At the conclusion of the Wizards’ final practice before boarding a flight for their preseason debut in Charlotte, Coach Randy Wittman spotted Trevor Booker seated in a chair looking on as players walked off the court.
“This is the best practice you’re had all week,” Wittman said with a laugh.
Booker laughed, because he sat out for precautionary reasons with a sore left hamstring and had to watch from the sidelines with the already injured John Wall (left knee), Nene (left foot) and Jannero Pargo (abdominal strain).
The Wizards won’t have Wall and Nene against the Bobcats, but Wittman didn’t sound overly concerned about the injuries to Booker and Pargo, who has missed action the past three days after developing pain near his left rib after making a cross-court pass.
“He said he felt better. Nothing 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,” Wittman said of Pargo. “Book had a little soreness in his hamstring, so we sat him down.”
The Wizards held a short practice on Saturday, with the grind of two-a-days already taking a physical and mental toll on his players. Wittman sensed the need to pull back some when he noticed that the Wizards went from having 18 players show up an hour before the first practice at George Mason’s Patriot Center on Tuesday and the numbers were “dwindling down to nobody” an hour before practice on Saturday.
“Oh sure, they’re beat up a little but, no question,” Wittman said. “That’s what this is about, getting their bodies back to condition of playing up and down every night, three games in four nights kind of thing. No, they’re tired mentally and physically right now.”
After having eight practices in five days, point guard A.J. Price admitted that training camp is a test of endurance.
“It’s very grueling first of all. By no stretch of the imagination is it easy,” said Price, who has had to assume more reps with both Wall and Pargo out. “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.”
Because of the intense, initial work load of the past few days, Wittman doesn’t expect either the Wizards or Bobcats to look particularly sharp when the two teams tip off at 1 p.m.
The first preseason game “is usually not a real pretty sight,” said Wittman. Last year, the Wizards trailed by 40 in their preseason debut against Philadelphia. “They’ll be going 100 miles an hour….”I just want to see a carryover of what we’ve put in and our execution of it both offensively and defensively. We’ve got a long way to go still with what we’re going to add, that’s my main thing. On the flight back here to george mason I want to look at the film and say ‘oh that’s petty good carryover or it’s not and we’ve got to get right back in here and get to work. That’s what I’m looking for.”
After joking around with Booker, Wittman had some fun with Kevin Seraphin before leaving the court. Seraphin approached Wittman and Wittman said, “What? You wanna fight me?”
Wittman then squared up, smiling as he held his hands by his side, and Seraphin leaned back, chuckling. Noticing the playful exchange, Jordan Crawford shouted to person with a camera who was shooting, “Turn the camera that way.”
Wittman and Seraphin laughed some more before walking away.