As it turns out, when Ed Stefanski formally asked Tony DiLeo whether he would coach the 76ers for the remainder of the season, it wasn't exactly out of the blue.

The formal question, and acceptance, came Saturday, shortly after Stefanski - the team's president/general manager - relieved Maurice Cheeks of his duties.

Stefanski had been mulling DiLeo - the team's senior vice-president/assistant general manager - as a coach during the same 10-game stretch that he had been seriously evaluating Cheeks.

There was, then, no shock factor.

"I don't think Tony ever gets shocked," Stefanski said during last night's edition of "Daily News Live" on Comcast SportsNet. "He doesn't show his emotions at all. He's the opposite of me."

In fact, when Stefanski initially broached the subject, DiLeo immediately said yes.

"I told him to go home and sleep on it," Stefanski said.

But after DiLeo consulted with his wife, Anna, the response was the same.

"I thought I could make a difference," DiLeo said before last night's game against the Milwaukee Bucks, the second of his tenure. "That was the main thing. If I didn't think I could, I would've thanked Ed and said no. But I'm in a unique situation: I know the players personally, I know their strengths and weaknesses. I think I can make a difference."

Reggie's ready

How much did Reggie Evans, the Sixers' backup power forward, know about DiLeo before Saturday's coaching change?

"I knew about what I know now," Evans said. "But I'll tell you this: From the first [practice] day Monday to now, I see he knows his stuff. He's real good with X's and O's, he evaluates real good. I know he knows his stuff, because he's putting us in the right spots.

"Right now, he trying to get us to buy in to what he wants to do. Nothing dramatic, [but] coach Cheeks wasn't dramatic, either."

Evans was a key in last season's scrambling, pressing, trapping defense, but he hasn't played nearly as much this season, and usually just in sort bursts.

Will that change?

"I'll see," he said. "He said stuff. But I'll see."

And then he said: "Right now, talking ain't all that big. We've got to let our actions speak for themselves. No matter what he says, no matter what we say, we've got to go out and make it happen."

Oh, Canada

If there that the Sixers' Samuel Dalembert might change his mind about playing for Team Canada in the summer, it apparently dissolved with the news that former Sixer Leo Rautins was given a 1-year extension as the Canadian coach.

Dalembert, who was dismissed from the Canadian team last summer, has said he would consider playing again for his adopted country, but not if Rautins remained the coach.

Asked last night about playing, Dalembert shook his head. *