Sixers 4 guidos

The first italian Sixers blog

No more Mo ball. It’s Di Leo time

Posted by Ricky - Sixers4guidos on December 14, 2008

Raptors 76ers BasketballMy buddy Raffaele, cofounder of Sixers4guidos, sent me a text message less than an hour ago.

 “Fired !! – literally. He wrote that in english, LOL . If you had listened to me before, now we could have bragged that it’s also because of us. Too late…”

So I run home after dinner to write this.

Raffaele is not a great fan of Maurice Cheeks, as you could guess. He never was, to be honest. Similar for me. He thought that we must start asking for Cheeks’ head.

I was extremely disappointed by Sixers’ 9-14 start just as about any Sixers fan, but I had decided to wait a little more before hoping for a change on the bench, even if poor coaching has been pointed out countless times on this site.

Ed Stefanski had different opinions, and less patience, clearly. That’s why he gave Mo the axe, and put Tony Di Leo, assistant general manager, as interim coach.

My first reaction is this. 

I never liked Cheeks much, but I have a tremendous respect for what he did last year, that to me was nearly a miracle, some coach-of-the-year material (4th in the ballot). 

Reaching the playoffs with that roster, and playing that (fun) basketball, was a masterpiece. I mean, when your big men are Sam Dalembert, Reggie Evans and Jason Smith, when your starting SG is Willie Green, and you still reach a 40-42 record, take the Pistons to game 6, and all by playing an exciting basketball, with tough defense and tons of fastbreaks, you have to take your hat off to the coach. 

This year was another story, unfortunately. An excellent roster on paper, a deep bench, tons of solutions at any spot, a lot of money invested, and a pretty easy schedule to start. Being at 9-14 wasn’t what fans and management expected.

You can’t fire players (unfortunately. I would have gladly canned a couple of them by now…). So Mo will get the blame, despite being “a gentlemam throughout” and “a class act” (words by Stefanski). That’s how the business goes in the NBA.

Yes, he could/should have done better. Poor rotations. Lack of solutions in the half court and in crunch time. Bad execution. Many players underperforming. No patterns.

But I would have waited another 8-10 games, at least the end of our New Year’s eve West trip.

Good luck Tony Di Leo, see you Maurice Cheeks.

More coverage and a deeper analysis in the next days.

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4 Responses to “No more Mo ball. It’s Di Leo time”

  1. Raffaele said

    Hi Ricky,

    I must confess that, from a personal point of view, I am pretty sorry for Mo. He seems to be a very nice guy and, as you say, no one should take credit off of him for last year’s accomplishments.

    That said, though, this move seemed unavodable. Ed Stefanki bet heavily on this team (160 million for Brand and Iguodala are big money) and could not live longer with the doubt it was not working because of the coach. He was not willing to put his reputation (and his job) on Mo’s shoulders, nor on his caching staff’s (as the DiLio move shows).

    This choice, though, is an even bigger bet for him, I think. If Brand does not fit in or does not prove to be the player Stefanki thought he could be, if Iguodala doesn’t go back to his previous standards, if this team doesn’t improve from last year and live up to off season expectations, well, there won’t anybody else to blame but Stafanki himself.

    As for Cheeks, maybe one thing is to take a bunch of young, undervalued athletic players, make them play a single style (run and play hard). Another is to coach a couple of big contract players, mixing up running and half court game, balancing a deeper bench, making a team better when the expectations are high.

    I don’t know if Mo was the right person to do so. The first quarter of the season said he wasn’t. The rest will tell us if anybody ever will. Or, instead, if Stefanki is another Bily King.

  2. some damn good points there, buddy

    maybe Cheeks is the right coach for a ‘mediocre’ squad like last year’s, that no one would bet a dollar on, and not for a roster with (supposed-to-be) stars that MUST perform.

    What really scares me is Di Leo lack of experience as a coach at this level. I don’t think he could add something in terms of Xs and Os (I would better tend to think the opposite…), the hope is that players feel the pressure now and start to play at the level they are supposed to do.

    I’m afraid the “psychological” boost that Di Leo can provide won’t last much, I’d say 4-5 games at best: then it will be up to the players, no more excuses for them.

    We’ll make a deeper analysis in the next days, while we wait for the Bucks

    thanks for the good contribution, really

  3. Ricky, great work man, saw this on Yahoo.

  4. thanks guys, always a pleasure to get compliments from you

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