|New go-to guy Brand leads way as Sixers open camp|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 30 September 2008 12:57|
``Hey, hey!'' the power forward yelled, with arms waving above him, demanding the ball back from Rush before turning and hitting a jumper off the glass for an easy bucket.
Just what the Sixers expect from their new go-to guy.
Granted, it was just fast-break drills without having to face defenders at a practice court at the Bryce Jordan Center on the Penn State campus, where the Sixers opened training camp Tuesday.
But it was a welcome sight for coach Maurice Cheeks following a long summer's wait to get Brand, Rush and the team's other additions ready for a new season with heightened expectations.
ttle different. And I think working with other guys is a little different.''
Brand is the centerpiece of Philadelphia's offseason retooling - his blockbuster, $80 million free-agent contract leaves little doubt he's the new face of the franchise.
He's not really a vocal leader. There was good-natured joking with his new teammates on his first day of practice, and some quiet chatter along the sideline with Rush while the two took a break during drills.
Brand wasn't really lighting it up, either, on those crosscourt runs that Cheeks had his team do at the end of the morning session, lagging behind quicker teammates.
``I like to lead by example, and I work hard at it,'' Brand said. ``You know, I'm not the fastest guy, especially with (teammates) Thaddeus Young and Andre Iguodala flying up there, but I'm going to exert my energy and show the guys how to work it.''
Any numbers around his nine-year career averages of 20.3 points and 10.2 rebounds will be a boon for Philly, especially after Brand missed all but the final eight games of last season with the Clippers because of an Achilles' tendon injury.
``This is not the first time I've ran up and down, I've done it all summer,'' Brand said. ``The Achilles' felt great, and everything felt great.''
po brand of basketball that helped the Sixers get into the playoffs last season, losing in the first round to Detroit in six games. The goal this year is to become a contender to win the East.
``Certainly everyone wants to think that their team has improved,'' Cheeks said. ``Certainly we have some additions that on paper it looks like we have a very good team.''
But Brand's impact might be most felt on the blocks, where Cheeks can plant him for points and offensive rebounds when the running game might not be clicking.
Other new faces getting acclimated to the Sixers include free agents Donyell Marshall, Theo Ratliff and Rush, a fifth-year swingman signed away from Indiana.
Rush shot 39 percent from 3-point range last season and sank a career-high 102 3-pointers in his one season with the Pacers. If Brand is double-teamed, Rush could possibly pose a threat from the outside.
The addition of Brand only made the Sixers a more attractive option for Rush.
``Yeah, I mean when you get an All-Star coming in like that on a team that finished pretty strong down the stretch last year,'' Rush said. ``When you get an acquisition of Elton, Theo and myself, this team is heading places and I wanted to be a part of it.''