Bighorns welcome Carson City to its fan base

By Charles Whisnand

Nevada Appeal Sports Editor

The name may be the Reno Bighorns, but the team's majority owner is saying the franchise is Northern Nevada's club.

Based on the turnout at Bodine's on Thursday, the new National Basketball Association Development League franchise could have a huge following from Carson City. The team held an event at Bodine's to introduce itself to Carson City and there was a large turnout to greet the club. Among those in attendance was Bighorns head coach Jay Humphries and majority owner David Kahn.

"This is our first event down here but it's the first of many," said Kahn, who added the club will make an effort to reach out to Carson City and other surrounding communities. We want to make a very demonstrative effort to attract fans from Carson City. We recognize this is a pretty dynamic place. This is a team for all of Northern Nevada."

Kahn said the franchise will also be heavily involved in Northern Nevada's youth. He also said season ticket sales have gone well so far.

"Season ticket numbers are good," he said. "We're very pleased with where we're at. We have an opportunity to be the model franchise in this league. We have all the pieces in place to have a successful season. Our team will be an asset on only on the floor, but off it."

The process to determine the team's roster begins during an open tryout on Saturday. Kahn said there will be about 40 players trying out. Among those who will be at the tryout, Kahn said, are former University of Nevada standouts Kyle Shiloh and Todd Okeson.

Kahn said at least one player " but not limited to one player " from the tryout will be guaranteed a spot on the preseason roster, although not the regular-season roster. It's a safe bet, though, to expect a few players from Northern Nevada ties to be on the Bighorns' regular season roster.

Players like Shiloh and Okeson could also be placed in a players pool where they could be taken in the NBDL draft to be held in November. But it's also possible that local players could be assigned to the Bighorns before the draft.

The 10-player roster should be set during the first week of November. The roster then will be expanded when players in NBA training camps are assigned to NBDL teams.

Last year, 31 NBA players were assigned to NBDL teams after training camp, so normally NBDL teams receive about two players from NBA teams. The Bighorns are affiliated with the New York Knicks and the Sacramento Kings, so they could receive players from both of those teams.

Humphries said the Bighorns could pick up unprotected players from other NBDL teams as well. Kahn said the NBA likes to limit the number of local players to each NBDL franchise to two, but that number isn't set in stone.

Kahn said it's highly unlikely that any players with local ties would end up with another franchise besides the Bighorns. So several local players such as Reno High graduate David Padgett could end up with the Reno franchise.

But Humphries also stressed the team will try to pick up as much talent as possible. "We want the best athletes and the best players available," he said.

Humphries was an assistant coach with the Phoenix Suns last season and played 11 years in the NBA after being drafted in the first round by the Suns in 1984. Humphries admitted since he had been on the job for just two days, he was still becoming acclimated.

And he said it will be difficult to have a great deal of success since Reno is an expansion team.

"It's going to be an uphill climb," he said.

Humphries also said that with the chance of players leaving for the NBA, it will make it more difficult to win. Last season, the NBDL had 29 players move on to the NBA.

"You have players coming and going," Humphries said. "It makes it hard to win sometimes."

Humphries said the obvious goal is to develop players who can play in the NBA and that he wanted his players to play at the best of their abilities.

"My goal is to make them noticed by an NBA team," he said.

And Humphries does expect to be competitive.

"That's the only way I can approach it is to think we will be competitive," he said.

To that end, Humphries said he will stress defense and that his team will run the floor.

"If your defense is consistent then you'll have a chance to win every game," he said.

Humphries also has a dream to return to the NBA " as a head coach " or in any capacity.

"My basketball career has really treated me well," Humphries said. "As long as I can continue to be a part of the league (NBA)."

"I would not be disappointed if that was another position for me in the league," Humphries also said if he doesn't become an NBA head coach.

The Bighorns will open their season at 7 p.m. November 29 against Bakersfield at the Reno Events Center in downtown Reno.

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