When the Golden State Warriors organization first acquired a D-League franchise, most of the excitement was about the developmental potential for the organization. And this year, we've certainly seen how they envision using their D-League team to both develop players and find talent that might fit their needs.
But while the Golden State squad prepares to establish some playoff momentum tomorrow night, the Santa Cruz team is looking for an impressive achievement in their own right: a D-League title.
Santa Cruz will host the Rio Grande Valley Vipers to open the 2013 D-League Finals today at 6:30 p.m. PST on CBS Sports Network. It will be the first of a best of three series and thus, win or lose, the last Santa Cruz Warriors home game of the season.
Even if you don't care about D-League basketball at all and wonder how in the world a basketball team landed in Santa Cruz you have to admit this much: for an organization that could easily have been considered among the worst in professional sports before Joe Lacob's group bought it, experiencing this much success at both the NBA and D-League level so quickly is a sign that things are not only moving in the right direction but probably also moving toward a point of sustainability.
And maybe an extended stint there is helping Jeremy Tyler too?
- Gino Pilato of SB Nation's Ridiculous Upside described last week how all four semifinalists - Rio Grande Valley, Santa Cruz, Austin Toros and Tulsa 66ers - happen to be affiliated with a NBA team that is also competing in the NBA playoffs. Could the success of these four franchises trigger an increase in NBA-D-League affiliation? Read more >>>
- Pete Cafone of Santa Cruz Patch writes that all of the expectations for the Warriors' inaugural season in Santa Cruz have been exceeded, with 20 sellouts to go with a shot at a championship. Read more >>>
- Keith Schlosser of Ridiculous Upside profiled RGV coach Nick Nurse, who previously had Santa Cruz coach Nate Bjorkgren as his assistant with the Iowa Energy. Although working with the Houston Rockets has been great for RGV, Schlosser looks at the challenge of coaching around all of the call-ups and assignments that RGV dealt with. Read more >>>
- Pilato looked at that coaching relationship between Bjorkgren & Nurse from a Santa Cruz angle, describing how that experience with the Iowa Energy is helping Bjorkgren coach the Warriors now. Read more >>>
- Schlosser also wrote a little bit about the Warriors' depth in looking at the two Santa Cruz players who earned post-season honors: Defensive Player of the Year Stefhon Hannah and Most Improved Player Cameron Jones. Read more >>>
- Anthony Oliva of NBA.com put together a gallery of three players who have the most to gain from this Finals series: Hannah, Jones, and, of course, Jeremy Tyler. Read more >>>
- Andrew Matheson of the Santa Cruz Sentinel focused his preview on Tyler, who has become an efficient force in the D-League playoffs who has definitely captured the attention of Nurse. And I'll leave you with this quote from Tyler in the article: "And that is what I was battling," he added. "Do you want to come here and try to get crazy stats and ruin the chemistry of the team, or do you want to keep winning and get good stats without being negative on efficiency?" Read more >>>