Clarification to This Article
Some information was incorrect in the Washington Wizards' regular season schedule in the Oct. 2 Sports section. Inaccurate information on the Wizards' Web site indicated that five games would be televised on WDCW-50. However, the broadcasters for those games have not been determined.

Wizards' Camp 'Will Be All About Defense'

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 2, 2007; Page E01

Antawn Jamison smirked and paused before addressing a question he knew was coming: Will this be the season that the Washington Wizards truly make a commitment to playing defense?

"That's one of those things where I'm not going to talk about it because like everyone else, I'm pretty much tired of just talking about it," Jamison said. "Everyone knows what our weaknesses are, so we just have to go out there and get it done. We have to be more consistent at that end of the court, especially late in games. It's something we have to take seriously."

gilbert arenas - washington wizards
Gilbert Arenas is considered as quick as any guard in the league, but is also considered by most scouts to be a below-average defender. (Jonathan Newton - The Post)

After finishing near the bottom of the league in several defensive categories last season -- including points allowed (104.9 per game) and opponent's field goal shooting percentage (47.3 percent) -- improving the defense will once again be a major emphasis as the Wizards open training camp this morning in Richmond.

Coach Eddie Jordan said this month, which includes one week of training camp on the campus of Virginia Commonwealth University and eight preseason games, "will be all about defense."

Jordan believes that the team's familiarity with his system -- all five starters return as well as key reserves such as Antonio Daniels, Darius Songaila and Andray Blatche -- and the addition of new assistant coach Randy Ayers, will lead to a better performance once the regular season opens Oct. 31 at Indiana.

Last season, Ayers was an assistant with the Orlando Magic, which ranked seventh in points allowed (94.0 points per game) while reaching the playoffs, and he was previously an assistant under Larry Brown with defensive-minded Philadelphia 76ers teams that reached the playoffs five straight seasons.

Still, Jordan, who has led the Wizards to three straight playoff appearances largely because of a high-powered offense that is built around the scoring of Jamison, Caron Butler and Gilbert Arenas, understands that fans will be skeptical until the Wizards play defense rather than just talk about it.

After hearing such talk for three years, why should this season be any different?

"I didn't say that it's going to be different," Jordan joked. "I said we are going to try to be better. Again. We're going to do more in training camp; and when you think we've had enough, we're going to do more."

The key, according to several players, will be playing more solid team defense and better utilizing the athletic talent that has made the Wizards so dangerous offensively in recent seasons.

Arenas is as quick as any guard in the league but is considered by most scouts to be a below-average defender, Daniels and DeShawn Stevenson have earned reputations as fundamentally sound perimeter defenders, and Butler ranked among the league leaders in steals last season (2.1 per game).

The bench includes a nice mix of veteran big men such as Darius Songaila and talented young players who possess size and quickness like Blatche and rookies Nick Young, Dominic McGuire and Oleksiy Pecherov.

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