A year ago, you could occasionally spot Jrue Holiday, then a rookie out of UCLA, carrying a backpack.

Holiday's biggest concern for much of last season was whether he would get off the bench; a little extra weight on his shoulders was of little consequence.

But this season, the 20-year-old is the 76ers' starting point guard. He has an NBA team to run, expectations to rise up to, and a fan base that's hoping he's about to become a whole lot more than just an average guard.

And then last week, Sixers coach Doug Collins said Holiday would become one of the NBA's top five point guards.

That's a lot to carry, which is maybe why this season we've rarely seen a pack strapped to Holiday's back.

"I don't want him to be thinking it's all on him," Collins said. "We have a group of guys and the way we're going to play, I hope we take pressure off of each other."

On Monday, the Sixers practiced at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine before traveling to Roanoke, Va., where they will open their 2010-11 preseason schedule against the New Jersey Nets on Tuesday night.

Holiday, who will likely start alongside Andre Iguodala in the Sixers' backcourt, averaged 8.0 points and 3.8 assists a game last season, but showed his promise in the season's latter months. On April 3, against the Toronto Raptors, Holiday finished with 25 points and seven assists.

"I'm more confident," said Holiday, when asked about the difference between this season and last.

"I thought Jrue had a great finish last year," Collins said. "He's come in and had a great summer. . . . With Jrue, I want him to just play and run the team."

Collins said that after a poor practice last week, he received a text message from Holiday saying, "Sorry about tonight, Coach, I'll be better tomorrow."

ET at PG. On Monday, Collins held Holiday out of the end-of-practice scrimmage because Holiday had been feeling under the weather. Holiday's absence allowed rookie Evan Turner to run point guard with the first unit.

"He had a chance to run that team," Collins said. "Which I think was good for him." When asked if he'd play Turner primarily as a backup point guard, Collins said, "Yes, that's where he's comfortable."

Playing time. Collins said he told his team that no player will play more than 24 minutes against New Jersey.

"I'll try to script it a little bit so I know beforehand who I'm playing with whom," Collins said. "And even if the game is in the balance, I'm not necessarily going to run guys out there to win that game."


Big man Tony Battie (inflamed joint in right knee) and guard James Florence (hamstring) did not practice on Monday and are not expected to suit up for Tuesday's game. . . . Forward Andres Nocioni (left ankle) participated in non-contact drills on Monday but is not expected to dress on Tuesday. Collins said he is hopeful Nocioni will begin scrimmaging on Friday.