by John Schuhmann

BARCELONA, Oct. 3 -- It started yesterday afternoon and continued today. The real action. Scrimmaging. Now, it's what we would call a "controlled scrimmage." The coaches will stop the action to offer special instruction or to call out a missed rotation, and a third team of players will rotate in every few minutes.


Coming together
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images
But it was intense. And you could tell that these guys were eager to get running. Bodies hit the floor often, calls (made by Euroleague officials brought in) were disputed and Allen Iverson even knocked over a rack of balls when his team gave up a basket, sending them off the floor.

"We got some guys fighting for spots on the team and some guys fighting for minutes," Andre Iguodala said, "so guys are really fiesty and getting after it."

And that makes the coach happy.

"Our intensity has been great," Mo Cheeks said. "I think the physical play has been great."

It helps that his players aren't just using October to get ready for November. They used the summer to get ready for right now.

"I think a lot of guys have come into camp ready to play, not necessarily trying to get in shape here in camp," the coach continued. "I've been very pleased with the way our guys have come to camp."

And his players can feel the energy in each other. And they realize that if improvement is to be made this season, the work has to be done here in Barcelona.

"We're starting to get our chemistry back and we're starting to gel as a team," Steven Hunter said. "So far, we're having a good training camp. Every guy on the roster is playing hard and giving 110-percent effort."

Sure, it has only been four days, but so far, so good.

"We're just looking forward to continuing to build on this," Willie Green said.

Growing Up

We asked some players who they thought has stepped up their game since April and the consensus seems to be that Louis Williams is a changed man. The 2005 High School Player of the Year is still one of the youngest players in the league, but he's no rookie anymore.

"I think Lou is doing a better job of just asserting himself and understanding that this is a business," Iguodala said. "So he's taking every day like he's a professional. Last year, when he came into the league, he was only 18. I don't think he knew exactly what to expect and he kind of hit a wall early in the year.

"I think now he understands everything that is going on and that every year is important towards your future and towards a future contract. So, he's coming in every day like that and he has been playing well."

(Not) Knowing the Opponent

Everyday after practice, Spanish reporters ask Cheeks about FC Barcelona, the Sixers' opponent in their first preseason game on Thursday. And everyday, Cheeks says that he knows nothing about them. The name Juan Carlos Navarro (even when you roll the double-R's like only the Spanish can do) doesn't ring a bell. This is training camp, and he's focused completely on his own team.

He won't go into Thursday's game like that though.

"Probably tonight and tomorrow, we'll watch some film and we'll be more familiar with them," he said today.