If anyone knows how to work with Evan Turner, it's Thad Matta. It took a couple of years for Evan Turner to figure things out. His first year at Ohio State wasn't bad, but it was marred by the occasional rumbling that Turner wasn't exactly the easiest player to coach. Then, as a sophomore and junior, under Matta's tutelage (and brilliant decision to make Turner, a 6-foot-7 wing, his point guard last season) The Villian became, well, The Villian.
The beginning of his rookie season was marred by similar issues as his freshman year at OSU. Reports surfaced that Turner wasn't getting along with his coaching staff and teammates. Things appear to be looking up -- Turner played very well in his first start on Sunday -- and, interestingly enough, Matta's ongoing experience with Turner might be part of the reason why. From PhillyBurbs.com:
Collins, the Sixers' coach, said he told the Ohio State coach how proud Matta must be of the way former Buckeye Evan Turner played in Turner's first NBA start. [...] Matta texted back to "just keep showing him the 'how' and the 'why' because the kid wants to win," according to Collins. [...]
"I'm kind of always trying to understand why we're doing what we're trying to do and why things occur," Turner said.
You can see where that desire to know "why" might get Turner in trouble with coaches. Coaches don't expect players to ask for underlying reasons for every command. They expect their players to do what they say. (If your mom tells you to clean your room, you do it, even if you disagree with the practice in theory.) But Turner's time at Ohio State proves he's been here before and, given the pressures of the NBA, you could argue that Turner's rookie season is already going better than his freshman year. If Sixers fans suddenly see a potential rookie of the year candidate at the small forward spot, they might just have Matta to thank.