October 25 Philadelphia Daily News:
“Like a student returning to school after a summer in which the required reading assignments weren’t completed, 76ers coach Doug Collins wishes he had more time. He will oversee his team during their regular-season opener on Wednesday when the vaunted Miami Heat roll into the Wells Fargo Center – ready or not.
Most, if not all, signs point to not.
Spencer Hawes, whom the team acquired for Sam Dalembert in the offseason and who was penciled in as the starting center during training camp, is just returning from a strained lower back that kept him out of action for about 2 weeks.
Backup center Marreese Speights missed time with a sore hamstring, while sub swingman Andres Nocioni is just rounding into shape after a sprained ankle.
Now Andre Iguodala is nursing a sore right wrist that has been splinted. He hopes to be ready for Wednesday, but said yesterday after practice at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine that if he had to play right now, he couldn’t do it.
But it certainly isn’t just injuries that have stalled what Collins wanted to have set in place by the beginning of the season. Players’ performances have also stunted the coach’s desire to move forward at a faster pace.
“I wish I had, like, another 3 weeks,” said Collins, who returned to practice Friday after missing a couple of days with what has been diagnosed as vertigo. “But I don’t, so . . . We’ve had guys out and it’s been a tough time getting everybody together. With that said, a lot of other teams have gone through the same things. But with a new group and a new coach and new expectations and demands it will be nice to have everyone together. I wish we could have had a chance to have more guys together for a longer period of time.”
Yesterday, rookie Evan Turner took Iguodala’s spot at the two guard with the first unit, joining point guard Jrue Holiday, small forward Jason Kapono, power forward Elton Brand and Hawes at center. As has been the norm, the first unit lost to the seconds in a 24-minute scrimmage.
“I think it’s expected,” said Kapono of the group’s slow progression thus far. “We’re so young, no really established players here. Obviously, you have a couple veterans, but he’s [Collins] just trying to figure out what combinations work, what personnel works best to help the team win. We’ve all only been together for 4 weeks, so it can take time. I think he has a pretty good idea of what group plays well together.””
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