Tag: Randy Wittman

Roy Hibbert

Did Roy Hibbert break out? No, but Indy may have found a way to help him out


It hasn’t been pretty, but the Indiana Pacers ‘survived’ to advance to the second round of the playoffs and in the process Frank Vogel has stuck with Roy Hibbert in his starting lineup.

Given the big man’s struggles on both sides of the floor, it wouldn’t have bothered most Indy fans if Vogel had made a change to tap Ian Mahinmi into the starting unit.

Prior to Game 2, Vogel let Hibbert play more than 20 minutes in just 3-of-8 playoff games, but the increasingly embattled coach has been clear that he won’t nail the coffin shut on his big man’s fragile psyche.

This paid off in a big way in Game 2 Wednesday night when Hibbert finally caught some breaks in a 28-point, nine-rebound performance, though when we go back to the tape it wasn’t nearly the breakout game that many are making it out to be.  The Wizards still targeted him relentlessly in the pick-and-roll and continued to rain jumpers over him at an alarming rate, going 10-of-16 for 20 points on shots created against Hibbert in space.

Offensively, the Wizards are fine with the way the Pacers entered the ball into Hibbert, who hit 42 percent of his shots in the post this season.  He’s not bending the defense and the Wiz will welcome anything to keep Paul George and Lance Stephenson from snapping out of their 16-of-55 shooting start.

Wednesday’s result was more about everything working in the big man’s favor on offense, with an early long-range hit setting the tone for a fortunate night.  Between teammate penetration, better positioning and some lapses by Washington, Hibbert took what the defense gave him and got the monkey temporarily off his back.

The good news is that Hibbert showed a different gear playing defense on the interior, which was still a mixed bag, but he changed a number of shots, fought for position and grabbed nine rebounds after securing four or less in 6-of-8 games before the Pacers’ Game 2 win.

Now in perhaps the most evenly matched series remaining, the question for Indy isn’t so much if Hibbert is back on the offensive end (that question falls on George and Stephenson against athletic wings Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal).  The question is whether or not Hibbert can hold his own on the defensive end, and Vogel might have tipped his hand on how he plans to assist in that development.

Here you see Marcin Gortat, a primary screener for the Wizards, is set to head up to familiar territory to execute the high pick-and-roll with Bradley Beal. But seeing that he is covered by David West, he motions for Nene to execute the play instead.


As noted, Hibbert has been a defensive liability on this action not just in the playoffs but for the second half of the year.  Typically, the Pacers have chosen to deal with the consequences rather than change who they are, and in the playoffs when teams expose weaknesses this has been their undoing.

But here, the Pacers decide to change things up.  Instead of following Nene up to the top of the pattern, Hibbert and West switch with the Wizards applying no pressure on the exchange:


Beal runs the pick-and-roll against a more mobile West, who keeps the action in front of him long enough for George to recover, and Stephenson pinches in to give help when the ball is passed back to Nene:



Nene arguably can take the 18-footer but it’s going to be contested, so he instead decides to put the ball on the ground and go to the hoop.  Instead of West securing the paint, the Pacers have their seven-foot rim protector waiting in the lane:


Typically, looking at a still showing Hibbert going straight up like this is going to result in a miss or a block, but Nene made the conversion.  In fact, the three times the Pacers made this switch the Wizards were able to convert.  But as coaches constantly say, it’s the process that matters and not the result.

Having West handle pick-and-roll duties in space or forcing Nene to take contested jumpers on the perimeter makes a whole lot more sense than watching Hibbert feebly chase players that are half his size. When the switch results in keeping Hibbert anchored in the paint it’s a no-brainer.

It’s unclear if the adjustment is a realization on Vogel’s part or a card that he felt pressured to play when facing the prospect of an 0-2 start.  Should Vogel continue to go this route, the Wizards will need to find a way to keep Indy from switching the big men without a penalty, and Randy Wittman and his group aren’t known for their imagination or late-game execution on the offensive end.

Vogel can keep this card in his back pocket as a change-up or he can play it right away, but he needs to do something to mask Hibbert’s deficiencies and keep him in a position to defend and clean the glass.

If that doesn’t happen, Hibbert can score all that he wants and it’s not going to make a difference.


Wizards’ coach Wittman fined $20,000 for profanity in postgame press conference

Randy Wittman

Randy Wittman should be pissed off. John Wall came back with what early on looks like the same old jump shot (9-of-29 outside the paint so far this season). The top 10 defense the Wizards built last season is gone, they are allowing 108.1 points per 100 possessions through three games (think they don’t miss Emeka Okafor?).

With an owner who is demanding a playoff berth and a GM who also may feel his seat getting warm, well, that’s the kind of storm that gets a coach fired early in the season.

So Wittman let out a little of that frustration Friday night after his team lost 109-102 to the 76ers on Friday and used some expletives during his post-game press conference. When asked what he thought the problem was, Wittman said a “commitment to playing $*#&%ing defense” and dropped another bomb in the same answer.

That’s a no-no in the media friendly NBA world, so Monday the league slapped him with a $20,000 fine.

Announcement: Pro Basketball Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $15,000 Fantasy Basketball league for Monday, Nov. 4th games. It’s just $10 to join and first prize is $2,000. Starts at 7pm ET. Here’s the link.

Washington is 0-3 to start the season and have the surprisingly hot 76ers, Nets and Thunder this week. If they fall to 0-6, at least behind closed doors you can bet on more expletives.

Wizards coach “wants to believe” they can make playoffs

Randy Wittman

Randy Wittman earned the job as Wizards head coach. He took over for Flip Saunders in the middle of last season and the Wizards improved under him. Improved enough that the Wizards ownership took the interim tag off and kept him.

So what are his plans for next season in Washington?

Make the playoffs. That’s what he told Michael Lee of the Washington Post.

“We want to take the next step and what we kind of did as the year progressed and Nene coming over here at the trade deadline and our improvement from the defensive standpoint. That’s got to be a main focus for us to get better and better defensively….

“You always want to believe in the playoffs. I think, you’re always striving for that. We’ve got to go out and we’ve got a tough start to the schedule and that’s going to be one of my main emphases with our guys is going into camp and understanding that, when we come out, we’re going to go on the road a lot and we’ve got to be ready for that. We’ve got to be ready for a good start and keep that momentum that we have.”

Washington has upgraded its roster and the playoffs are a possibility.

But it really doesn’t come down to Wittman. It comes down to John Wall. He has talked about taking the next step forward, about living up to his elite point guard potential. This is the year he has to do it. If he does, the Wizards are a playoff team. If not, they are not.

It’s official, Randy Wittman to be retained as Wizards coach

Randy Wittman

We’ve known this is coming for days now, but Washington is about to make official they are making the safe play.

Monday afternoon the Washington Wizards will host a press conference to announce Randy Wittman will have the interim tag removed as coach and he will return with a two-year deal. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo was the first to report this.

It’s a move that will be welcomed by John Wall, who lobbied for it. But that’s only part of the reason he got the gig.

This was the safe, affordable play by Washington. They walked up to the tee and pulled out a three iron. Which is what ownership wanted to do right now.

Wittman was 18-31 as the interim coach in Washington, which included a nice little six-game winning streak to end the season. Wittman appeared to connect with and get more out of the roster than Flip Saunders (who he replaced 17 games into the season), he helped bring a little more discipline to a young team.

But this is not a game-changer hire. And Wittman is more affordable for a rebuilding franchise than bringing in a big name (Mike D’Antoni, Stan Van Gundy types). This is a team that will have Wall in his third season (when he needs to break out, but that’s another topic), Nene at center and whomever they get with the No. 3 pick (buzz is they want Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson). The franchise likely will be rid of Rashard Lewis and Andray Blatche by next training camp.

Wittman’s getting a real chance, this could be a team on the rise in the East. We’ll see what he does with it. For the Wizards, it’s a safe iron play down the middle of the fairway.

Report: Randy Wittman near two-year deal to coach Wizards

Randy Wittman

We’ve been telling you that it looked like the Wizards were leaning toward keeping Randy Wittman as coach.

Now Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo came through with a few details.

The Washington Wizards are finalizing details on a two-year contract for interim coach Randy Wittman to become head coach, league sources told Yahoo! Sports. An announcement is planned for next week, sources said.

As we have said, this is a safe hire by Washington. Wittman was 18-31 as the interim coach in Washington, which included a six-game winning streak to end the season. He took over 17 games into the season after Flip Saunders got the ax. Wittman had a pedestrian record as the head man in Washington and Cleveland before this. Wittman no doubt connected with and got more out of the roster than Flip, he helped usher in a little more discipline to a young team, but the Wizards were not good either way.

Woj adds this note about the Wizards looking at the bottom line.

The Wizards won’t make a significant financial commitment to Wittman, sources said, and that’s a trend that more franchises are expected to continue. After the NBA lockout, many owners are determined to pay front-office and coaching staffs less money. The Wizards are a big-market team that could’ve successfully competed for higher-profile head coaches available, including Mike D’Antoni, Nate McMillan and Stan Van Gundy, but chose to keep Wittman on a shorter, less expensive contract.