Collins embraces professionalism as much as talent

"We really have a lot of high-character guys on this team," Doug Collins said. (Alejandro A. Alvarez/Staff Photographer)

There was still 12 seconds on the clock when 76ers coach Doug Collins got up off his huge, blue comfort balancing ball on which he perches himself and called his players together. He had seen enough.

Collins wasn't unhappy though. In fact, he couldn't have been more thrilled. Just before he stopped the practice for the day, the team had perfectly executed a sideline out of bounds play for Nick Young and the sharpshooter drained the three-pointer.

"There was no reason to go on," Collins said after the team's practice Friday at PCOM. "There was nothing better that was going to happen those last 12 seconds so I decided to end things on a good note."

A good note is how his team has ended things quite frequently this preseason. Not just because they posted a 6-1 record in the exhibition games, but because of the positive way they've gone about their business.

"We really have a lot of high-character guys on this team," said Collins. "Jrue Holiday is just a good person, high-quality. Veterans like Jason Richardson and Dorell Wright are true professionals in every sense of the word. Thaddeus Young is one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Evan Turner is just fun to be around. Everyone on this team is a pleasure to coach and it brings about a positive atmosphere and makes coaching and playing more enjoyable."

When the Sixers made their offseason moves, they lost on-the-court leader Andre Igudala. Elton Brand wasn't a vocal leader, but his hard work earned him the respect of teammates. Lou Williams was called "the team's personality" by Collins.

All those players are now gone, so the team needs to search for a new identity along with new leadership. Thursday, Collins announced that Richardson, Holiday and Young had been named captains. It was done as much for their playing ability as it was for their high-character. A trait that has become the norm on this team.

"When you have professionals and people with good character it helps you through the bad times," said Turner. "Those losing streaks become shorter. Practices aren't as chippy in the middle of a long season. Things are just better and it's more fun for everyone to be around each other."

Winning brings a good nature around a team. Collins thinks that can work the other way, too.