Coat Check | 02.26.19
Each week, Coat Check will highlight the Delaware Blue Coats, the NBA G League affiliate of the Philadelphia 76ers.
Fresh off a break in the schedule for NBA All-Star Weekend, the Blue Coats (16-21) split a pair of home contests to conclude a six-game home stand.
In last Wednesday’s win over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants (Indiana Pacers), the Blue Coats scored a season-high 140 points.
On Friday against the Maine Red Claws (Boston Celtics), fittingly ‘76ers Night’, Sixers big man Amir Johnson made an appearance and started for the Coats. He posted 15 points (7-12 fg) and seven rebounds in an overtime loss.
CATCHING UP WITH...
This week, we sit down with Blue Coats head coach Connor Johnson, who joined the Coat Check podcast to discuss his first season with the team, and reflect on the time he spent as a member of Brett Brown's staff with the 76ers.
To listen to the podcast, click below, and also check out some excerpts from the conversation.
How does being a G League head coach compare to what you expected?
"In a lot of ways, I think I got the main points right about what it was going to be like: the rosters always changing, guys going up and down, being able to work them in. I knew all of that before, but I think I probably didn’t give quite as much credence to just how much that impacts what we’re doing. We gave ourselves a lot of built-in advantages. We use the [Sixers] system and we’ve been consistent with the [Sixers] system. We haven’t really jumped around a lot in what we’re doing from a schematic standpoint. I think that’s kind of been a built-in advantage.
And I think [Blue Coats interim general manager] Matt Lilly has put guys on our team who are naturally hard-working, hard-playing good guys who are talented players. And I think that’s helped us as well to kind of get through some tough breaks in the season with Cam [Oliver] getting injured, Shake [Milton] getting injured."
In terms of development, where do you hope to see the most growth as the team heads into March?
"I think we can just continue to polish off their skill sets at the end of the year. A lot of guys have had really good years, where they’re coming out of the first two-thirds of the season in a better position than they were before. Both from the level of the way they’re playing, but also the buzz around them. If other teams from other leagues, or international leagues, are looking at our players, they’re going to see that they’ve gotten better and that their status has risen since being with us. I think Jared [Brownridge] is a good example of that. I think DJ Hogg is a good example of that. I think the way Matt Farrell’s been playing recently. I think that with Shake [Milton], you could kind of see his jump over the last couple months.
[The hope is] really just to kind of finish that off. [With] all of our guys, I feel confident that they’re on the right trajectory and have gotten better, and it’s just maintaining that with no drop-off through the final third."
Best basketball memory in your career so far [at any level]?
"When the Sixers made the playoffs [last season], that was pretty cool. We had been through a rough stretch, a real rebuild, and then finally seeing that we had clinched a playoff spot was pretty exciting. Just seeing the joy on everyone’s faces of having met that accomplishment head-on, which has always been the goal, was pretty cool and I’ll remember that for a long time."
Johnson joined the 76ers in 2014 and spent the 2017-18 season as the Director of Player Development and Coaching Administration under Brett Brown.
The Blue Coats hit the road for a Wednesday meeting against the Eastern Conference-leading Long Island Nets (Brooklyn Nets) at 7:00 p.m.
The team then travels to Maine for a rematch against the Red Claws on Friday night at 7:00 p.m.
Photos: Wayne Terry