Sixers coach gets back to work after humbling loss

Posted: November 07, 2013

THIS IS a reactionary city when it comes to sports. Just recently, a quarterback went from being a borderline NFL player after one game to the savior of the position after another.

So when the 76ers surprisingly won their first three games, the lottery-pick hopefuls wondered what the heck was going on in this season of rebuild.

Monday's 110-90 loss to the Golden State Warriors settled the overreactors a bit, if only for the time being. After all, there are still 78 games to be played and probably many more losses to be garnered.

For coach Brett Brown, his coaches and players, however, the goal hasn't changed. Though wins over powerhouses Miami and Chicago were achieved, the reality that this is a season of looking to improve young players, evaluating who might help the reconstruction of the program, and practicing the patience that it will take.

That means dealing with the players yesterday at practice after their first loss of the season. With such a young group, Brown was asked how he handled talking to them about the one-sided loss.

"You use the word delicate and my first reaction is no, don't be delicate, be direct and be honest," he said. "We've done that. We came in and we weren't good [Monday]. We were sloppy at times, we didn't guard the way we should have. It's just facts. It doesn't make you deliberate in a different way, you just say this is the way it is, and you go, you coach them, you help them. You tell them the truth and that's the truth and off we went. The peaks and valleys of the NBA are dangerous - 'We love you, we don't. We love you, we don't.' We're either really good or we're terrible, and you have to be so careful. None of it is true. You're never as good as you think you were, and you're never as bad as you think you are. I hope I walk an even line throughout this year, knowing the realities of our team."

The realities probably are more the results of what happened against Golden State than the previous three wins, but either way, Brown knows his job is to grow the program. That's why each day after practice, he spends time with prized and injured rookie Nerlens Noel, working on his shooting techniques.

"I think everybody is tweakable [as far as shooting]," Brown said. He went on to say he lumps guys together "if it's a total rebuild."

"I think Nerlens is a total rebuild," he said. "You do something with [for example] Evan's footwork. You do different things with release points, or do something with follow-through on Tony Wroten's shot, because everything is hot stove [snapping his hand back toward his body after a shot]."

Noel is a gym rat. The surgically repaired knee that could keep him out for the whole season does not prevent him shooting the ball, which he does endlessly. The other night before the Golden State game, a group of kids was lined near the Sixers bench to slap hands with the players when they were introduced. Every once in a while, a ball bounced into the line and the kids scrambled. It was because Noel was shooting jumpers until the last possible second.

"It's his future," Brown said. "You look at it, and the first place you start is the free throw line. Well, we started a lot closer than that doing a lot of one-handed shooting. My point is, you're looking to break it down with release points and feet and hand position on balls, and all of that. It will start with the free throw, but that carries over to now he is going to turn and face. He really likes Kevin Garnett, he likes turn-and-face, jump-shooting bigs, and he aspires to be one of them, even though he's a post player initially."

Noel isn't the only subject. Brown's roster is filled with students eager to learn, and all are getting on-the-job training.

"It's awesome to have [game] experience," rookie center Daniel Orton said. "They gave me experience to fail or succeed. You have to make mistakes to get better at things. The fact that he's allowed me to make mistakes in the game is crucial. They are doing a really good job with us. Player development has been amazing so far, and the patience level has to be incredible, to tell you the truth, from a players' standpoint and a coach's standpoint. We've been doing a really good job. The guys have been in here working every day, so there's been no excuses. It's paying off, the work has been showing."

On Twitter: @BobCooney76


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