Wake-up call: Vets contend action needed, not meetings

Wake-up call: Vets contend action needed, not meetings
February 9, 2014, 6:00 am
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Maybe it's time for another players-only meeting for the Wizards to get their act together. It worked in November, after they lost seven of their first nine games to start the season. Then again, maybe not. But another loss at home, to another losing team in the Sacramento Kings on Sunday, will throw them into a stronger tailspin after being over .500 for the first time in six years earlier in the week.

"Sick and tired of losing to these teams," said Martell Webster, in his ninth season. "At some point enough is enough." 

Trevor Ariza called a players-only meeting that helped turned around the season as the Wizards (24-25) got to 9-9 at that point. They've been up and down ever since and it has become an annoyance. Is the problem confidence, preparation, motivation? Do they need to have a meeting of the minds again to hash things out? 

"We've already had this conversation. Now it's just doing it. You have to put your words into action. It's easy to sit in a room, everybody share their feelings, leave it all on the table  ... It just comes down to putting forth that action," said Webster, who isn't endorsing any more group sessions. 

[RELATED: Harrington targets post-All-Star break return]

In his 16th NBA season with his seventh NBA team, Al Harrington has been on the sideline since November because of right knee soreness that later required surgery. He's on the verge of retuning after the All-Star break next week.

"Talking is healthy. Guys get in there and try to get some stuff off their chest if they feel some type of way. That's not where we're at right now. We don't have any animosity between guys," Harrington said. "When we had that first talk, I know we did. That talk is not needed. It's just a gut-check type of talk we need to have in yourself. You need to look in the mirror and say are you doing everything you can to help us win? Are you playing as hard as you can?

"One thing a coach always told me back when I was young, if your'e not asking to come out the game you're not playing hard enough. Until we get like that, until guys are really picking up and denying (the ball) and stuff like that we're not going to get over the hump. ... We're going to continue to be just mediocre."

For his part, coach Randy Wittman said he has gone to his team and asked if there's something he's not doing to get them ready. He said after Saturday's practice he has tinkered a few things, but players aren't exactly forthcoming with suggestions. 

"That's part of my job. We did some things differently today. There's a big difference, big commitment, a big way you have to play from being an average team to being at team well over .500," Wittman said. "I told these guys they should be well over .500 and we're not. Why are those reasons? We didn't come out on a consistent basis and play with the energy and effort at the start of games that we need to. You got to do more than be an above average team. Are you willing to do that?" 

Harrington gave Wittman a ringing endorsement. 

"He's doing everything he can. I have so much respect for Witt. Coming here, I didn't know what kind of coach he was. But being around him these last four months he's a very fair guy. He's demanding. He's the same with everybody," he said. "It's not going to come from him at this point. He's given us everything he (can). It's up to the players to start pushing each other and holding each other accountable. We need to get in each other's face. He only can do so much. ... Until we do that we're not going to get over the hump."

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