready for its first live action, the focus for Wittman during training camp has been on his squad, not any other.
"Pretty much just leading up to the last couple of preseason games you're really just concentrating on yourself." Wittman said inside the Patriot Center on the campus of George Mason University. "We're really not doing scouting reports on the teams we're playing or anything of that nature like a regular season. I want these guys to concentrate on us and the things we want to do."
For "right now it's about the little things," Wittman said. "The big picture starts when the season starts obviously. Right now, it's a step of building. We've got a lot of new faces that have no idea what we're doing. The guys that were here have a little idea because we are doing a lot of things that are different from what we did last year too. It's a balancing act of how fast and quickly we can go."
The Wizards won't be as fast without the injured John Wall or as powerful with Nene (plantar fasciitis) also watching action from side, but mentally the available players have impressed their coach.
"The thing that I've liked about these guys so far is that our basketball IQ is pretty high. They've been able to retain things pretty quickly. Now are they going to be able to retain them come game time? That's the stuff we have to work on tomorrow."
Getting the players in maximum shape and fighting through the pain that comes with five days worth of practices is what they will have to continue working on.
"Oh sure, they're beat up a little but, no question," Wittman. "That's what this is about, getting their bodies back to condition of playing up and down every night, 3 days in 4 nights kind of thing. No they're tired mentally and physically right now."
Point guard A.J. Price won't argue with that last assessment - and credits the coaching staff for providing the needed grind-it-out push.
"It's very grueling first of all. By no stretch of the imagination is it easy," said Price, who turns 26 on Sunday. "We have to get up - you have to give a lot of credit to the coaching staff. They're the guys that will get you in here and get you motivated cause there are plenty of times when you come in and just feel like you can't do much. The coaching staff gets you into it, get you motivated. After that it's pretty much easy."
Price and Shelvin Mack are expected to handle the primary point guard duties against the Bobcats. Newly signed veteran Jannero Pargo missed his second straight day with a left rib injury.
"(Jannero) said he felt better," Wittman said. "Noting showed from X-ray, no crack, nothing of that nature. Obviously if it's feeling better today already, we're anticipating it will be ok.
Forward Trevor Booker (hamstring soreness) also sat out Saturday's practice.
As for opener, Wittman warned not to expect a thing of beauty.
"Tomorrow is usually not a real pretty sight. They'll be going 100 miles an hour as they were here on Tuesday the first practice. I had 18 guys out here an hour before practice. Today, it was dwindling to nobody an hour before practice. We'll see that tomorrow. You're going to play your first game; we're going to be going 100 miles an hour, just getting back and playing again."