An Inside Look at the Bighorns
A conversation with Kyle Jones and Keenan Polan brings insight into the Bighorns organization.
The Reno Events Center has hosted a lot of events and shows over the years, but it is only home to one team. That’s the Reno Bighorns.
Starting this November, the Reno Bighorns will begin their eighth season as an NBA D-League team. The team will be in affiliation with the Sacramento Kings for the fourth season.
But how did all of this come about? Kyle Jones, the Director of Media, Marketing, and Community Outreach, touched on the struggles that the Bighorns organization faced in their earlier days.
“When I joined the Bighorns organization two years ago, there were 16 teams in the league. We’re now at 22 teams and on our way to 30. Community support and brand awareness have increased dramatically since I was hired in 2014,” Jones said.
The Bighorns were actually first paired with the New York Knicks when they entered the league in 2008. Between 2009 and 2013, the team was then also paired with ,in succession, the Orlando Magic, Golden State Warriors, Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies. The team finally found their current home in Sacramento beginning in the 2013–2014 season.
“We’ve stuck with Sacramento because of the consistency of their basketball operation. They’ve shown us a lot of support these past three seasons ,” the President of Basketball Operations Keenan Polan said.
The ability to adapt to the league, both on and off the court, is one of the main reasons (why) the Bighorns have continued to be a successful organization. The team won the Pacific Division title last year and in 2011 in large part due to former head coach David Arseneault Jr., who had an innovative game plan called “The System.” This game plan originated from Arseneault Jr.’s father at Grinnell College, a small school in the heart of Iowa.
Polan spoke about the System and how it’s helped the team become more versatile.
“The System is a very uptempo game plan that allows us to be aggressive on both sides of the court. The offensive scheme is to shoot a lot threes and crash the boards to get an easy putback or shoot another three. On defense, we do a full court press,” Polan said.
The Bighorns led the league in points last season, but also points allowed so current coach Darrick Martin will be looking to emphasize more on team basketball.
The Bighorns hope to get college students involved with the organization through promotional events and sponsorships.
“Keenan and I both graduated from Nevada, and I’d say probably 80 percent of the employees in this office graduated from the University as well. The college population is a huge audience for us, and we’re trying to make it a fun night out for them,” Jones said.
Last season, the Bighorns were given the Community Involvement Award for having some of the best community support around the league.