Sixers minicamp takes a physical toll on new players

It may not be boot camp, but the participants, especially the rookies, are feeling the strain of the 76ers minicamp that has been going on since Sunday.

The Sixers will depart today for Las Vegas, where they will meet San Antonio in tomorrow's summer-league opener.

Some players are injured; most others are sore. Rookie swingman Derrick Byars, a second-round draft pick from Vanderbilt, took part only in shooting drills during yesterday's 21/2-hour workout at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Byars has a left quadriceps strain that he suffered about 10 days ago while going through predraft workouts.

"We'll see how he feels tomorrow and evaluate him then," Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said yesterday.

Point guard Gerry McNamara, a former Syracuse star, suffered a sprained right ankle late in practice and will be reevaluated today.

Many of the other players are dragging, but this wasn't supposed to be a country club.

"They think they are in shape when they get here, but all the running and two-a-days take a toll," Cheeks said. "Especially the third and fourth day, when your body starts wearing down."

It has been a rude awakening for many players, especially the rookies coming right out of college.

"Trust me, I realize that already," said Thaddeus Young, the Sixers' No. 12 pick in the first round. "With all the running, I'm kind of sore in the legs."

The 19-year-old Young and many of the other first-year participants have relied on veterans such as third-year guard Louis Williams and second-year forward Rodney Carney, last year's first-round pick, for guidance.

"Rodney has been making me feel real comfortable, teaching me the ropes, and I knew Louis from AAU, and he has been teaching me the ropes," Young said. "The old guys have taken me under their wing."

As proof of how important it is to have gone through something like this, Williams, who will turn 21 on Oct. 27, is one of the "old guys" to whom Young referred.

If Williams is seen as old, imagine how the 23-year-old Carney feels.

"The draft choices coming in are 19, 20, 21 years old," Carney said. "I'm 23 and feel older. It still doesn't matter, because we are all the same and going out and just playing ball."

Actually, they aren't the same. While some of the first-year players struggle to keep up with the pace, Carney and Williams show the way. Cheeks has been especially impressed with Carney.

"The younger guys are going through the things he went through and he feels like he's the big brother now," Cheeks said. "He is standing there and has to show those guys."

Notes. Beginning tomorrow, the Sixers will play five games in six days in Las Vegas, with Sunday as the only day off. . . . After finishing Wednesday in Las Vegas, the Sixers travel to Salt Lake City for the Rocky Mountain Revue, in which they begin action July 13 against San Antonio. In Utah, the Sixers will play six games in eight days.


Contact staff writer Marc Narducci at 856-779-3225 or mnarduccci@phillynews.com. Read his blog at http://go.philly.com/deepsixer.

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