BOSTON - It's safe to say that 76ers coach Brett Brown holds T.J. McConnell in high regard.
Brown compared the undrafted rookie point guard to a scrappy player he coached on the Australian national basketball team in the 2012 London Olympics. Even though he went undrafted in 2013, that player found a home as an overachieving reserve point guard for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"He reminds me of [Matthew] Dellavedova a lot, who I had a lot to do with," Brown said Wednesday after the morning shootaround at Emerson College before the game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. "Somebody says, 'He can't shoot. No way can he make it. . . .' "
Like Dellavedova, Brown said, McConnell looks to defy his critics with a lot of heart and a refusal to back down.
The coach said his Sixers are the perfect environment for McConnell, who was an all-Pac 12 selection at Arizona. He'll get an opportunity to showcase his leadership skills while Tony Wroten and Kendall Marshall rehab from right knee injuries.
"I think it's a right time and right place for me with him and him with me," Brown said.
The Pittsburgh native backed up Isaiah Canaan on Wednesday.
"I'm going to remember this game for the rest of my life," McConnell said. "Playing in Boston my first NBA game, people said I wouldn't be here. Sorry to break it to you, but I'm here playing my first game in Boston. So I'm just honored."
Allen's new job
Former Penn coach Jerome Allen called his experience as a Boston Celtics assistant coach humbling.
"Whether I have to pick up cups or towels or whatever, I'm appreciative," said Allen, who coached the Quakers for six seasons before resigning in March.
In addition to coaching at Penn, the Philly native was a two-time Ivy League player of the year for the Quakers.
- Keith Pompey