Ariza's adjustment period taking some time

Ariza's adjustment period taking some time
November 6, 2012, 12:00 am
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The Shirelles, a girl group back in the early 1960's, sang the dejected line, "There'll be days like this my Mama said."

One wonders if Trevor Ariza's IPod has been playing this R-and-B classic on a permanent loop. His struggles since the start of his first training camp with the Wizards up through the first two regular season games have been glaring.

"It's never been this long to adjust to something for myself," said Ariza, an eight-year veteran with previous stops in five different NBA cities before being acquired by Washington this summer. Blatant misfiring, whether from near or far, is the obvious issue, though the career 43 percent shooter has never been considered a marksman.

The concern is not mechanical, but rather one of confidence - and then made more apparent because the funk is occurring at the start of the NBA season.

Asked for his take on his early struggles, Ariza recited a laundry list of frustrations that currently lack a solution. "Just trying to pick my spots. When to shoot the ball, when to drive the ball, when to pass the ball, when to do a little bit of everything. Just trying to get comfortable with what we're doing here."

Even how he acquired the shiner currently sported under his left eye is apparently unanswerable.

"We were in practice, I don't know" a shrugging Ariza said following Tuesday's practice, "Somebody hit me."

The 6-foot-8 wing forward isn't the only one offensive offensively right now for the slow starting Wizards, but perhaps the one most obviously fighting through his woes.

"He's going through that now," Wizards coach Randy Wittman said. "It just so happens to be the first two games, the start of the season. Guys go through tough periods, whether its physically or mentally, not making shots, every you seem to do isn't right. Fight through it."

As for the solution, Wittman talked of Ariza simplifying his on-court agenda.

"He can defend multiple positions, he can rebound and he can run. That's all I care about seeing him do right now. I think if you just concentrate on that rather than so many other things, then you get into a rhythm."

Getting into a rhythm has clearly been an issue when targeting the basket.

Ariza: "I'm getting open shots, getting good looks at the basket. Just got to figure out a way to stay confident and not worry about the next one."

Even the easiest of shots are not falling, including the chippie Ariza missed against the Celtics from point-blank range.

"I've never been in that situation where I was so close to the basket and missed a layup," said Ariza, reflecting on the attempt that hung on the rim before rolling off. "That was unbelievable."

Let's not forget that Ariza is also tasked with guarding Boston's All-Star forward Paul Pierce for a second straight game. The Wizards play at Boston on Wednesday. That aspect alone keeps would-be defenders up at night, though it's also where Ariza typically shines.

The good news is obvious: the season has just begun, which means plenty of chances for better days ahead.

"Of course it's frustrating a little bit, but my teammates, my coaches have been great with keeping me in it, telling me to stay in it, keep working hard," Ariza said. "I'm going to do what I do and work hard every day. It's going to come to pass."