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Brown hoping to put Sixers on fast track to success

New head coach Brett Brown says he wants the team to "play faster"

76ers head coach Brett Brown. (Jon Super/AP)
76ers head coach Brett Brown. (Jon Super/AP)Read more

AS WE ALL know, there are four new head coaches manning the major sports franchises in our fair city. Eagles coach Chip Kelly is the longest-tenured, having been hired by Jeffrey Lurie all the way back in mid-January. The coach who has been around the second-longest amount of time is 76ers head man Brett Brown, hired in mid-August.

Now 2 months hasn't really given either of them ample chance to have formed any serious bond, but it turns out they have something in common when it comes to running their respective teams.

Following his first game at the helm, when the Eagles blazed past the Washington Redskins, Kelly said his team could go even faster, raising the eyebrows of many who witnessed a half of football that took their breath away.

Friday, after his team's preseason win, 97-85, over the Boston Celtics at the University of Delaware, Brown, like Kelly, promised an even more frenzied pace.

"It has to be the way that we play," said Brown. "At times it scares the heck out of you because of the way you turn it over a lot. I believe that I'm prepared with that now and hopefully we can get a little bit smart on kick-aheads and some of those passes we're throwing long. But pace has to be our identity. We put a premium on fitness and we talk about all those things that have to do with pace and a fitness base that we want to reach to achieve it and we want to get out and go. I actually think that we can play faster.

"That's always the way I played, a thousand years ago, and what I put in as head coach. If you've seen the Australians [where Brown coached], we knew we weren't going to dazzle anybody with talent, we knew we had to make it a track meet, we knew we had to have a good fitness base. I think the fans appreciate that style, too, and I see it being very similar here in my new position in Philadelphia, where it's probably what's best for the team and the city and the program. At some point, when it comes to May [playoffs], you have to execute and you have to appreciate that it's a possession game when you play at that stage. At this stage, we want to get out and run, try to find some athletes who can play that way and then try to groom them."

The player many feel is the most important to groom is rookie Michael Carter-Williams. He has been stellar so far, having collected 16 assists in his 79 minutes of play in three games to go along with 13 rebounds. But what is most eye-popping is that he has turned the ball over just once. That number may rise quickly as Brown looks for his point guard to orchestrate an even faster offense.

"If he wants us to play faster, that's what we're going to have to do," said Carter-Williams. "As a player I'm going to have to adapt to that. I don't think that my turnovers will suffer. I think now I'm picking my poison a little bit, taking smart chances. I still do take some chances and try to squeeze some passes, but just once in a while. I'm playing smart and so far it's been working for me. As a young player you get to run up and down and have a lot of freedom in this offense. It's a lot of fun."

The popular belief is that general manager Sam Hinkie hired Brown because both are fond of analytics. This offense, however, isn't analytically driven.

"It might be an analytical thing, but for me it has nothing to do with analytics," Brown said. "It's the way I think the game should be played in a lot of cases based on what teams you have, but for this team especially. Analytics might say it's the right way to play, but for me and my coaching staff, when you identify our players and you identify most importantly the stage of our development and the build that we're trying to implement, I think it works."

The players are certainly proponents.

"The style has to fit us now, right? We've been running so much," said Evan Turner, the team's leading scorer in the three preseason games at 18.7 points. "It's just building who we are. It's a fun pace to play and seeing what we got. It's a great time. I've got to get like a jet pack or they're going to have to start legalizing some of the banned substances, then maybe [it can get even faster]. Other than that, I don't know. Everything gets faster with ball movement and that will come with getting to know each other a little bit more. Right now it's get out, get open, get to the sideline. So far I've scored better than I've ever scored in these past 3 years, so I can't complain."

So far Brown hasn't had much to complain about in the 2-1 preseason. And you just know that if he has time to take in a game or two, Chip Kelly would certainly be an admirer.

Six shots

The Sixers host the new-look Brooklyn Nets tonight at the Wells Fargo Center. The Nets will be without guard Deron Williams, who is nursing a bad foot . . . Brett Brown said that once Lavoy Allen loses 8 to 10 pounds and can be more mobile, the coach will get a better idea of where he fits . . . After Friday's game, Brown said of Temple product Khalif Wyatt: "He deserves time. He probably deserves more than I'm giving him. I just feel like some games it's going to present itself more than it has. My intention is to give him a fair shot and to be seen. That's just something that I'm going to have to figure out a little bit better, how to give him that fair opportunity."