You love Doug Collins.

In a survey conducted by the Daily News in conjunction with the Sport Industry Research Center at Temple University, 63 percent of those who identified the Sixers as their favorite team said they were "very confident" in the new coach. Additionally, 35 percent said they were "somewhat confident."

No respondents said they were "not very confident" or "not at all confident." Two percent were "neutral."

In fact, fan optimism regarding the franchise appears to be on the upswing: Thirty-five percent of respondents were "somewhat confident" in team president Rod Thorn and general manager Ed Stefanski, and another 12 percent said they were "very confident."

Twenty-seven percent said they were "not very confident" in them and only 1 percent said they were "not at all confident." Twenty-five percent said they were "neutral" toward them.

And when will the Sixers next earn a playoff berth?

Twenty percent predicted this season, 35 percent said it would be next season, and 38 percent said it would be in two seasons. Only 7 percent said it take 3 or more years.

Upon hearing of the endorsement he has received from the fans surveyed, Collins said it was "terrific."

"The Sixers were the jersey I wore with pride, and now the Sixers are the team I am coaching with pride," he said. "I feel good that we're heading in the right direction. I love living in Philadelphia. I just hope and pray that we're going to get a break and good things are going to happen . . . I think we are going to get this right."

Generally, the fans seemed to understand that Collins does not have the talent on hand that some of the more successful franchise do. But Carl Stacey, of Philadelphia, said "his demeanor in the beginning of the season helped me approach him as a coach."

Bill Hand, of Sewell, N.J., echoed that. "Doug Collins brings optimism," he said. "But the team still needs a 'go to' player to win."

Art Matusow, of Ardmore, called him a "good teacher."

"I am a big Doug Collins fan," Matusow said. "I think he has been around in so many different capacities that he has much to give. If management is patient, I think he is capable of taking them deep into the playoffs in a couple of years."

Christina Stetler, of Manchester, Pa., said she has seen "more glimmers of competency" in the Sixers under Collins. Stetler added that while she did not think the Sixers would make the playoffs soon, they do seem to have "a new sense of self."

Stetler said she follows the team more closely now.

"Even when they don't win, they are giving the opposing team a run for their money," she said. "It's good to see." *

Daily News sports writer Bob Cooney contributed to this report.