The Wizards conclude training camp with a Fan Fest and open scrimmage

The end of Wizards training camp came with a celebration of sorts, Wizards Fan Fest. The day started at 11:00 AM with the fans able to enjoy music and sports-related actives. Beginning at 11:30 the fans were able to enter GMU's Patriot Center to watch the Wizards practice. The day and camp formally concluded following a forty minute intrasquad scrimmage which started a little after noon. The Wizards Midnight Madness event drew about 3,000 fans, the Fan Fest scrimmage appeared to draw an even larger crowd. It appeared that nearly half of GMU's 10,000 seat Patriot Center was filled once the scrimmage began.

The Wizards were divided into two squads: Black and White.

Black squad (Coach: Sam Cassell):

White squad (Coach: Wes Unseld, Jr.):

Did not play - Josh Howard, Gilbert Arenas and Sean Marks.

Gilbert Arenas, who is still dealing with the effects of a sprained ankle, was held out of the game. He did, however, spend time on each team's bench during the scrimmage. While on the White bench, he spent time talking with John Wall, while Wall was resting. In more positive injury news, Andray Blatche did not appear to have any lingering issues with his foot. It also did not appear that Blatche was wearing a brace or that he had a heavy tape job.

Although four fifths of the projected starting unit was on the White squad, the Black squad jumped out to an early 28 - 18 lead in the first quarter behind solid performances by Lester Hudson and Yi Jianlian. It is important to point out that, Yi unbeknownst to him, had his own personal cheering section. Taking up nearly an entire section of the stadium was a group of visiting orchestra students from Beijing, China. However, in a sign of things to come, John Wall stole the show as the quarter came to a close. Wall was able to split his defenders and drop in a layup as the buzzer sounded to end the quarter. The electric play caused the crowd to erupt.

The third quarter also ended with the Black squad leading, but John Wall successfully milked the clock and hit a wide open Kevin Palmer who drained a three point shot. After three Black lead 66 - 60.

The game began to shift in the fourth quarter. At the 6:09 mark Andray Blatche got a steal and finished the play with a dunk in which he had one hand behind his head. The White squad was able to take the lead when a Kevin Palmer steal lead to an easy layup (White 77 - Black 75). As the clock continued to wind down, that is when the game became truly exciting.

On one end of the floor, Adam Morrison missed a three for the Black squad. On the other end, John Wall who was fouled with 17.4 seconds left hit 1 of 2 free throws to give the White squad a three point lead 78 - 75. Black squad's ball, Hudson passes to Nick Young who hit a contested three pointer over Kevin Palmer with 8 seconds remaining in the game. Following a brief timeout, it is the White squads ball. Al Thornton hits a runner in the lane with 2.5 seconds left in the game (White 88 - Black 78). The White squad won the game as Nick Young missed a difficult shot as time expired.

A number of players had exciting, if not solid performances in this scrimmage. However, this was clearly John Wall's scrimmage. He made or assisted on many of the games most exciting plays. Wall dove for loose balls, made effortless 360 layups, rejected dunk attempts (true a foul was called but it was still a pretty play) and dished out assists. And when he was not on the floor he was yelling instructions from the bench.

Positives:

  • John Wall clearly was comfortable with his jumper early in the game. I recall at least two occasions in which he pulled up and made a couple of three point shots.

  • Hinrich almost always appears to be in good position and contest nearly every shot. He makes the offensive player work for their points and pressures their dribble. While this should help the Wizards team defense, this should also help players like John Wall and Nick Young to go against a player like Hinrich in practice.

  • Yi had a very solid game offensively and his points will only help this team early on particularly as Josh Howard is on the mend.

  • Hilton Armstrong is making his case to be the Wizards starter at Center. As Flip Saunders pointed out after the game, he has actually had a better camp than McGee up to this point.

  • In the second half, Hamady Ndiaye did good work on the boards for the White squad. He also contested a few shots. While he is far from consistent, you can clearly see why this team likes his long-term potential.

Potential Concerns:

  • Defensive boards, particularly JaVale McGee. As Gene Banks, who was helping to coach the White squad, said to to JaVale as he came to the bench, "if your the starting Center you have to control all of this [the paint]." While he is making an effort to find a body and block them out, there are still too many times when JaVale watches someone else grab a rebound that should belong to him.

  • Andray Blatche had a couple of instances in which he held the ball much too long and then took a bad shot.

  • John Wall's body. If this scrimmage and the Summer League are any indication, Wall's playing style means that he will hit the floor a lot this season (as he drives to the hole at 100 MPH). Hopefully, his body can withstand that abuse over a 82 game season.

  • How serious is Gilbert Arenas' ankle sprain? And how well will he fit in with the team on his return to the floor?

  • Kirk Hinrich injured his shoulder in the 3rd quarter and did not return to the game. How serious is this injury?

I will have more on the post game interviews later.

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