April 10, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Wizards forward Kevin Seraphin (13) talks with Wizards head coach Randy Wittman (right) against the Orlando Magic in the first half at Verizon Center. The Wizards won 93-85. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
WASHINGTON -- It was a pretty subdued atmosphere for the grand proclamation that Randy Wittman was the newest full-time Washington Wizards head coach. Perhaps that's because of the Wizards' public stance on the matter, with general manager Ernie Grunfeld confirming that Wittman was the team's choice all along "after we took time to evaluate our situation." Maybe it was because it was a firm reminder of a typical media session last year.
In any event, Wittman's rehiring was done in front of the same group of reporters that normally covered the team. While little significant information was uncovered, a few quotes, in order of when they happened in the press conference.
Ernie Grunfeld on why he decided on Wittman early on: "We were very comfortable with Randy. There's a lot of familiarity. The players played very hard for him. The players improved. The players have confidence in him. He's familiar with them and he improved the players. It was a process. We always do our interviews at the end of the season. It took a little time to think about where we are and where we're trying to go, and we're very confident with the job Randy did with our players. Most of our players spoke very highly of him and enjoyed to play for him."
Wittman on these last couple months: "They hadn't told me I wasn't going to coach, so I just continued on as I normally would. Until that time came when they told me to hit the road, I was going to do what I'd normally do as a head coach." Later: "I had been up to this point in talking with our young guys, some of them being in here the last 7-10 days and going out and seeing them in other places. I continue to do that."
Wittman on the status of assistant coaches: "They're under contract too, but that's something we're evaluating right now. As this process has taken place between Ernie and I, now we'll continue to talk about additions, subtractions, all those things to my staff. We'll now move forward in that direction. Ernie and I will sit down and discuss that."
Wittman on the end of the season: "You can see the transition of what we wanted to do, how we wanted to do it and these guys buying into it. The wins and losses at the end of the year are great and we all understand that's a part of it, who you're playing, etc. But the biggest part for me -- and I've been in this game a long time as a player and a coach -- was how hard and difficult to play hard and battle at the end of the year when you have nothing to play for. That showed me a lot of pride and a lot of heart."
Wittman on what he learned this year that he'll take to prevent the same outcome as his previous stops: "The biggest thing, you can't reinvent the game. Everybody, whether it's you in writing or me, has a style. You can't do too much to change it to where you'd like it to be. That's why I said this summer is going to be very important for us to establish those things more and move forward. If you take over in the middle and try to do too much, all you do is confuse the players."
Grunfeld on the season-ending six-game winning streak: "It wasn't just about that. It was about the whole body of work. I thought, from the very beginning, the players were playing the game the right way." Later, when asked about the players' endorsements, he said "hey spoke louder by the actions on the court."
Both men on the draft: Nothing interesting.
Wittman on next season's expectations: "You don't look at a number or something of that nature. We have to continue to take the positive steps we took in the last 4-6 weeks." He later said he thinks the term rebuilding "gets thrown around a lot, too much I think" and stressed the need for some veterans with so many young players, including the No. 3 pick.
Wittman on what changed: "It was the growth of this team and the growth of them growing together. (Editor's Note: quite a sentence). You could see it. There wasn't a disconnect of individuals trying to do things for themselves. It was a transformation of guys playing together, moving the ball."
Grunfeld on Ted Leonsis saying they wouldn't trade the No. 3 pick: "We do what our owner says. Absolutely. We've been very transparent this whole time about how we want to build. You never say never to anything, but this is a player that, in all likelihood, can be with us for many years to come."
Wittman on what he wants to see from John Wall: "Mainly his confidence in his shot. We saw that with Kevin this year. Kevin last year, if you don't play with confidence, it's hard to be good at anything that you do. That's the main thing with John. Just getting him comfortable with what we're trying to do in terms of repetition, repetition this summer. He's already been hard at it, and that develops your confidence. You see it with people throughout the NBA, guys who wouldn't be able to shoot, but just kept working at it."
Wittman on Andray Blatche's future: "We have to move forward with the players we've got. This is an important summer for all our players. We have to improve as players in coming into a situation being in shape, ready to go. There are no excuses for us. This is a full summer, full training camp. We always talk additions, subtractions, areas you'd like to improve your team, and we'll continue to do that this summer."