Sixers coach Collins shooting for equal-opportunity offense

Posted: September 24, 2010

IT'S A GOOD thing new 76ers coach Doug Collins actually will be able to start instructing his team on Tuesday when training camp opens at Saint Joseph's University, because the energy that is seeping through his pores right now is ready to burst him like an overblown balloon.

Collins gathered with the media yesterday at the Wells Fargo Center to give an update on how the summer has gone since he took over the head coaching job in May, a little more than a month after the organization fired Eddie Jordan after his 27-win season.

Just a couple of hours before the meeting, Collins met with guard Willie Green, the 7-year vet who was dealt yesterday, along with forward Jason Smith, to New Orleans for forwards Darius Songaila and Craig Brackins. Collins choked up when he spoke of having to tell Green of the trade and how Green's young son was crying over the news.

That's the type of person, and coach, the fans will see this season. Someone who is emotional and bound with relentless energy, a realist who is confident in knowing what it takes to turn around a team that lost 55 games last season and won only 12 times at home.

"We know that we have a long road ahead to be where we want to be," Collins said. "But our players have come back in great shape. Mo Speights had a wonderful summer, his weight is down and he's playing very, very well. Elton Brand weighed in at 252 pounds yesterday, which is great. Jrue Holiday has made a huge jump - I'm excited about that. Spencer Hawes is such a ball-friendly guy. Guys love playing with him the way he moves the ball.

"If I had a H-O-R-S-E contest tomorrow, my bigs would all outshoot my smalls. I've got big guys who can all shoot the ball, which is a great thing to have with all the pick and pops in the NBA. We're going to do a lot of things to get our big guys open jump-shots. We think that is going to be a real strength of our team."

It is a far different team from the one that was so disappointing last year. In is No. 2 overall draft pick Evan Turner, along with bruising forward Andres Nocioni, Hawes and now Songaila and Brackins. Gone are Sam Dalembert, Rodney Carney, Green, Smith and Allen Iverson.

"This is going to be a team of equal-opportunity offensive players," Collins said. "Our leading scorer could average only 15 or 16 points a game and we could have seven guys average in double figures. The ball has to move, we have to value the ball, we have to be connected.

"Defensively, on the perimeter, we have to guard the ball. We have to win the turnover battle. Our big guys have to be body defenders in the paint. When people come in there, they have to see bodies. If our perimeter guys get broken down it's going to put too much pressure on our big guys and they'll be in foul trouble. We have to team rebound. We're not a great shot-blocking team. Our system defensively is if you're not where you are supposed to be, you're going to stand out like a sore thumb."

Collins was asked about many of his players. Some snippets:

* On Andre Iguodala: "I want him to be more of a leader. It's a great time for him to come back after that experience [gold medal winner for Team USA in FIBA World Championships]. I don't want him to live and die with jump shots. I told him to get away and get some rest, and he and I will sit down and talk about his training-camp schedule. He played 7 hard weeks this summer and I want to figure out how much he wants to practice. I'm not worried about him being physically tired, because he's a tremendous athlete. I don't want him to be mentally fatigued. I want him to be mentally fresh."

* On Evan Turner: "He got knocked back this summer and I think it's the best thing to ever happen to him. I think it gave him an idea how hard it is and how tough it is in this game. Right now, he's much more comfortable having the ball in his hands. When the guys were playing pickup and he and Lou [Williams] were playing together, he's doing a lot of the playmaking and Lou's playing off the ball and scoring. It's going to be interesting to me how I'm going to put it all together. He's going to have to have a terrific midrange game. Right now, I don't want him shooting long, perimeter jump shots. That's not his strength. For me, the two areas for him [to work on] are the speed of the game and learning to play after contact."

* On Jrue Holiday: "I got me a good point guard. In the NFL, you need a good quarterback to win. In the NBA, the way the game is, you better have a good point guard. I honestly believe that this kid is such a good kid and such a hard worker and so pure, I honestly believe that next year you're going to be talking about him being one of the top five point guards in the league. I think you're going to speak about him in the same breath as Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose and Jrue."

* On Thad Young: "Thad is in a happy place. Thad had some great moments a couple of years ago, he played real well. For whatever reason last year, he lost his spirit."

* On Elton Brand: "Elton's in a great spot. He's playing well and he's got a nice bounce to his step. I think he feels good. Elton's good. I like where he is. Rod Thorn even made a comment today watching the scrimmage and said that Elton's doing well."

On Tuesday, Collins will be able to start fully implementing the ways he sees fit to make this team formidable again. It couldn't come soon enough.

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