Sixers look to contain Erie's Bryant
BY KEVIN HENRY World Correspondent
Saturday, January 16, 2010
1/16/10 at 6:18 AM
With one rebounding challenge met after Thursday's win over Austin, the Tulsa 66ers face another stiff test on the boards this weekend when the Erie BayHawks pay a visit to the Convention Center for games on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon.
The East Conference's BayHawks come into Tulsa led by John Bryant, a 6-foot-11, 300-pound center who has used his size to do plenty of damage in the paint this season. Bryant is averaging 13.9 points a game, and his 10.7 rebounds per contest are good enough for fifth in the league.
"Erie is a well-coached, hard-nosed team, and they have a great big guy in John Bryant," 66ers coach Nate Tibbetts said. "We have to meet him in the lane early, because once he gets under the basket, you really can't move him out of there."
With Tulsa sporting a smaller lineup thanks to callups by the Oklahoma City Thunder and injuries, Tibbetts has stressed the importance of rebounding all week.
"We've definitely preached rebounding because we are a little smaller right now," Tibbetts said. "But being smaller can be an advantage, because if our guards can get the rebound, we can push the ball up the court and take advantage of numbers."
With a smaller lineup, Tibbetts also tweaked his starters before Thursday's game against Austin, starting three guards. Zabian Dowdell and Cecil Brown started alongside Mustafa Shakur, with Larry Owens and Chris Richard manning the blocks.
"I was very happy with the way our lineup played against Austin," Tibbetts said. "I thought Larry really set the tone for us in the first half. He was playing the four position instead of his normal three, but he's a versatile player and that's one of the things that makes him such a good player."
Erie enters Tulsa having won four of its last five games to improve to 8-12. Along with Bryant, the 66ers will have to keep an eye on guard Cedric Jackson, who is coming off a 31-point performance in a win over Fort Wayne.
"Jackson is playing with a lot of confidence right now," Tibbetts said. "Overall, Erie has a lot of good young players. I think we're in for a pair of grind-them-out, tough games."
Larry Owens had 16 points in the 66ers' win on Thursday. Rip Stell/For the Tulsa World