The Bulls are the second best team in the East, and their new coach Tom Thibodeau, a Celtics hand-me-down, is probably at the front of the pack for Coach of the Year, since his painfully meticulous work habits have helped turn Derrick Rose into almost everyone’s MVP choice. But Doug Collins will get his share of votes for squeezing every ounce of potential out of a bunch of young Simbas in Philadelphia. Unless you count Andre Iguodala, they have no stars. Eight of the team’s 14 players are less than 24 years old. After starting the season 5-14, they’re now 33-31, a game behind the Knicks — the Amare Stoudemire/Carmelo Anthony Knicks — for sixth place in the East. He won Coach of the Month honors for February and brushed it off, but his even demeanor and teacher’s patience have players and management believing that he’s changing the culture in Philly.
”He yells at you, he disciplines you and, at the same time, he loves you,” Jrue Holiday said. “There’s times when he’s going to get mad at you, but that’s only to make you better. He’s done that with the whole team.”
With essentially the same team that went 27-55 last season, Collins has the Sixers at 33-31 and in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, six games ahead of the Indiana Pacers.
“Doug has done a remarkable job in molding our players into a unit,” Sixers President Rod Thorn said. “Just because you know the game doesn’t mean you can teach the game. Obviously, he knows it, but he’s also a very good teacher.”