FAIRFAX -- Washington Wizards coach Randy Wittman wasn't a fan of a lot of what happened to his team in a 100-88 preseason loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Sunday, but there was one stat that bothered him more than any other: the 31 personal fouls the Wizards committed. Those fouls allowed the Bobcats to go the free-throw line 46 times and killed the flow the Wizards hoped to gain offensively.
"Fouling, number one," Wittman said when asked what bothered him.
In particular, several players committed what Wittman termed "dumb fouls," the kind that comes from being too aggressive at the wrong time. Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton each ended up with five fouls in the game, and Wittman said several could have been avoided.
"Three of them on both of them were ones we could do without. Dumb fouls. Four seconds left on the clock in the quarter, Chris commits a foul 94 feet from the basket trying to steal the ball. Those kinds of things, we have to eliminate. All of us, not just those two guys."
Vesely, Singleton and Kevin Seraphin are three young big men that will have to learn how to channel their aggression with more experience. Wittman admitted that it's hard to run drills to fix a fouling issue, so the solution is more of an ongoing emphasis on playing smarter defensively. There is technique involved, but improvement comes more from learning how to maintain that proper technique in game situations.
"Nene and Emeka [Okafor] talk to me every day, so I just try to listen to them," Seraphin said. "[They tell me], 'Don't reach. Get low.' Sometimes, I foul because I'm standing straight up, so they tell me to not stand straight up."
To a certain extent, it's also about adjusting to the style of play in the NBA, which is different than college or overseas. Vesely admitted he's still learning how to "slow down" a bit.
"It's different basketball that they play here, but that's not an excuse because I've already played one season [in the NBA]," he said. "I'm still trying to adjust to this kind of basketball. It's different defending. You can play more with your body in Europe."
Finally, Wittman called out his point guards for not recognizing game situations against the Bobcats. If they were more on top of the big men, Wittman said, some of those fouls may not have happened.
"Our point guards have to know time and situation every minute of the game," Wittman said. "They have to know we have two fouls to give. Or, if they're in the bonus, they have to tell the bigs, 'Hey, we can't afford any stupid fouls here.' That's communication, and that was something that was lacking in Charlotte."
- On the injury front, Jannero Pargo and Emeka Okafor both returned to practice fully after missing Sunday's game. Pargo had a rib issue, while Okafor was rested. Wittman said that Pargo looked "fine," and I didn't notice any issues with him. Trevor Booker, however, did not practice after sitting out Sunday's game with a hamstring issue. I did not see him in the building. Wittman also deflected questions about Nene's progress, saying he gets the word from the trainers each morning on who is available and rolls with the punches from there.
- Wittman also said he felt the players held the ball too long instead of quickly moving into their sets, which caused a lot of the turnovers.
- No word yet on who will start at point guard in the season opener. Wittman said the games provide a better idea of which players are shining above the others there.
- As Amin noted earlier, Shelvin Mack said he went to Tim Grgurich skills camp after his subpar Summer League performance. "They did a good job of breaking down the point-guard position and helping me with the little things, like pocket passes and taking care of the ball."
- Mack also said that Vesely would shoot "10 air balls a day at practice" last year. He said it with a straight face too. Anyway, he noted Vesely's improvement, as did Wittman. Vesely hit a couple baseline jumpers today, and while the Wizards still are more concerned with how confidently he shoots at this point, it does seem like progress is being made.
- Chris Singleton spent some more time at power forward during practice today, but Wittman downplayed that by saying it was due to several players being injured. I still think you will see Singleton at power forward in some small lineups.
- Seraphin said he's watching tape of Kevin Love and Dennis Rodman to improve his rebounding.