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Wizards to play in Dickinson

The Dakota Wizards will have a few firsts in their only preseason game. It will be the first time the team - with new head coach Duane Ticknor at the helm - plays a game as the NBA Development League's reigning champions. What's more is for the f...

The Dakota Wizards will have a few firsts in their only preseason game.

It will be the first time the team - with new head coach Duane Ticknor at the helm - plays a game as the NBA Development League's reigning champions. What's more is for the first time ever, they'll be playing in Dickinson.

The Wizards announced during a Thursday morning press conference that they are playing their only preseason game against the Sioux Falls Skyforce at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16 at the Dickinson High School Gymnasium.

"It's a good opportunity to get out in front of fans who normally don't get a chance to see this level of basketball," Ticknor said.

The Wizards' home is the Bismarck Civic Center. The team has never played a game in Dickinson before.

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"It's going to be fun," Wizards General Manager Tom Wagganer said. "We're real excited to be able to bring the game to the fans out here."

All proceeds from the game will benefit the Dickinson Public Schools Foundation, Inc.

"We're so excited to have this opportunity to bring them to Dickinson and raise money for the foundation," DPSF administrative assistant Karen Heidt said.

Heidt said the goal is to "pack the house," and raise $10,000.

"We think it's doable," she added.

With the Wizards' reputation, achieving both goals seems highly likely.

Dakota is a minor-league affiliate for the Memphis Grizzlies and Washington Wizards and won its first NBDL championship with a 129-121 overtime victory over the Colorado 14ers last April.

However, Ticknor said to expand the team's fan base, it's necessary to venture away from Bismarck and introduce the team to the rest of North Dakota.

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"We've got our fan base in Bismarck," Ticknor said. "We need to expand our fan base if we want the team to grow."

Currently, the Wizards have only one player returning from last season's roster. Veteran point guard Maurice Baker is the only player the team has signed so far this season.

Ticknor, who coached Dakota when they were in the International Basketball Association the 1999-2000 season, expects several players from last season to return. However, that will depend on their status with NBA teams after final cuts are made this week.

The Wizards will also add players during next Thursday's NBDL Draft. The team's first practice is Nov. 11.

"After beating on each other for a week in training camp, it'll be nice to get out of the Civic Center and get into a different venue against a different opponent," Ticknor said.

Ticknor replaced former head coach Dave Joerger, now an assistant coach with the Grizzlies. The new coach said he has spent time with the Grizzlies during training camp in order to help his team develop a similar style.

"Their head coach Marc Iavaroni was with Phoenix for years," Ticknor said. "He's trying to implement that up-style pace and we're going to try to do the same thing."

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