RENO - There was definitely a different feel when the 2009-10 Reno Bighorns team was introduced to members of the media Thursday.
"I do think we'll start out a lot better," Bighorns coach Jay Humphries. "There's still going to be some stuff for us to figure out. You really never know what the league is (going to do) because there's so much turnover and we'll be adding more and more players, the same way we did last year. We won't be 1-12 (though)."
The Bighorns appear to lightyears ahead of where they were a year ago, having been an NBA Development League expansion franchise comprised of what coach Jay Humphries tries to politely call "players no one else wanted." But not this year. The Bighorns are in the second season of existence and no longer the new kids on the block. The air was full of early-season confidence and even had one player looking deep past the team's season-opener Nov. 28 at the Idaho Stampede.
"Championship," second-year Bighorn Dave Noel said half-jokingly. "Definitely start off a little better than we did last year, but main thing is the championship. That's what I want."
The Bighorns had a horid start in their first season, creeping out to a 1-12 record to start the season. But as they got more accustomed to playing together and added some high-level talent in Patrick Ewing Jr., David Noel, Rod Benson and Richie Frahm, they finshed the year 25-25 for fourth in the West.
"We really had a good offensive team (at the end of the year) and we plugged those players in throughout the season to work the concepts that I like offensively," said Humphries, who played 11 season in the NBA with five teams. "We've done a pretty good job so far, but I don't know if we're as good. To be able to score 135-140 points in a game, we're a pretty good offensive team."
The Bighorns scored a season-high 142 points in their season finale.
Reno selected Desmon Farmer with its top pick (seventh overall) in this year's draft and brought in former Nevada forward Mo Charlo.
In addition to Noel, who missed the last 17 games the end of last year because of a torn Achilies' tendon, the Bighorns return former Kansas guard Russell Robinson, Daryl "Majic" Dorsey, Cezary Trybanski and Benson.
Robinson, who won the 2008 national championship as member of the Jayhawks, led the team in assists with 4.4 a game. Benson averaged 16.2 points in 17 games with the Bighorns.
"It's great because we have a great coaching staff, they really like me andthey do a great job with us," said Robinson, who spent the summer playing with the Orlando Magic and was in the Cleveland Cavaliers' training camp. "We got some talent coming back. I look forward to this year."