The Santa Cruz Warriors remained undefeated at home with a 113-101 win against the Springfield Armor at Kaiser Permanente Arena. I had media access for the game once again and the following are my notes from the experience, including whether the Warriors might assign Andrew Bogut to Santa Cruz once he's ready to play in game situations, Jeremy Tyler's response to some physical play by Springfield, and Kent Bazemore talking about playing for a contract. Video by Jerry Hoffman of 12 Sports Productions
The energy might not have been quite as high tonight as it was on Sunday night - in which the fans were whipped up into a frenzy well by the end of the national anthem - but it was looking quite full and still filling in at tip-off. Sellout or not, thankfully it wasn't quite the sauna that it was in the first game.
They don't have a designated media section at Kaiser Permanente Arena yet so they're still experimenting with where to sit media. Tonight's spot was much better situated for taking notes during the game - we were court level and while there were some people in front of us obstructing the view, it was a great spot to watch basketball from.
View from "media row".
Prior to the game, Jerry Hoffman noted that he asked coach Nate Bjorkgren about whether he thought the Warriors would consider assigning Andrew Bogut to the D-League once he's ready to get back into playing shape. You can see the coach's response in the video below.
Video by Jerry Hoffman of 12 Sports Productions
During the middle of the second quarter I was checking out the game thread and the mascot came by and was trying to give me dap while I was typing. I sort of brushed him off at first and kept my head down before the folks behind me started to chuckle a bit. I relented and dapped him up. I'm still not entirely sure how I feel about the pseudo-Ninja Turtle mascot, but he's growing on me.
One of the things I like about getting to a game in time to check out shootaround (when there are no flood warnings and rock slides in my path): Springfield's guys were using the same moves they practiced when they warmed up - Moore set his feet from three exactly how he practiced, Christian Polk did the same hard jab to finish his drives to the basket. Like we tell the young folks: practice like you play.
The crowd might have blown the roof off this tent had Bazemore been able to actually put down the dunk he missed in the second quarter.
Random question: When will Gangnam Style go away?
I got a superhero cape, which is awesome. I don't know where exactly I'd wear a superhero cape, but it's nice to know that I have one now.
Tonight is superhero cape night at the Kaiser Permanente Arena! instagr.am/p/TxG0-Dpv9v/— Santa Cruz Warriors (@DLeagueWarriors) December 28, 2012
I didn't really catch why Taylor Griffin got a tech...and the crowd didn't exactly like that one either. Boos started raining down for that one.
I'd been talking to Olympic Mike about how I have yet to see Tyler finish one of his spin moves, whether in summer league, preseason, or the D-League. He finally finished one with 45 seconds left in the third quarter. This is a monumental achievement.
Bazemore gave the dunk guys some love after the third quarter while the place is going nuts. You almost think that Bazemore would get out there and dunk off a trampoline if he was asked.
Travis Leslie's athleticism was really on display in the fourth quarter. He looked like a blur sprinting up and down the court in transition and looked even more dominant athletically when he went up to block a shot in transition. He's definitely flying a bit under the radar with the pair of NBA guys and the two other posts, but he has been consistently impressive.
Tyler really seemed to get into it in the fourth quarter and find his rhythm after that third quarter in which guys seemed to get under his skin a bit. After throwing down one dunk in transition he gave the crowd a little mean mug and he got equally, if not more, excited after finding Chris Johnson for a dunk later.
Despite the fact that it felt like the game was starting to get away from Springfield, they actually kept the score close with continued hot shooting. That kept the crowd into it and even more enthusiastic when Santa Cruz appeared to be toying with them a bit with some highlight-reel plays.
Festus Ezeli seemed to be enjoying the action.
Bazemore got some extended time handling the ball in the fourth quarter as well, which was good to see. He made a nice drive and dish to Tyler late in the game, which was noteworthy as he continues to develop on that front.
The crowd really didn't start leaving until there were about 20 seconds left with the outcome no longer in doubt, which is always great to see. The atmosphere was outstanding and you could see the players feeding off of that a bit when they started to find their rhythm.
The official attendance is in for tonight's game and it's a sellout - 2 games, 2 sellouts in Santa Cruz. Not a bad start, huh?— Nate P (@NateP_SBN) December 28, 2012
After the game, media had a chance to interview Bazemore, Johnson, Tyler, and coach Nate Bjorkgren.
I also chatted briefly with staff members about the Warriors - Snoop Dogg (Lion?) connection that I had totally missed until a few nights ago. Apparently Snoop was in town for a concert at a local club (Catalyst?) and the Warriors had a few connections so they got to meet with him and got this awesome photo spontaneously.
Both Bjorkgren and Tyler pointed out that he calmed down after he came back in the game after the exchange Taggert. Keeping his emotions in check is something that the Golden State coaching staff has discussed with him and said afterward that he hopes they don't give him too much flak for the technical.
While Johnson's 24 points was a season-high, it's not a career-high and that's probably part of why he's drawn interest from NBA teams over his career - he's long, athletic, and showed a lot more explosiveness around the basket tonight than he did on Sunday. A major reason for that: practice time with the team. This was only his fourth game.
Bazemore had game-high honors (24 points, 5 steals) despite a sub-par shooting night (8-for-21). When asked about playing point guard, he mentioned it was something that he's been working on since his redshirt freshman year and he's just had to keep working on it, particularly using his off hand and working against pressure. He was clear that he wasn't very good at point guard back then.
Keeping the laughs going, Bazemore also gave us a few more details about Festus Ezeli and Charles Jenkins showing up to tonight's game. Apparently, "a whole bunch of guys" were supposed to show up to Sunday's game but none of them did. So when Ezeli and Jenkins told him last night that they'd show up he didn't even believe them. Their appearance tonight might have restored faith in his teammates.
Bazemore and Tyler dismissed any notion that they were tired after getting back from Utah, practicing in Oakland this morning, and then playing in Santa Cruz tonight. Tyler likened it to what they've been doing their whole life: traveling for AAU tournaments and playing multiple games a day. Just part of being a pro ball player.
Bazemore also briefly discussed what this means for him in terms of playing for a contract. In short, there's no news on that front but he's just taken the mindset of working hard each day and trying to prove that he can contribute, whether that be in a Golden State or Santa Cruz uniform.