Warriors Waves: Ready for the Opener

Warriors hold final practice before the start of their seven game road trip.

The Santa Cruz Warriors will see their first action of the season when they travel to Reno, Nevada to play the Bighorns -- their first stop of a seven game road trip -- on November 30th.

Although it is the first game of the season both Coach Nate Bjorkgren and the players expect a lot from themselves.

"I expect them to come out and really battle and to play hard together," said Bjorkgren. "They all have their individual goals, but you can't get those individual goals unless you're playing as a team."

Forward Taylor Griffin said he wants to start with a win after all the drilling that has brought them together as a team. "Just progress, we've been practicing what seems like a lot in the last three weeks. Just something we can look back on and know that we have improved."

With the trade of Center Rick Jackson to the Rio Grande Valley Vipers earlier in the week, the Warriors are now down to the required 10-man roster. Coach Bjorkgren was enthusiastic about the players he has.

"I've been impressed by all of them," he said. "I've been impressed by our veterans that have played for me before. I think their bringing good leadership. I've been impressed by the new guys that we've had in camp and I just like the way that they've all kind of come together right now."

Justin Johnson, Taylor Griffin and Stefhon Hannah return from last season. Hannah, primarily, has been working hard to become the leader of the team during training camp.

"I've always been a leader," said Hannah. "Just trying to do it another way. It's always a big task when you have to do it every year with different guys. I just try and step up to bring that leadership and that toughness."

After joining the team last season Hannah started 27 out of 29 games and was an absolute dynamite scorer averaging 18.4 points per game.

"I don't don't have to lean on him to hard because it's in his blood. He is a leader," said Bjorkgren.

Along with the few returning players, Bjorkgren has some new weapons in his arsenal such as rookie guard Carlon Brown who was the MVP of the Pac-12 tournament while leading his Colorado Buffalo to the championship.

"Basketball is basketball," said Brown. "None of the dynamics change as far as the rules and the rim size and all that stuff, so we just got to go out and play and execute the game plan."

Brown who was drafted by the Warriors in this year's D-league draft is one of the players that will be trying to make a move to a new position. 

"I really want to play the point guard at this level, and hopefully the NBA level so I've been working on that. Trying to change my game a little bit to fit that mode that the NBA wants to see," said Brown.

Bjorkgren said Brown would see a lot of playing time.

"He's a combo guard. He's going to fit in their nicely. He can take care of the ball and he's got some upper body strength to where he can get to the rim on some smaller guys, so he'll do a nice job with it."

Griffin will also be playing the four or power forward spot that he played in college instead of the three or small forward that he played last season.

"I like it," said Griffin. "I like the way Nate(Bjorkgren) uses the four man on his team I think it'll be good for me."

"He's played the four before in college," said Bjorkgren. "He's one of those players that can play both positions the three and the four and this just gives him a chance to continue to rebound better and be able to guard different positions. He'll play to his strengths and do a good job."

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