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Beachcombings: Sea Dubs Own Top Mark in G League
By Kevin Danna
What's going on with the Santa Cruz Warriors? Sea Dubs broadcaster Kevin Danna provides an insider's look at the team.
1. The Streak is Over
Well, the Sea Dubs’ finally lost their first game of the season on Monday night, 103-84 against the Agua Caliente Clippers of Ontario (in Ontario). A lot of the numbers from the game weren’t half bad – the Warriors only committed 12 turnovers and forced 28 (the plus-16 turnover margin is tied the second best in franchise history) and they took 34 more field goal attempts than Agua Caliente, but of course there were these numbers: 32 percent shooting for the Sea Dubs and 50 percent shooting for the Clips, with Agua Caliente attempting 19 more free throws.
It didn’t help that Santa Cruz’s two most prolific scorers on the floor Monday night – Darius Morris and Kendrick Nunn – were a combined 15-of-48 from the field. Nunn did lead the way with 24 points, continuing his solid play off the bench, while Deyonta Davis continued to provide solid minutes inside (eight points, 11 rebounds against Agua Caliente), as the two-year NBA veteran has given the Sea Dubs nice rim protection and has expanded his offensive game as the season has gone on, hitting the mid-range jumper a little more consistently.
The loss dropped the Sea Dubs to 8-1, so Santa Cruz will take a seat alongside the immortalized 2013-14 Idaho Stampede (read my ebook on the Stampede if you like) as having the tied for second best start in G League history. The Sea Dubs and Stampede are only looking up at the 2013-14 Rio Grande Valley Vipers, who started the season 9-0 en route to a 30-20 season record before eventually losing to Santa Cruz in the G League semifinals. Hopefully, the 2018-19 Santa Cruz Warriors have a better finish to the season than the Vipers and their 2013-14 Stampede counterparts, who didn’t even make the playoffs that year.
2. Darius Morris works his late-game magic again
The four-year NBA veteran and Michigan product has had an early-season knack for hitting clutch shots for the Sea Dubs. On Nov. 9 at Agua Caliente, he hit a tough step-back 3-pointer to give the Warriors a late five-point cushion in an eventual 103-97 win. He hit the exact same shot from the same spot on the floor (right angle three) with 10 seconds left against Northern Arizona on Nov. 18, also giving Santa Cruz a five-point lead in an eventual 99-92 win.
Morris was back at it again on Friday against the Salt Lake City Stars, scoring 20 of his 24 points in the second half, hitting a clutch shot in the lane to give Santa Cruz a five-point lead in the final 30 seconds and scoring four points in the final minute to lift the Sea Dubs to a 110-104 triumph.
“I kind of just take it upon myself, put that pressure on me,” Morris said Friday before he went on to provide more late-game heroics. “I don’t pre-determine what I’m going to do. I kind of let the defense tell me – if one of my teammates are open, I won’t hesitate to pass it. But the last couple of times, I’ve had that 3-pointer and felt confident shooting it.”
3. Juan Toscano-Anderson is off to rep Mexico
One of the biggest early-season surprises has been the play of Juan Toscano-Anderson, the East Bay native who made the Sea Dubs as a tryout player. Unfortunately, Santa Cruz will be without his services for the next week or so, but it will be for a good reason – Toscano-Anderson has been named to the Mexican National Team for the latest round of FIBA World Cup Americas Qualifiers.
Mexico, currently sitting at 3-5 and fifth place in its six-team group, will play Panama on Thursday and Argentina on Sunday (and will return to Santa Cruz shortly thereafter). There are two six-team groups remaining in the Americas qualifiers, and seven of the 12 remaining teams will advance to the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China next August and September, so Juan and Mexico have their work cut out for themselves. However, this is a team that did beat the United States over the summer (and Juan said it was that game that helped convince him that he could play in the G League, since the American team was made up of G Leaguers), so they have the chops to get it done.
“First and foremost- I get to represent my family’s name, and they take a lot of pride in that. I get to represent the country, and like I tell everybody – it’s one thing to represent a club or a city, but when you’re representing a whole country, it’s another level,” Toscano-Anderson said on Friday after the win over Salt Lake City. “It’s an amazing feeling. You’re a role model – whether you like it or not, you’re a role model for thousands and thousands of kids who want to be just like you and who themselves want to grow up and represent their country. I’m honored, it’s very humbling, and I just enjoy it for what it is.”
Toscano-Anderson is slated to return to the Sea Dubs for the Dec. 5 game against Sioux Falls.
4. What's on tap?
The Sea Dubs are about to enjoy some more home cookin’, as Santa Cruz will play six of its next seven games at home. The fun starts this weekend with a back-to-back against the Texas Legends on Friday and Saturday. Texas, the G League affiliate of the Dallas Mavericks, features two-way players Kostas Antetokounmpo (younger brother of Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo and former G League great Thanasis Antetokounmpo) and Daryl Macon and currently have Ray Spalding on assignment from Dallas. The Legends also recently picked up 2018 Golden State Summer Leaguer Jordan Howard, who was waived by the Sea Dubs at the end of training camp, so be on the lookout for a potential revenge game if he gets in there.
As an added bonus, you can get a Draymond Green bobblehead if you’re one of the first 1,500 fans in the building on Friday and there will be a charitable jersey auction on Saturday courtesy of Plantronics. So come on down to the Cruz and get yourself a Dray bobblehead and game-worn Sea Dubs jersey this weekend, not to mention getting the opportunity to watch the team with the best record in the G League.
Also, don’t forget that you can watch both games this weekend on NBC Sports Bay Area, and you can watch all home games on either NBC Sports Bay Area or NBC Sports Bay Area Plus.