Sixers Brand Elton a leader
The core group of players who should see most of the playing time for the Sixers this season has an average age of just under 25 years, not including 19-year-old rookie Jrue Holiday or elder statesman Elton Brand - who is all of 30.
And rookie coach Eddie Jordan is relying on Brand to provide some veteran leadership to this youthful group.
"What we're looking for out of Elton is his leadership right now," Jordan said. "The drills are what they are. They're new and it's the first day and people are out of sync and no one's going to have their rhythm and no one's going to look great offensively.
"But on defense I want [Brand] to be a leader, talking. I want people to feed off of him, to play off of him."
Jordan is not the only one who sees the leadership qualities in the 10-year pro. Monday night, Jordan asked his players who they thought the leaders are. Brand graded out very high.
"We did a little exercise [asking] who do you think our leaders are - sort of a questionnaire, a quiz - and Elton came back with flying colors," Jordan said. "That's from his peers, not from us. No name [on the quizzes], nobody being implicated. Elton, Andre [Iguodala] and Willie [Green], they came up big time."
Brand has twice been an All-Star, in 2002 and '06, but has only once been on a winning team when the 2005-06 Los Angeles Clippers went 47-35. He is coming back from two injury-shortened seasons and says his engine is as revved as it has ever been.
"I'm excited to be healthy and I'm excited to add to the team," said Brand, who appeared in only 29 games last season before shoulder surgery. "We are a young team but we have guys who are capable of leading. I'm definitely going to have to be one of the guys to take that role."
Attention to detail
Some players talked about Eddie Jordan's keen attention to detail, and Lou Williams was surprised when the coach stopped practice at one point during the morning session.
"He's very strict on things," Williams said. "One of the many things was he stopped a drill and told us to tuck our shirts in. I think that's the first time we had a coach be so set on his ways. I think it's the type of team that we are going to need that. We're going to need our coach to be our leader.
"That's the great thing about coach Jordan. We don't do anything for no reason. Everything we try to do right on the basketball court and off the basketball court. He wants us to be professionals. He wants us to pay attention and keep paying attention to detail."
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim was a visitor to the morning workout, as was Phil Martelli, who made the short stroll from his beautiful new office at the Ramsay Center to the practice courts . . . Stromile Swift, one of four to sign a free-agent contract recently, suffered a strain to his left hamstring late in the morning practice and didn't participate in the night session. He is listed as day-to-day . . . Due to his left Achilles' injury suffered two seasons ago, Elton Brand says his left calf is a half-inch smaller than his right one. "I do extra lifting with it to try to balance them out. It was an inch-and-a-half smaller last year" . . . Jason Smith is wearing a sleeve on his surgically repaired left knee, but moved well . . . Sean Singletary did a nice job playing on-the-ball defense . . . Eddie Jordan yelled and stopped the practice twice when reporters were in, the first for two big men not running the court and crisscrossing down low to start the offense, and the other time because an outlet to Andre Iguodala didn't lead him far enough. "We want you out in the open floor, one-on-one," he shouted.