Tuesday September 28, 2010 10:45 p.m.
By Frank Hanrahan
I'm assuming at some point in their young lives, the current crop of Washington Wizards played basketball because they enjoyed doing it. I am sure most of them still love the game, but just in case, coach Flip Saunders wants to make sure that his players don't forget what got them to this point. "I want them to get back to fundamentals, back to execution basketball but I also want them to get back to having fun. You think about when you played when you were a kid, you had fun playing. I want them to realize the seriousness but don't lose the passion and fun of playing too," Saunders said.
Saunders has such a young team that they are actually not that far off from being kids, but that's fine with him. "They become very receptive to teaching, to coaching, they want to learn, they want to do what they can in their own way to try and get better whether it's through conditioning or weight lifting or whatever it is."
Speaking of conditioning, it's no secret that the Wizards will try to be a run and gun team this season. With the speedy John Wall and a healthy Gilbert Arenas the tempo will be pushed at all costs. No huffing and puffing, you need to be in great shape to run this style. So Saunders reiterated after today's training camp practice that he wants his team to be one the best conditioned team in the NBA. "Guys are very receptive, picking things up very quick. Guys are definitely in better shape than we were a year ago at this time, so it was good," Saunders said.
Last year, Saunders felt that some veterans reported to camp in not the best condition and it affected the team's performance early on. I am guessing the vets he was talking about are no longer on the team. This season Saunder says, conditioning will not be an issue. "I am anxious to see how the team responds to these practices, they will be very grueling."
Just one day into training camp and Saunders is already lauding John Wall and Kirk Hinrich as the team's vocal leaders. "Those two guys are very serious and very communicative and help out other players that they are playing with."
Wall wasn't made available to the media so we didn't get a gauge on how his first training camp practice went but Hinrich chimed in. "John's a really good kid man. I have enjoyed being around him in the short time that we have been playing together. He is going to be a great player. He certainly has the tools. He's a great athlete and he seems like he really wants to learn."