Sports Fix, The Features

Randy Wittman: The Coach Washington Deserves, But Not The One It Needs

Photo courtesy of Keith Allison
Randy Wittman
courtesy of Keith Allison

“Why’s Randy coaching, Dad?”

“Because we had to fire Flip.”

“He didn’t do anything wrong.”

Flip Saunders may have not done anything wrong, but he certainly didn’t do anything right. In one way Flip will be the fall guy for another failed Wizards season, but in another way Flip was never the answer at coach, leaving with a 51-130 coaching record in Washington.

Time after time I’ve seen that sleepy-eyed look at press conferences. Time after time I’ve heard him expound on how players are holding on to the ball too much or how they throw the game plan out the window after they fall behind. Perhaps the problems were easier said than done.

You can say Flip took on a job he didn’t sign up for. He was suppose to help squeeze one more season from the old guard of Arenas, Butler, and Jamison. He wasn’t originally brought in to coach a team full of first and second year players.

In reality Flip never had control of the locker room. It got out of hand to the point Gilbert was offering firearms to his teammates. Flip was then left with a class of kids who tuned him out.

Regardless of the reason, Flip is out and Randy Wittman is in- but will that be a difference?

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Sports Fix

Sports Fix Special: A Day for Wicked Pixels

Photo courtesy of philliefan99
one way FAIL
courtesy of philliefan99

Boy, what a morning.

First up was Alex Ovechkin, who today opted out of the All-Star Game, citing a lack of passion brought on by a 3-game suspension for an off-his-feet hit on the Penguins Zbynek Michalek during Sunday’s game. I can understand his frustration with the league for a 3-game suspension when Michalek was cleared of a similar hit in the exact same game. It can be hard to be a professional hockey player. That is also why he’s paid $9.5M on average per season. As Don Draper says, “That’s what the money is for!” I suppose that he’ll instead be chilling in his new house in McLean, valued at $4.2M.

In acting the petulant teenager, Ovechkin hurts the fans and the league, when he’s really just angry that his team can’t seem to feed him the puck up close to the net. Look, Ovi, I know you’re having a rough go of it right now, but the answer here is to buckle down and do more not do less, especially in the face of criticism. There’s a lot of concern out there for the team’s work ethic, and that there’s no combined leadership on the ice. By opting out and saying that you’re just not feeling it, well, I have to wonder – have you felt it at all this season? I know you’re hitting like crazy, and your game against Pittsburgh this week saw you with 3 points, but I’m not seeing the leader that I was hoping for.

The Capitals, in standing by their star, are at least giving him an “honorable” out, and given the lack of discipline for Michalek, that seems to be at least justified in part. In doing so, aren’t the Capitals doing more to hurt the hockey capital’s enthusiasm for the sport as a whole? I had thought that this was an organization dedicated toward hockey as a whole, but this latest set of actions seem to belie that isn’t the case always.

And now on to the firing of Flip Saunders, first reported by Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.  The Wizards have started the year at a lovely 2-15, including a 20-point loss in Philly last night, a game in which they trailed by 30 at the half, which is something I was pretty sure was only possible when a JV team plays the varsity at DeMatha. Sadly, it’s not likely that the elevation of assistant Randy Wittman to the head coach, even temporarily, is going to change the slide of the Wizards – not that they can slide much further down the charts.

I can’t remember a more terrible day for Monumental Sports in the new era, and though it feels like piling on, the state of DC sports is fairly deplorable, given the Redskins’ back to back 6-10 seasons, the Wizards seemingly-perpetual last place position, and the Capitals struggles amid an abundance of talented players. How terrible is it that a .500 season from the Nationals seems to be the brightest spot in the DC Sports world right now?

So yes, Uncle Ted, this is a day for wicked pixels, but it’s hard to dodge these as just being the words of some pajama-clad bloggers when it’s the whole of the sports media with their head in their hands wondering what could possibly be going on.

Sports Fix, The Daily Feed

For first time in three years, Wizards win a 3rd straight game

Photo courtesy of
‘John Wall | Wizards’
courtesy of ‘Danilo.Lewis|Fotography’

Like a lot of things, basketball works in mysterious ways. If Austin Daye’s buzzer-beating three-point shot Tuesday night had done what many thought it was going to do and rattled through the net, Washington’s 107-105 win over the Detroit Pistons would instead have gone down as one of the three most excruciating losses of a largely excruciating season (my top two being the 95-94 home loss to Miami on December 18, the day the Gilbert Arenas trade was officially announced and the Wizards blew a four-point lead with 17 seconds remaining, and the 100-99 home loss to Orlando on November 27 that was settled with a Dwight Howard baby hook).

But Daye’s shot didn’t rattle through the net. Instead, it rattled back out, leaving the Wizards players shaken by just how close a call they’d had. “I’ve never seen [a shot like that],” said John Wall after the game. “I’ve never seen one go all the way in like that before coming out.”

“We’ve lost enough tough ones,” Flip Saunders said ruefully after the game. “We deserve a little bit of luck. That last one was definitely pretty right on.” Continue reading

The Daily Feed

Wizards completely embarrassed by Spurs

Photo courtesy of
‘Flip Saunders’
courtesy of ‘Keith Allison’

Don’t blink.

Ah, you blinked, didn’t you?

You missed it then.

What did you miss?

Any semblance of the Wizards being competitive against the Spurs at Verizon Center on Saturday night. San Antonio rolled through Washington and trounced the Wizards like a line of ants across the highway with a 118-94 victory.

It was not even that close.

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