Archive for February, 2011

News and Notes

February 28th, 2011

Saturday night's  WAC games once again demonstrated a couple of things I have been writing about the WAC this season. The first is just how weak a conference the WAC is this year. I cant remember a year when the Conference, other than Utah State , has been as poor as this year. Teams like New Mexico State, Fresno, and Nevada have fallen off the basketball map.

Secondly, teams that are well coached, disciplined, and maybe not as talented, are beating teams with more talent, but lack teamwork and heart. How many times on Saturday night did a New Mexico State player forget there were four other team-mates on the floor, while the Bows continued to demonstrate that five will almost always beat one or two.

Some predictions on where teams will wind up. I know some Hawaii media types continue to believe Hawaii has a real chance to finish fourth and get a first round bye. Folks, it will take a perfect storm for that to happen. Utah State will finish first and Boise second. Boise is 9-6 and has only San Jose at home. Idaho will finish third in my view. The Vandals are 8-7 and have Fresno at home. New Mexico State will finish fourth. The Aggies are 8-6, and have Utah State and Nevada at home. They will win at least one of those games. Hawaii is currently tied with Nevada at 7-7. Nevada has to go to La Tech and New Mexico State and could lose both. Hawaii will play at San Jose and Fresno. I predict a win at Fresno and a loss at San Jose. However, if Hawaii were to win both games, and New Mexico  were to lose two ( they have not lost at home in the WAC all year), the Bows could sneak into fourth.  But if Hawaii were to lose both games, and San Jose won both, they would be tied.  And on and on. My prediction, which I made two weeks ago, Hawaii finishes fifth and plays Fresno in Round one.

Hoopstalk will be on tomorrow ( tuesday) at 6. We are moved again because of circumstances beyond our control. And it has been confirmed that I will covering the Final Four for the Star-Advertiser in Houston with daily reports and blogs.

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On Their Way

February 25th, 2011

With last night's convincing win over La Tech, the Bows have clinched a spot in the WAC Tournament, something they failed to do for the past two years. They also won their 16th game, and guaranteed themselves a winning record, something they hadn't done in the past three years.

Its hard to predict exactly where Hawaii will be seeded in the Tournament, but with Boise and Idaho's road wins last night, my best guess is 5th, which an outside chance at 4th and the bye that come with it. It will take three wins by Hawaii in its last three games ( not an easy task), and some tie-breaker mathematics, but its possible. My best guess first game opponent, if no bye,  is Fresno, who Hawaii will play in its last regular season game.

With 16 wins already in the books, Hawaii is posed for 18 or even 19 wins. What a turn-around. And if they get to 18, I believe they will have a chance for post- season play. If they can get a first round bye in the Tournament, based on how they are playing, I think they can get to the Championship game, and then who knows. Right now, I think Utah State or Idaho is the likely Tournament champ, but Hawaii is playing as well as anyone in the league.

Dont miss Senior night tomorrow> First, it is a huge game with New Mexico State in town. And its time to say goodbye to Douglas Kurtz, Bill Amis, and Hiram. Three finer student-athletes would be hard to find. They played thru much adversity, on losing teams, a coaching change, and injuries, but they never quit on the program. They are truly warriors.

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AC and Show tonight

February 23rd, 2011

You don't want to miss Hoopstalk tonight on ESPN 1420.Tonight only, we will be on at 7 pm. If everything goes as planned, we will have a live exclusive interview with Hawaii basketball legend, AC Carter, who will have just finished his first game as a NY Knick.  It will be fascinating to get the inside scope on the Melo trade and where AC fits into the big picture.

Also, it has been announced that AC will be inducted into the UH Hall of Honor tomorrow night. It is an honor well deserved and in my opinion, overdue. If you are a UH basketball fan, I am sure you often think back to the AC/ Alika glory days of UH Basketball.

Also on tonight, New Mexico coach Marvin Menzies whose team is fighting for the double bye in the tournament. The Aggies will be here for Senior night Saturday after playing at San Jose tomorrow.They have a one game lead on Nevada and will end their season at home against Utah State and Nevada so nothing is certain.

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Some Thoughts on the National Level

February 22nd, 2011

With just two weeks to go in the regular season, teams are jockeying for either Conference byes  or Big Dance invitations. What is clear is that there is no dominant team out there, and picking your bracket this year will not be easy.

This weekend, for the first time in years, all top four teams lost on the same weekend. Ohio State, Pitt, Kansas, and Texas all lost allowing Duke to sneak back into the number one slot.

Meanwhile, two Mountain West teams, continue their march to the top. BYU, and especially, San Diego State, are teams to watch. Don't be shocked that when all is said and done, the Aztecs are a number one seed. My guess right now is that ther number ones will be Duke, Ohio State, Pitt, and Kansas.

This year the Tournament will expand to 68 teams, allowing four more average teams a chance to dance. Some people think it will give mid-major teams a chance, but i think it will wind up going to the usual suspects from the Big 6 Conferences, like Mich State , Clemson, and Kansas State instead of St Mary's, Wichita State and Butler( assuming these teams do not win their conference tournaments.

I am thinking of having a contest in which you will be asked to select the 68 teams prior to the conference tournaments with additional points for accurately picking the top 16 seeds . Anybody interested? Don't  know what the prize would be, but the thrill of the competition should make it fun.

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sighs of relief

February 20th, 2011

Well there are two teams breathing a little easier today after yesterday's bracket buster games, but for different reasons. For the Bows, it was a game they simply had to win and they did. What a day for Zane Johnson, who scored 32 points, a career high on great three point shooting. Bill Amis contributed 20 points and Vander 14. 

The Bows played without Hiram ( injury) and Joston (mia), and the bench , Barnes, Kurtz and Miles did not have a single point in 48 combined minutes.

 Not good as you get into the WAC Tournament where the Bows will likley have to play four consecutive days ( assuming they win).

Miah had 7 assists to 4 turnovers, and Wiseman showed why he has apparently replaced Thomas at the small forward position. Speaking of Thomas, no news on what his issues are, but he is not the first Rianbow this season to apparently have issues with their playing time. Frankly, its my view that Coach Arnold is slowely weeding out some of the players who came here with sketchy backgrounds, and over-rated recruiting reports, for guys who play hard and within the concept of " team". But having guys leave the program or missing practices because of " personal issues" is not a good thing in the long run, as it can affect team chemistry and even available scholarships. Hopefully, with a full year this time to recruit, these issues can be addressed.


The other team breathing easier today is Utah State who had a huge road win at St. Marys. That win may well have locked up an at large bid for the Aggies should they get upset in the Tournament.

Well now we get down to the nitty gritty as the teams have only two more weeks of conference play. For the Bows, La Tech and New Mexico State come to town and both should be beat here at home as La Tech is in last and New Mexico struggles on the road.

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Where's Waldo( Joston Thomas)?

February 18th, 2011

I have learned that Joston Thomas did not travel with the team to California. This comes after he " missed" the last two days of practice for what is being described as " personal reasons.".  Everything is pretty mysterious right now, but what I do know is that Joston's playing time has taken a huge hit over the past few games as it appears the coaching staff has decided that Trevor Wiseman is a better bet at the small forward position. Is the lack of playing time a reason for his absence? Or is there more to it?

Thomas has had an up and down career even before he came to UH. He attended several high schools and never lived up to  the hype. His time at UH has been marked by very inconsistent play. Some nights he stays in the paint and plays well, other nights he strays outside, firing up missed threes and dribbling like he thinks he is a Globetrotter. 

He has a world of talent, but in my opinion, he isn't ready to acknowledge his limitations. He often fails to play to his strengths, and appears at times to be playing his own game.  But on a team that is finding itself, and lacks depth, his absence down the stretch would not be a good thing. Hopefully, whatever problems have led to this week's absences will get resolved quickly and not be a disruption for the team at this critical time of the season.

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Little To Gain

February 17th, 2011

Saturday night's Bracketbuster game is a no win proposition for Hawaii, and could actually turn out to be a real issue if Hawaii were to lose. Here are the facts.

UC Davis is 7-16 in the Big West. Its RPI is 265 ( out of 345 schools). Hawaii's RPI is 187 and its record against Div 1 opponents is 13-10. Hawaii has a chance for post season. Its not a great chance, but its possible. A loss to Davis would seriously hurt those chances, a win would do nothing to help.

Hawaii has lost its last two road bracketbuster games to inferior Big West opponents. It lost at Riverside and at Cal Poly. In fact, the bows lost this year at home to Cal Poly.

The trip comes right in the middle of the most important part of Hawaii's WAC schedule when Hawaii is fighting for a decent seed in the WAC Tournament. It has to go on the road right in the middle of a long home stand to play one game and turn right back around and come home.

The game is not televised and frankly, nobody really cares about it when there are important Bracketbuster games to be played the same day on TV, like Utah State at St. Marys.

Coach Arnold diplomatically told me on the show last night that a benefit of the trip is an opportunity to visit some recruits, but Gib could have done that by himself without  the entire team  traveling to the Mainland. And he candidly admitted he would much rather have not had to play the game.

If the Bows lose , we will look back at this game as a possible reason Hawaii's season may end at the WAC Tournament. If it wins, there will be big sigh of relief in Manoa.

Its time to say goodbye to Bracketbusters. Even in the beginning it was a bad idea for the WAC. It was designed to assist " mid-major" teams to possibly get an at-large bid. I though it was a poor concession for the WAC to admit to being a mid-major conference. You didn't see the Mountain West agree to the format. You saw lower level leagues jump at the chance, like the Big West.  Its an ESPN concoction, and we had no choice but to participate. It doesn't mean i have to like it. You shouldn't either

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Buy Your Ticket

February 15th, 2011

UH just about guaranteed its spot at the WAC Tournament with its exciting overtime win over Nevada last night. In giving its fans a Valentine gift to remember, the Bows hung tough against a team that had roughed them up in Reno on New Year's Eve.

If you are casting a ballot for WAC player of the week, look no farther than Vander Joaquim. Vander had 24 points and 9 rebounds, with many his baskets coming on short range jump shots. He  , along with Bill Amis, completely stymied the Nevada front-line.  Bill, by the way, had another double-double, and Miah took the game over down the stretch and made two huge runners in the lane to seal the deal.

With the win, Hawaii now has the second best season record in the WAC and stands in 6 th place in the conference. Quite an improvement for a team that hadn't won 14 games in 4 years and hasn't been to the tournament since 2008.

One down result from last night. Although i have not yet heard the official word, Coach Arnold on the post game told us that it appears that Hiram broke his arm late in the first half. If so, it will mean of a storied career for Hiram. In a career filled with injuries, he was a true warrior playing thru most of them as the only true point guard for two seasons. Although Miah has taken over most of those responsibilities lately, fans need to recognize how much Hiram has meant to this program.

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Some Predictions

February 14th, 2011

Its always risky to go out on a limb and make predictions, but hey, that's the fun of it.

After this weekend's games, here is how i see it with three weeks to go.

I don't think its likely Hawaii will finish in the top four and get a bye. Right now, i see Hawaii winning three of its last five games, and finishing 6th or 7th. I predict they will wind up playing Fresno in the first round ( that would be back to back games as the Bows finish the season at Fresno).

I see La Tech as the odd team out. Its loss at home Sat night to New Mexico State just about takes care of them although San Jose's  loss at home to Nevada leaves some doubt. Advantage to the Spartans however as they get La Tech at home and have a one game advantage.

The top four seeds. Obviously, Utah State. Then I see New Mexico State, Nevada, and I am going with Boise who beat Idaho twice this season. Idaho has the win against Utah State, however, and would win the other tie-breaker, if necessary.

That would place Idaho against San Jose ( 5th vrs 8th) in the other first round game. The winner of the Hawaii-Fresno game would face Nevada in round two.

Tonight , Hawaii faces a Nevada team ,that until its overtime win against San Jose Saturday, had only one road win all season. Hawaii hasn't played in 9 days and even though Nevada destroyed the Bows back on New Year's Eve, I like our chances tonight.

Weds night, dont miss Hoopstalk. Jay Bilas promises he will make it this time, and we hope to have former Rainbow great Carl English as well. Maybe another surprise guest or two. Look forward to your predictions. No prizes, but lots of fun anyway

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Bad Night For the Aggies

February 10th, 2011

Utah State's loss last night at Idaho is not a good thing for anybody but Idaho and some bubble teams. It may mean the end of any possible at-large bid for Utah State, a bid which may now hang in the balance depending upon the bracket buster game at St. Mary's in ten days and whether the Aggies can go thru the rest of the WAC season without another loss. With the WAC's  league RPI so low, only the conference champ will make the big dance in my view.

For Idaho, it was a signature win and no fluke. The Vandals led almost the entire game. After a mid season mini-slump, Idaho may have righted its ship and is in good position for at least a first round bye in the tournament.

Meanwhile, the rest of the league continues their fight for tournament seeding tonight. Its been a quiet week for the Bows who will face a Nevada team Monday that has won only once on the road all season. With three weeks to go, it appears to me that Hawaii can finish anywhere from 4th to 9th. I like our chances in the three remaining home games. I am not as optimistic about the last two road games at Fresno and San Jose. But as we saw last night, nothing is certain in this league.

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