Sixers heading back to school
MERION, Pa. -- Reporters who attended the 76ers' practice Wednesday walked into a full scrimmage, a rarity considering the media normally are allowed to view only the last few minutes as a workout winds down. After about an hour -- and more than three hours since practice began -- the visibly tired players left the floor.
Which begs the question: When did
"They aren't cursing me out yet," Jordan said with a laugh.
Maybe it's because they like what they are seeing. While one source estimated that the Sixers have spent 75 percent of their practice time on defense in training camp, a big reason Jordan was hired to replace interim coach
Let's start with point guard. The defection of
"We like the ball to move," Jordan said. "Our offense starts at three-quarter court, not at the top of the circle. That's when you start to see things. We like to move the ball from side to side and start making our penetrating passes. We want to keep the defense moving."
That was evident early in practice. While Williams was frequently the primary ball handler, his duties were limited to bringing the ball across the half-court line and passing it. On several occasions Williams would bring the ball up only to get it back a few seconds later for an open jump shot. In a way, Williams is a point guard in the backcourt and a shooting guard in the frontcourt.
"We work a lot on our press offense that allows Lou to get a catch and go," Jordan said. "I learned early in my coaching career when I coached
Jordan's other priority is
Jordan, who made Brand one of his first phone calls when he was hired, plans on using the power forward in new ways. In addition to post-ups, Jordan wants Brand to get more catches on backdoor cuts and to be a threat from anywhere around 12-15 feet from the basket.
"In some ways, Elton reminds me of
Brand agrees. He admits that the offense is a little awkward for him right now -- "I'm making cuts I never made in my career," he said -- but feels that eventually Jordan's half-court sets will benefit the whole team.
"We started weeks ago implementing the offense," Brand said. "Last year we were like, 'OK we're here, let's play.' We know how far we can get running and gunning. We can get to the first round. We have enough talent for that. But when it's time to slow it down, we're not going to just throw it inside and wait. Guys in this offense are held accountable. Guys know where they are supposed to be. Last year we didn't have that.
Jordan says he believes Dalembert can be a big part of the team's success.
"We want Sam to feel comfortable and excited about the season and positive about it," Jordan said. "We can be
2. There is a logjam in the frontcourt and it's not clear yet who is going to be the odd man out. Brand and Dalembert are the likely starters at power forward and center, respectively, but they will be pushed by Smith (fully recovered from a knee injury that cost him all of last season) and promising second-year player
3. The buzzword in Sixers camp is "deprogram," as in the coaching staff trying to erase last year's schemes from the players' memory. That's not to say nothing will be carried over to this season; Jordan intends to keep the pressing defense as a part of the game plan.
The Sixers were stunned when Holiday fell into their lap at No. 17 in the June draft, and after a few days of camp you are starting to see why. Holiday is by far the team's best ball handler and the coaches have raved about his natural defensive skills. The 6-foot-4 Holiday is showing signs that he may be ready for a significant role, a surprising development for a player who in his one season at UCLA was forced to play out of position at shooting guard.
"He's more point than I'd like him to be," Jordan said. "He gets in the lane so well and he could easily go up against his defender and take the shot. But he's looking for a dime and he's looking for a draw-and-kick. He's got a terrific learning curve. He wants to be good and he's doing it the right way. He loves to pass, loves to defend -- I mean