Experience Counts

November 18th, 2014
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Last nite, or early this morning, High Point, a school from the Big South Conference, led by eleven returning players and 5 starters, outlasted UH as the Rainbow Warriors could not hold on to a 9 point lead in the waning minutes. Two ill-advised threes early in the shot clock, along with 4 turnovers, led to a breakout run for High Point and the Championship of the Rainbow Classic. Hawaii's inexperience reared its ugly head in the last five minutes, while High Point held its composure and won going away.

It was another poor shooting nite for the Bows. Four starters combined for 3-27 from the field. That's right. I would guess it may have set a record for woeful shooting by a starting five. Hawaii shot 17% from three.  If the three games are any indication, Hawaii is going to struggle from the field. Right now, there is no one player who can be counted on to score on any given nite.

On the other hand, Hawaii continued to play aggressive defense, had strong team rebounding, and showed an ability to slash to the hoop for lay-ups or fouls. Those fouls might not be called as often once the team does on the road, but it works at home.

I thought the two " big guys" played well last nite, at least in spurts. Thomas had 14 points ( almost all in the first half) and Jovanovic did a credible job guarding John Brown, the Big South Pre-season Player of the Year. But once again, the lack of depth upfront was evident ( that will change as Reyes is expected back this week).  Also the aggressive defense by the guards. caused both Bobbitt and Fleming to foul out.

For a midnite game, the crowd was exceptional. The students occupied mid court and were rowdy, loud, and organized. It gave the Arena the feel of really big-time college basketball. And for 35 minutes, they were treated to a spirited performance marred by a total breakdown down the stretch. With time, more practice, and experience, hopefully better decisions will be made in tight ball-games ( we saw some of that Saturday nite).

So its hard to be disappointed by the loss. The new-look Bows won 2 games and were in the third game until late. They played aggressive and exciting basketball ( maybe a little too exciting), and should win the remaining non-league home games  outside of the Diamond Head. Tomorrow's they should regroup against little brother, UH Hilo, and then meet the big bad Pitt Panthers from the ACC coached by former Hawaii assistant, Jamie Dixon, on Maui.  Then its on the road to Florida for a three game tournament against mid level competition.

By the time they return in several weeks, we will know much more about this team's ability to compete in the Conference. There is much to be happy about, but there are issues that need to be addressed if the team is to have a realistic chance to finish in the middle of the Conference. One thing is for sure. They will not be boring. Benjy has them flying all over the court. Now if they could only make shots

Jeff Portnoy is a member of the UH Board of Regents. The views expressed here are his and do not reflect those of the board.

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We Are Back

November 17th, 2014
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Well, I thought its about time to restart Hoopstalk for the 2104-2015 season. What a last few weeks its been for the program. Whatever you think about Gib's termination and Issac's departure, its time to rally around Benjy and the team. As a Regent chairing the Athletic Committee, I have been kept advised of the NCAA investigation and recent developments. All I can say is folks should  with-hold any final judgment until the NCAA Letter has been released and the facts are known. There has been much speculation about the investigation , both in the media and on-line, with some of it simply based upon rumor and leaks that may or may not be valid. I can assure everyone that the University is dealing withy this critical situation with the advice of outside legal counsel, experienced in NCAA matters, and everyone at UH wants the matter to be resolved so the program can move on.

Having said that, it was a good weekend for the team. Two wins, albeit against lower division 1 opponents, but no one really knew what to expect. Tonight's  mid-nite game against High Point should be a more competitive  against the best of the three visiting teams in the Tournament. High Point went to the NIT last year as the regular season champ from its Conference, the Big South, where it lost in the first round. They have the pre-season player of the year in John Brown, who has a future in professional basketball. He is the type of player who will give this year's edition of UH fits. he is strong, can play both inside and outside, and can rebound.

What we seen so far from the Rainbow Warriors is solid guard play, good team rebounding, and aggressive defense. There are still questions in my mind about the frontcourt and scoring, but the frontcourt questions may be answered once the team is at full strength. Reyes is expected back either tonight or Weds against Hilo and Missouri transfer Stefan Jankovic in mid-December.

Two players have impressed me so far. The first is Webster-Chan. He can score and play defense. He may be a little undersized, however, when he is asked to play the 4. And Aaron Valdes is much improved witness his 28 points against Pine Bluff.  Bobbitt has done a solid job at the point with good assists to turn over stats.

On the other hand, Quincy Smith is struggling. Saturday night he had 7 turn-overs and no assists. He is the most experienced point guard and maybe he is just a little slow in coming back from injury. Another guy slow to get it going is the one Senior and team leader, Garrett Nevels.. Garrett has yet to find his shot this year.

The home schedule before the Diamond Head is very weak. It includes two local Division Schools and 5 teams nobody has ever heard of.  Yes there are road games against Pittsburgh ( in Maui) and BYU, along with that Florida tournament with second tier schools, but I predict UH will win 7 of 8 home games before the Big West schedule kicks in.

Folks keep asking me how many games will this team win. Hard to say right now. I think they will be better than some think, but not as good as they might have been with Fotu.  I want to see how they do on the road and against better opponents. But as I said in the beginning, everyone should rally behind these guys. The crowds the first two nights were treated to exciting basketball, the students are attending in record numbers, and the team has shown it has rallied together in spite of all that is happening around them.

See you at midnite

Jeff Portnoy is a member of the UH Board of Regents. The views expressed here are his and do not reflect those of the board.

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Aloha Shamburger

April 15th, 2014
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The word is out. Keith Shamburger is one and done. Not one and done for the NBA. One and done for who knows what reasons. Only he and Arnold know ( not sure if evn Gib knows). He says he will try to graduate this summer and then have one year to play somewhere else. Would you want him?

If you read this column regularly, you know I had my criticisms of Shamburger. I though he had way too much attitude and not enough skill. He shot poorly almost all season, but on the plus side, he ran the offensive efficiently. Frankly, there were no other guards on the squad who could run the point, especially in half court situations. But the incident after the Long Beach game, his wearing headphones during pregame warm-ups, his sullen appearance on the bench, etc etc, made it clear to me he had significant attitude issues

Will he be missed? Some of you thought he was the savior at the point and would really come on next year. Some of you blogged that i was too tough on his inability to score from three point range . Some now say his decsion to leave coming on the heels of the news that UH has a committment from Roderick Bobbitt, a 6-3 combo guard, is not a coincidence. I seriously doubt that was the reason. You would hope he would believe that as the incumbent starting point guard, the position was his to lose next season.

But you have to be in denial to say his leaving is not a significant loss to the program. At least on the court it is. You dont transfer from a starting position at one school, sit out a year, start for another school, and then leave early unless something is going on. Some will point to this as another example of what has been a revolving door of players coming and going in the past three years. But this time, the player leaving was a starter so it wasnt a lack of playing time that did it.  And frankly, can he really believe some school will be that desperate for a late summer need for a point guard ?  I guess some team in a  league ranked even lower than the Big West might make the offer.

This departure will cause much speculation and discussion about the program. And it leaves the Bows with only two starters returning. The one spot you would have thought UH didnt need to fill was at the point. Lets hope Issac doesnt get an offer he cant refuse.

Yes these are my personal thoughts. Yours?

Jeff Portnoy is a member of the UH Board of Regents. The views expressed here are his and do not reflect those of the board.

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The Day After Musings

April 8th, 2014
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Some old basketball " wives tales" proved to be true again. One always go with the Seniors over the Freshman. Two, always go with great guards over good bigmen. Three, you cant win the big one if you cant make free throws. UConn deserved to win. Kentucky did just about everything it could to lose.

But before the entire world goes on talking about how great a  story UConn is, may i remind my readers that this is the same team that was ruled ineligible for the Tournament last year because of APR violations. Do you know how hard it is to score below 930? Its very hard. It means your team's academic performance is so low that it places you in the very bottom of all Division 1 teams. You have to work hard to get there. You have to basically give up thinking of your players as students first, athletes second.

Yes i know the UConn apologists will say it wasnt these players so why burden them with this issue. It might not have been them, but it was their coach at the time, Jim Calhoun, and their school, that allowed this to happen. I am tired of the National media ignoring issues like this on one hand, and then criticizing the NCAA and others for not doing enough to assist stuednt -athletes in getting a degree.Yes I know Napier is scheduled to graduate in May and i congratulate him on that as well as his play during the tournament. But in the past two days, how many of you have heard the folks at CBS, TNT, and ESPN, remind us of where UCONN was last year ( not even eligible for the Tournament).

And then Napier grabs the mike at the end of the game, and makes a mockery of the probation as if winning this year was in revenge for being put on probation. I dont get it. I guess if that gave them the chip on their shoulder they needed to win, so be it. But who should they really blame other than their team-mates, their former coach and their school. In my mind, winning is great. But at least at the college level, passing your courses has some merit as well. Even graduating may be something to strive for.

People get after Kentucky for using the one and done rule. I dont like the rule either, but you cant blame Calipari for knowing how to use it better than anyone in the Country. At least, Kentucky doesnt make a mockery of the student athlete. Everyone knows they are not students, but minor league basketball players getting their one year out of the way at college.

I am sure some of you dont agree with me on this and that's fine. Would like to see your comments, pro and con. If the college4 basketball purist, Wisconsin should have won the fianl four. They seem to stand for what college basketball should be about, students who love to play basketball, stay in school, and win both in the classromm and on the court. Oh well, life in rarely fair.

Jeff Portnoy is a member of the UH Board of Regents. The views expressed here are his and do not reflect those of the board.

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a 7 vrs an 8

April 5th, 2014
By

in a great game, Wisconsin missed only one free throw and it cost them a possible win. In a game in which Wisconsin made 19-20 free throws, it was a miss on the first of three free throws in the last minute that left Kentucky only down two. And you guessed it. With less than 6 seconds remaining, the Cats  hit the game winning three. It was only their second made three of the night compared to theBadgers 8. But Wisconsin missed their last three threes.

I said I thought Kentucky would control the inside and shut down Kaminsky. Well,, he wound up with only 8 points and 4 rebounds while Kentucky scored, get this, 46 points in the paint. And almost lost. It was a game of contrasting styles, and while Wisconsin managed to cover by 1, they lost where it counted, on the scoreboard.

So it sets up a Championship game I bet no one predicted.  A 7, UConn, vrs an 8, Kentucky. No doubt it will the two teams with the highest combined seedings in recent NCAA history. Can UConn contain the dominat inside game of Kentucky with its two outstanding guards and great defense? I doubt it. There is not a more athletic team in College basketball and no one plays above the rim like the Cats. They were picked preseason Number 1, but played poorly and selfishly for a good part of the season. But they clearly have the most talent of any team and they are playing good solid team basketball ( yes, with the occasional Freshman mistakes).

By the way, the game set an NCAA attendance record with more than 79,000 fans. They saw one good game and one great game. I will not be able to stay for the Championship game and like you, will watch it on TV. I must say that after seeing where most of the media was put, in the upper press box, I am grateful for my seat. I cant tell you how far away those folks were from the court.

Jackson is back and we will have our usual show Weds at 7 on ESPN 1420. I will discuss the games in greater detail , including what the Jerry Jones palace is like ( yes he was here, as was Troy Aikman). Also here was Seattle Seahwak QB, Russel Wilson, sitting with his alma mater, Wisconsin. But enough of the name dropping.

It was a great Saturday of basketball and I am glad iIwas able to attend once again thanks to the folks at the Star-Advertiser and the NCAA. Nothing like having a press pass. Post game interviews, access to locker rooms, etc. Cant wait till next year in Indy. At least most fans can see the players even in that football Stadium, and you can walk to the Stadium from your downtown hotel.And yes, these are my personal views, not those of any Regent( even me).

Jeff Portnoy is a member of the UH Board of Regents. The views expressed here are his and do not reflect those of the board.

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David Slayeth Goliath

April 5th, 2014
By

Well iIwas half right. I said UConn would beat the spread. What I didnt predict was that they would destroy Florida, What a win for Kevin Ollie and his Huskies. After a poor first 10 minutes, they played perfect team basketball to win by double digits. Led by DeAndre Daniels double double, 20 and 10, UConn has broken what few brackets remained and they will take their number 7 seed into Monday's final in what could match a 7 against an 8 ( i think that will be a record for the highest total seed number for a Championship game.

 

Shouldnt be hard to find a ticket for Monday. There were far more Gator fans here than UConn fans. In fact, the UConn student section had several rows of empty seats.

The Wisconsin team sat right behind me for much of the second half. Cant remember the last time a final four team watched the early game. They appeared relaxed, but clearly had their game faces on. I like Kentucky in this game. I think they have too much inside and should be able to contain Frank Kaminsky, who has been a one man wrecking crew.

The weather continues to be a story. just announced that because of hail and lighting, folks should stay inside until further notice. And the forecast for tomorrow is not much better. Wonder if it will affect Bruce and the Band.

Fun facts. Florida had been 10-0 in Final Four games before tonight. And remember after UConn won the National Championship, they were declared ineligible for the post season last year because of APR violations. Looks like they are back with a vengence.

Waiting for the attendance to be announced. Has to be a record to see a college basketball game

Jeff Portnoy is a member of the UH Board of Regents. The views expressed here are his and do not reflect those of the board.

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finally here

April 5th, 2014
By

after a one hour trip from the media hotel in traffic that rivaled the pro bowl, in rainy weather, i have arrived inside ATT Stadium. It is a marvel. Its the biggest indoor stadium i have been in with the massive video screen we have all seen on TV. But i cant begin to describe how far away most fans are from the court.  I am in one of the " floor" media sections and i am at least 40 yards away from the endline. The media hotel is at least 20 miles from the Stadium. There is really very little Final Four activity at the Stadium wth most events in Downtown Dallas. If you ask me, neither the location nor the Stadium is conducive for the Final Four. My best estimate is some fans are a football field away both in distance and in height. There are 8 levels that i can see.

But you know you are in the Dallas area when parking in the premium lots range from 250 to 500 dollars. that's right. And outside in restaurant and shopping lots, the price ranges from 50 to 80 dollars.

If you are a Cowboy fan, and who is anymore unless you live in Dallas, the Stadium has the names of Cowboy greats around the Stadium with room with plenty more. Its almost game time and the place is fully full. My guess is there will be more than 80,000 folks in here by tip-off.

Sittting next to the reporter for the Las Vegas Review -Journal who worked with our Paul Arnett back in the day and two seats over is the guy from the New York Daily News so although the seat is not great, the Star Advertiser is in one of the better media sections.

The game is almost ready to begin after the usual pre-game festivities. i will blog again after game is completed. I still like UConn to cover what is now a 7 point spread, but i dont think Florida will be beat. Although you have to love the UConn guards,the Gators are just too strong at all five positions.

Jeff Portnoy is a member of the UH Board of Regents. The views expressed here are his and do not reflect those of the board.

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A Day Away

April 4th, 2014
By

I have been in Vegas  the past few days. On my way to Dallas tomorrow morning. Lots of props if you are a gambling person. First team to 15 points, etc. Florida remains a strong favorite over UConn ( 6.5 points) while the  Kentucky odds have dropped slightly from 2 to 1.5. Still much of the talk here is that it will a Florida-Kentucky final and I agree. I think Kentucky will cover the spread tomorrow while Florida will not ( for entainment purposes only)

Coach Arnold is in Dallas with his son and Ben Jay is there as well. My guess is that all lobby nominee Riley Wallace and his crew ( Larry Little, etc) are probably there as well.

There is more than just basketball this weekend in Dallas. One of the bigger events is a three day free music festival highlighted by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. Many thousands are expected.

Although the NCAA wants to say this Final Four is being held in North Texas, only the Stadium is not in Dallas. All of the coaches  meetings, the media hotels, etc are all in Dallas proper. I guess the folks in Arlington/Irvine want the publicity.

Looking forward to seeing Cowboy Stadium ( ATT Park). Hopefully my media seat will be within viewing distance, unlike some of the 100,000 seats. Lots more to blog tomorrow.

I guess now that i am officially a Regent I need to note the following. The views in this blog are mine alone and they are my personal views.

Jeff Portnoy is a member of the UH Board of Regents. The views expressed here are his and do not reflect those of the board.

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More Honors for Standhardinger

April 1st, 2014
By

received word that  Christian Standhardinger has been selected to play in the NABC 2014 Reese's Division 1 College All-Star game this friday in Dallas. He will play on the West team coached by Johnny Dawkins of Stanford against the East team coached by Mark Turgeon of Maryland.

You wont find any All-Americans on either roster as potential first and second round NBA draft picks sit these types of games out. But the next level of senior possible " pros" are usually told by their agents to play if selected. Some of the other players you may have heard of include Talib Zanna of Pitt, Will Sheehey of Indiana, and Joe Jackson of Memphis. Its not usual that a Big -West player gets this opportunity, and for UH, its been awhile since anybody has been selected to play in a prestigious all-star game. It also helps Gib in recruiting to counter those who say you will never get any national recognition if you play at UH.

To be honest,Ii have not always been a big fan of Christian. I thought he was sometimes too selfish and caught up in his own game. But I never doubted his talent nor his effort. And when you are a two-time all Big West first team selection and the only player in UH history to score 1000 points and have 500 rebounds in a 2 year career, you deserve these accolades and the chance to make big money at the next level ( even if it turns out to be in Europe).

I arrive in Dallas on Saturday so I will miss the game, but you can watch it on tape delay on Saturday at noon Hawaii time on CBS.

Jeff Portnoy is a member of the UH Board of Regents. The views expressed here are his and do not reflect those of the board.

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Onto Dallas

March 31st, 2014
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Ok, who had UConn and Kentucky in the Final Four? Not me, and I guess not anyone else. What a weekend of basketball. Louisville , Arizona, and Mich St. all going home. UConn, a 7 seed, and kentucky, an 8 seed, on their way to big D.

I had picked 4 number ones to make it. I knew that was not likley, but i never thought only Fla would survive. A basket here, a basket there, and Virgina and Arizona might have made it.

UConn is there because it has two great guards. Sounds like two years ago before they got put on probation for recruiting violations. Kentucky was the pre-season number one, played bad basketball until two weeks ago, and now looks like it may win it all. I like Fla over UConn and Kentucky over Wisconsin, and in a game few will care about, unless you are an SEC junkie, I still think Fla will win it all.

I will be in Dallas to cover the games Saturday for the blog.  Should be something to watch what should be two great games in a lousy basketball venue, the 100,000 seat Cowboy Stadium. Hopefully, my press pass will allow me to see the games without watching them on the screen. There is no need to play these games in football stadiums. I know there are lots of fans and corporate types who  want to see the games, but they should be played in basketball arenas like Madison Square Garden or the Carrier Dome. At least next year it will be back in Indy, and that Stadium is not too bad.

At UH, the NCAA has come and gone. My guess is that there will be some nervous folks around the athletic office until that investigation is complete and the NCAA informs UH what, if anything, it intends to do. Lets hope they decide that the internal sanctions imposed by UH are sufficient.

Meanwhile, recruiting is underway and the next few weeks are critical to next year's success. The top teams in the Big West have lots of solid players returning and teams like Fullerton have signed a full compliment of new players. Hoopstalk will look at how recruiting is going starting next week

Jeff Portnoy is a member of the UH Board of Regents. The views expressed here are his and do not reflect those of the board.

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