Wizards

Fairfax native seeks turnaround

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Fairfax native seeks turnaround

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Steve Marinos first round at the 2008 AT&T National was memorable for two reasons: the affable Fairfax, Va.-native boasted the tournaments rowdiest gallery and, for a time, sat atop the leaderboard.
When the event kicks off at Congressional Country Club on Thursday, Marino figures to be closely followed by a big gallery filled with friends, former classmates and family. Whats less certain, though, is how hell perform on one of the PGA Tours toughest courses.
Its always really exciting for me to come back and play at this tournament having grown up around here, said Marino, a graduate of W.T. Woodson High and the University of Virginia. I kind of mark this tournament down every year as something I look forward to.
Theres something else thats got him looking forward to it this year hes finally healthy.

Marino missed four months earlier this season with a knee injury. In the three tournaments since his return, including the U.S. Open two weeks ago, hes missed the cut.
Complications with his left knee occurred following surgery to repair a torn meniscus last October. At the Sony Open in January, Marino endured excruciating pain each time he bent over to read putts.
I pulled my pant leg up and my knee was just really swollen, a lot of fluid in it, Marino said.
After playing through the pain for two more weeks, he was diagnosed with a condition called avascular necrosis.
At first I thought I was going to miss a few weeks and be back, Marino said. But I ended up having a bone contusion on the tip of my tibia and femur. There was no blood flow to the area, so it wasnt healing.

Basically, my bone was dying, he continued. They wanted me to stay off it, non-weight bearing stuff.
So, for the next 16 weeks, Marino, a normally active 32-year-old who likes to fish, was reduced to a couch potato who occasionally slept in a hyperbaric chamber.
No boating. Definitely no fishing, doctors orders.
It was pretty boring for a few months, he said with a smile. Watched a lot of TV. I think Ive seen every movie thats ever been made.

Since returning to the Tour last month, Marino has struggled to regain his form, failing to reach the weekend in any of his three outings. At the U.S. Open, he fired an 84 and followed it up with a 78.
Still, he likes his chances this week, in part, because his knee feels much stronger.
Hopefully Ive knocked most of the rust off, said Marino, who has almost 9 million in career earnings but is still seeking his first PGA Tour victory. I just need to get one solid round under my belt then I can start rolling a little bit.

Marino will certainly have the support of a large and loyal gallery, even if his supporters are less boisterous (and minus a guy wearing green shorts emblazoned with pink flamingos) than before.
Some of them might have matured a little bit the last couple of years, Marino chuckled, referring to his hometown buddies. So it might be a little bit tamer. And also, that year I think I had the first round lead. So everybody was really excited. They were pretty rowdy.

Marino may not be among the favorites to win, but if youre looking for a personable underdog to follow, hes your guy.

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Kelly Oubre, Jr. may take on larger role due to injuries, and rebounding could be key

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Kelly Oubre, Jr. may take on larger role due to injuries, and rebounding could be key

The Wizards have two players sidelined at the moment and both happen to play the same position. Markieff Morris was already out following the sports hernia surgery he had in September, then Jason Smith sprained his right shoulder defending a dunk attempt by Joel Embiid in the regular season opener on Wednesday night.

This has put head coach Scott Brooks in a tough predicament. He's trying to acclimate new players into his rotation, but now has no choice but to get creative. Smith is considered questionable for Friday night and is likely going to be limited, regardless when he returns.

If Smith misses time or is not 100 percent, the onus will fall mostly on third-year forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. with Mike Scott behind him. Oubre is not a power forward, but is versatile enough to co-exist with Otto Porter alongside John Wall, Bradley Beal and Marcin Gortat. The Wizards utilized that lineup last season at times and relied on it heavily once Smith departed Wednesday night's game. Porter could be looked as the four in that group, but he and Oubre are essentially interchangable on defense.

Oubre, 21, came through with 14 points, eight rebounds, two blocks and two steals against the Sixers. He knocked down three three-pointers and shot 5-of-10 from the field overall.

"I'm ready. I've worked for this moment. The season is here, so it's time to put the work to the test," Oubre said. "I feel very confident. I feel very relaxed. This is Year 3, so I'm excited for all the opportunities that may come."

[RELATED: OUBRE THREW DOWN A CRAZY DUNK VS. SIXERS]

Those eight rebounds stand out, in particular. Oubre averaged 3.3 rebounds last season, his second year in the NBA, in 20.3 minutes. Oubre had 14 in one of their preseason games and has clearly put extra focus on that part of his game.

One reporter (me) asked Oubre about his 'seven' rebounds in the opener and Oubre issued a quick correction, showing exactly how much attention he's paying to the stat.

"I had eight in the opener, but yeah," he said. "It's a big emphasis because that's what we need. We need guys to go in there and rebound, push the break and keep up the pace. That's the style of play that we're looking for, to play fast and play tough. Crashing the boards is something that I need to do to help the team."

Brooks sees a lot of potential in Oubre's ability on the glass. 

"I look at rebounding as a stat that Kelly can really be consistent with. He has the size, the strength, the length and the athleticism and the toughness to get in there and get some rebounds. I think you should be able to see [eight] every night. It's one of the things we talked about to improve defensively. We have to be a better defensive team," Brooks said.

The Wizards miss a lot more than rebounding if Morris and Smith aren't in the picture, of course. But Oubre's development in that area could be important in the Wizards' effort to compensate for two key injuries at the same position.

[RELATED: GORTAT PLAYED WITH A HEAVY HEART VS. SIXERS]

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John Wall's new motto Wolf Season has reached a new level

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John Wall's new motto Wolf Season has reached a new level

It started as an offseason hashtag. After Wednesday night's win over the Sixers, it was legitimized with a postgame quote.

John Wall wants everyone to know that it's Wolf Season and, according to another favorite hashtag of his, nobody is safe.

Wall brought it up himself on Wednesday when asked about dunking all over the Sixers. When asked what Wolf Season means, he replied: "Just keep watching."

Wall used the hashtag #wolfseason all summer long in photos on Instagram. He also used the phrase #wolfwall:

It's reminiscent of the Wolf of Wall St. He also referenced "Michael Jackson Thrilla Mode" on Instragram and the music video for 'Thriller' very famously had Jackson turn into a wolf:

Michael Jackson Thrilla Mode spilling sauce everywhere I go !! #WallWay #5Deep #BYB #WolfWall

A post shared by johnwall (@johnwall) on

Whatever Wall means by it, the rest of the NBA might want to take notice.

[RELATED: PODCAST - MCCULLOUGH EXPLAINS HIS NICKNAME]