WASHINGTON - Randy Wittman learned long ago to focus on what he can control. . Thats what he did over the past 2 1/2 years with the Washington Wizards. Wittmans approach helped turn the Wizards from pushover to playoff winners. Now hell have a chance to stick around following a 44-38 season, a 15-win improvement from last year, after the Wizards gave him a contract extension. "I think over the last couple of years what weve begun to establish here, continuity I think is important," Wittman said Wednesday in the hallway near the practice court at the Verizon Center. "Im appreciative of the opportunity to continue on." The Wizards reached the playoffs for the first time since 2008 and won their first post-season series since 2005. They accomplished it in the final year of Wittmans contract and under a preseason mandate to make the playoffs from owner Ted Leonsis. "I was here when it was not pretty. When you see it change, when you see the things that youve implemented begin to work, you want to continue on," the 54-year-old Wittman said. Wittman guided the Wizards to a first-round win over the Chicago Bulls before losing in six games to the top-seeded Indiana Pacers in their Eastern Conference semifinal. "Over the last 2 1/2 years really, Randy has established a great culture, a hard-working culture, a defensive-oriented team," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said. "Weve been a top-10 defensive team in the league the last two years. Weve made good progress. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, but were headed in the right direction." Asked if retaining Wittman was an easy decision," Grunfeld stated," Yes, it was." Having already coached rebuilding squads with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves, Wittman took over as head coach when Flip Saunders was fired in January 2012. As was the case in those other spots, losses starting piling up in Washington. Wittman has the worst regular-season record of anyone who has coached at least 400 NBA games — 191-329, a .367 winning percentage — since the league started in 1946. "Job security is fleeting, as we all know in this business," said Wittman, who played in the NBA for nine seasons. "If you worry about it, youre not going to do your job well." With John Wall sidelined, the Wizards opened the 2012-13 season with a 4-28 record. When their point guard returned, Washington finished 24-25. With Wall healthy and turning into a first-time All-Star alongside backcourt partner Bradley Beal, Washington ended the 2013-14 season fifth in the Eastern Conference. Washington has plenty of decisions remaining. Two starters — centre Marcin Gortat and forward Trevor Ariza — are unrestricted free agents. Overall, 10 players are entering some level of free agency or the organization must decide whether to exercise a team option. Though Wittman and Grunfeld have stated a desire to the keep the core intact, the roster could certainly look different next season. But the man on the sideline will be familiar. . The international synchronized skating competition takes place from January 31 - February 1, 2014, and features 39 teams from 10 countries, in senior, junior, and novice. . Catch the action live on TSN2 at 7:30pm et/4:30pm pt. The Wild lead the Northwest Division and look to get back into the win column after having a season-high seven-game winning streak cut short with Tuesdays 2-1 loss at Winnipeg in the finale of a five-game road trip (4-1-0).DENVER -- Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez was activated from the disabled list on Friday after he missed 35 games because of left index finger inflammation. To make roster room for Gonzalez, who was in the starting lineup Friday night against Minnesota, the Rockies optioned right-handed pitcher Jair Jurrjens to their Triple-A affiliate in Colorado Springs. Gonzalez, sidelined since June 3, underwent finger surgery a week later after doctors discovered a benign tumour. "He has some peace of mind with that finger," Rockies manager Walt Weiss said. "The first part of the season, that finger was blowing up. For no rhyme or reason. All of a sudden, in the middle of the game, he would make solid contact or hit the ball off the end of the bat, that finger would swell up. It was obviously an issue going on."; Before rejoining the Rockies, Gonzalez made four rehab appearances with Colorado Springs this week. . "Im feeling good," Gonzalez said before the game. "Im happy being back in the lineup. I took my time. Its a slow process. I was careful after the surgery. It paid off." The time off also helped alleviate lingering soreness from left knee tendinitis that had bothered him for much of the season. Gonzalez was batting .255 in 52 games. He entered this season with a career average of .300. "The time off has certainly helped his knee," Weiss said. "It is something that has hindered him from time to time. The time off is going to help that." Gonzalez, who usually plays left field, was slated to start in right field and bat third. "Well see what he can do," Weiss said. ' ' '