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Kate Fagan Has an Idea or Two as to Why the Sixers Are Struggling Down the Stretch Updated with Collins’ Reported Response

Apr 6, 2012, 12:20 PM EDT

Is Doug Collins beginning to wear out his welcome with the Sixers roster he helped to turnaround almost overnight?

We can’t say we weren’t warned about this. But Doug was back, and he was excited, and he was sweating profusely and the Sixers were winning — so it didn’t make much sense to worry that exactly what turned the team around could one day put it back in the tank.

Doug Collins has a history of turning around young, disoriented rosters and making them play better almost right away. But he quickly wears out his welcome by over-coaching, over-pushing and being over-demanding as the players begin to mature and no longer need his constant guidance nor, for that matter, approval.
You’ve heard some variation of that before, right? Well, Kate Fagan has put it in more specific terms and is offering it, amongst others reasons, as an explanation for why the bottom appears to be falling out from beneath this Sixers team.
With Kate having moved on from the local media holdings to the WWL, she still offers thoughts about the Sixers on her personal blog, where she wrote this explanation of what’s happening between Doug and his players:

“The Sixers have been struggling with [Collins' style as described above] for at least a month, if not longer. This has led to heated interactions, sometimes even in the middle of games. On more than one occasion, players have let Collins know — during a game — that they’re sick of the relentless nitpicking. This incessant nagging (or even the perception of it) leads to fractured relationships. The Sixers have reached the point where, at least some of them, have addressed this issue with Collins. Has it reached the point of tuning him out? At times.

Fagan goes on to note how Doug has attempted to cede more autonomy to the players at certain moments, but can quickly return to harping on “every play, every cut, and every missed screen” even just a day later.

A concern also exists in her mind over the face of the franchise, and how there’s, you know, like six of them. Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Thaddeus Young, Lou Williams, Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand. Three of these guys are fresh, young, marketable faces. The other three are veterans who have in many cases expended their good will (especially that the-fans-condone-murder-Lou-Williams-can’t-guard-anybody guy).
Once more from Fagan:

“When the new ownership took over, they made it clear that Jrue Holiday (and to some extent Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young) was the new face of the franchise. Where did that leave Iguodala and Brand? It left them knowing the franchise was heading in the other direction, but still they remained the two highest-paid players on the team.”

I’ve been of the opinion that trading Iguodala and or amnestying Brand or anything of the sort isn’t an immediate necessity unless the franchise is willing to either sit on that cap space, or is making those moves because they have a specific player or players in mind to bring in and need to clear the room to make it happen. Otherwise, it’s just fan appeasement that could only lead to further appeasement when the team blows the newly created space on a Chris Webber-Glenn Robinson-or-(sorry, big guy)-Elton Brand type.

But Fagan thinks it’s enough of an issue that it’s pulling the locker room in two very separate and equally unsuccessful directions.
Moving back to Doug for a minute, outside of Stan Hochman’s random, ominous, almost-omissions, we still haven’t gotten much of an answer for what’s going on between the coach and Turner. Though, if you look at the way Evan succeeds on the basketball floor, and if you’ve been around him a bit, heard him speak or even just followed him on Twitter, it’s easy to see him as the type who would appreciate the freedom to just be himself in whatever it is he’s doing at that moment.
Don’t get me wrong: I really like Doug Collins and I think he is one hell of a basketball coach. But the more I watch him, and the more I read takes like Fagan’s, the more it’s hard not to think Doug isn’t better suited for a role at the college level — where the guys are, for the most part, just more willing to be picked apart, regardless of how overbearing a coach may or may not be.
So Kate’s calling it a clash between the players and the coach and the players and the other players. Funny, we were just ready to blame the roster and its inability to get to the foul line.
Update:
Howard Eskin was, for some reason, at Sixers practice today, and heard coach Collins talk about the former beat writer’s take on his team. Though we weren’t there to vouch, Doug seems none too pleased:

Sixers Coach Doug Collins criticises former Sixers beat writer @katefagen3 for writing on personal blog sez losing team. Collins sez show up
Apr 06 via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet Reply

Collins sez @katefagan3 sez she got nothing to support her comments. She doesn’t even cover nba.
Apr 06 via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet Reply

It’s now officially a he-said-she-said, even if not in that order.