You get the feeling when talking to new 76ers head coach Brett Brown following his first practice that he didn’t get a whole lot of sleep the night before. He may be several nights along in the sleep deprivation department. The excitable coach just has so much energy, an abundance of knowledge and a passion for the game that you could tell he just wants to get out and spill it all onto the court as quickly as possible.
That’s why it was so hard for him to stick to his game plan on Saturday. That plan was to have a crisp, two-hour opening practice – as opposed to the slotted three-hour one. His feeling is that overloading his squad on the first day would do damage down the road.
“I’ve learned historically in all the training camps, whether it was my time with San Antonio or preparing for the Olympic Games, that first session of two-a-days, of multiple days, is always the most dangerous because you get so excited to coach again, so excited to play again that I think if you go overboard Day 1 [badly] influences practices five, six, seven and eight. We wanted to just go hard, go sharp, go at a reasonable duration and come back for another good one tonight.”
The players seemed to agree. All were happy with the fast-paced short session, and took notice to the enthusiasm that Brown possesses.
“I think it’s a little bit different,” Thaddeus Young said. “From previous training camps we overloaded on the first day and guys came in to the second practice or the next day and were kind of a little bit worn down because they had to remember so many things. I think he did a great job today with his first official day. Starting off we didn’t put too much in but we got up and down and pushed and shoved a little bit. We just got a feel of what’s new to come.
“We’re going to be a team that moves the basketball, up-tempo. We have a lot of young guys so we’re going to look to get into transition a lot and just push the basketball. We started off with up and down drills, just trying to get us in synch a little bit.”
Like years past, Young said he sees himself playing all over the floor, with time at the small and power forward spots. He said the starting unit for practice was Michael Carter-Williams at the points, James Anderson at shooting guard, Evan Turner at small forward, himself at the four-spot and Spencer Hawes at center.
All that, of course, can and will change throughout the next couple of weeks. Just as Brown’s practices will, also.
“You do want to get going, you do want to come out in a sprint and it’s not that,” Brown said. “I think Pop [San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich] is the master of understanding the rhythm of an NBA season, how to deliver a team to May. We are so different because of our youth and a bunch of things in relation to building something. It’s not like you’re trying to deliver a team to May, you’re just trying to bring them to someplace that’s realistic in April where you can step back and feel like you’ve really done your job of building the starting blocks of a system.”
Former Villanova standout Curtis Sumpter was seen around the team again. Asked if he was going to be added to his staff, Brown said: “It’s looking like that. He’s come in to look at a combination of development role and video intern role, so it’s a hybrid where he’ll spend a lot of time in the video room learning the NBA and helping us out. He’ll be on the court guarding people, a little bit of coaching but doing a bunch of everything. I feel like I see something special in him. I’m happy to try and groom him. He’s under review at the moment ... The team announced that it had signed free agents Solomon Alabi and Nayal “Mac” Koshwal. Both are big men, Alabi at 7-1, 250 and Koshwal 6-10, 255. The team is short on bigs at the moment as Arnett Moultrie is out till after the New Year due to ankle surgery, Kwame Brown is nursing a pulled hamstring and Lavoy Allen is struggling with a leg problem … Tony Wroten was impressive during the morning session, apparently. Media wasn’t brought in until the practice was over ... The training camp roster now stands at 20 … After two sessions on Saturday, the team will have two more on Sunday, one on Monday, two on Tuesday and one Wednesday before leaving Thursday for two preseason games in Europe.