The Washington Wizards visited the Smith Center Monday for a pre-season scrimmage before the regular season starts Oct. 31. Wizards Head of Basketball Operations Michael Jordan stopped in briefly for the event.
Maureen Lewis-Nasser, head of press relations for the Wizards, said GW’s facilities and location made the decision to have a scrimmage at the Smith Center an easy one.
We’re glad that (GW) hosted us tonight, Lewis-Nasser said. We looked at a lot of venues around the D.C. area and GW was very responsive.
The team really enjoyed the visit, said Jake Hodesh, an intern with the Wizards public relations department. Abe Pollin, the owner of the Wizards and the MCI Center, is a graduate from GW. It was a great fit for the Wizards to play here. The team really wanted to come out to (GW’s) campus and give students the opportunity to watch them play.
As the team’s Halloween road-opener approaches, the Wizards are easing their way into some new coaching and personnel adjustments. There was no bigger adjustment than that of Michael Jordan coming to D.C. last season. The former Chicago Bulls superstar will oversee all aspects of the 50th NBA All-Star Weekend, which will take place at the MCI Center in early February.
This year also marks Leonard Hamilton’s first year as the Wizard’s head coach. Hamilton replaces Darrell Walker and comes to the Wizards from the college ranks. He coached at the University of Miami.
He’s really down to earth, said Wizard’s rookie Michael Smith, a forward from Providence College. He wants us to win and he works really hard at it.
My goal for this upcoming season is to be ready to play in any game situation, Smith said.
Six-foot point-guard Chris Whitney, a graduate of Clemson University, said he likes the changes to the team.
We’re all excited with the new staff, Whitney said. (Hamilton) does us a good job with the rotations. We’re looking to win this season, that’s our number-one goal.
The Wizards are hoping for much different results than last year, when the team finished with the sixth worst record in the league at 29-53. The last-place Wizards from a year ago will have eight players on this season’s starting roster with no more than two years experience in the NBA. Washington forward Jahidi White is one Wizard who hopes to have a breakout season.
White is no stranger to the D.C. area having graduated from Georgetown in 1998 after growing up in St. Louis. Last February White showed strong potential when he had a career-high 16 rebounds against Orlando.
It’s really good to play here at GW because D.C. is like a second home to me, White said. I really hope to have a great season. Hamilton is a really personal coach. He talks to you as an individual.