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Santa Cruz Weekly Write-Up: Terrence Jones Making Instant Impact for New-Look Sea Dubs
By Kevin Danna
Santa Cruz Warriors broadcaster Kevin Danna provides an update on what's going on with the Sea Dubs.
1. How's the team doing?
'Twas another 1-1 week for the Sea Dubs, losing at Reno 117-108 on Friday before besting Rio Grande Valley in an entertaining 115-112 affair on Tuesday night at Kaiser Permanente Arena. At 12-9, Santa Cruz is now tied for second in the Pacific Division with the Agua Caliente Clippers (of Ontario), trailing the 13-6 South Bay Lakers. Hopefully, those 19 and 20-point leads blown to South Bay in back-to-back games at the start of the season don't come back to haunt the Sea Dubs...
The win over Rio Grande Valley featured the return of former Sea Dub Cleanthony Early, which goes to show how different the Sea Dubs look from the last edition of the Santa Cruz Weekly Write-up. Santa Cruz traded Early and the returning player rights to Elgin Cook to RGV for Winston Shepard and the returning rights to Markus Kennedy (Shepard is playing for Santa Cruz, Kennedy is playing in Italy). Also since our last weekly check-in, Terrence Jones has played his first two games with Santa Cruz (more on that later) and Portland Trail Blazers two-way player C.J. Wilcox has made his way down to Surf City as he continues to recover from arthroscopic knee surgery. Rule No. 1 in the G League – roster continuity is always at a premium. This is an extreme example and likely won't happen again since there are more one-to-one affiliations with NBA teams these days, but since it comes to mind, 32 different players appeared in at least one regular season game for the 2014-15 Fort Wayne Mad Ants. By comparison, the 2015-16 Memphis Grizzlies set the NBA record with 28 guys suiting up for them, and that's an 82-game season as opposed to the 50-game G League regular season. Guys are here one day, gone the next.
Anyways, Early was fantastic in his return to Kaiser Permanente Arena, going off for 29 points and letting the Sea Dubs know about each of his 11 made field goals with an array of stares and smiles at the Santa Cruz bench to go along with some (maybe not so) friendly trash talk. Luckily for Santa Cruz's sake, Georges Niang kept pace with the scoring (and the trash talk, firing off a pretty vicious imaginary bow and arrow right at Early after drilling a 3-pointer in his face), dropping in a season-high 27 to help lead the Sea Dubs to victory.
2. How are the guys on the Golden State roster doing?
Quinn Cook was a welcome sight in Surf City Tuesday night. After missing the Friday game at Reno while he was with Golden State for the Lakers game, Cook returned to the G League to put up 15 points, nine assists and seven rebounds in the win over RGV. The Dukie developed some nice on-court chemistry with Terrence Jones and got off to a hot start in the second half to help propel the Sea Dubs in front.
So to recap - another loss without Cook, and another win with him. That makes Santa Cruz 10-2 with Cook in the lineup and 2-7 without him. #QuinnAndWin
With Cook not around for the Reno game, Damian Jones picked up the scoring slack, going off for 23 in the loss to the Bighorns on 8-of-10 shooting and 7-of-8 free throwing. Perhaps the most impressive thing Jones did all this week was stay in front of 4-year NBA veteran and RGV guard Tony Wroten with the game on the line, forcing Wroten into a rushed 3-point attempt that caromed harmlessly off the backboard as time expired. Wroten was drafted in the first round back in 2012 at least partly because of his elite quickness, and while he has suffered some injuries over the years, he's still just 24 years old and is still very fast. So for Jones to stay in front of him and guard him on the perimeter is very impressive.
"It was great. We know he can slide his feet out on the perimeter, and he showed it right there. He did a great job, and he knew not to give up a three," head coach Aaron Miles said about Damian's defense on the last possession. "Now, we wanted him to foul under five seconds because Tony Wroten could have lucked that one in, but he was all over him, it was a good job. Luckily it didn't go in."
3. Who else has been impressing lately?
Welcome to Surf City, Terrence Jones. It should come as no surprise that a 5-year NBA veteran who is one season removed from dropping 36 on the Cavs would have success in the G League, but Jones put up stupid numbers in Tuesday's win over RGV – 27 points, 16 rebounds, five assists, two steals and six blocks with a team-high +19 in 39 minutes. He took a team-high 18 shot attempts, but nothing was forced and as the five assists would tell ya, he was looking to get his teammates involved.
"I'm really focusing on being there for my teammates, and that was just making plays, whether I was scoring the ball or passing it," Terrence said after the game. "Just trying to orchestrate the offense a little bit and really get us going in transition with the blocks. I just wanted to do a little bit of everything to help us win."
I'm not sure how much longer Terrence will be in the G League before an NBA team calls him up, but the Sea Dubs will certainly enjoy having him around for however long it turns out to be.
4. What's next?
Hoping to make it out to Santa Cruz for a game at Kaiser Permanente Arena? You're gonna have to wait a while, as it will be three weeks before the Sea Dubs play another home game. In the meantime, Santa Cruz will play six-straight games in the Eastern time zone, starting with a Dec. 30 tilt at Erie (Pennsylvania). Hopefully the guys can make it into town, as Erie has received more than five feet of snowfall since Dec. 23. The guys are supposed to get in Thursday night, fingers crossed.
From there, the Sea Dubs will continue their Eastern voyage to Delaware, Lakeland (Florida), and Greensboro before heading to the 2018 G League Showcase in Mississauga, Ontario (Canada, not California). It'd be nice to see the Sea Dubs return home for a Jan. 17 tilt against Reno with a 16-11 record, which would mean winning four of six on this trip. Lakeland currently has the best record in the G League, but the four of the other five teams Santa Cruz will play on the road trip (including Grand Rapids and Raptors 905 at the Showcase) are under .500. It won't be easy, but it can be done.