Thunder Hosts OBCA Coaches Clinic

On Saturday afternoon, knowledge, insight and wisdom swirled around Chesapeake Energy Arena like the winds of so many Oklahoma thunderstorms.

The Thunder hosted the Oklahoma Basketball Coaches Association’s annual fall coaches clinic, featuring six keynote speakers who imparted their experience to the 250 boys and girls youth basketball coaches from all parts of Oklahoma. Headlining the group of speakers was Thunder Head Coach Scott Brooks, Thunder Manager of Advance Scouting Vin Bhavnani, Butler University Head Coach Brad Stevens, former collegiate head coaches and now television broadcasters Fran Fraschilla and Perry Clark, along with University of Virginia associate head coach Ritchie McKay.

As the Thunder, heading into its fifth season in Oklahoma City, continues to integrate itself into the basketball-rich Oklahoma community, the team has made a concerted effort to reach out to local youth coaches. This is the second season the Thunder organization has hosted the coaches clinic, and is a fantastic opportunity for the team to use its position to both help foster the development of basketball in the state and also forge relationships with great basketball minds in the area.

“Clay Bennett and our ownership group has given us a great platform to have success on the court and off the court,” Brooks said. “They are every reason why we do what we do. Our General Manager, Sam Presti has built a team that we can believe in and get behind and continue to have it grow. It’s important to give back to the game that we all love. All of us, we love this game. It’s given us so much, and to step out into our community and spread the game (is great).”

Brooks opened his remarks to the group with a funny childhood anecdote that he tied in later to his presentation on working hard to improve every day, and also mentioned the influence his own high school coach had on his life and career. With that in mind, each of the coaches that stepped to the microphone on Saturday made a point to do their best to articulate their coaching philosophies to those in attendance, with the hope that those coaches will utilize some or part of their advice to help improve the basketball intelligence, culture, attitude and the x’s and o’s in high school programs throughout the state.

It wasn’t just the local coaches that learned something at the day-long clinic, as the Thunder basketball operations staff made it a point to learn from the other coaches as well. Basketball knowledge is an ever-evolving set of philosophies, so the chance to study the ideas of other coaches, from all levels of basketball, can help organizations get ahead of the curve.

“I think it’s great to be partners with the coaches’ association,” Brooks said. “We do a great job of putting it together, I give a lot of credit to our staff. It’s good to be in a gym with guys and gals who are as passionate about the game as we all are. I thought the speakers were just incredible… You just pick up things and you take it to your program.”

Whether it was Stevens suggesting reading material for coaches to utilize as inspiration during the season or McKay analyzing lock-down defensive principles, the coaches at the clinic had the opportunity to learn at both the practical and theoretical level. Fraschilla worked through offensive sets with interesting pieces of advice like “design with the miss in mind” and “70 percent of missed shots go to the opposite side of the rim”, while Brooks broke down the aspects of pick-and-roll defense and effective ball movement on offense.

Beyond the playcalls and basketball philosophies, however, was the impression the Thunder and the featured coaches left upon the youth coaches. Above all, it was clear that the clinic was designed to make the coaches think deeply and critically about their own programs with the realization in mind that each one of them has a massive opportunity to effect the lives and experiences of the next generation of basketball players in Oklahoma.

“We all have an opportunity to have an impact on our players,” Brooks said. “It doesn’t matter what level- NBA, college, high school, junior high… The impact that these college coaches have with their players, it’s an impact that lasts a lifetime.”