The Wizards concluded their final training camp session at George Mason’s Patriot Center with a little music, but no celebration. They still have a ton of work to do before they are ready for the preseason opener on Oct. 8 – and the season opener three weeks later in Detroit – but Coach Randy Wittman rewarded his players with a day off Thursday.
Wittman also let them break camp by listening to the music of rapper/singer Drake as they shot free throws and jumpers and stretched after their fifth practice in as many days. When asked about the musical choice, Wittman said he wasn’t familiar with what was playing. When told it was Drake, Wittman grinned and said, “That’s my boy.”
Otto Porter Jr. and Trevor Booker never participated in contact drills at George Mason, but Trevor Ariza returned to practice on Wednesday after sitting out the previous day to rest a sore right calf.
“Got back. Went full,” Wittman said. “That was a positive.”
The team will resume preparations for the upcoming season on Friday with an open scrimmage at Verizon Center.
“It’s great,” Bradley Beal said of the team’s attitude at it departed George Mason. “We all feel good health-wise, which is our biggest concern and has been a big plus for us and chemistry-wise as well. We worked hard. We came in and we were mentally focused since day one, so that helped us out. With the guys that we have, we love our chances and everybody looks good.”
The Wizards are determined to get back into the playoffs and Martell Webster said that nothing from the past few days of practice has given them doubts about their ability to reach that goal.
“That’s our mentality, but we understand that we have to take this one practice at the time,” Webster said. “I don’t think we’re going to look too far into the future with this, we’re better than last year just because of the experience, the guys that have come back with one year of extra experience coming with training camp, makes it a little bit easier. Not going to sit here and say we’re going to stamp our name on the playoffs, because at the end of the day, you’re going to have to prove it.”
“He has to do that. It’s time for him to take that next step and yes, he did. That was one of the things I noticed this summer from him. He’s growing up right before our eyes,” Wittman said of Wall. “Then, you add two more veteran players. A guy like Al, 15 years in, he was invaluable these five days in terms of what he brought us. Not really on the floor, but his leadership in terms of helping these guys, mentoring these guys. Here’s a guy 15 years into the league. He was out here every day and not missing any time.”
Looking back on his time at George Mason, Wittman was pleased with what the Wizards were able to accomplish.
“I thought we had a good, solid camp,” Wittman said. “We had three great days. [Tuesday] was probably a down day for us. That being usually the case, soreness, fatigue — they bounced back. I thought it was just a solid five days. It’s a good start for us. I thought we were able to get, a lot of things, recognition of what we want to do from a defensive standpoint and what our system is. It went as smoothly as I think it could [have].”