So "practice gate" is now making it's way around the internet and we will have to wait until tomorrow to see what the fallout is from the infamous 4PM practice. One thing that I didn't get to touch on in the earlier article is a separate thread that emerged during the day in which Andray Blatche and the other Wizards front court players held an unscheduled meeting to discuss their recent poor performance which allowed the Cavaliers to score 40 points in the paint and allow opponents to score shoot 73.3 percent at the rim, the highest total in the league.
So what lit a fire under the Wizards big men to address their weaknesses?
Scuttlebutt was flying throughout the media room that a Knicks' coach had heavily criticized the Wizards front line, and that this criticism is what precipitated the meeting between Blatche and his teammates. (Authors note: I only include this as Blatche was asked about it during his interview. If anyone could point in the way of an article or tweet it would be much appreciated. As such, let's leave it as unsubstantiated.)
The question as phrased by Michael Lee was "I noticed that after the game you mentioned there was a Knicks coach that was critical of the big men...was it D'Antoni?"
Andray's answer after the jump.
I'm not sure. One of the coaches relayed the message to us. We had a meeting. Me, myself and the bigs had a conversation and we decided that we got to step it up. Because they're (the coach in question) actually right. We're being outrebounded by every team so far.
So that was was Dray's answer to the question. However, the issue was pursued further in subsequent interviews.
Yeah, we have to be more physical. We have to play harder, play smart. Just put our nose in there and take care of home. I think collectively we haven't been doing as much as what we're capable of in the paint. So we definitely need to step that up.
Flip Saunders on the meeting between the bigs and whether they realize they need to work harder:
I hope so. I mean it would be pretty obvious when you're in a situation and you're getting your butt kicked on the glass. Combined all your big people have five assists, y'know as far as team play those aren't very positive team stats. I know Dave Cowens ,who I consider one of the best centers, the first thing he always looked at was assists from other team's big men. If other big men don't have assists then they shouldn't play. They don't make people better. That's what you do. [Make people better] There's some opportunity out there. There's some guys who haven't played that are going to have an opportunity to bust in and get more playing time.
So despite the meeting it looks like Flip is still calling out the recent poor play of the bigs. I have to say that it is an encouraging sign that Blatche called the meeting between the front court (as implied) and is demonstrating more of a leadership role. It should be noted that the Wizards are addressing what we ourselves have been noting on the board, that their play has been Charmin soft and that if they continue to perform in such a manner, it will be a long year for the team. So we're not all crazy and we're not screaming into the void.
Whether they can make the necessary adjustments remains to be seen.
One other interesting question that was posed to Josh Howard was whether the team was struggling due to it's relative youth and whether the identity of the team was still in flux.
Y'know that a tough. Myself, Hilton Armstrong, and Gilbert Arenas y'know we have a voice. But as you say it's a rookie driven team. But that's no excuse as far as coming in being ready to play.
And then the money quote:
(Continued from above quote) We are getting ready to get a paycheck on the 15th. And right now I can honestly say y'all are getting a paycheck for nothing. And I can honestly say that. Cause I don't think guys are really buying into this. [Expletive], if anything we need to work for this paycheck. And work every month to get a paycheck. That's the approach I think our guys need to start taking into this.
Oh boy. I'll let y'all have at that one.
I hope to see that in some signatures soon.