Media day has come and gone, and as of 10:30 AM, preseason has officially begun. The new sneakers are out of the box, the iPods are handed out, and now for the first time for the 2009-10 season all the Wizards are on the floor as a unit working towards one goal: greatness.
It appears from the first day of camp, which included a 10:30 AM and a 6:00 PM practice, that the three sub-themes of this camp will be a commitment to defense, a commitment to teammates, and a commitment to winning. The main theme of this camp, however, can be read on the team shirts and hats that were given to the players last night: “Our Time.”
While the Wizards hit the floor for the first time this morning, it was last night where the themes of the season were set. Flip gathered the team for a team building activity (a hypnotist) and assigned each player an iPod Touch, and a t-shirt and hat which dawn the team’s slogan for this year, “Our Time.”
The iPods Saunders handed out came equipped with an application containing Saunders playbook and the team’s preseason schedule. Presumably, they will also be used for video analysis during the season.
Saunders used the light-atmosphered team building activity to get the team on the same page and to unify them moving forward.
“(We’re teaching) Respecting the game, respecting your teammates, respecting your organization, respecting the fans, and not being in a situation where there are any excuses for not accomplishing anything we’re trying to accomplish,” head coach Flip Saunders said about his message to the team.
The first practice this morning saw the club focus on the basics, especially defense. Saunders spoke to the team about how a successful defense relies on trusting in teammates.
Defense of course has been a point of criticism for the Wizards for years. Saunders knows it will be critical to be able to implement a commitment on the defensive end of the court this year if it will in fact be, “Our time.”
The team broke after the first practice and reconvened for night practice at 6:30. While this practice’s access was limited to the media, it was a scrimmage-based practice described as physical, competitive, and up-tempo.
Following day one, Wizards players both old and new said they appreciate the mentality this season has brought.
“We actually are going out there thinking we’re going to win a championship,” said Mike Miller. “We honestly believe that, if we play together and play the right way, we obviously believe we can (win it all).”
“I see a different mind-set,” said team captain Antawn Jamison, “I see a confident group of guys who actually believe it’s not about winning 47 games and making it to the playoffs, it’s more than that.”