Wizards trying a new approach in search of that elusive first win
Maybe Randy Wittman was tired of hearing his own voice.
Maybe he thought his players could provide a different perspective on how to fix a season that has started with 12 straight losses.
Whatever his rationale, the Wizards’ 53-year-old head coach decided on Tuesday to close his locker room doors, open the floor to his players and hear their suggestions.
“I always want a dialogue with my players,” Wittman said. “If they see things that can be done differently they’ve got to speak up. … I want to hear their reasoning for if we're not doing something the right way. Is there a better way for them that they can see?”
Asked what advice his players gave, Wittman smiled and said, “I ain’t telling you.”
“He came in the locker room and began talking and said, ‘What do you guys feel?’” Wizards 19-year-old rookie Bradley Beal said after Tuesday’s practice at Verizon Center.
“Martell [Webster] stepped up on the floor and told him, ‘You can’t take responsibility for everything because you’re not the one playing.’”
Beal said players seemed to welcome the opportunity to have their voices heard.
“It gets it off our chest,” Beal said. “We’re holding stuff in and sometimes you feel like, well, you can’t [challenge] the coach. You don’t feel comfortable saying it to him. But we actually got the opportunity to tell him what we need to do and how we need to do it, basically, and I think we’re doing a great job of getting that out.”
Bradley said Tuesday’s clearing of the air must have been effective because the Wizards went out and had one of their most spirited practices of the season in preparation for Wednesday night’s home game against the Portland Trail Blazers, who fell to 6-8 with Monday night’s 108-101 loss in Detroit.
Wittman said his meeting with the players involved more than just airing out opinions.
There was also a film session in which Wittman stopped the tape and asked his players what they need to do before hitting the Play button.
“I can stop the film and ask a player what he's supposed to do as this play is coming up, and he'll tell me exactly what he's supposed to do,” Wittman said, “and then you roll the film and we don't do it.
“Now, you're not going to play a perfect game, I totally understand that, but we’ve got to be more on the other side.”
Wittman’s biggest beef with the Wizards’ 118-92 loss was their lack of defensive execution. The Spurs shot 56.2 from the field and 56.5 percent from beyond the arc because many of those shots were uncontested.
The Spurs’ superior ball movement was characterized by their 32-14 advantage in assists.
Of the Wizards’ next five opponents, the Trail Blazers are the only team with a losing record. Portland ranks 29th in the NBA in points surrendered per game [102.4], while the Wizards are last in the league in points scored per game .
Beal, who shot just 4-for-13 Monday night, said the Wizards need to erase that 26-point loss from their memories and let go of the pressures associated with winning their first game. Only 12 teams in NBA history have started a season 0-12. Beal said that before joining the Wizards, he’d never been on a team that lost more than four games in a row.
“You see when we’re down the stretch we feel as though we have to get it,” he said. “It’s right there in our hands and sometimes we do too much and we end up letting it slip away.
“It’s still a long year. We’re 0-12 but we still have confidence and faith in ourselves to make a run.”