The 76ers Ball Pit: Monday's Guests, a Dancing Coach Collins and Emotional Lamar Odom

Welcome one and all to the first ever edition of the 76ers Ball Pit!  Now, I know what you're thinking.  "This looks just like the link pages dumby."  That would be because that's the exact format we're going for; what a coincidence!  But instead of calling them "Sixers Links," maybe a new name that's snappy and fun is in order.  Think of it like the JA Adande Lounge, for those who watch "Around the Horn," except instead of Adande, I'd like to think of our host as a Marreese Speights in a tuxedo that is clearly too small for him, the pant legs only going down to just above his shins and the clip-on bowtie clearly crooked with pizza sauce stains on the shirt.

But why the ball pit?  Think of the pit itself as the area of our collective brain (that's a scary brain) begging to be filled with knowledge on all things Sixers, NBA, and Don Draper.  Now the balls?  Well, that would be the information, or links, provided within the post that fill the previous void in our proverbial pit.  See, we go to the next level here at Liberty Ballers, establishing segment names on a metaphorical basis.

FALSE!  I made all of that up on the spot.  The real reason I chose the name is because ball pits are fun (undebatable) and I like to think of our community here as little kids in a McDonald's ball pit sharing ideas and having a grand ol' time (Mike! Stop throwing the balls at Derek!).  

Now that I've taken three paragraphs to even justify this stupid name, let's get on with  the "balls" that will enlighten our "pits."  One hundred dollars to whoever woke up this morning thinking they'd read that sentence sometime in their lives.

The links today have to do with Doug "Beyonce" Collins, mixing-and-matching, Iguodala's projected fantasy value, and some truth (Jruth) about the Sixers.

Jump in after the jump.

The Collins Mix-and-Match Special Part I: Deep Sixer

During Friday's practice, coach Doug Collins moved Thaddeus Young to the second team. Today, Collins moved both Young and shooting guard Evan Turner to the second team. Collins has said he only has a "few spots" of the starting lineup set, along with set roles for a few bench players. A quick guess would be that Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, and Elton Brand are firm in the starting lineup and combo guard Lou Williams, along with Jodie Meeks as a "wild card" off the bench, seem pretty set in their roles.

After Friday's practice, Collins spoke with team president Rod Thorn and general manager Ed Stefanski, both of whom had watched practiced. Collins said it's important they all keep communicating and making sure they're all "seeing the same things."

"We, right now, we’re sort of like a college team, size-wise," Collins said. "That’s going to be whether or not we’re going to be able to compete is how competitive we can be on the front line."

Explained Collins further: "With our certain unit out there, we have no shooting. And if you move one guy off, like I moved Evan today to the other unit to handle the ball a little bit, you lose your best rebounder."  

 The Collins Mix-and-Match Special Part II: Philly.com

Yesterday's first team consisted of Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand and Craig Brackins, with Jodie Meeks and Jason Kapono sharing a spot. "I'm just continuing to mix and match a little bit," Collins said. "It's hard for me right now because Mo Speights didn't practice with his sore hamstring and Spencer [Hawes, bad back] is getting better, but he didn't practice. Jodie was in there subbing with 'Kap' because I'm trying to have a shooter in there with that group."

"One thing we can't do is we can't go through stretches of 6 or 7 minutes where we can't score because we're not that good defensively that we're going to shut a team down. And any time we've had problems in exhibitions it's because we've had dead 6- or 8-minute periods of time. We're not going to be able to score enough points to have a dead 6 or 8 or 10 minutes."

Same Article: Lou Doesn't Care About Starting, Only Finishing

"It's not a thing about starting games," Williams said. "I'm more concerned about being able to finish. I want to be one of those guys he can rely on in the fourth quarter. Maybe it's a matchup thing. Maybe we want to start bigger and finish a little quicker. I'm all for it. I'm a team guy. I'm not really worried about the individual stuff."  

 Booty Dancing to Prove a Point: CSN Philly

Imagine Sixers head coach Doug Collins doing the booty dance! Amazingly, the 59-year-old used his dance moves as a teaching tool at practice the other day.

The booty dance was something Collins’ grandkids performed when they heard music playing at a restaurant where they were eating. They got up and just did what felt good, not a care in the world that someone might laugh or criticize. Kids have no inhibitions; adults, unfortunately, rarely act without the thought of "What will they think?"

And that was the message Collins was trying to convey: Ask questions and for those listening to the question, don’t laugh. Open communication is essential for this team that is young and still has much to learn.

Collins admitted earlier this week that this is the hardest job of his NBA coaching career and "it isn’t even close." When he arrived in Chicago, he inherited Michael Jordan. In Detroit, he had a young, healthy Grant Hill. And with the Wizards he had an aging Jordan, who still averaged 25 points, as well as Rip Hamilton, who under Collins averaged a career-best 17 points in the 2001-02 season.

Same Article: What Thaddeus Does Best

"Thad thrives when the ball moves," Collins explained. "When the ball stops, it hurts him. If we dribble too much, he becomes one of the casualties."

"I am a guy that likes to move around a lot," Young confirmed "I like to be out on screen-and-rolls and go out and dive to the basket or I am a pick-and-pop guy. It is definitely a good thing that we have a lot of movement and I am not just standing around."

Young is trying to return to his form of two years ago when he averaged better than 15 points shooting 50 percent from the floor. 

 The Truth About the Sixers: Philadelphia Inquirer

So far, Collins is a truth-teller just like he was during his TNT telecasts.

He said the Sixers had better compete every night, because they don't have enough talent not to.

The truth provides some comfort, like a thin blanket on a cold night, because at least Collins isn't toiling away in his back office believing this team has the pieces - if he could just configure them correctly - for a deep playoff run. At least you know Collins' energy is going toward realistic achievement and not pie-in-the-sky dreaming.

In these first weeks of the season, and with a new regime, what Collins has built - if not yet a well-flowing offense - is accountability.

 Andre Iguodala A Fantasy Bust?: Dime Magazine

What's wrong with this rationale? Nobody does standard snake drafts anymore DimeMag. It's all about the auction!

He’s starting at shooting guard, a position that has yielded mixed results for him in the past, and the Sixers are featuring a young, promising point guard in Jrue Holiday, a big man on the comeback trail in Elton Brand, and a versatile rookie in Evan Turner. Top off this bitter mix with coach Doug Collins reining in Iguodala’s shots from beyond the arc and calling him to be a catalyst on offense and a stopper on defense, and it’s quickly apparent that there’s a lot working against AI9 this season. He’ll be drafted in the top 25 in many drafts, but he’s at risk to finish the season outside of the top 40.

 Completely Un-Sixer-Related News of the Day: Lamar Odom Just Wants to be Emotional

"It’s kind of crazy because that’s what people love to see. You watch the commercials and the NBA has dunking, [players making] faces and ‘Where Amazing Happens,’" Odom said. "Now it’s like ‘Where Normal Happens.’ … There’s nothing amazing about not showing emotion."

"If they call you for a tech, it’s $2,000. That’s a lot of money in America or anywhere. I don’t want to give away $2,000 for going, ‘Damn, I thought I had the ball!’ or showing emotion. I want to keep my money, point blank."

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