66ers Coaches, Players Taking Advantage of Opportunities

The NBA Development League provides opportunities for players to hone their skills in order to earn call-ups to the next level. That can also be said for coaching staff members, and the Tulsa 66ers can speak for both the past two weeks.

Two weeks ago, Dale Osbourne took over as head coach for the 66ers after spending two-plus seasons as an assistant.

Osbourne said is he adapting to the roles required by a head coach. Little things such as when to call a timeout during a game or how to manage substitutions. Like players, Osbourne is developing as a head coach.

“There were a lot of transitions in a short amount of time,” Osbourne said. “Coach Nate (Tibbetts) left then we had some players called up to NBA training camps. But still, the main focal point and concentration is getting guys better before, during and after practice.”

Playing for each other continues to be the message for the 66ers, no matter what coach is blowing the whistle. He also teaches the fundamentals of the game daily, ensuring that each player understands his role.

“We must continue to sacrifice individual goals in order to be successful,” he said. “I like to tell guys that everybody plays the game but only a handful knows how to play the game. I think it is important for our guys to understand they not only have to get better individually, but as a collective unit as well. They need to show people they understand how to play the game of basketball.”

The 66ers are coming off of an impressive 87-76 victory over then-first place of the Eastern Conference Springfield Armor last Saturday night. That big win came a day after a 105-88 defeat to the Reno Bighorns Friday night.

“We came into shoot around on Saturday and we talked about defense and guarding the basketball,” Osbourne said. “On Friday night, Reno scored 105 points and we took it personally. We talked about how it has to be a total team effort. I thought we did a better job of sustaining our effort throughout the entire game on Saturday.”

Due to perpetual changes to the roster, players must focus on taking advantages of opportunities. Lately, roster changes have been a result of many D-League players getting called up to participate in NBA training camps.

“Coach (Scott) Brooks of the Oklahoma City Thunder, he likes to use the word ‘opportunity,’” Osbourne said. “I told our guys that this was an opportunity for them to play more minutes and learn different positions. The opportunity is there for them to get better. I think our guys have responded great by coming to the gym every day ready to improve.”

As for practice this week, each 66ers player will concentrate on improving his game. Osbourne said it is critical that players stay hungry and pay attention to the details in order to get to where they want to be as players.

“I love to sit down and watch film, take notes,” he said. “I am always keying in on each player and dissecting how they play in games. I make notes of what they need to work on. This week as a coaching staff, we will make each guy aware of how he can improve. That will be the focus this week.”