Just hours after being introduced as the 76ers' new head coach Saturday, Tony DiLeo won his first game in the hot seat by guiding the team to a 104-89 victory over the visiting Washington Wizards.
Yesterday, the 53-year-old native of Cinnaminson, Burlington County, conducted his first practice. DiLeo replaced Maurice Cheeks, who was fired Saturday.
"They are very similar in their mannerisms when it comes to the game," guard Willie Green said. "There's not a lot of hollering and screaming. They are character guys who I believe are good guys on and off the floor.
"But I think the difference is, Tony is going to tweak the offense a little bit. He wants us to get up and down [the floor], and play even faster than we were before.
"And when I say faster than before, I'm talking about last year. This year, I think we're not playing as fast we did last year."
The Sixers' transition game has been slowed as they try to integrate power forward Elton Brand, who signed an $80 million contract to add the inside threat the team had been lacking for several years.
In wanting to get back to the up-tempo style the Sixers employed last season while making a surprising run into the playoffs, DiLeo is no different from Cheeks. And like the former coach, DiLeo believes it all starts at the defensive end.
"Defense first," DiLeo said. "Second, we want to run on every opportunity, whether it be a basket or a steal. We have to be able to run consistently. We know what we want to do, so we're planning our practices to get better."
DiLeo said he took the opportunity to "tweak" the Sixers' half-court offense, though he declined to specify what that involved.
But overall, the idea for the Sixers remains to run the ball down the court. If a fastbreak doesn't materialize, DiLeo wants the Sixers to go right into the offense while the floor is spread, as opposed to pulling out and waiting to get into a half-court set.
Brand's role is to be the trailer, which would put him in position to get open jumpers or position in the low box while everybody is on the move.
"We want to try and get down, and get some early offense before the defense is set," DiLeo said. "The other major part is that we have to execute better in the halfcourt.
"It will be a little trial-and-error at the beginning as they get confident and players know what to expect. They are learning something new, and that will take a little time."
DiLeo, who has extensive experience with the Sixers as an assistant coach and a member of the front office, hasn't been a head coach in the NBA. He spent time in that role for men's and women's teams in West Germany from 1979 to '90.
Yesterday, he was asked if having the whistle around his neck again seemed strange.
"Yes, it sure did," he said.
Notes. Center Samuel Dalembert did not practice yesterday because of a finger injury. . . . The Sixers host the Milwaukee Bucks tomorrow.