Sixers' Royal Ivey knows winning can be contagious

Ivey
Ivey
Posted: January 11, 2013

TORONTO - When you have been successful in only five out of 20 attempts, no matter what the sport, things aren't going well.

Entering Wednesday's game against the Toronto Raptors, the 76ers had lost 15 of their previous 20 games, and the wear-and-tear of that stretch is as visible as their record in the standings every day. During his nine pro seasons, Royal Ivey has seen losing streaks linger and he knows getting out them can happen in many ways.

"It's the players. Nobody else can do it but the guys who put on the uniform," said Ivey, a member of the Western Conference champion Oklahoma City Thunder last season. "We have to band together and come together as one unit and find a way, how to get out of this slump. It's going to have to be a collective effort, everybody. It's more mental than anything. We have to get our minds cleared and have a better focus coming into games and coming out of the locker room at halftime. Starting games and coming out at halftime has to be our main focus so that we can get a good start. Once we get that mindset we'll be fine."

It sounds simple enough. But Ivey noted that there are many paths to a solution.

"Certain plays can be contagious, certain players can be contagious," Ivey said. "When a player gets it going, like Jrue [Holiday] or Evan [Turner], you can ride them to a win. That can be contagious. But more than that, I think it's done on the defensive end, where you bring the energy. I think getting after the ball, diving for the ball, taking charges - just doing those little things. We have guys that can score and guys that can rebound, but it's the little intangibles collectively, like taking charges and outhustling the other team. That's what we've been lacking the past few games."

Ivey said when players need a pat on the back, he's there. And when they need a kick in the butt, he's not afraid to do that, either. "You have to pick your spot," he said. "But I'll say what needs to be said."

Ed's take

Before the season he was released of his duties as general manager of the Sixers, but the team still has current Toronto GM Ed Stefanski's fingerprints all over it. Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday were drafted under his watch and the head coach was his hire. Stefanski takes special pride in the development of Holiday.

"You are not going to meet a nicer young man, that Jrue, and he has a terrific family," said Stefanski. "He has all the intangibles to be a good player and that's what we thought when we drafted him at his age. He's progressed very well. I think he's an All-Star; if not he's knocking on the door. We really liked his body, his athleticism. We knew he had to improve shooting the ball, but we knew his work ethic would get him there. He works extremely hard in the offseason. It's all paid off."

Being a general manager in the Eastern Conference, Stefanski certainly watched with interest when the Sixers made their big move during the summer, acquiring center Andrew Bynum.

"They made a move and a change to get the big fella and it hasn't worked out due to injury," Stefanski said. "Obviously they would be a totally different ballclub if they had Bynum and that body and that talent on the floor. They have to hope that he can get healthy and see what they've got. But now they don't have an Elton Brand, and [Andre] Iguodala or a Lou Williams, but the reason for that is that they got Bynum.

"I thought it would be interesting that when you get a talent like Bynum, there aren't that many 7-foot centers who are dominating like him. They took a shot at it, even though they gave up a real nice piece in Andre and gave up draft picks, if you want to call Nik [Vucevic] a draft pick and Mo Harkless. But getting a 7-foot center is very difficult to do and you can totally understand why the Sixers did it. Right now it's not working out for them, but when they get the big fella back you have to make that decision then."

Not complaining, but ...

Doug Collins can't help but shake his head when continuously asked about the main reasons for his team's struggles.

"Just looking at our schedule, and I'm never one to make excuses, but it's been brutal, absolutely brutal," said Collins. "In 40 years that I've been in the NBA I've never seen one like it. I know that fatigue is a factor. You see that when our guys get a little bit tired, our turnovers go up, we make mistakes we normally don't make."

But with 12 of the next 13 at home, it evens out, right? Not in Collins' eyes.

"I hate a schedule that is so top-heavy, home-road," he said. "If a guy rolls an ankle and misses 10 home games, where are you? Any time you play that many away or home, it's not good. We had that early schedule of nine of 11 at home, then you go 11 of 13 away, then you finish up the season 12 of 14 on the road. An unbalanced schedule like that I think is terrible."

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