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Article:The Wizards next 71 games

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Add New Page Talk0 The Washington Wizards fired Coach Eddie Jordan yesterday and replaced him with Ed Tapscott, a long-time confidant of GM Ernie Grunfeld. It remains to be seen how the players will react to this change, but team captain Antawn Jamison appears to have the right attitude, as usual:

Jamison vowed to rally the team behind Tapscott and work to dig out of the early-season hole.

“The coaching staff did a great job as far as getting us prepared and ready to play games but we didn’t get the job done,” he said. “In certain situations, maybe it’s good to hear a different voice, change or whatever. Is this that situation? I guess we’ll find out.”

That’s exactly right. Jamison sees the firing of Jordan as a failure by the players, as he should. As they all should. It’s not that Jordan didn’t deserve to be fired. The team started 1-10, a pretty stark indictment of the coach. Players like Andray Blatche and Oleskiy Pecherov show no sign of improving and Blatche even appears to be regressing. Caron Butler ’s intensity waxed and waned this year, a startling and unwelcome development. Something had to change. The owner isn’t going to fire himself and the players have guaranteed contracts. Thus, Eddie Jordan gets cut loose. Something had to change.

Now the team is in the hands of the 57-year-old Tapscott, who last coached a basketball team in the 1980s, when he led American University to 119 wins after taking the reins from Gary Williams. What can the Bullets expect from Tapscott as he and the team play the Golden State Warriors tonight in the Phone Booth?

We’re better than 1-10,” Tapscott said. “We know it and we all are responsible. So, we’re going to preach accountability and unity on this team. We’re all accountable and we want to have greater unity. I really believe we have to get better defensively. Our numbers say that and our performance says that. We have to play with a greater physical presence, guard the lane and be a more physical team. At the same time, we’re not going to try and turn greyhounds into Clydesdales, but we have not been a very physical team.”

Tapscott said he would likely go with a starting lineup consisting of Dee Brown, DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler, Antawn Jamison and rookie JaVale McGee tonight against Golden State and also wants to narrow the rotation to eight or nine players.

“Get your best players on the floor,” Tapscott said. “If that’s young guys, it’s young guys. If it’s older guys, it’s older guys. When you’re struggling, it’s all about improving your performance and you’ve got to go with the people who will allow you to do that most efficiently.”

That sounds fine, though if Tapscott is really committed to that strategy, he’ll soon move Nick Young into the starting lineup in place of Stevenson. It’s not that Young particularly deserves to start, only that he deserves it more than Stevenson does. While Stevenson is a better defensive player, he’s undoing those contributions with his godawful shooting and his refusal to stop his godawful shooting. Whatever the team is gaining defensively from Stevenson, it is losing as he shoots his way to another 3-13 evening.

The Wizards are going to be bad. Any team with Dee Brown starting at point guard and a rookie with two years of college [Javale McGee] starting at center is going to be bad. Butler isn’t earning his contract right now, Stevenson, as noted, is terrible, and Jamison is the only playing like he’s got some pride left. That’s not enough. If the Wizards are going to be bad, they might as well be bad with guys like McGee, Young, Blatche and Pecherov on the floor more often. Eddie Jordan was trying to win games above else — that was his job. But that’s not Tapscott’s job. His job is to restore some pride in the players, get them to work hard for each other, and find out who should be around next year.

So play the kids. We’ve got nothing to lose but games. And we’re losing those anyway.

More at DC Pro Sports Report

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