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News » No more 'silliness': Wizards end more serious camp

No more 'silliness': Wizards end more serious camp

No more 'silliness': Wizards end more serious campRICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A year ago, Flip Saunders was an unemployed coach whose idea of a holiday was to spend a week watching Eddie Jordan run the Washington Wizards training camp.

He noticed rifts between younger and older players and lots of clowning. He didn't like it.

Now in charge of the Wizards, Saunders has just completed his first camp with Washington, one with a more serious tone.

"Our younger guys have matured," Saunders said. "I haven't seen that silliness."

The Wizards are done at Virginia Commonwealth University after seven days of practices capped by Tuesday night's preseason win over Memphis. Gilbert Arenas seemed to emerge just fine, dishing out 10 assists in 24 minutes against the Grizzlies in his latest comeback from knee surgery.

"It starts with Gil taking a more serious approach and it trickles down," center Brendan Haywood said. "A team is always going to take on the identity of its leader, and he's taking on a more serious approach."

Saunders, a veteran of 13 seasons and 587 NBA wins, set the more businesslike tone from the first day of camp.

"It was difficult," forward Antawn Jamison said. "It was a much longer training camp than we were used to. We didn't come in saying: 'Let's just get through training camp."'

Arenas played just 15 games over the last two seasons due to three operations on his left knee, but his return has a team that won just 19 games last season talking big.

"As Gilbert goes, it's safe to say we have a better chance of winning the championship," forward Caron Butler said.

Arenas has nothing to say about his week of camp. He declined comment, saying he won't talk again until next year's camp. He isn't blogging. He isn't tweeting. He's just trying to fit in, Butler believes.

"Have the guys who are comfortable doing what they're doing, and ease your way back," Butler said. "That shows a sign of maturity."

Saunders has never coached in the NBA finals, but he has worked with a number of championship-caliber players, including Kevin Garnett, Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups. He needs Arenas to be that type of player if the Wizards are to achieve their lofty goals.

"Your elite teams have someone who can make something happen out of nothing," Saunders said. "Gil is a guy who can make something out of nothing. He can take you into the upper echelon with his play."

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: October 8, 2009


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