WIZARDS: New bench, but familiar faces will be back with Dakota

2011-10-13T23:30:00Z 2011-10-13T23:30:56Z WIZARDS: New bench, but familiar faces will be back with DakotaBy LOU BABIARZ Tribune Sports Editor Bismarck Tribune
October 13, 2011 11:30 pm  • 

With new head coach Nate Bjorkgren and new assistant Vitaly Potanpenko, the Dakota Wizards will have a different look on the sidelines, but there will be some familiar faces on court.

Three members of last year's team - Renaldo Major, Mike Anderson and Anthony Goods - have agreed to return to Bismarck, as has Curtis Withers, who played for Dakota in 2009-10.

"Right now I'm working on some other guys," Bjorkgren said. "I can't really say names, but there will be a few more to that core."

It will be Major's fifth season with the Wizards. One of the most popular players in franchise history, Major received a huge ovation from the fans at the Wizards' recent tipoff celebration for a taped message, rivaling the reaction received by special guest and NBA legend Jerry West.

Major is among Dakota's career leaders in most major categories, and second only to Maurice Baker in points. Last season he averaged 15.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.

Goods, a guard out of Stanford, played 38 games with the Wizards last season, averaging 18.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. He was Dakota's top scorer among players with more than six games.

Anderson played in all 50 games with the Wizards, starting 25. He contributed 12. points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.2 blocks.

Withers was Dakota's first-round draft choice in 2009. He played in all 50 games, averaging 11.3 points and 6.7 rebounds.

As for Potapenko, Bjorkgren expects him to be a valuable addition, specifically working with Dakota's big men.

"During the interview process he was awesome," Bjorkgren said. "I think he got his foot in the door because he was a former NBA player, coached in the D-League and was an assistant with the Pacers. But during the interview process, he just seemed to want to keep growing as a coach. I think he'll be loyal and hard-working.

"... He's still in excellent shape, so he can get out on the floor and really mix it up with them."

Bjorkgren, who has already settled in to an apartment in Bismarck, said he will be meeting again with Golden State Warriors coach Mark Jackson and getting familiar with the Warriors' organization.

"I'm going to spend some time in Oakland, spend some more time with Coach Jackson and their offensive and defensive philosophies and put a nice mix together," Bjorkgren said. "... I want to be an extension of the Warriors."

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