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Jordan brings new system, optimism for Sixers

The 76ers have had seven head coaches in the last decade and each of them took the job with intentions and aspirations that were often better than the rosters under their care.

The 76ers have had seven head coaches in the last decade and each of them took the job with intentions and aspirations that were often better than the rosters under their care.

Each of them had systems they preferred and ideas about how the game should be played. You can't become a head coach in the NBA without a whistle and a philosophy, and all the coaches took to the podium on those new dawns to explain their particular take. It always sounds good.

Eddie Jordan's official arrival in Philadelphia was no different yesterday, even if his style of basketball offense is far from the sleep-inducing, one-on-one isolation that permeates the league.

Yesterday was the dawning of his day, and like the others, he came complete with a good resume and a good plan. But as Mike Tyson famously said, "Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth."

The first Philadelphia left hook Jordan will have to parry might arrive in training camp when he gathers his players and begins to install a system that requires quick reads of the opposing defense, instinctive use of passes and screens and cuts, and creates a topsy-turvy world in which guards become forwards and forwards become guards.

"The system is easy to learn, but harder to coach," Jordan said. "There are so many parts that it's consistent. You'll see two-man games, pick-and-rolls, post-ups. Once players understand the offense they don't want to go back to the standard NBA offense.

"There will be some frustrations in it, because I like to see it really pop and be in sync, and I'll demand that. I may push them a little bit harder, a little bit faster. If you're a basketball player with a basketball IQ, it's easy to learn."

That's what Jordan and the rest of us will begin to see as the team prepares for the coming season - if they can play this way.

"Training camp is going to be really interesting," Andre Iguodala said. "We have young guys and our basketball IQ will have to get higher. Early on, there are going to be a lot of turnovers."

For their part, the players on hand yesterday said the right things about the new coach and his new system, about how difficult it was to guard when Jordan was coaching Washington, and how excited they were to learn it.

"Any time we played the Wizards, there was a lot of moving, a lot of backdoor cuts. Their forwards were often outside the three-point line," Willie Green said. "It's an offense in which you have to play intelligently."

If nothing else, the system, if it is run properly, will make the Sixers a tough out during the regular season. There is little time for preparation by opponents, little ability or inclination to change one's entire defense on the fly for a team that plays the game differently from the others.

It will also help a team such as the Sixers that has several redundant, interchangeable parts and about seven rotation players for the 2-3-4 positions. It won't matter as much that Iguodala is an undersize forward or that Thaddeus Young has no determined position or that, as of the moment, the team doesn't shoot well from distance.

"It's not the typical stand-around-watch-the-guy-in-the-post-with-the-ball, or linger-on-the-perimeter-waiting-for-a-kick-out-to-shoot-a-three," said Sixers scout John Nash, who was the general manager in New Jersey when Jordan was an assistant there. "His offense gets shots. Now, if you've got talented players, you'll make a high percentage of them. If you don't, you won't."

So all that's left is finding out if the Sixers have players whose talents are up to the task of overcoming the lack of a franchise-carrying stud player. There are a few other minor details, such as who will be the point guard, and how will the Sixers deal with center Samuel Dalembert, who seems galactically ill-suited to this style of play.

"If he can't play within the core group, maybe he'll be a spot player," Jordan said. "If he can't accept that, then there are other alternatives. I believe in unselfish basketball."

That was as close to a pointed observation as Jordan got yesterday, and it leads one to believe the organization has already admitted to itself that Dalembert will be an expensive problem to solve.

Otherwise, it was nothing but blue skies. The new coach said the team already has two superstars - presumably Iguodala and Elton Brand - and a core of young role players who will blossom in this system.

"The proof is in the pudding," said Jordan, who believes he has the ingredients for this complicated recipe.

And on the first day of the fresh journey, the new coach pointed into the distance and described what he saw. It looked very pretty out there, too.

Of course, it usually does.