Thunder Players Love What They're Seeing From New Staff, System

By Randy Renner

After five practices in three days Thunder players are thrilled with what they've seen so far of the new offensive and defensive systems, "if you know how to play basketball it's easy," D.J. Augustin said after Thursday's practice.

"Coach is just putting us in situations where we can be set and organized and after that it's just playin' basketball and being smart and making the right decisions. I think it's pretty simple really."

"Everybody's been buyin' in to the new system," said shooting guard Anthony Morrow. "I think the sky's the limit."

What is it exactly about this new way of doing things that's so much better than before?

"Offensively I think we have a lot of space," Morrow said. "Russell and Kevin and Dion and Cam and DJ and those guys have a lot more space in the pick-and-roll and shooters such as myself, Steve, Kyle and those guys we really can space out the floor and put a lot of pressure on the defense. And defensively we really wanna try and take away the three."

Augustin said it's more than just the new system, it's the way it's being presented.

"I just think (the coaches) are very organized and real put together so by them being that way it's gonna keep us organized and put together once we're on the floor."

Head coach Billy Donovan appreciates the praise but he figures it's just part of his job to make things as easy and as interesting for the players as possible.

Whether the team is working on spacing the floor or transition defense "I think you try to keep it new, you try to keep it fresh you try to keep it moving," Donovan pointed out. "Once these guys get lathered and they're stretched you try to go from one thing to the next to the next to the next and get that work in and keep them focused."

"They've got time limits on certain drills," Augustin added. "We don't overdo it on certain things. It keeps us organized in our minds."

And it's a good thing because Donovan said a lot of different situations have been covered in just the first three days of camp.

"We're covering everything, half-court offense, half-court defense, pick-and-roll coverages, side out-of-bounds, underneath out-of-bounds, late clock situations, what are we doing if our pick-and-roll coverage gets broken down. So every day we're just making sure we're hitting the things that are important."

It's not the easiest thing in the world for players who've gotten comfortable running offense and defense a certain way over the last several seasons to all of a sudden change everything in the span of a few practices and film sessions and Donovan realizes that.

"I appreciate them having an open mind in terms of being willing to look at things that are maybe new and different drills that maybe they haven't done before."

"It's very different but it's very efficient on both ends," Morrow said. "When you got guys that are focused and wanna get better every single day and you got coaches as precise as they are I think it's really good for us. We feel good, we feel refreshed we just wanna work hard every single day."

The Thunder will have one more practice on Friday then take Saturday off before some of what's new is revealed publicly at the Blue/White scrimmage in Newcastle on Sunday afternoon.

Randy RennerComment