Nicholls State (Who?)

November 20th, 2015

First, a triva contest. Without looking on the internet, who can tell me what state Nichols State is in and/or their Conference?  Its the Southland Conference and they are located in Louisiana.  They are picked to finish 8th in the 13 team Conference which has been dominated in the past few years by Stephen F. Austin ( the school, not the guy who is considered the father of Texas). They won 10 games last year, but have four starters returning  and a couple of transfers, including a 7 footer from Boston College. Their present RPI is 314 ( out of 351), but their strength of schedule is presently 21. Hope to see a decent crowd for Sunday night's game. By the way, the Women play at 5 so plan to make it a double-header

Compare that with our beloved Rainbow Warriors. The Bows RPI stands at 105 with a SOS of 287. And with the upcoming games other than  the Diamond Head, don't expect either the RPI or the SOS to improve. Look at this cast of killer opponents over the next few weeks. Arkansas Pine -Bluff, UH-Hilo, HPU, and after the Diamond Head, Mississippi Valley State and Howard ( not your friend, but a school in Washington D.C..) There is an away game against Texas Tech on Nov 28. They are picked next to last in the Big 12. I am sure Coach Ganot will get the team to Lubbock early so the team can take in the sites.

Kidding aside, UH has a most favorable schedule pre-Conference. I doubt they will lose more than 2 games( ok, maybe 3 worst case). It should give them time to work on the issues ( free-throw shooting, interior defense) that plagued them last weekend. But there is joy in Aloha land over the quick 3-0 start. I am sure that there were those who are still upset that there was a coaching change and were waiting for a poor start to support their opinion after last year's 22 win season. But with the solid start, those voices are presently silenced.

Some teams in the Conference are off a good start. Long Beach had a big win against BYU, and Cal Poly, although they are 0-2. lost at UNLV by 2 and at UCLA by 5. Those are the type of games that the Big West needs to play. UC Irvine is also 2-0, and play in a major Tournament the next week as does Long Beach. The first Big West player of the week is our very own Roderick Bobbitt, an honor well -deserved. I don't think it will be last time he receives this award this season.

I am off to Maui for the Chaminade Tournament ( I know that's not the correct name, but that's how I see it). Some very good teams like Kansas, Vanderbilt, and Indiana. The rest of the field includes UCLA, St. Johns, UNLV and Wake Forest. Want to wish everyone a great Thanksgiving and hope the Bows go 2-0 next week.  No Hoops Talk next week and the following week, the team plays on Weds. The next Hoops Talk will be on December 9th. I hope our loyal listeners can find something else to do.


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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November 17th, 2015

The 2015 Rainbow Classic is history and UH is the Champion. Two easy wins and last night's thriller have gotten the Rainbow Warriors to a solid start.

On Friday and Sunday, Hawaii got off to quick starts and had 20 plus point leads into the second half before conservative play and poor free throw shooting allowed both Montana State and Coastal Carolina to make it interesting, although the Bows were never seriously challenged. Neither of these teams played particularly well. Montana State will have a tough year, and Coastal Carolina really missed two starters from last year. They may get better, but they have a long way to go.

Last night seemed like a carbon copy of the first two games with Hawaii once again getting out to a big lead. They led by 16 with 16 minutes to go, but once again poor free throw shooting and what appears to be a serious deficiency  in help defense in the paint almost led to a stunning defeat as Nevada came roaring back and actually took the lead with less than a minute to go. But give credit to these Bows. Mike Thomas completed a three point play with a great move to the basket and then, with Hawaii down by 1 with just a few seconds to play, Bobbitt completed a coast to coast dribble drive to give Hawaii the win.

Bobbitt had a great tournament. He almost never left the court, created havoc on defense and handled the point with stability and calmness. Sai Tummala demonstrated a deadly outside shot, Aaron , as expected played hard and well on both ends, and Smith gave Hawaii several solid minutes on both ends of the court( he still struggles , however, with any shot outside the paint, including free throws).

But I must say I was disappointed in Jankovic's play. The first two night he towered over his counterparts, but he never dominated the opposing Center preferring to slide away from the basket on his layups and not controlling the boards. We know he loves the outside shot, but in the 4 out, 1 in, offense Hawaii is trying to run, you need a strong presence  in the paint. Last night, neither he nor any of his other frontcourt team-mates appeared capable of stopping Nevada's  penetration once they got past the first line of defense.

As a team, Hawaii seemed convinced they could make threes. But frankly, 30% wont cut it. This team will struggle from outside although on a given nite one or two guys may shoot well from outside. But their defense, in creating turnovers and causing steals, leads to multiple lay-up opportunities and a solid transition game.

With these three wins, and a very easy schedule up to the Diamond Head and then up to league play, I think it quite possible this team will go undefeated until the Classic and  enter league play with only 1 or 2 losses. Yes, they have to go on a one game road trip to Texas Tech, but that team is not very good, and the Bows are road experienced after last year. And who else will they lose to before the Diamond Head? Take a look at the schedule and tell me.

It was great to see the team react to last night's win before a roaring student dominated crowd. The place was rocking and the game, although not very artistic , was thrilling, especially the final five minutes. It is clear this team has talent and is well- coached. They are not perfect, at least not yet. The free throwing shooting will cause them a game or two if it doesn't improve, and making outside shots on the road is more difficult than at home. And they have to figure out how to defend in the paint without fouling.

By the way, the new emphasis on opening up play by limiting defensive hand -checking, etc, doesn't appear to be working just yet. Way too many fouls over the weekend, and somewhat inconsistent officiating, especially in the first two games.

Hope to see a big crowd for Sunday's game. This team deserves it.



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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Let the Games Begin

November 12th, 2015

Its time. No more  speculation about the new season. The season begins in 24 hours.

And UH could not find a better opponent . Montana State, to put it gently, is not very good. How bad are they? Well, CBS Sports ranked all 351 Div 1 basketball teams. The Bobcats are 337. They are picked to finish at the bottom of the Big Sky Conference. That bad.

We spoke to their coach, Brian Fish, last nite on Hoops talk. A real nice guy. Comes from Oregon and Creighton so he knows big time basketball. Told us that Oregon traveled with a Chef.  But he was honest with us in stating he is in the beginning of a significant rebuilding effort at Montana State. Face it, they won 7 games last year, and 4 players transferred . He has brought in 8 new players so who knows what to expect.

For UH, they may be at full strength. Thomas is healthy, and Jankovic will play. We may even see Fleming. Its the debut of the 4 out and 1 in motion offense.  Simply put, its 4 players outside and 1 in the post. Once used by Kentucky, not used by anyone  much anymore,  its an offense that Coach Ganot is well-versed in. One problem is that it requires solid outside shooters and that is not one of the Bows strengths. If its going to work, folks like Bobbitt will need to find their shooting touch early and often.  How likely is it that we will see Stepteau make 50% of his threes like he did the other nite?  On the other hand, how likely is that we will see Tummala go 2-12 from the field? Also, you need a solid post player. The closest we have is probably Jankovic, and he likes to think of himself as a three man. It may come down to Thomas or Jovanovic in the post.

Defensively, UH should be solid. The new emphasis on hand-checking, etc may impact the team's defensive intensity, but I still expect UH will create more turnovers than they make. And I know that under these coaches they will play hard. For UH to be successful, the defense will be a key as I don't expect this team will score 80 points very often ( but you never know).

Jankovic and Valdes are the keys to success. Aaron had a great game against Chaminade ( 14-24; 14 rebounds). Stefan did not ( 3 rebounds and 5 fouls in 14 minutes). I expect Aaron will prove why he is preseason all Conference, and I expect Jankovic will be one of the better big men in the Conference by mid-season.

The next two games in the Tournament will be more challenging. Coastal Carolina is good. A very solid mid-major. Nevada is not what it used to be, but it still has a name . I will blog about these games on Sunday and Monday. Meanwhile, lets show some support for these new Bows and Eran. Yes, I know the game is up against the Football High School Play-offs, but they deserve a decent crowd for the opener.

My prediction. UH by 20. Go Bows


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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What Did We Learn From The Exhibition?

November 9th, 2015

Not much.

An overtime win over Div 2 Chaminade, after bring down by more than 20 in the first half, really doesn't tell us very much about UH going into the season opener this Friday. First , the Bows played without Mike Thomas and you know who.  Thomas has looked pretty good in practice and Fleming certainly gives UH a solid on the court backcourt presence, even if his immaturity is an ongoing issue.

, Chaminade can play against Division 1 teams when it makes threes. They have never impressed me with their defense. Thursday night,  they made 10 threes to Hawaii's 11. But what is disconcerting, among other things, is that the Silverswords out-rebounded  UH by 11. Not a good sign when the Bows are taller and supposedly more physical. Part of it was the poor game by Jankovic. The tallest player on the court had a miserable game. Yes he scored 12 points, but he had only three rebounds and fouled out in 14 minutes of play. If the Bows are going to have a successful season, he is the key.

Hawaii would have lost this game but for the unexpected three point outburst by Brocke Stepteau. He came off the bench in the second half to score 15 points on 4-8 from three. Considering both Bobbitt and Tummala were 1-6 from three, Brocke saved what would have been an embarrassing loss for UH. But can you expect that kind of performance on a consistent basis?

Valdes showed why he has been picked preseason all Conference. 31 points and 14 rebounds in 31 minutes. Smith had a solid game in relief of who know who, and Bobbitt had 15 assists with only three turnovers.

It was a game dominated by poor officiating. The teams took 65 free throws, and neither team never really got into any offensive flow because almost every possession was interrupted by a whistle. As I wrote in my column last week. there is new emphasis on hand checking, but hopefully more experienced officials will handle things better.

The two things that most concern me about this year's team still concern me. They are a  lack of depth and inconsistent outside shooting. But I am encouraged by the fight in this year's team, coming back from 20 plus down,  There did appear to be more consistent half court offense, and you know Jankovic will have much better nights. I expect Tummala to show steady improvement ( remember he was playing in the PAC 12 at Arizona State), and the return of Thomas will certainly help the frontcourt which is very thin.

But now its time to put aside all of the off season issues, and get ready to focus on 2015-16. We will know much more about this team after this weekend's three games against mid-level competition. I will preview the Tournament both on the blog later this week and on Hoops talk Weds evening at 7 on ESPN 1420. Don't know about you, but I am excited  about the season, not only for the Bows, but for Coach Beeman and the Wahine, and college basketball in general. Let the games begin.


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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How Others See Us (And Me)

November 5th, 2015

Its time to see how the more prestigious basketball prognosticators see the prospects for UH this season.

Lets start with the Pomeroy ratings. Ken Pomeroy uses a very sophisticated statistical analysis to compile his daily rankings. Preseason, he has UH 94 out of the 351 schools in Division 1. In fact, he has UH number 1 in the Conference.

Next is ESPN. It has UH as the "sleeper" team in the Big West with Irvine as the clear number 1 (same as the Big West media). ESPN has also selected Bobbitt to its all-conference team.

Sports Illustrated, in this week's issue, has ranked all 351 teams. Using its own mathematical formula, it has UH 93rd. S.I has Irvine at 86th. Its picks UH to finish second in the Conference. UH's offensive rank is 144, but its defensive rank is 68.

Bleacher Report has Irvine as the favorite with Hawaii close behind. It has Irvine at 95 and the Bows at 104.5

But the major bible of college basketball is Blue Ribbon, who publish a 400 plus book evaluating every div 1 team. It picks Hawaii 4th in the Conference behind Irvine, Long Beach State, and Santa Barbara. It says Hawaii has the third best backcourt in the league and has Valdes on the preseason conference team. In its analysis it gives UH an A- for the backcourt, a B+ for the frontcourt, a B for Bench/Depth, and a B- for " intangibles".  In Summary, Blue Ribbon says rebounding and perimeter shooting are problem areas, but there is no " glaring deficiencies"  on the roster".

And then there is me and all of you. First me, I like this year's team. They have experience and talent. Defensively, they should be as good, and they will play with more structure and discipline( you can bet they wont lead the league in technical fouls). In Bobbitt, Smith, Thomas, and Jankovic,  they have a solid core of returning players. They have a few newcomers who will be called on to contribute quickly in Drammeh and Tummala.  They could use Fleming, but his future is problematic. They should be good defensively. But there are issues. Outside shooting and depth will be an issue. They don't have a clear on-court leader just yet. Any serious injury will be a major problem, both in the backcourt and frontcourt. They do have a very easy non-conference schedule, outside of the Diamond Head and the single road game at Texas Tech. And there are always questions with a new coaching staff and a new system.

My pick. I see UH ending the season no worse than 4th, and I think with a few breaks and no serious injuries, they could finish second. The poor schedule will hurt their post-season opportunities, but I will go out on a limb and say they will play into late March. The league is not as strong as last year, and outside of Irvine, there is no clear number 2.

We will see a little more of where this year's team is tonight in the Chaminade exhibition.  But how do you folks see the season? Will this team compete for the Big West title? Is post-season within its grasp? Do you think  the new coaching regime can improve on last year's  22 wins.?  I am predicting a non-conference record of 9-4 to start the season, and a 11-5 Conference record. That translates to a 20-9 regular season record, and with two wins in the tournament, matching last year's win total. Am I crazy?


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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New Rules

November 3rd, 2015

There a number of new rules in college basketball this season, and some will certainly impact UH.

The first is that the shot clock will be reduced from 35 to 30 seconds In 1985, it was 45 seconds, reduced to 35 in 1992. It should slightly increase the number of possessions per game, but I don't think it will do much to address the " scoring crisis". Last year, div 1 teams averaged 67.7 points per game,  and the number of possessions was the lowest since 2002. Last year, non-NCAA tournament games experimented with the shorter shot clock. It added two additional possessions per game ( WOW), but scoring increased by 4.5 points. Maybe that was because better teams played in the post season. Having to guard for 5 seconds less should help good defensive teams, like UH. On the other hand, teams with half court offensive problems will see those  increase. And I suspect you will see more three-quarter zone defenses to force teams into late shot clock situations.

Another rule designed to speed up the game deals with time-outs. Coaches cannot call a time-out while the ball is in play, only players can. Many, including me, would have preferred a rule that eliminated live ball time outs completely. That would stop the time out when a player is falling out of bounds or tied up on a loose ball and would " reward" a good defensive play. Also, you will  not see a media time-out 15 seconds after a team timeout. The team timeout will count as the media time-out so we wont have a 3 minute stoppage of play.

A potential change is not really a change at all, but an emphasis on enforcement. It concerns hand checking   " keeping a hand or forearm on an opponent". and impeding the dribbler. Last year it lead to an early season explosion of fouls, but as the season progressed, most observers believe officials caved in to pressure from coaches, players and even fans who got tired of the march to the line. But the NCAA has made it clear that this year officials who don't call these fouls will find themselves at home during the NCAA Tournament. So teams that play aggressive defense, like UH, will have some adjusting to do. Even things like " bodying up" will not be tolerated this year, or so they say.

The game might be getting a little uglier, but its an effort to eliminate rough play and speed up the game. Seems to me these changes conflict with each other, but so be it. The changes appear quite modest, and it remains to be seen how officials will react. At the Green-White scrimmage, the four officials did seem to call several " touch fouls", and on a team that loves to pressure the ball and create steals, there will be a learning curve to avoid the opponents march to the free throw line.

One thing that hasn't changed for the better and in fact will delay games, is the officials ability to " go to the monitor". This year, officials can review potential shot clock violations on made baskets and whether a player ' flopped". The later can be punished with a technical foul. Seems to be me there are already too many instances of going to the monitor.

Later this week I will summarize some of the National publication predictions for UH and the Big West. Tomorrow on Hoops talk at 7,  Laura Beeman will be out guest.


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 Battle Of Wills

October 30th, 2015

Are you surprised by the latest episode involving Issac Fleming. I'm not.

When Eran Ganot was hired by UH, I silently predicted ( safe that way), that at some point, sooner rather than later, there would be a clash of wills between Ganot and at least one or two players. Why? its simple. Eran publically stated , and privately to me, that he intended to bring a different culture to the program, both on and off the court.  He made it clear that he was going to expect his players to conduct themselves as student-athletes. That included going to class, not breaking team and University rules, and keeping their cool on the court.

A brief review of last year supports an argument that as good as the team was in wins and losses, some of the players were not exactly doing that well in other areas. Example one. In the entire league last year, there were 20 technical fouls . Hawaii alone had 12. That's right, UH had more "T"'s than all the other teams combined. Only one non UH player had more than 1 ( and that was 2). Fleming alone had 5 ( Bobbitt had 3 along with Nevels).

Off the court, we had the pot incident in Riverside in January where the team hotel complained about the odor of smoke and charged UH 500 dollars for a cleaning fee. No big deal according to the UH coach and AD at the time. I beg to differ. And was there any discipline imposed. None publically ( no suspensions, etc.  although maybe some confidential drug testing).

And there was lots of talk about possible academic issues including issues possibly affecting the team APR. Fortunately, those issues were apparently resolved by the end of the semester.

Before Ganot got the job, Fleming was quoted as saying he would leave if Benji was retained. And then after Ganot was hired, he repeated his desire to leave.. Why he didn't  only he knows, but perhaps he never got the " right" offer or the fact that he would have to sit out a year made a difference.

Make no mistake about it. The team needs Fleming's talent on the floor, but at what cost. Ganot has some tough decisions to make. Does he " bend" his rules or alter his coaching philosophy to keep someone like Fleming on the team, at a time where he doesn't really have the talent to replace him. or does he decide that wins and losses need to be balanced against the student in student athlete.

The best of both worlds would be a transformation by Flemings. Bobbitt and perhaps others had some of these issue last season, but at least on the surface, they are buying into Coach Ganot's philosophy  both on and off the court.  All we know from UH today is that Fleming is dealing with " personal issues" and no one knows when or if he will return. Lets hope whatever those issues are they can be resolved, both for the team and Flemings sake. He can make a significant contribution to this year's team, but its up to him.

Your thoughts?


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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Hoops Talk Returns

October 28th, 2015

Hard to believe its almost time for a new season. Despite multiple requests, Hoops Talk returns as well.

What an offseason it has been. The settlement of the Arnold lawsuit, the on-going NCAA investigation soon to reach a conclusion, the new regime under Coach Ganot, a new system both on and off the court, and it all leads to the opening game just two weeks away.

The media preseason rankings came out today. Uh is predicted to finish 3rd behind Irvine and Santa Barbara and just ahead of Long Beach State. I agree with these predictions. Uh returns 4 starters on a team that was 5 minutes away from going to the NCAA.  One of those is Aaron Valdes who has been selected preseason All-Conference. One glaring omission from the all- conference teams is Roderick Bobbitt, who lead the Conference in steals and was second team last year.

I expect strong seasons from Jankovic and improved play from Fleming , Thomas, and Jovanovic. Not sure what we can expect from the new guys, but Sai Tummala will have to contribute right away.  At the Green-White scrimmage last week, some things were obvious. The good- a much more disciplined and structured offense; huddles on fouls, more on-court communication, and not unexpectedly, solid defense, although the new emphasis on hand checking will be an issue. Some things that may create some issues- inconsistent outside shooting and a lack of depth in the frontcourt.

Honestly, the schedule is quite weak. Outside of the Diamond Head, likely one of the weakest in Div 1 among decent Conferences. But that should translate into lots of wins out of the Conference, even if they are not fan friendly opponents.

Jackson and I are back with Hoops Talk starting tonight ( weds) at 7 pm on ESPN 1420 and continuing every weds thru the end of the season.  Our first quest will be Coach Ganot. The show this year will expand our coverage of Wahine basketball and Pac West basketball .

As those of you who follow this blog know, and I appreciate all of you,  we try to be as honest as we can, even if folks may disagree. Hoops Talk is meant to be an interactive blog and will only continue to succeed if you folks interact with  your comments. No opinion is censored so long as it is based upon facts and is not defamatory.

Should be a good year for UH basketball, both Men's and Women's. Stay tuned

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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It's been fun

April 29th, 2015

Well, its time to shut down Hoopstalk  until  October. As always , its been an interesting trip since last October.

First, I want to thank all of you who read the blog, and special thanks goes to all of you who took the time to write your comments, whether they were in support or critical. From the very first blog, I told folks that I wanted Hoopstalk to be a forum for UH basketball fans, no matter their opinions of the team or the blog.

Its was a fascinating year, and the fall-out still is to be determined. Over the summer and into early Fall, any sanctions arising out of the NCAA investigation will be determined. I expect UH to announce any self-imposed sanctions within a month or so. Coach Arnold's claims against the UH are proceeding thru a grievance process and who knows if subsequent litigation will ensue arising out of his termination. I hope not.

We have a new coach and he has lots of work to do in a very short time. Finding a staff, completing recruiting, setting a schedule that folks want to see,  etc etc etc.  And Benji hopefully will land on his feet at another institution.

The players need to get thru the semester with passing grades and hopefully all will decide to stay. UH cannot afford to lose any more players as it will severely impact its APR.

Budget issues continue to plague the UH athletic program. Its impacts every sport, basketball included. Somehow answers need to be found as to how to minimize the red ink.

As far as wins and losses, it was a successful year . 22 wins after all the turmoil and uncertainty is a tribute to the team and coaches. And making it to the championship game of the tournament was something we haven't seen in quite sometime. Was it a perfect season? Of course not. Except for Duke, it wasn't for many teams. There were off the court issues,  some disappointing losses to the better teams in the league, and a weak schedule that really didn't interest the casual fan, But all in all, it was a season that we will remember  for the way this team played defense, hustled in every game, and provided us fans with lots of thrills and "w"'s.

Tonight is also the final radio Hoopstalk. We have had a great season of guests, listener phone calls, and discussion and debate. I want to thank all of our sponsors and listeners who make the show possible.

Hoopstalk will hopefully return in October, both in print and on radio. Not sure whether that's a promise or a threat.



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 New Coach

April 15th, 2015

I guess there has been lots of radio talk show and blog comments about the coaching decision made by the Chancellor based on the recommendation of the incoming AD and his committee. I do not intend to get involved in that discussion ( see my response to my "Its Duke" blog) other than to say I know how hard Dave Matlin worked in Indy to get a coach quickly so that the coach could hit the ground running in a timely fashion.

There were many good applicants and several ' finalists", including Benji. After all the interviews and due diligence, Eran was selected. A disclaimer from me. Eran has been my friend since he coached here. I think he is a great choice. I also wish Benji the best wherever he winds up. The reality is that coaches come and go, but we all need to get behind the program.

The early signs are that the players are all staying and that is great news. With losing only one Senior, and even with a late start on recruiting, UH has the talent to compete with the top teams in the league next season. Yes there are roadblocks ahead including The NCAA investigation and the self-imposed and possible NCAA sanctions, possible academic issues including APR , and as mentioned, a slow start on recruiting. But the future is bright. We have a young, talented, enthusiastic head coach who has been at one of the Country's top mid majors for the past several years who has coached here and knows and loves Hawaii.

Eran will be live in the studio tonight on Hoopstalk. I hope he will get to answer some of your questions. Its been a whirlwind few days for the new coach. He needs to pick a staff, find a home, bond with the players, get our on the road to recruit, etc, etc.  I have said all along that the UH men's basketball job is a coveted one. Eran knows that. With all of our support, the program will survive and prosper.

And I would remiss if I didn't say what a relief it is that Coach Beeman is staying.. I am sure it was not an easy choice for Laura, but our Women's basketball program is on the rise both on the Court and at the gate. I cant wait for the season to start anew.


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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