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Eddie Jordan speaks on upcoming Wizards season




| Sept. 27, 2006

Eddie JordanWith NBA training camps opening next week, Washington Wizards head coach Eddie Jordan spoke to the media about his team and the upcoming season. Here's what he said:

On the playoff series against Cleveland: “I watched the tape periodically over the summer and we saw some problems that we need to address in training camp. We’re preparing to do that and we made some changes with our personnel over the summer that I think are going to help us. There are a lot of positive things heading into training camp. Caron (Butler) and Antonio Daniels are very important to our core and are very familiar with what we do here now. Our two younger players -- Donell (Taylor) and Andray (Blatche) -- have got a year under their belt and they understand what the NBA is all about after playing in consecutive summer leagues. They’re a little bit more seasoned. By adding DeShawn (Stevenson) and Darius (Songaila), who we feel will be very good for us, we have tough, veteran defenders. We have guys who can do equally as well at both ends of the floor and that’s going to help us. We think Etan (Thomas) being healthy and Brendan (Haywood) having a terrific last game of the playoffs are all going to come in and compete for jobs. I think all of those are big positives for us going into camp.”

On the top priorities for training camp: “We want to defend and be tougher around the rim. I think that 30 teams in the NBA are coming into training camp with an emphasis on defense. The reason is because who plays defense over the summer in the NBA? You have from June to October where NBA players are playing a lot of basketball and 99.9% of the time it’s just offense. So you have to reacquaint them with the defensive fundamentals and principles, and also the scheme. As for our goals, we want to make sure we’re not giving up lay-ups as much as we did in the past.”

On DeShawn Stevenson: “I have watched him out here playing in the gym. I’ve watched some tape, and he had surgery at the end of the season that he’s overcoming and he has been rehabbing. He’s just getting to the point where he is out playing 5-on-5 basketball and what we see is that he and Caron (Butler) are really competing against each other on the floor. They seem to be tough personalities and tough players.”

On winning close games: “We have to close out games at both ends of the floor. Gilbert (Arenas) is a heck of a player, he carries us a lot, and he gets it done at the end of every game. I just remember two years ago where we finished atop the NBA in winning games in the last possession or under a certain time mark, but last year we lost a lot of close games. We have to focus on getting it done.”

On what to expect from Gilbert Arenas this upcoming season: “Hopefully being a defensive leader. You look at the best defensive teams and their best players are sound physically and they are leaders on the defensive side first…Kevin Garnett, Jason Kidd, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal…the best teams defensively have those types of guys. I think Gil has the skill, athleticism, competitiveness and the drive that he can reach that next plateau.”

On what to expect from Caron Butler: “He was awesome the last part of the season, just awesome, and in the playoffs as well. He is going to get a lot of opportunities in the post, driving, pick-and-rolls, setting pick-and-rolls, and playing some guard this season.”

On Jarvis Hayes and his return: “He is healthy, and we see him out here playing hard and coming down on his legs and responding well the next day which is important. He’s going to be a little nervous out there. He hasn’t played a lot, he’s sort of like a new player and he’s got to get the feel of playing with his new teammates.”

On Andray Blatche and his development: “It’s going to be interesting to see how Andray (Blatche) reacts to training camp and the pre-season; that’s going to be the true test. He is in better condition and got better at learning how to be a professional. He played very well in the summer league, but the test is if he can get through training camp.”

On the offense: “There are things we want to get better at this season. We want to screen better and use those screens better. We want to get our bigs to score in the paint as opposed to our Big Three always just driving and scoring.”

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