Wizards at midseason? Still a question mark

 

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Coming into this huge season for the Washington Wizards, two underlying issues were on the agenda.  One, would they overplay their hand on the pursuit of Kevin Durant and will this team full of square pegs for round holes keep itself competitive in an improving Eastern Conference.

Lets answer the first question, the overplay.  Yes, the Wizards have stacked up all their chips in a grand attempt to woo DC native Kevin Durant to sign as a free agent this summer.  Do I believe it was the wrong strategy? I honestly don’t think so.  Currently as roster is constructed, there is the need for one more superstar to take the team to the next level, why not put everything on the table for this special talent, even if its a pipedream.  As we have seen for decades in the NBA, superstars win titles.  Thats just a fact.  The more talent you have on the roster, the better chance you truly have for winning major  hardware in June.  Now, I don’t believe that we will sign him because I think he will resign in Oklahoma City but its better to try (or atleast be in contention to try) than to not have a shot at all.

Secondly, for all of the funky positions that players on the roster have had to play this season either because of the injury factor (most missed games by injury in the league) or by roster construction, the new “Pace and Space” offensive system hasn’t worked the way we all envisioned it to.  Not having a true stretch big really hurts what the offense is supposed to accomplish.  Jared Dudley has done a yeoman’s job trying to be that guy, but at this point of his career, he shouldn’t be the main guy opposing defenses have to acknowledge on that end of the floor.  Guys like Otto Porter and Kris Humphries have tried to stretch the floor but as of today are not able to do that on a consistent basis.

 

As I stated earlier, the injury bug ravaged this team in the first half.  Brad Beal started off the season on fire averaging over 20 points per game and becoming that guy we all wanted him to be, but again a stress fracture in his leg caused him to miss 20 games and is now on a minutes restrictions.  If that wasn’t enough, Nene missed 19 games himself.  Add off season pickup Alan Anderson to the injury heap as he has not seen the floor this season.  Multiple games missed by Drew Gooden, Humphries, Porter, and Gary Neal has given coach Randy Wittman very little to work with at any given moment.

 

It has taken a yeoman’s effort from our resident All-Star John Wall for this team to hover around the .500 mark at this point in the season.  During the first month of the season, Wall was, for lack of a better term, lackluster.  After some self reflecting, he came out in December and played the best basketball of his life and earned December Player of the Month in the Eastern Conference, the first for the Wizards franchise since 2006.  Wall also won Player of the Week for the week of January 17th as well.  Without his stellar play, this team would be competing wit the likes of the Lakers and Sixers for the #1 overall selection in the next draft.

 

All in all, this team, when healthy, can make a run for the playoffs.  Four games out of the divisional lead isn’t an insurmountable lead but something needs to change.  Whether its using one of the pieces on the roster for an upgrade or what.  The inconsistency is killing the fan base.  There is starting to be an apathetic feel for the team and that shouldn’t be the case because the team is still growing.  But lethargic losses to the likes of the Lakers, Blazers etc are causing this team to become an afterthought in its own city.

 

 

2012 Year In Review

2012 aka The Greatest Year in My Adult Sporting Fandom! LOL (I know, I know I’m a couple of days late….sue me! LOL)

With Robert Griffin III and The Redskins making the playoffs this season, people have easily forgotten how great of a season its been for ALL DC Sports fans.  Two Divisional Titles with epic performances from the young, old and obscure made this a classic year.

 

Bryce Harper

The Nationals were the best team in baseball virtually the whole 2nd half of the season (Record-wise).  The early call-up of rookie phenom (and eventual Rookie of the Year) Bryce Harper energized a fan base who early on wondered would the early success last especially with the lack of offense, injuries to Ryan Zimmerman, “Beast Mode” Michael Morse, Jesus Flores, Drew Storen and Jayson Werth (and eventually Breakout Star Ian Desmond would be lost for a month later in the season).  Davey Johnson and staff did a helluva job with the pitching staff, who was outstanding throughout the long campaign.  Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzales both made the All Star team as did the aforementioned Ian Desmond and Bryce Harper.  Ryan Zimmerman took “The Corizone Shot from God” and came back with numbers that would have made him an MVP candidate.  Our REAL MVP candidate was Adam LaRoche, who after an injury filled 2011, came back with a vengeance.  He displayed Gold Glove winning defense and Silver Slugger winning power.  He stabilized what became the biggest improvement of the team during the resurgence to respectability, the team overall defense.   The 2nd half of the season was just a joy to watch for all Nats fans and the day we clinched the Division crown was an absolute joy, one of the greatest sporting moments of my life (NEVER deleting that from the DVR!).  We didn’t go into the playoffs with our best squad with the shutdown of Strasburg and losing a couple of series going into postseason, but for me, just getting there THIS year was more than enough for me….just dont get swept LOL.  We all know what eventually happened, after Jayson Werth provided us with a DC Sports moment of the ages with the walk-off HR in the bottom of the 9th in Game 4, we eventually lost Game 5 in the bottom of the 9th off our young closer Drew Storen.  Honestly, the Cardinals played better than us throughout the series, and we walked waaaaaaaaay too many batters throughout the series that it would eventually bite us in the ass, and it did.  Regardless, The Nationals are now a major threat to win the whole thing next year (especially if we can resign LaRoche) and for years to come.  Denard Span will now man CF so Bryce Harper can become settled in at a corner outfield position along with Werth at the other.  Also coming to the team this off-season is veteran Dan Haren to become the 5th starter. If he can show us anything from his earlier years, this will be the best rotation in the league as if it wasn’t already.  Ill take Strasburg, Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmermann, Ross Detweiler (who was the best pitcher in the postseason) against any rotation in the majors today. Natitude is alive and well!

Joel Ward and teammates celebrate!

Our Capitals didnt dominate the Regular Season like we normally do, and maybe that was a good thing going into the Stanley Cup playoffs this year, finishing 7th overall in the Eastern Conference matching up with the defending Cup Champs, the Boston Bruins.  Rookie Goalie Brandon Holtby was just outstanding and Joel Ward scored a series clinching overtime goal in the 7th and deciding game.  After winning a game like that, us Caps fans thought that quite possibly the demons of Postseason’s Past could finally be exercised.  Alas they werent as we were defeated by the hated New York Rangers again in 7 games.  Coach Dale Hunter who took over in midseason after the firing of fan favorite Bruce Boudreau, declined to return for the next season and we hired (another) former Caps great in recent Hall of Famer Adam Oates to take over the reigns.  Hopefully there will be a damn season to start soon enough! LETS GET IT TOGETHER OWNERS!!!!

Not much to say about the Wizards sadly smh.  We are the worst franchise in the sport as our only two players worth a damn (John Wall and Nene) both started the season injured.  Fun Times on Fun Street!  Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton haven’t developed much at all and we have the worst record in the sport with no light at the end of the tunnel.  Thanks Ernie Grundfeld for ALL of this!

 

The Rooks!

Lastly, Our Washington Redskins.  I’m not going to write much because that’s going to go into another posting. I do want to acknowledge the fact that this team, region, fan base is re-energized.  Even if we didn’t make the playoffs this season, you could finally see that the fruits of the labor of Bruce Allen, Coach Shanahan, Kyle Shanahan and most importantly, the scouting department is finally coming to fruition.   Long gone are the days where just making the playoffs was the ultimate ceiling for the team, we can now build a true contender which one day could make “just” winning divisional titles commonplace.  HAIL!

Oh, I know this posting is about DC Sports, but I’m a HUGE Kentucky Wildcats fan….and we won that chip last year….don’t get mad at Calipari, DEAL WITH IT…”Coach YOUR team!” GO BIG BLUE!

Gilbert Arenas….

"For the Good Times...."

I know it had to be done….I know that after the Gun Incident that this day was coming.  It happened, I understand WHY…doesnt mean I am happy with it.  I guess for the future for the franchise its a good thing woo woo woo but f*ck that! Right now, TODAY, the best basketball player that has ever  laced it up for the Bullets/Wizards franchise  in over 30 years is finally an Ex-Wizard.  The move makes me feel bad in my stomach, because the outsiders only see what’s good for the basketball team (and honestly, that’s the #1 goal) BUT being a Lifetime Washingtonian, and more importantly a lifetime INNER CITY Washingtonian, this cuts deep, man.

Being a lifelong fan of Washington sports teams, its like a bad relationship.  You stay around, through all of the good (very little) and all of the bad (LOTS of it) for awesome fan moments…and for my sake, NO one player brought as many awesome fan moments for any of our franchises than Gilbert Arenas did before the unfortunate circumstances of injuries and stupidity (the gun charge) but I’m not going to dwell on that.  I’m only going to dwell on the good times and there were plenty.

As we watch tonight’s game (I’m typing this as I watch the pregame show) your going to see more than half of the Verizon Center cheer for the opposing Miami Heat. Do I blame them? ABSOLUTELY NOT because this franchise has not given the fans a reason to cheer. At one point Gilbert DID THAT for us. Sold out crowds and genuine excitement throughout the city…there was actually a point where you could HONESTLY put Gilbert and his stats/clutch play alongside with the Kobe’s, DWade’s and LeBron’s of the world and it wasn’t looked down upon as just being fans. Gilbert SINGLEHANDEDLY resurrected “Clippers East” into Must-See-TV. The term DAGGER by Steve Buckhantz was made popular BECAUSE of Gil!

Back to the Inner City Fan aspect for a moment, I am a PROUD product of SE Washington DC. Being that I tend to see things a little differently than most fans/media etc…a different POV.  Ive sat on the sidelines of Barry Farms basketball courts of the Goodman League every summer and have seen the best of the best ball in “The Gates” and there was no one player that drew as much excitement/cheers than Mr Arenas.  Ive seen that man come down “The Gates” alone, while there are people from this town scared to step FOOT in, he would come down, sign EVERY autograph, pose for EVERY picture, give out hundreds of free tennis shoes/jerseys/toys for the underprivileged youth without fanfare.  The only time you saw major media down there was to see him AFTER he was injured.  The same man also took in a young man into his home as an adopted son when the boy lost his whole family in a fire.  A man who gave his money to schools throughout the area with his “Gilbert Scores for Schools” initiative plus COUNTLESS of other ventures that go unreported….and its all gone to the waste side because all people want to remember is the gun incident, and that is so sad to me. He did so much MORE and SHOULD be acknowledged for such.

Personally and selfishly, I wanted him to stay a Wizard and a WASHINGTONIAN because I wanted him to redeem himself ala Michael Vick.  He deserves his 2nd chance, he’s going to get it now in Orlando with a chance to REALLY compete for the NBA Title so I’m happy for that. He was once the most beloved sports figure here since Joe Gibbs….in hindsight, the Redskins WISH they had an athlete that could connect with the fans the way Gilbert did with us, that’s probably why there is a slight discord with the Team in Ashburn.  For all the faults, people always LIKED Gil and somehow could see through all of it and see a genuinely nice guy…I’ll miss you Gil and I’m not the only one who will either!

AGENT ZERO FOREVER!!!!!

Redskins Open Camp, John Wall Dazzles, as does Strasburg

Hello everyone,

I have been asked recently why I havent blogged recently, I honestly can’t give them an honest reply so for that I do apologize, but I have time right now so I am going to dabble into a bunch of topics that intrigue me in the Sports world today.

First and foremost, our Washington Redskins opened 2010 Training Camp today and all everyone can talk about is that Albert Haynesworth failed his “conditioning test’. Am I the only one that doesn’t really give a sh*t? I mean really…at this point all I care about is this:

1. Is he gonna be on the roster?
2. If so, will he be in shape by Game 1 vs Dallas

Besides that, why are we wasting time on this? I think we all know why…because its the Redskins and this brings ratings. We have so many other stories to talk about for the next 6 weeks such as a NEW coach in Mike Shanahan along with another new staff, brand new QB in Donovan McNabb (who automatically becomes the best QB the Skins have had since Joe Theismann…if you don’t believe me, just look it up), and FINALLY some competition battles in a variety of different positions such as RB, TE, WR, OL, and S just to name a few. Its gonna be nice to finally see some meaningful preseason games for a change. One thing I never fully grasped as a Skins fan is that if a team sucks (and we have in the grander scheme of things for almost 20 years), how come there are never any position battles in camp? I mean going into last year, there were NO battles for any starting positions except for Safety and the only reason it was a battle there was because of the untimely passing of Sean Taylor. Every other position was stamped Day 1 of Training Camp. HUH?!?!?! How does that type of thinking even make sense?? That type of culture just breeds complacency and our record last year certainly demonstrated that fact. I can not wait to see how new Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett finds new ways to maximize 2nd year pro Brian Orakpo’s full potential. Another double-digit sack season seems like a great goal to strive for. Stay tuned Skins fans…it should be a fun ride this year.

Now, on to our Washington Wizards. They completed a pretty successful Summer League stint in Las Vegas with a 4-1 record but nevermind that, everyone wanted to know what would Wunderkind Point Guard John Wall bring to the table. What he brought is what people have been enamored about for 3 years it seems, supreme athleticism, leadership, and a feel of the game just like a point guard. He is obviously a work in progress (turnovers, jump shot etc) but he showed that he has definitely improved his midrange game and his on the ball defense.

He also seemed to have a great rapport with C Javale McGee, who with his excellent Summer League performance actually earned a spot to try out for the USA World Championships team (he was eventually cut earlier this week). Trevor Booker is going to bring what he has always showed, that toughness and grit that Wizards teams have lacked since Ben Wallace (shout out to all my BULLETS fans LOL). I liked what Cartier Martin and Lester Hudson also brought to the table and I think they should both receive an invite to training camp in October. Hell I think one or possibly both players could win a job on the team if they dedicate themselves to playing tough perimeter defense.

Also during this offseason the Wizards have picked up veteran combo guard Kirk Hinrich, former lottery pick Yi Jianlian, veteran big man (albeit a disappointment) Hilton Armstrong and just resigned Josh Howard for 1 more season coming off ACL surgery. The Wizards have about 5 million or so of cap room remaining so they may try to pick up a veteran big man for the cheap or just save the space for next season, either way this team should at least be exciting next season even though the wins wont come in bunches just yet.

Speaking of the Wizards, and being as though I have attended approx. 100+ games in the past decade at the Verizon Center, I was f*ckin APPAULED about the ESPN Outside The Lines report of the failing grade The Phone Booth received in its review. Now granted, it IS Chinatown and yea, its gonna be SOME poor reviews, I get that…but 100% of vendors having some sort of MAJOR violations is f*ckin retarded IM SORRY! Ted Leonsis has his work cut out for him cleaning this mess up, but in his defense, it’s not HIS doing and with his track record, I expect things to be corrected swiftly.

Lastly, Stephen Strasburg….I mean, what more can I say that hasn’t been said already?

He has been better than advertised if that’s possible with a 5-2 Record, 2.32 ERA , 75 K’s and only 15 walks. That my friends, in one word, is DOMINANCE. He should really be 7-1 which makes it all the more impressive because the Nats bats havent given him much run support in his starts. Unfortunately, he was just placed on the DL for precautionary reasons due to inflammation and a stiff right shoulder. Cause for concern? I don’t think so, people have to realize this is a kid that is doing something that most human body’s just aren’t trained to do. Being sore is apart of the process, now if this becomes a problem in later years YES be concerned, but right now, lets not make a big deal out of this, we want this guy here for 10 years and not just 10 starts.

See you guys soon….thanks for reading!

Wizards strike gold…win Draft Lottery…What next?

John Wall??? Evan Turner??? Trade Down??? Package pick for multiple players/picks?

What a quandary the Wizards are in….a GOOD one for a change. Doesn’t it feel good to truly have options Wizards fans? LOL

Now, if you didn’t know, I am an unabashed Kentucky Wildcats fan (sue me LOL). Now being as such, I am a huge proponent of drafting the player that has been pegged as the #1 overall selection in this draft for 2 years, that my friends, is John Wall. If you could have seen me in my bedroom as I watched the Lottery on TV….this is the only way I can describe how I felt at that moment http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yIutgtzwhAc (0:18 second mark). Now after calming down and coming down off my Cloud 99, I have now looked at this situation thoughtfully….YOU STILL DRAFT JOHN WALL!!!!!

I mean honestly, to me, its a no-brainer. 1st and foremost, I love Evan Turner, I really really do. I believe he will be a multiple time All Star but right now, this Wizards franchise needs a new “face” for lack of a better term. The last season was THE worst ever for this franchise, our best player locked up for pistol play IN the locker room, Caron “The Snitch” Butler traded along with Brendan Haywood and Antwan “The Consumate Professional although I dont play any defense” Jamison also being traded to Cleveland. As much as this city loves a reclamation project (ie Marion Barry), I just dont believe Gilbert Arenas can be “the face” of this franchise even if he’s still apart of it being virtually untradeable because of his contract.

If you’ve never watched a college basketball game, one thing that you notice when watching John Wall play, he’s a star point blank. You know when you see it…stars kinda exude confidence thru the screen somehow…they have “it”….and John Wall has “it”. He has all the physical tools you want your future point guard to have. He’s ultra quick with the ball, long armed, great athlete…reminds me of a more athletic Rajon Rondo, and he’s not really a pure point guard ala Steve Nash….and is automatically the best defender at the point guard position even if Gil remains and he’s a work in progress there.

Obviously being only 19 years old, he’s a work in progress but isn’t everybody? He’s a below average outside shooter but you can always improve there if you work hard in your craft and he’s a gym rat so I have no qualms that he wouldnt become at least a serviceable jumpshooter. Again, look how great Rondo is right now and he’s still a below average shooter, its more qualities in being a great point guard than shooting. Lastly, I believe he is a leader of men. As much as I love Gil, he just isnt a true leader. He’s stated it before in the media, turned down captaincy…so why force him to be that person. Wall on the other hand, seems to relish the fact of being THE Man…THE Leader…OUR Leader….Ladies and Gentlemen, your future #1 Draft Pick, from the University of Kentucky….John Wall.

Back from hiatus….Just in time for March Madness

Hello everyone…..

I know, I know…I’ve been loafing BIG TIME on this blog…and I do apologize….hell the last post I made was about how much OPTIMISM I had for the upcoming Washington Wizards season….and boy was I wrong in hindsight LOL. Anyhoo, I am back and I want to just mention a couple of bullet points before I start my usual blog postings again.

1. KENTUCKY WILDCATS BABY!!!!

2. Congrats to Grevis Vasquez for winning ACC POY…WELL deserved!

3. Evan Turner…..can flat out do it…and he should be National Player of the Year

4. The Washington Capitals are the best team in Hockey…hope it translates in April/May

5. If the Wizards didnt have bad luck, they wouldnt have none at all….

6. LOVE the new approach the Washington Redskins have taken in this years Free Agency Period.

7. Stephen Strausburg…..nuff said.

I will be back shortly with my College Bball Roundup/Tourney Preview, Capitals Report, 2010 Washington Nationals Season Preview and other topics.

Take care everyone….

The Death of Abe Pollin and the State of the Wizards

The Washington Area lost one of the pillars of the community last week with the death of Washington Wizards Owner Abe Pollin of a degenerative brain condition. He is survived by his wife Irene and celebrated by not just fans of the Wizards/Bullets franchise, but fans of the Washington Capitals, who he founded in 1974 then sold to AOL Executive Ted Leonsis, but also all of the good people of this Metro Area that were genuinely touched either by his philanthropic efforts, or even had a chance to work for/with him. From all Ive heard from numerous people, he was a great man with an even greater heart and he will be sorely missed.

Searching for Answers Perhaps....

Now, his beloved Wizards have started the season very poorly which isnt out of the norm, what IS out of the norm is the below average play from 2 of its Big 3. Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas NEED to be playing at optimal level for this team to succeed and right now, that is not occurring. Gil has been out for 2 years with that knee so to expect him to be “Gil of 2006” isnt fair, but being paid the way he is, he will take a brunt of the criticism. He must cut down his turnover and once his legs/handle returns to normal, I really dont have to worry about what he can contribute on that court. Caron on the other hand seems to look lost. Where is the Tough Juice that we all came to love? Remember how hard he used to attack the basket? It seems like since he’s developed a jumpshot, his one-on-one game has severely slipped with lots of turnovers and charge calls. If we can EVER get THAT Tough Juice back, we should be fine. The NBA did not give the Wizards any favors in scheduling and having so many injuries early on didnt help. Once Mike Miller returns in a couple of weeks, by the All Star break, this team could be the type of team that can make a solid 7-8 game run and get right back into the race for a middle playoff seed.