(Andrew Wheeler/NBAE/Getty Images)
Santa Cruz Weekly Write-Up: Sea Dubs in Midst of Six-Game Eastern Swing
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?
Stop me if I’ve started out a post like this before, but the Santa Cruz Warriors went 1-1 since our last weekly check-in are now 13-10 overall, dropping a frustrating 119-110 contest to the Erie BayHawks Saturday night before taking down the Delaware 87ers 114-99 Tuesday in a game that took just one hour and 54 minutes (and it’s not the first time the Sea Dubs have played a game in under two hours this year). Those were the first two games of a six-game Eastern time zone swing; 1-1 isn’t a bad start, and 4-2 is certainly realistic.
While the Sea Dubs have been exchanging wins and losses for the last handful of games, the good news is that the first-place South Bay Lakers have come back down to Earth, dropping four of their last six games. So while Santa Cruz hasn’t exactly been blowing teams away as of late, the Sea Dubs are just 1.5 games out of first place in both the Pacific Division and Western Conference. On the other hand, the teams below Santa Cruz in the Western Conference are starting to turn things around like the Reno Bighorns, who have won six straight to get to 11-10. Still plenty of time left in the regular season, but it’s never too early to think about playoff positioning, and basically every team is in it in the Western Conference besides the 3-21 Salt Lake City Stars.
2. How are the guys on the Golden State roster doing?
Believe it or not, Santa Cruz actually lost a game in which Quinn Cook was playing with that defeat at the hands of Erie. Cook hasn’t put up ridiculous scoring numbers in the last week, but he has continued to hit big shots for the Sea Dubs and has been very efficient in doing so, scoring 41 points over the last two games on a combined 23 field-goal attempts. The 50-40-90 season is still very much in play for Cook, who is shooting 51 percent from the floor, 44 percent from downtown and 93 percent from the foul line. It’s a challenge Santa Cruz GM Kent Lacob set out for Cook to achieve heading into the season, and so far, so good.
Damian Jones has played under 24 minutes in each of the last two games, so his numbers have taken a slight dip for the most part, but he was very effective defensively in the win over Delaware, blocking three shots and grabbing eight rebounds in 23:55 of action. He has turned it over six times in each of the last two games (he hadn’t turned it over that many times in a game this season) and picked up three fouls in the first half of the Erie loss, so Damian is assuredly working to shore those things up for the rest of the road trip and beyond. Luckily, he has for the most part really done a good job of staying out of foul trouble after the first part of the season.
He hasn’t played yet, but Golden State/Santa Cruz two-way forward Chris Boucher is nearing his return. Head coach Aaron Miles told fans in a Q&A session following the Dec. 16 win over Westchester that Boucher was likely to return in January. He has been practicing with the team for a while now, so hopefully it’s not too much longer until we see the former Duck hit the court for real.
3. Who else has been impressing lately?
Welcome to the Sea Dubs fam, Winston Shepard. It took him a couple of games to get adjusted to his role and fit in with the squad, but the San Diego State product has been huge off the bench so far on this road trip, registering a 12-point, 11-rebound double-double in the loss to Erie before going for a season-high 14 points and seven rebounds to go along with three assists and two steals in just 20 minutes in the win over Delaware. He’s a playmaking forward who can help handle the rock and has been able to get himself to the line with regularity, attempting 12 free throws in the Erie game.
Alex Hamilton has been super solid on this road trip. The speedy lefty has scored a combined 35 points against Erie and Delaware, going 7-of-12 from the floor in each game and hitting 3-of-4 3-point attempts after going just 4-of-18 from downtown in his last two games. Probably the biggest steal-and-slam threat on the Sea Dubs, Hamilton also has a combined six steals in the last two games.
It should go without saying that Terrence Jones is putting in work. The newly-acquired Sea Dub didn’t have his best game against Erie (nine points, five rebounds and four assists on 3-of-11 shooting), but he bounced back with a bang against Delaware, nearly ripping off the first triple-double of the season for a Santa Cruz player with 15 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists on 7-of-11 from the floor. He has yet to go up against a guy who is strong enough to keep him out of the paint, and that trend will likely continue.
4. What's next?
The road trip continues Friday against the Lakeland Magic, a team that is 13-8 but has lost three in a row. Despite the recent losing streak, watch out for this bunch, as the backcourt combo of Rodney Purvis and Troy Caupain has proven to be one of the best guard duos in the G League this season. From there, the Sea Dubs head to Greensboro to take on the Swarm (affiliated with the Charlotte Hornets) before the Showcase games against Raptors 905 and Grand Rapids (Detroit’s G League squad). The 905 is on fire right now, having won seven straight and will be hosting the Showcase, and Grand Rapids is a streaky but lethal team, so it won’t be easy sledding in Canada. Santa Cruz has never won both Showcase games in a season...will that change this year?