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October 27 Camden Courier-Post:
“Doug Collins’ first game as Sixers coach will most likely begin with him looking at the Miami Heat and seeing LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh taking the floor.
One would understand if Collins wished he were anywhere else.
That’s not because he’s countering with Jrue Holiday, the 20-year-old second-year player covering Wade, a perennial All-Star; or Andre Iguodala trying to corral James, perhaps the best player in the NBA; or the defensively challenged Jason Kapono guarding Heat point guard Mario Chalmers.
Rather, Collins knows he faces the daunting task of taking over a team that went 27-55 last season, that has little presence inside, that has the young and impressionable Holiday at point guard, and that is light years away from being what the Heat are — a team with three superstars.
“There are going to be difficult times,” Collins said. “You expect things to change immediately, and that’s not going to happen. These guys have worked incredibly hard, and if you don’t see early results, are they still willing to chip away at that rock?”
There are, of course, easier opponents to start off against than the Heat.
October 27 Philadelphia Daily News:
“A throng of media attended the 76ers‘ final full practice before tonight’s season opener against the much-touted Miami Heat.
The questions posed to Doug Collins, who will be directing his first game as head coach of the team that made him the first overall draft pick in 1973, mostly centered on how he expects to compete with the new “Dream Team,” which boasts All-Stars LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
“I’m excited for our guys to get out and start playing,” Collins said. “It will be good to see where we are.”
Although he didn’t seem all that committed to naming his starting five, Collins did say: “I really don’t have what I would call a first five but I think [tonight] I’ll start, unless something dramatic happens, Jrue [Holiday] and ‘Dre [Andre Iguodala] and [Jason] Kapono and Spencer [Hawes] and Elton [Brand]. That’s the group we’ve sort of been going with. Kapono brings an element to that group that we need and that’s making shots, and we feel like coming off the bench we have guys who will blend well with the others.”
That bench will include Lou Williams, who has been the team’s best player in the preseason, as the first guard off the bench, and center/forward Marreese Speights, from who Collins will get scoring but will need some defensive contribution also.”
October 27 Philadelphia Daily News:
“Rod Thorn says there’s “no comparison” between last season’s New Jersey Nets and this season’s 76ers. That’s encouraging, because the Nets started last season 0-18 and finished 12-70. The Sixers started 7-22 and finished 27-55.
Thorn was president of the Nets last season. Now, he’s the president of the Sixers, who open their season tonight against the Miami Heat.
“This is an entirely different team,” Thorn said, recalling that when assistant general manager Kiki Vanbdeweghe stepped in as the Nets coaching replacement for the fired Lawrence Frank, “he had never coached before.”
The Sixers spent last season under Eddie Jordan, who was fired with two guaranteed seasons remaining. Doug Collins, who previous coached in Chicago, Detroit and Washington and became an award-winning TV analyst, is the Sixers‘ new coach.
“We’re a work in progress,” Thorn said. “We’ve made some strides, and Doug is working to implant his philosophy. Part of that is making the guys accountable. It’s starting to sink in – pull your weight at both ends of the floor, protect your teammates on the defensive end, and be where you’re supposed to be.””
October 27 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Bob Ford:
“The 76ers completed the invisible portion of what promises to be a difficult transition season with one final practice on Tuesday, and if they fully knew what lies ahead it didn’t show as they joked and took their last shots of the afternoon.
Starting with the opener against the Miami Heat, the NBA’s shrine to player vanity, the Sixers will come out of the shadows and what happens next might not be very pretty.
“You can’t get discouraged,” coach Doug Collins said. “You’ve just got to add them up at the end.”
Unfortunately, that probably won’t take long, but the organization isn’t kidding itself this time. The team has a crazy quilt of a roster, all mismatched pieces, and the biggest job of Collins and his staff this season is to figure out which swatches of basketball talent are worth keeping. Along the way, it would be nice to win some games, but this group will probably struggle to match last season’s 27-55 record.
“We’re trying to restore pride and dignity to this organization and sometimes bricks are being laid, and you might not see the results immediately,” Collins said. “I have never worked harder than I have in the last 30 days, but there are no tangible results now. I have to ask our assistant coaches, ‘Are we getting better? Are we making progress?’ As a coach, you just see all the things you’re trying to correct.”
The toughest part for a coach, especially one with the hyperactive teaching gifts of Collins, is that some failings aren’t correctable. When he spoke of laying bricks, he meant the team is, hopefully, building a solid foundation for the future. But the dual meaning for this particular team is that it has great difficulty throwing the rubber ball through the iron rim, which is not a skill usually acquired at the NBA level.
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