After a perfect two-game trip to open the season, the Maine Red Claws are ready to begin their home basketball season Friday night.

Chris Babb can’t wait.

“Our first two games were pretty dead attendance-wise,” Babb said Thursday before practice at the Portland Expo, “so I’m looking forward to playing in front of our home crowd. It will be good to see everybody.”

The crowds in Oklahoma City and Fort Wayne were both around 2,000. With fans sprinkled throughout arenas with capacities of more than five times that number, the view from the court included plenty of empty seats.

The Expo, by contrast, holds 3,045 and the Red Claws are anticipating a full house for the home opener against the Canton Charge.

“We have probably one of the best home crowds in the D-League,” said Babb, a returning Red Claw who finished last season with the Celtics. “That’s known around the league, that when you come to play in Maine, there’s going to be a good home crowd. It’s going to be loud and they’re going to come out ready.”


The Red Claws play again Sunday at the Expo against the Delaware 87ers before finishing November with road games in Sioux Falls and Canton.

Babb led the Claws with 22 points in their opening 111-105 victory over Oklahoma City, where an NBA game between the Thunder and Detroit was held across the street the same night. Babb chipped in with 15 points in Sunday’s 81-80 victory over Fort Wayne, which included two players on assignment from the Celtics, Dwight Powell (21 points, 17 rebounds) and James Young (21 points, five rebounds).

Neither Powell nor Young is expected to be with the Red Claws on Friday, but both are possible for Sunday.

Red Claws Coach Scott Morrison, a volunteer assistant with the team last year, said Friday’s game is simply an early step in a season lasting five or perhaps six months.

“I’m just looking forward to hopefully being prepared and playing well,” Morrison said. “We want to get better every game. That’s the main thing.”

Four members of Maine’s 12-man roster were playing college basketball at this time last year, including point guard Tim Frazier at Penn State and center Asauhn Dixon-Tatum at Auburn.


“In the first few games I realized there’s definitely a different level of playing from the collegiate level to the professional level,” Dixon-Tatum said. “It’s a lot faster pace. You don’t have 35 seconds to set up. You only get 24 seconds. By the time I’m back on offense, I’ve got to get ready to go back on defense.”

Last Friday’s starting five was Babb, Frazier, Jermaine Taylor, Christian Watford and Ralph Sampson III. Reserves Omari Johnson, Andre Stringer, Luke Loucks, Sherwood Brown and Dixon-Tatum have all played at least 18 minutes.

The only roster players yet to be activated – a team can dress 10 for each game – are guards Rodney McGruder and Jason Calliste. McGruder, who was been out with a groin injury, is one of three Red Claws affiliated with the Celtics after having taken part in Boston’s training camp. The others are Frazier and Watford.

“Those guys have a head start on everything that we’re doing here,” said Morrison, who worked with them throughout the Celtics’ training camp. “It’s nice that when you put something new in, that at least a handful of guys have an idea of what you’re doing and how it should look.”

Calliste, a Toronto native who played at Oregon last season after three years at Detroit Mercy, missed Maine’s training camp and only arrived in Portland on Monday because of a visa issue.

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