Training Camp Notes: Al Thornton Avoids Injury and The Wizards Shoot the Lights Out

Two days ago Wizards Small Forward Al Thornton was lucky enough to walk away from a car versus pedestrian accident virtually injury free. He described how he was walking on GMU's campus back to practice in the rain. He noticed a car heading in the same direction but he assumed that the driver had seen him as he was walking up the hill. However, she hadn't and "she nicked my knee a little bit, but I jumped up on top of the car in the process. It was kind of crazy."

The driver, Thornton believes, is a student at George Mason University. He said, "she was in a rush, so I think she was late for class." The driver, who he believes "was going about 20 miles per hour" struck Thornton on his right side. He was able to avoid more serious injury by jumping on the car. Or as Flip Saunders put it, he's "Superman, jumps over cars. I guess."

While on the hood of the car, Thornton looked through the front window and asked the driver, "you didn't see me... what are you doing?" He thought it was a blessing that "neither one of us got hurt." While he was relieved that he was able to walk away from this accident, he did however, fully understand the potential impact that it could have had on his career. He said, "Seriously that could have been my career right there."

And if midnight madness and car accidents aren't enough excitement for one week, then how about practicing in the dark? The Wizards for nearly 90 minutes had to do exactly that due to a blown arrestor in a metering box elsewhere on campus knocked out power on campus. According to a member of the Wizards PR staff, the team was able to power through, with the help of back-up generators which provided some additional light. The lights were finally restored at the conclusion of practice.

According to Flip Saunders, when the lights went off the team continued to work primarily on skeleton and situational drills. Largely out of necessity this practice became "more of a cerebral practice than a contact-type practice," according to Saunders.

And while the team was practicing in less then ideal circumstances, Saunders said, "actually we had pretty good concentration. There were somethings that we got accomplished that were probably better than having the lights on." Later he said, "I guess you can say we shot the lights out, so we played pretty good." When asked who in particular shot the ball well in the dark, he singled out Kirk Hinrick. However, he also stated that "We all shot pretty good. We shot better without the lights than with them. So we may have to change our lighting at the arena. It won't be good for TV but..."

I wonder what a high def game in a dark arena would look like?

Here are some other notes from today's practice:

  • According to Flip Saunders, Andray Blatche was able to play in last night's scrimmage. He said that Andray is working hard and is trying to get his body in shape.

  • Andray still hasn't taken the full conditioning test, but does not have any "restrictions on what he is doing." Andray will play during the Fan Fest scrimmage on Sunday.

  • Gilbert Arenas played in the scrimmage last night but, according to Saunders, he "tweaked his ankle, so he did not go today." Flip was not sure which ankle was sore.

  • Tomorrow the Wizards will practice for about a hour before the fans arrive. The expectation is that the team's scrimmage will consist of three or four 10 minute quarters.

  • Saunders is not very concerned with the Wizards playing in arguably the best conference in the NBA. He is mostly concerned with maximizing what the team does well and improving on its weaknesses. He said, "I think if you try to match yourself up thinking about who you are going to play against then you start changing how you play every game. And we just have to worry about the things we can do and lock in on the things that we can do."

  • No time line has yet been set on making roster decisions. Saunders said, "I don't know, I haven't even talked to Ernie about it." He did believe that he and Ernie would start to "evaluate things later today. He did not know if any decisions would be made by the time the team left for Dallas.

  • When asked about his thoughts on Kirk Hinrich, Saunders said, "he's had probably as good a camp as anybody." He's "extremely intelligent, his given us great leadership. [He] has an uncanny ability to play with the ball, to play as far as without the ball. As I said before, he's one of the top defenders. So he's helped our team defense a lot."

  • Saunders said that Adam Morrison has "his legs under him. He's shooting the ball a lot better right now. You know he's got good size." Later he said that his biggest surprise with Morrison has been that he is communicative and "that's been a positive."

  • While there has not been an official announcement, Al Thornton believes that "for now" he is the team's starting three.

  • When asked what he would have to do to keep the job, Thornton responded by saying, "I think I have to come out and be consistent, make sure I am productive each and every game and make sure I keep getting better."

  • When asked about if he needs to become more consistent defensively, Thornton said, "Yeah, I think so. Throughout my career, I've kind of been more of an offensive guy. I think I was inconsistent with that [defense] last year. I showed flashes of being a good defender, my thing is being more consistent with that and becoming known as a really good defensive player in this league."

  • Thornton was asked if he feels additional pressure due to being a restricted free agent this year. He said, "I try not to focus on it, but I mean, its known, its known, but you try to put that in the back of your mind and get better each day."

  • Al Thornton briefly talked about how his personal trainer helped him get his weight down through diet and training. In particular this off-season his trainer mixed in swimming and boxing.

  • He was asked how he felt following this new training regimen. He said, "I feel good, I feel good. I've got a lot of my explosiveness back. I feel leaner. I feel quicker out there on the court, my stamina's good, so kinda back to my old self."

  • When asked about Gilbert Arenas and John Wall, Thornton said that he believes that Arenas and Wall have "done well together." He said, "I think a lot of people thought there would be conflict. In this camp they seem to be getting along well and the chemistry has been pretty good. So hopefully we can keep that up."

  • While Thornton acknowledges that young team's in the NBA don't typically win, he believes that this team can be different. He said, "look at Oklahoma City. I think they came together and they were able to get it done even though they got put out in the first round against the Lakers. Like I said, at the end of the day I think it will depend on our chemistry, how well we can bond together, how quickly we can do it."

  • Al Thornton was asked to quickly compare and contrast the team's attitude from last season to this season. He responded by saying, "last year when I got here it was chaos. With the whole situation, I don't even want to bring that up. Like I said, this year its a different look. We got a new owner and we are trying to move forward and trying not to think about last year."

  • Finally he was asked if the Wizards are full of players with something to prove. Thornton said, "I think so, I think so, starting from top to bottom. That's a fair assessment."

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