Sixers coach Collins laments woes

Posted: January 18, 2013

FOLLOWING Tuesday's loss to the New Orleans Hornets, 76ers coach Doug Collins acknowledged that he was at a loss for answers as to why his team was playing so poorly, as it had just lost for the 17th time in 23 games.

After Wednesday's workout at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, Collins openly talked about the team's weaknesses, how opponents approach the Sixers and why it is so difficult to fix the problems on the fly. Here is mostly what he had to say in an open, honest 20-minute talk with reporters.

"One of the things that I have noticed through the years is that once a season starts, it's very difficult to practice, especially when you have guys that you're trying to keep fresh," Collins said. "We're expecting so much from Jrue Holiday. We're expecting so much from Thaddeus Young and J-Rich [Jason Richardson]. J-Rich probably shouldn't have played [Tuesday]; he had fluid in his knee and I think it really affected him the way he tried to play. But the guy wanted to play the game, and I'm not going to take away his competitiveness, I don't believe in that.

"If you look at our team, we feed off of Jrue and Thad. Those are the two guys in our starting lineup that have some speed. I've always been a first-quarter guy. To me, the mindset of the game is how you set the tone of the game in the first quarter. We're 9-1 this year when we've won the first quarter. We've lost 28 first quarters this year and we're 6-22. Is that our guys not carrying out the game plan of what we're trying to get started? Not understanding how important it is to not let teams score on 10 of their first 12 possessions and they start seeing a big basket?

"For whatever reason, I have not done a good job getting our guys prepared to start games. To win 10 first quarters out of 38 games, we have not done well with that. On the flip side, if we're winning going into the fourth quarter, we've never lost, and when we're not, I think we're 1-22.

"We have not shown the resiliency to fight back. To me when you have some weaknesses - lack of speed on the perimeter and lack of size inside - you try to compensate and how do you do that? I think you do that with toughness and connectedness. And we have not shown that consistently over a period of time. Nobody struggles or tries harder than I do to try to get the right guys on the floor. But when there's tremendous inconsistency from night to night, it's tough to figure out who that's going to be."

Collins also notices how differently teams play when facing the Sixers, exploiting their weaknesses in a way that are hard to overcome.

"When I watch tapes, I try to get a sense of what teams do defensively," he said. "It's interesting how much differently they play us than they do other teams. They are so much more physical, they get into us, they try to prevent us from catching the ball where we want to catch it. They don't let us catch it at the trigger points, they don't let us enter the ball to the wings.

"I don't know if it's because they feel like we don't have the ability to take the ball around them if we do catch the ball. We don't have a great drive-and-kick team. So now we put so much pressure on Jrue and now they trap Jrue and they try to get the ball out of his hands. Or they put him [defensively] in the pick-and-roll. So now you have 39 minutes of either being trapped or being screened on every play. That's why we've got to figure out a way of getting Jrue off the ball defensively a little bit more, so he doesn't have to take that punishment in the pick-and-roll play all the time.

"It's not like we don't do our homework and try to think about all the different options. We do that. We try to bring out the best in our guys. It's incredibly disappointing that we haven't been able to find, I keep coming back to that word, consistency. Just night in and night out, even if you get beat, you did the right things, you were in the right spots, you did the right things. Consistently, we haven't done that."

The coach also has struggled throughout the season with identifying his team, filled with nine newcomers (including the absent Andrew Bynum, who continues to recover from knee trouble).

"My first year here, we had a lot of practice and we were able to establish a good defensive foundation," Collins said. "Plus, we had better individual defenders and we had more toughness.

"Now you go into the second year out of the lockout and we were able to carry those same principles without the practice, because we had the same core of guys. Now you come back this year and we've made a lot of changes and we haven't had a lot of practices since training camp, and we've had a tremendous amount of slippage. I think that goes hand in hand. It's not that the guys aren't trying; it's not that they don't want to do it. They want to do the right thing. Their hearts are in the right place.

"We had that one piece that we were hoping could mask some weaknesses. I never like to dwell on that, because that, to me, comes across as whiney, and I've never been that. You get out and play and compete and do what you need to do to go out and win games. But I don't think there's any question, when you have that kind of change it changes the dynamics of everything."

On Twitter: @BobCooney76


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