Four-for-Four: The ‘Brett Brown is Awesome’ Edition

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Brown’s Kind of Town

The 76ers search for the replacement for Doug Collins almost felt like a reminder of how far the team had fallen in terms of relevancy. As organizations like the Nuggets and Suns scooped up former players and the Celtics plucked Brad Stevens from the college ranks, Philadelphia went through almost their entire offseason without a leader for their new team. When they finally hired Brett Brown I, along with what I would assume several other 76ers fans, felt nothing toward the name. It was impossible to feel bad or good about a name that had no significance as far as NBA notoriety, at least to the untrained eye. Once again, like I had been feeling for a decade, I was numb to a move that the 76ers had made.

What seems to have been overlooked, by myself included, was that there was something to working under Gregg Popovich for as long as Brown did. While he did share Pop’s icy-cold demeanor, he did appear to be one of the few men on the planet that might know somewhere close to as much about basketball as the future Hall of Famer. Alongisde Hinkie, Brown made up the two-headed monster that was going to bring the 76ers back into the NBA’s elite in a time where so many are mired in mediocrity.

Even with the team in the cellar of the Eastern Conference, Brown has brought an exciting brand of basketball to the city that makes for a captivating brand of basketball, win or lose. Starting with the team’s shocking opening night win over the Heat, it has become apparent that the most important thing for Brown is to instill a winning culture. This does not always mean the 76ers will come out on top, and they have been handed a fair share of blowouts. That said, they have gone toe-to-toe with some of the best teams in the league and given them all they can handle.

Brown recently was interviewed by’s Zach Lowe to describe the experience of his first half-season of coaching. Brown isn’t close to the vest when it comes to his media availability, far from it. That said, some of the gems dropped by the head coach were like they were taken out of the ‘Guide to Making a Philadelphia Sports fan Love you Forever’.

When asked about coaching in a cold, angry city

"“And I love it. I love being back on this side of the country. I like the snow, I like the cold. It’s where I’m from, it’s my upbringing.”"

When prompted to justify the blistering pace of his gameplan

"“I don’t see us doing that playing grind-it-out basketball. It doesn’t jell into the mentality of the players. You take young players, or players that are asking for a chance, I think you need to wind them up — to be in attack mode. If you start trying to move the ball side-to-side, and play afraid — no, we’re gonna go the whole other way. I want to try to play with pace, and to play with space, and to take that aggression and create something.”"

On Popovich’s notoriously short answers to media questions

"“The length of Pop’s answers is mirrored in his number of rings. The answers have become shorter as his success has grown. So if I ever come up with shorter answers, that would be a good thing.”"


MCW Holding Court off the Court

Jan 11, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia 76ers point guard Michael Carter-Williams (1) blocks a shot by New York Knicks point guard Raymond Felton (2) during the game at the Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier on Friday, the Twitter-verse started rumbling about the possibility of 76ers point guard dating a member of the Holy Family women’s basketball team. Mike Meech (@meechone), who started the Phillies blog ‘The Fightins’ decided to chime in on the potential romantic situation of the team’s star point guard. Meech, who is an entertaining follow on Twitter, was put in his place rather quickly after he speculated as to which member of the team MCW might be involved with.

Clearly, the point guard is as smooth on the Twitter sticks as he is on the court. Nicely done.

Eye on the Draft

If the season were to end today, the 76ers would have the 4th worst record in the NBA. Their acquisition of the New Orleans Pelican’s first round pick, barring them finishing in the bottom five of the draft order, is looking better by the day. With that, we turn eyes onto the next two prospects who could intrigue the 76ers come draft-time.

Dante Exum; PG/SG, 18 years old-Australian Institute of Sports. 6’6″, 188 lbs, 6’9″ wingspan. Stats: N/A

I would be lying if I said I knew a whole lot about Exum as far as a prospect. That said, Brett Brown coached the impressive guard during his time with the Australian National team. Given the choice between whether I, or the head coach of the team that I follow knows a player, I’ll let the guy who gets paid to lead the team to wins take care of the evaluation process.

What I do know is that, in a year where some of the most intriguing college prospects poised to hit the draft in years are stealing the spotlight, experts won’t stop raving about the big guard from down under. At 6’6″ and with room to grow apparently, Exum has become the most tantalizing prospect in the draft not named Joel Embiid. Much like Michael Carter-Williams, Exum appears to be omnipresent on the court at times. In what highlights I have seen, he demonstrates great vision and awareness both on the ball and off. He might not be quite as advanced as MCW as far as the total game goes, but much like the 76ers rookie, he has substantial room to grow. His shooting stroke is a little more picturesque and he shares Carter-Williams explosiveness that often sneaks up on opponents. Whether or not the presence of MCW prevents the 76ers from considering Exum as a prospect is something to consider. That said, this is more of a public service announcement than a scouting report because, before we know it, Exum will be bursting onto the NBA scene.

Noah Vonleh; Indiana-F, Freshman. 6’10”, 240 lbs. 12.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg

Jan 18, 2014; Bloomington, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers forward Noah Vonleh (1) drives to the basket during the second half against the Northwestern Wildcats at Assembly Hall. Northwestern won 54-47. Mandatory Credit: Pat Lovell-USA TODAY Sports

With the Hoosiers still reeling from the losses of Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller from last year’s powerhouse squad, it would be unexpected for Tom Crean’s squad to remain in the upper echelon of the NCAA. That said, Noah Vonleh might be worth the price of admission by himself. The big freshman is improving on a nightly basis and has turned in some of his best performances to date against some of Indiana’s toughest opponents. He has scored in double figures in all but five games this season, and is even starting to become a formidable presence on the defensive end.

The first thing you notice with Vonleh is his ability to run to go along with a pretty well-advanced offensive game. The Hoosiers, despite a drop off in talent, can still get up and down the court and having a finisher like Vonleh makes that approach look pretty good. Lately, the freshman has even extended his range to three-point land, where he is 7-9 in his last four games. While Joel Embiid has started to pull away from the pack as far as big men go, Vonleh might be a more fitting prospect for the Sixers high-tempo attack. In his latest mock draft,’s Chad Ford has the 76ers taking Vonleh with the 10th pick to go along with Jabari Parker at number three. Anyone with half a brain that follows the 76ers would be dancing in the streets if they came home with that haul come draft night.