Santa Cruz Warriors Set to Break NBA D-League Attendance Record

May 26, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; A general view of Oracle Arena during player introductions prior to game five of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs between the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
May 26, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; A general view of Oracle Arena during player introductions prior to game five of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs between the Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

Santa Cruz Warriors are set to break the NBA D-League attendance record at their first-ever game at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. — The Santa Cruz Warriors snapped their two-game losing streak on Saturday night at Kaiser Permanente Arena, defeating the Austin Spurs 113-100. Surf City now turns their focus to Sunday’s matchup against the Oklahoma City Blue at Oracle Arena, which will mark the first time Santa Cruz has ever played in Oakland.

But before getting into that….

Scott Wood led all scorers Saturday night with a 27-point performance, adding in four rebounds, two steals, and one block. He notably went 9-for-14 shooting from the field, 5-for-10 shooting from behind the arc, and 4-for-4 shooting from the free throw line. Santa Cruz named him Player of the Night, and rightly so.

LaDontae Henton had 19 points and eight rebounds on the night, while Phil Pressey finished with 16 points, four rebounds, eight assists, and three steals. Terrence Drisdom contributed 17 points (4-4 FG, 2-2 3P, 7-8 FT), four rebounds and three steals, while Chris Obekpa notched a double-double with 10 points (4-7 FG), 11 rebounds, two steals, and three blocks off the bench.

In what many fans will remember as one of the more interesting  Santa Cruz games, the Warriors were called for a total of five technical fouls in JUST the second half: two on James Southerland (ejected), one on head coach Casey Hill, one on Scott Wood, and one on Alex Hamilton.

Asking head coach Casey Hill on his thoughts concerning how the game unfolded, Hill was careful to avoid criticizing the officiating crew for Saturday’s game, instead choosing to talk about how competitive the game was.

"“Austin’s playing for their playoff life, and so are we, so those kinds of games are gonna be really really competitive,” said Hill. “From the jump ball, it was extremely competitive. That team has been playing extremely well.”"

Considering how intense the contest was all night long, losing a scorer like Southerland in the second half was definitely an unexpected blow to Santa Cruz. Lucky for them, having guys like Drisdom and Obekpa to step up off the bench proved pivotal late in the game.

Coach Hill commented on the matter, basically saying that all Obekpa and Drisdom really needed was more of an opportunity to play. With Damian Jones playing with Golden State, Southerland ejected, and guys like Elgin Cook and Mychel Thompson unable to play due to injury, Obekpa and Drisdom made the most of their minutes.

"“I thought Chris was spectacular tonight from a defensive perspective,” said Hill. “Since Damian’s been back up, he’s gotten more time, and (that does) a lot (for) his confidence. He’s been great defensively AND offensively — picking his times to attack, using his footwork; that up-and-under he threw tonight was really nice. He’s been great.”“And Terrence — I’ve always known that’s in him. It’s just difficult to find the right time to get him into games. He’s one of those guys that’s an ‘off-rhythm’ player — you gotta find times to get him in there — and tonight was a great opportunity.”"

Fans often ask me about Cook’s injury status. Cook, who’s made a name for himself among Santa Cruz fans for his high-energy style of play, last played significant minutes on Dec. 29 against the Northern Arizona Suns before going down with an ankle sprain.

Coach Hill said that the plan is to have Cook return “right after the All-Star break,” adding that it was one of the worst ankle sprains he’d ever seen “without any legitimate damage done.” He also mentioned that Thompson is suffering a similar situation.

But as for the game at Oracle, Blue Man Hoop asked Coach Hill whether there’s any concerns for the fact the Sea Dubs will be playing in “unfamiliar” territory on the back end of a back-to-back against a really good Oklahoma City Blue team, to which Hill replied with the following:

"“I think the one thing that’s gonna be really cool for (the team) is they’ve been watching the Golden State Warriors play all season long,” Hill said, “either on TV — because (Mychel Thompson) is always watching them because of Klay (Thompson) — or [because] we bring them up to games or [because] a couple of guys were in training camp, so I think it’s gonna be kind of an interesting type of atmosphere until we kind of get into the game.From what I’ve been told, we’ve sold about 16,000 tickets. So it’s gonna be a lot of people, and they’re all gonna be rooting for us, which is gonna be a really fun atmosphere to play in. I hope (the team) can focus in enough to compete against a really good Oklahoma City team, but also enjoy the experience a little bit as well."

If Coach Hill’s information is true — which everyone should assume, is — then the Warriors will post the new single-game NBA D-League attendance record on Sunday. The current record of 15,011 is previously held by the Toronto Raptors D-League affiliate team, Raptors 905, which they set on Dec. 20, 2016 at Air Canada Centre.

President Chris Murphy of the Santa Cruz Warriors confirmed via Twitter that the team has sold more than 16,000 tickets for Sunday’s game, so expect the Warriors organization to officially announce their record-breaking feat soon.