Jordan trying to refocus youngsters' energy

Saturday, October 27th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

UNCASVILLE, Connecticut (AP) _ The youth flashing before Michael Jordan's eyes are his teammates, and he wants them to slow down.

Not in transition, of course, but in the grander scheme of things.

The Washington Wizards ended the preseason 2-6 despite Jordan's 22.3- point average as he gets ready for another comeback Tuesday night in New York. The young team has been a study in inconsistency, vexing both Jordan and new coach Doug Collins.

``We have a team that is really nervous. Right now they're so rushed in the fast pace of life,'' the 38-year-old Jordan said. ``It's hard to get them to slow down and evaluate how enjoyable the game is.''

The Wizards' young nucleus includes Richard Hamilton and Courtney Alexander, who were not in the NBA when Jordan played with the Bulls. Rookie Kwame Brown is fresh out of high school.

Brown admits to be in awe of Jordan and finds himself ``stopping and staring.''

Washington closed out the preseason Friday night with a 107-93 loss to the Boston Celtics at the new Mohegan Sun Arena. Jordan led the team with 21 points. It was his fourth game in five nights.

The youngsters might have fresher legs, but have to grow into the mental part of the game, he said.

``They're wasting energy,'' Jordan explained. ``I try not to waste it because I've been experienced enough to see how to utilize certain situations with the least amount of energy, so I'm a little bit fresh when the time comes, when the mind has to think.

``Hopefully we can get the team to just think, slow down so we can find some type of rhythm.''

Collins and Jordan are trying to change a losing mentality and shore up a disappointing defense.

``For us to be a decent team, we have to at least be able to stop people occasionally,'' Collins said. ``We have shown no ability the entire preseason to stop anybody.''

In Jordan's second comeback, there is no talk of rings, only realism.

``We better start off by walking first instead of running. I'd like to see us make the playoffs,'' Jordan said. ``It's going to take a lot of work, but that's a good goal for a young team like ourselves.''