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The Princeton Offense Is Now in Philadelphia

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The Princeton Offense Is Now in Philadelphia
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Okay, so Doug Collins never was contacted, same for Jeff Van Gundy. But it does not matter at this point, does it? Philadelphia Sixers GM Ed Stefanski's dream in my last article was just that—a dream. He did not open the mysterious note in the elevator and really never did see Kurt Rambis in his upstairs Wachovia Center office sitting in his chair.

In reality, Stefanski got too comfortable and hired familiarity over a proven track record of success. I am not saying Rambis was necessarily the answer, but I am saying it most certainly has not been a bowl full of freshly-cut pineapples and sweet apples for newly hired coach Eddie Jordan, now has it?

Jordan struggled in Sacramento in the late '90s trying to instill the vaunted "Princeton Offense," and was fired abruptly after a year and a handful of games. He then took up residence in New Jersey with Stefanski and did contribute to the Nets winning back-to-back Eastern Conference crowns in 2002 and 2003.

But with the Washington Wizards, he never really could fulfill his dream. Admittedly, too many injuries to key pieces and poor front-office management did take their toll on the 54-year-old Jordan, but he was relieved of his duties after sporting a 1-10 record after 11 games in 2008-2009.

On the positive side, though, Jordan does bring an understanding and decent track record of teaching the Princeton, a tactical motion offense predicated on five players all moving without the ball in weave formations, creating floor space with which to either cut back door or rotate out and drain open three-pointers. Eddie was the understudy to the mastermind of the system, Pete Carill, for several years while he was in Sacramento.

The offense is dynamic and can be successful, but a team needs the right pieces to make it work. It starts with a mobile center who has good hands and passing ability at the high post, and the remaining four players must react off of defensive pressure to adjust and find lanes in and around the basket.

Both guards are interchangeable with each forward from a spacing standpoint. Each player must know how to handle the ball, create, pass, and shoot in this system, but it's still the center position that's key in the Princeton offense.

In other words, do not expect Sixer incumbent Samuel Dalembert to be manning that position under Jordan.

I hope Jordan has the respect of his players; if he does gain their respect and they buy into his system, then we may have a remote chance of seeing something special.

Let's not get ahead of ourselves, though. There will be a daunting learning curve in understanding Jordan's methods; that may prove to be an even bigger hurdle than finding the right pieces to make it work.

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