ATLANTA -- The men’s NCAA tournament has invaded Atlanta with this year’s Final Four taking place at the Georgia Dome.
While four teams have dreams of leaving this city a champion, the Sixers would just like to put together a better showing than Wednesday night’s loss to the Bobcats when they face the Hawks on Friday.
That game was not one of their finer showings. All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday shot 2 of 24 from the floor. The team made just 35 percent of its shots and had only 16 assists.
Despite those challenges and the season winding down, there will be no packing it in under Doug Collins. He insists it wasn’t an option for him as a player and won’t be one as a head coach.
“I came into the league with a team that was 9-73,” Collins said. “I remember Gene Shue talking to me as a young player about how every minute you play is important. Learning to play against these great players every night, that as good as they are everybody has a go-to move that they want to go to under pressure, so learn what that is. You are constantly learning. You learn end-of-game situations, execution, doing things right.”
That is why the end of Wednesday’s game against the Bobcats was so disheartening for Collins. He was forced to watch a team that came together seven months ago during training camp still succumb to youthful mistakes in the clutch of a matchup late in the regular season.
However, Collins is still pleased with his team’s desire to compete. He isn’t ready to put a bow on the season and neither are his players.
“It is hard as a coach to get all these new pieces and try and put them together,” Collins said. “But the satisfaction of watching our guys compete and want to win and how some of our guys have really grown -- Damien Wilkins, Dorell Wright, Spencer Hawes -- watching how they approach their job on a nightly basis has been really fun for me.
“I have never been in this position as a coach where the numbers start getting against you as you are finishing out the season. You don’t know how guys are going to want to finish it, but our guys want to finish it well. I have always felt as a professional you have a responsibility every night for getting yourself individually ready to play and collectively ready to play with your team.”