May 13, 2012

Steve Solloway: Longstaff's making his way in the NBA

(Continued from page 1)

He played for Joe Russo at Portland High, and sparingly for Max Good and an assistant coach named Brian Keefe at Bryant University, then a Division II school.

When Keefe joined Brooks' staff with the Thunder, he and Longstaff talked. Soon, a job offer was part of the conversation. The who-you-know, right place, right time was a gift. Longstaff doesn't deny it.

Yes, he's the guy with the towel mopping up the sweat on the court when a player falls. He jumps to get a water bottle when someone asks. He heads to his work station when Westbrook wants to watch the jump shots he's taken from 15 feet or less. Longstaff may need hours to deliver that video.

"They're always saying thank you to me. It's part of my job but it's nice to hear." More satisfying is watching a player stop struggling against an opponent's defense and hit his shot more consistently.

"I don't expect any credit. I still have so much to learn. But this is my goal, to be an NBA coach."

During games, Longstaff is away from the court, watching the television screen. At halftime, Brooks wants to see the significant plays of the first two quarters. He'll get about a dozen. "There's more preparation than you can imagine," said Longstaff.

"Every team does it. When you see Kevin Durant score 45, knowing how much preparation the other team did, it's incredible."

Longstaff doesn't have a life away from the Thunder. There's big country outside the city's boundaries, but he hasn't seen much of it. Sometimes he spends as few as four or five hours at the home he shares with his fiance from Portland, Melissa Gaudet.

Even during the NBA lockout, Longstaff was busy. The Thunder were one of the few teams that paid their staff during the shutdown. They wanted to hit the ground running.

Sometimes Longstaff finds himself near the memorial built to honor the Oklahoma City bombing. The moment can be emotional.

"This team has become a symbol of survival," said Longstaff. "This city is the heart of the team."

Staff Writer Steve Solloway can be contacted at 791-6412 or at:

ssolloway@pressherald.com

 

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