Tuesday September 28, 2010 11:55 a.m.
By Frank Hanrahan
For some of the college age Wizards like top pick John Wall, they know all about 'Midnight Madness,' which was held last night at George Mason University. It's a chance to show off their game and have some fun before the real tough part of training camp begins today. "We had a great time. It wasn't really structured. Coach (Flip Saunders) just let us play tonight. The 2 o'clock practice is all about business for the season," Wall said.
In front of 3,500 or so fans at the Patriot Center, the Wizards began the 2010-11 campaign and from the one hour spectacle there were some glimpses of possible hope and it started with Gilbert Arenas. The veteran guard clearly was the best player on the court during the scrimmage, sliding by defenders effortlessly for easy layups and setting up teammates for easy shots with nice feeds. Arenas also hit a patented buzzer beater at the end of one quarter to which someone in the crowd yelled, "Way to go Agent 9!"
Arenas, who has changed his number from 0 to 9 and is now sporting Nikes and no longer his own Adidas shoe, looks in great shape and as he made it clear on media day, he is very serious. Still no smiles, even on the court.
If Arenas can stay healthy and out of trouble and those are two big if's, he could shine early in the season and perhaps make himself more attractive to other team's come the trade deadline. I am guessing that's both his and management's hope.
John Wall had his moments as well, crossing up roster hopeful Adam Morrison for a twenty- footer. The Wall to JaVale McGee combo picked up where it left off at the Las Vegas Summer league, as Wall would break the down the defense and feed the athletic 7-footer for easy dunks. But don't get too ahead of yourself, it was just one practice.
On media day, Flip Saunders stressed the importance of the Wizards being in better condition opposed to last year because the style of play this year will be more up tempo with Wall leading the way. We caught a glimpse of the stress on increased speed by the coaching staff during the scrimmage and the 3-2, 2-1 drills prior. The Wizards want to rebound and get it and go. So, a rookie like forward Kevin Seraphin is going to have to get better in shape as he seem to labor at times last night with the pace of play.
The Madness is over, the reality now sets in with the first real practice of training camp today.