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DiLeo vs. Cheeks

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We've reached the 46-game mark of the season which means the Sixers have now played the same number of games under Tony DiLeo as they did under Maurice Cheeks. After the jump I'll give my take on what DiLeo has changed, for better or worse, and we'll look at the stats.

In the standings, Coach DiLeo is five games over .500 as the Sixers head coach, Mo Cheeks was 5 games under .500. There's a horrible symmetry to that, because it obviously means the team is right at .500 when we'd hoped they would've crossed that magical barrier long ago and never looked back. Still, here we are.

So what has Tony DiLeo done with this team to turn around their season? Let's forget about slow starts by the Andres and Lou for a second, and take a look at the tangible, on-court changes Tony has made.

  1. Commitment to the run - (It's odd for me to type that phrase and not be talking about Andy Reid). The biggest philosophical change DiLeo made was stressing that this team will run at every opportunity. For the players, it seemed like a weight was lifted off their shoulders and they took to the running game like it was the second half of last season again. I doubt Mo Cheeks made a conscious decision not to run, but the effect was the same. The team, and possibly the coach, deferred to Elton Brand and it just didn't work. Not to mention the fact that Brand never really asked for the team to revolve around him.
  2. Tough Love - Mo was loved by the players. He was what they call a player's coach. This helped motivate some guys. With other guys, I'm not so sure. For the most part, I think Mo's true strength lie in his ability to communicate with young players, and get them to play more like veterans. He did an excellent job of keeping Sammy motivated last season, and got more out of him than any other coach ever has. DiLeo has taken a different approach with the team. You get the distinct impression that he uses playing time as a weapon, and he's even said as much. Dalembert and Speights have been on the short end of the stick more than anyone else. It's tough to say which approach works better with this group. Every time Tony has benched Speights, the kid has responded immediately. Mo was no slouch in this department either, though. He got more out of Thad last season than you could ever hope to expect from a rookie, and we already talked about his work with Sammy. I think I prefer Tony's methods a little more, but that's just my personal style.
  3. Rotations - Mo was rigid to a fault with his rotations. Early in the year, we saw the second unit en masse late in the first quarter to early in the second, and they were absolutely killing this team. It took him a month of horrible basketball to fix the problem. He rarely rode the hot hand, instead relying on set patterns. He also never punished players for poor play. Tony is the opposite. I've seen smart substitution patterns which vary from game to game. He rides the hot hand, he'll pull anyone at any time if they aren't performing and I've even seen the occasional offense/defense switch late in games. Something Mo never figured out. Tony gets point taken away for sticking with Willie in the starting lineup. I'm hoping he'll recover from that when EB moves back to the starting lineup.
  4. X's and O's - I don't think this one is even close. Think back to when Larry Brown was coaching this team. When teams were on a run, and he called a timeout, the result was usually an easy hoop for the Sixers. You had the feeling that if Larry could've taken a 20-second timeout on every offensive possession, the team would've shot 70% from the floor. Now think about Mo's use of timeouts. You'd almost always have some kind of isolation, or maybe even a dump down to the post for Dalembert. This was clearly not Mo's strong suit, but I'm beginning to think it may wind up being Tony's. It seems like DiLeo calls two plays when they're in timeout, the first usually a post play, or a down screen designed to get an open 15-footer for Iguodala or some other guard. Then the Sixers run another play that looks exactly the same the following trip down the court, only this time the shooter sets his defender up, then slips backdoor for the lob. I've seen this happen time and time again. DiLeo pulled another rabbit out of his hat in last night's game, Andre Miller just fouled up the conversion. One other stark difference between the DiLeo Sixers and the Cheeks Sixers is that DiLeo seems to have taught them what to do against the zone. Here's a hint, just because it's easier to shoot threes against a zone, doesn't mean you have to stand around on the outside and shoot them. Marreese Speights busted the zone twice in the fourth quarter tonight with quick cuts right into the middle of it. He hit one jumper, and sank two free throws on the other occasion, i believe.
  5. Three-Point Jedi Mind Trick - Simply by telling the Sixers to shoot more from three, the team has gotten much more efficient from deep. They understand threes are expected of them now, and that seems to have emboldened them to take and make more. This could be fool's gold, however. Eventually, the team as a whole will come back down to earth and we really don't want a 32% team shooting 15 a game.
  6. Too Quiet? - DiLeo has yet to draw a technical foul from the refs. For the most part, I don't like it when anyone in a suit gets a T, but there are times when you need to get in a ref's face and say, "Get off your knees ref, you're blowing the game." Mo would do, if pushed far enough. We've yet to see this side of Tony.
  7. Press Relations - Again, this comes down to personal style. Mo never said anything bad about any of his players to the media. He was a player, he has become a player's coach. That stuff was kept in the locker room. DiLeo has been very frank when talking about his players to the press. It's refreshing to hear honesty from a guy in charge in any industry, but at the same time, I think it could do more damage than good in the long run. Mo was a loyal guy, maybe to a fault, but there's no quicker way to lose a team than to put them down, or air dirty laundry in the press. I'm fine with vanilla quotes from my coaches, you have practice time, game time and locker room time to talk directly to a player about something you'd like changed, there's no reason to involve the press. I think actions are much more effective than words, as well.
Now, let's take a quick look at the raw stats for the team under each coach:

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And finally, here's a look at who the wins and losses came against for each coach. Team's current winning percentage in parens.

Cheeks Wins
  • New York Knicks (.457)
  • Sacramento Kings (.208)
  • @ Toronto Raptors (.396)
  • @ Indiana Pacers (.396)
  • Oklahoma City Thunder (.234)
  • Los Angeles Clippers (.213)
  • Golden State Warriors (.313)
  • @ Chicago Bulls (.438)
  • @ Detroit Pistons (.556)
Cheeks Losses
  • Toronto Raptors (.396)
  • @ Atlanta Hawks (.574)
  • @ Miami Heat (.543)
  • @ Orlando Magic (.778)
  • Utah Jazz (.542)
  • @ Minnesota Timberwolves (.356)
  • @ Charlotte Bobcats (.404)
  • Orlando Magic (.778)
  • @ Boston Celtics (.813)
  • Chicago Bulls (.438)
  • Los Angeles Lakers (.804)
  • New Jersey Nets (.438)
  • Cleveland Cavaliers (.800)
  • @ Cleveland Cavaliers (.800)
Under Cheeks, the Sixers played 13 games against teams who currently have a record under .500, they were 8-5 in those games. They played 10 games against teams with a record over .500, they were 1-9 in those games.

DiLeo Wins
  • Washington Wizards (.213)
  • Milwaukee Bucks (.471)
  • @ Washington Wizards (.213)
  • @ Los Angeles Clippers (.213)
  • Houston Rockets (.604)
  • @ Milwaukee Bucks (.471)
  • Charlotte Bobcats (.404)
  • @ Atlanta Hawks (.574)
  • Portland Trailblazers (.630)
  • San Antonio Spurs (.696)
  • @ New York Knicks (.457)
  • New York Knicks (.457)
  • @ Houston Rockets (.604)
  • Washington Wizards (.213)
DiLeo Losses
  • Indiana Pacers (.396)
  • @ Boston Celtics (.813)
  • @ Denver Nuggets (.660)
  • @ Utah Jazz (.542)
  • @ Dallas Mavericks (.587)
  • @ San Antonio Spurs (.696)
  • Dallas Mavericks (.587)
  • @ New Orleans Hornets (.636)
  • New Jersey Nets (.438)
Under Coach DiLeo, the Sixers have played 11 games against teams who currently have a record under .500, they were 9-2 in those games. They have played 12 games against teams who currently have a record over .500, they are 5-7 in those games.

So, how do you guys feel about the job Tony DiLeo has done? We have an even sample size to compare at this point.
by Brian on Feb 1 2009
Tags: Basketball | Coaching | Mo Cheeks | Sixers | Tony DiLeo |