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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Former Memphis Tiger Rodney Carney Adjusting to the NBA

Ex-Tiger Carney adjusting

Sixers rookie has had inconsistent season
By Marlon W. Morgan

January 18, 2007

Nearly three months into his rookie season with the Philadelphia 76ers, Rodney Carney is finding professional basketball to be like a whirlwind.

He's endured the usual ups and downs that all rookies go through with inconsistent play, which usually results in inconsistent playing time. Meanwhile, he's still learning the ins and outs of the NBA game.

And he's even had his share of off-the-court drama, first, with the Allen Iverson saga, which was followed by the circus surrounding Chris Webber's buyout last week.
But through it all, the former University of Memphis star has been able to endure, with the help of his teammates.

''The biggest thing I can say is some games you play, some games you don't,'' Carney said. ''You have to take it in stride. It's all a learning experience and I'm fine with it. I've got to get better and that's what I'm going to do.''

For those who watched Carney at the UofM, that's not surprising. He had the same approach while with the Tigers, where he started 101 games and came off the bench for 32 others.

Each year, though, he improved his game. And after leading the Tigers to an Elite Eight appearance last season when he averaged 17.2 points a game, Carney was the 16th player taken in last June's NBA draft.

Carney is averaging 5.3 points for the Sixers. He's started 15-of-36 games, posting career highs of 25 points and eight rebounds in a loss at Golden State Dec. 26.

''Rodney's been pretty good,'' Sixers coach Maurice Cheeks said. ''He's started some games, but he's come off the bench more than he's started. There have been times that he's been better than others, like the very first game he started he was very good against New Jersey. He had some good games after that.

''When people ask me about Rodney I always say he's still a rookie. He's an energy guy. He can get up and down the floor and do some spectacular things, but he still has a lot to learn.''

The main thing Carney has had to learn is to slow down. More often than not, he's played the game way too fast instead slowing down and getting into the flow of the game.

''He's really active and he's very fast out on the court,'' teammate Andre Iguodala said. ''At times you'll catch him going too fast. You have to tell him to slow down and just let things come to him.

''I think for him that's the biggest adjustment. Defensively, he's had to guard some tough wing guys. When we go and play New Jersey, they have two big guns on the wing in Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter. He has to learn how to guard one of them and stay out of foul trouble.''

Carney returned to FedExForum for the first time as a pro player Wednesday night as the Sixers lost, 118-102. Carney had a less than memorable experience, scoring eight points on 3-of-8 shooting, which included a couple of air balls and fumbling the ball away as he went up for a dunk.

But he was received well by the announced crowd of 14,681, which gave him an ovation when he entered the game with 1:23 left in the first quarter. He was often matched up against Grizzlies rookie Rudy Gay, who snapped out of a scoring slump to match his career high of 23 points.

Carney also got to take in the Tigers' win over UAB Tuesday night, where he got a loud standing ovation.

''It was nice to see that atmosphere again,'' he said. ''I kind of forgot what that was like, but I got a big reminder (Tuesday).''

With the help of players like Iguodala and veteran point guard Kevin Ollie, Carney plans to continue soaking up as much as he can until he's able to contribute on a more consistent basis.

''Since my first game in the NBA, I realized it's a non-stop pace,'' he said. ''It's boom-boom. Guys are so good that everyone will make a shot, no matter who they are. They'll get 20 on you on any given night. You've just got to make sure you try to defend them or contain them as much as possible.''

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