Features | 1/10/2013 4:21:38 PM | Alex Beilman
Buffalo Bandits’ 2012 first-round pick Dhane Smith knows that his draft position will have a lot of eyes locked on him in the upcoming season. The speedy forward had to endure tryout camp and training camp to secure his spot on the Bandits’ roster. He was prepared.
Throughout both camps, head coach Darris Kilgour had nothing but praise for Smith, with his name always coming up when he was asked which players impressed him the most.
“Obviously getting picked up how early I was I didn’t expect it at all,” Smith said. “I know the coaches have been hard on me, but I knew that was coming. They expect a lot from me and I expect a lot from myself as well. I’m ready to play.”
The biggest adjustment for Smith will be the speed of the NLL. He has acknowledged that challenge and credits the veteran players on the Bandits with helping him prepare for his first taste of NLL regular season action and ease the nerves he had coming into the season.
“All the older guys are really helping me out,” Smith said. “They’re telling me where to go and guiding me; I’m not really too worried about it right now.”
After last season’s disappointing finish, the Bandits objective was to get younger and faster. Smith fits that mold perfectly. He’s very much aware why he made the team and intends to bring his electrifying speed and elite scoring ability to the Bandits.
“I know the team is trying to get a lot faster and younger and I know my speed is my biggest asset. I’m hoping to push the ball as fast as I can and create offense for the guys and get myself open,” Smith said of his skill set.
In his final Junior “A” season with the Kitchener-Waterloo Braves, Smith scored 38 goals and added 69 assists to post a league-best 107 points. For a Bandits team that had trouble scoring at times last year, Smith is a welcome addition.
He’s already displayed some of his skill against NLL-level competition. In a pre-season scrimmage against the Philadelphia Wings, Smith scored three goals and never once looked out of place - despite being admittedly nervous.
Smith was excited to come to Buffalo not only for the immense fan support but also because Bandits defender Billy Dee Smith is his cousin. It’s an experience he’s happy to have and will help make the transition to the NLL easier.
“It’s really cool [to play with my cousin]. We’re always talking about different stuff at practice. He’s helping me out a lot; I’m not as shy around the rest of the team,” Smith said. “It’s a lot easier and I’ve always dreamed of playing with him. I know he’s one of the best defenders in the league and it’s better to play with him instead of against him.”
Fans will get an opportunity to see Smith in regular season action this weekend. The Bandits open the 2013 season on Friday on the road against Philadelphia, and will host the Minnesota Swarm at home on Saturday.
Although Smith is excited for his very first NLL game, he knows his first home game in Buffalo will be just as special.
“I know last year when I came to Buffalo to watch the Bandits, there was tons and tons of fans and I’m looking forward to meeting them and seeing them on the floor. It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Smith said.