After an outstanding three-year career at Kansas, which included a 2008 NCAA Championship and three Big 12 titles during his tenure, Cole Aldrich was a Lottery pick this June. First selected by the Hornets before being trading to the Thunder on Draft Night, the Bloomington, Minn. native gladly returned to the Midwest. So with everyone’s expectations for the Thunder going through the roof this season, we decided there was no one better to turn to for the inside scoop on life in OKC. In his second entry, Cole talks about the Thunder road trip, No-Shave November and his new crib.
This week is a tough schedule for us. We have five games in seven days, starting out playing Sunday against Portland. We had a great win against both teams the past few days. Houston’s a really good team, and then playing in Boston and Milwaukee, it’s always exciting to play in those atmospheres. Would be great to get a win there.
On the road, it’s all about taking care of your body, eating right, getting your rest and knowing your limits. You learn to know what you can to do to perform at the highest level. Going into this week, and a main theme throughout the course of the season, is defense. It’s the key element to our team’s success.
In practice, we’ll break up into groups with guards and big guys. We’ll do individual work and continue to work on our post moves and shooting. The majority of practice we’ll just play, as that’s sometimes the best way to learn. On game days, we’ll do a little bit of role playing at shootaround. If we didn’t play the day before, during practice we’ll split into the blue team and white team and run our own sets.
We always go at full speed. That’s the great thing about our team and our guys’ work ethics. Coming off our back-to-back in Utah, we got back home at 2:00am, and no one got to sleep before 3:00am. The next day, there was maybe one or two guys that didn’t come get shots up or a lift in. We really have a hardworking and dedicated team.
So far, I think I’ve done well. My job when I’m on the court is pretty basic: I go out there, I hustle, I do all the little things that you don’t see in the box scores. I’ll get rebounds or tip them back to the guys on the perimeter, I’ll play good D, I’ll help the team any way I can.
One of the road trip essentials is to make sure you have a tight bond with the guys and stay together as one team. When you go into those environments with a great crowd, playing against very talented teams, we need to make sure we continue to play together and keep our principles that have been preached since training camp. As for tangible things, I never leave home without my iPad and my computer. I pass the time on the plane watching movies, and will go online at the hotel.
Some people might laugh at the last song I bought on iTunes: “People Are Crazy” by Billy Currington. It’s a good song though. I just bought three new movies today too: The Last of the Mohicans, Collateral and The Polar Express in 3D. I’ll probably watch one of two of these tonight. For those of you that follow me on Twitter, you know I got a 3D TV and love my 3D TV. It’s really cool how I can flip 3D and whatnot on and then flip it off. I watched that Boise State/Virginia Tech game in 3D the other day – it was pretty crazy what you can do with technology.
Also, no need to bring my razor this month, because it’s No-Shave November. I think it was originally a college thing, but this is the first I heard about it. Royal Ivey, D.J. White and Byron Mullens are observing too. It’s just something to have a little fun. That’s kind of our team.
I haven’t seen Kansas play yet, but I’ve been talking to a lot of the guys on the team and keep up-to-date with them. Once they’re on TV, I’ll be able to watch them a lot more. With the start of the season here, I would say I miss the student fan base the most. I used to walk around campus and everyone would have really nice things to say like, “Good luck” or “Great game last night.” In the NBA, you’re not quite as open to all the people around you, unless you got to the mall or do stuff in public. I definitely miss that direct communication with the fans.
Someone asked me the other day to compare Coach Brooks and Coach Self. I would say the main thing that sticks out is both of their philosophies are defensive-minded. If you look at the teams that have won NBA championships, they were strong defensive teams like Boston and the Lakers. In terms of differences, Coach Brooks is probably a slight bit more laid back than Coach Self. He always expects a lot out of you, and he’ll get after you a little more.