Preseason opens with some great expectations
Janny Hu, Chronicle Staff Writer
Sunday, October 2, 2005
The summer-that-would-not-end is finally coming to a close. The amped-up Warriors open training camp Tuesday in Hawaii, and Baron Davis already has visions of a state of bliss.
The point guard says it's been a long time since he felt this good heading into camp. It's been even longer since he felt so much anticipation.
"Each and every year I get my basketball jones, but not like this," Davis said. "This year, I feel like I'm part of something."
Something big. Something different.
It's a sentiment shared by Davis' teammates, who have grown accustomed to pitching their company line of progress ... without completely buying it. No matter how much enthusiasm and hope training camp brings, winning basketball still has forsaken Golden State for the last 11 years.
If Davis is "jonesing" for basketball, so too have his teammates been jonesing for the unofficial start of the 2005-06 season. Ever since Davis arrived in February, the Warriors have been pointing toward this camp.
By now, the numbers have been burned into memory: On Feb. 24, they acquired Davis from the New Orleans Hornets. Over the next 28 games, they compiled an 18-10 record, topping Phoenix and Sacramento twice and reeling off eight straight wins from Mar. 25 to April 8.
Golden State went 14-5 once Davis joined the starting lineup, 13-3 with what should be this year's featured five: Davis and Jason Richardson in the backcourt, Mike Dunleavy, Troy Murphy and center Adonal Foyle up front.
Things rolled along so smoothly, Murphy even suggested the Warriors pile into a time capsule at season's end, have the pod sealed, then buried. Only when it was time for camp to start would the time capsule be unearthed, all players having been preserved for an 82-game run.
Time tricks aside, everyone is accounted for. Davis spent the bulk of the summer in Los Angeles, working out, while Mickael Pietrus returned to France and played for his national team, leading them to a bronze medal at the European championships. Andris Biedrins and Zarko Cabarkapa went home to Latvia and Serbia-Montenegro, respectively, then joined Dunleavy and Murphy in the Bay Area, where the Warriors' training staff was.
Three draft picks -- first-rounder Ike Diogu and second-rounders Monta Ellis and Chris Taft -- came on board, as well as training camp invitees, including locals Ray Young and Justin Davis.
And with everyone healthy, including himself, Davis believes the Warriors can be better than they were during last year's late push.
"We were on the same page when we came to the end of last season, but it was more so playing," Davis said. "This year's training camp is going to give us an opportunity to really learn each other, motivate each other, figure out what we need to do to be successful."
Second-year coach Mike Montgomery took the initiative by laying out defensive schemes for his team as soon as he wrapped his postseason vacation in Hawaii. The coaching staff -- minus assistant Terry Stotts, now Milwaukee's head coach -- then tackled the offense. With the recent addition of veteran coach John MacLeod, Montgomery's staff has a full month to implement its plans.
The Warriors will be based at BYU Hawaii for a week of two-a-day practices beginning Tuesday before venturing to Honolulu for a pair of exhibition games with the Lakers. Five more preseason games follow, then comes Opening Night on Nov. 2 against Atlanta at the Arena in Oakland.
Davis threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the Giants' game Friday. He was there with new teammates Young and Aaron Miles, getting in some last-minute relaxation before his busy summer concludes.
He recently filmed an episode of "Wheel of Fortune" for the show's NBA-themed week. The episode features Nuggets forward Carmelo Anthony among the competitors and is scheduled to air Nov. 3.
Davis has been sworn to secrecy on how he did, but he is happily promoting his goals for the Warriors' season.
"It's all preparation and focus," he said. "In order for us to win 50 games, or even think about the playoffs, it all starts in training camp."
"That's what I'm thinking."
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