The Santa Cruz Warriors are back and the buzz is building for the 2013-2014 season, which officially kicks off later this month. Guard Cameron Jones is one of just four returning players on the Warriors’ squad. Forward Taylor Griffin and guards Maurice Baker and Daniel Nwaelele are also back and looking to build on last season’s success—the Warriors finished second after sweeping their first two opponents during last year’s playoff run.
While plenty of fresh faces are on the roster this season, the expectations of the NBA D-League affiliate of the Golden State Warriors, have not faded.
Kirk Lacob, general manager for the Golden State Warriors and assistant general manager and Santa Cruz Warriors tells GT that, “Knowing how we did last year and the way everybody embraced us, it heightens expectations and I think it’s a lot of fun to chase those expectations.”
The biggest splash of the Warrior’s off-season was the acquisition of Seth Curry, former Duke guard and brother of Golden State Warrior’s superstar point guard Stephen Curry. After playing shooting guard in college, Seth is looking to transition into the point guard role and “work on his leadership.”
“I need to focus on playing (point) full-time and being able to handle the ball and run a team,” Curry says.
Along with Curry, 7-foot-tall center Dewayne Dedmon earned a spot at the Golden State Warrior’s training camp and ended up in Santa Cruz after roster cuts. Dedmon, who didn’t play basketball until his senior year of high school, made it clear what his goals are for the season: Rebound the basketball.
“I’m looking to come here and develop to the best of my abilities, just try to rebound,” he says. “That’s my biggest thing, stay on the boards and just rebound the ball.”
Dedmon was optimistic about how his preseason experience with Golden State would help him moving forward. “I improved a lot. It’s more of a physical game than in college … to take that and bring it here is definitely going to help me out. Everybody’s good. They’re professionals.”
The new team members are getting accustomed to the city as well. It’s former Ohio State guard William Buford’s first time in California, and he hasn’t been disappointed.
“Santa Cruz seems like a real nice city,” he admits. “The views are crazy, they’re beautiful. You can’t go wrong, it’s a nice city and you’re in California with nice weather.”
Some other noteworthy tidbits: Santa Cruz traded for Buford in this year’s D-League draft, making him the Warriors de facto first round pick—the Warriors didn’t have a first-round pick this season). Make no mistake, though, Buford isn’t in Santa Cruz to take in the views.
“It’s about winning games,” he says. “Just having fun and winning games. Training camp starts tomorrow. Work hard.”
Stay up to date on the Santa Cruz Warriors in GT’s official Warriors’ Blog. Learn more at http://www.nba.com/dleague/santacruz/idv_tickets_splash.html.
Photos: Salvador Ingram