Archive for November, 2011

The Curse of Hawaii

November 30th, 2011

if you needed anymore evidence of how difficult it is to travel to Hawaii to play basketball and then play your next game against a quality opponent on the road, look no further than last night Duke loss to Ohio State and Michigan's loss to Virgina. In my view, the two best teams in Maui last week were Duke and Michigan. Yet, both were beaten badly last night in their first games back on the Mainland, after traveling home on either Thurs or Friday, and then going on the road on Monday to play Tuesday games. Is Ohio State really good? S ure, but its not  that they beat Duke, its how badly they beat them. And Virgina is a solid team, but they had little trouble with a very good Michigan team.

I remember when teams used to come out for the Rainbow Classic and i would talk to the coach of the team i hosted about their next game after the classic. How soon after their return? Was it on the road? it didn taket a team long to discover that it was important to play at home against a weaker opponent. In fact, some schools stopped coming here to play in the Rainbow when conference games began to be played right after Christmas.

So the next time someone complains about Hawaii's play on the road, think of how you feel the first few days after you travel from here to the Mainland ( especially to the East Coast). and then imagine having to play a basketball game. Yes i know its supposed to be easier on younger folks, and yes, there is a difference between a team first coming here and then going back, and a Hawaii team that starts its journey here, but its still tough.

Having said all that, I am picking Hawaii to win both games at Pepperdine and Pacific. Pepperdine scored 11 points in the first half against a weak UCLA team the other night ( yes, it was UCLA's first game after the Maui Classic, but it was at home against a weak opponent so my theory still stands), and Pacific was destroyed at Stanford ( by more than 40), in its first game back after beating Hawaii here on Friday night. Realistically, a split is probably more likely, but two losses against this competition would be hard to explain.

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Bernie Fine- Part 2

November 28th, 2011

The news last night about Syracuse Associate Head Coach Bernie Fine, including the tape-recording of a telephone call between his accuser and his wife, Laurie Fine , and his firing by Syracuse, has hit home with this blogger.

As many of you know from my earlier blog about these matters, I have been friends with Bernie since I was  Freshman at Syracuse University in 1965.  My last meeting with Bernie was at breakfast at last year's Final Four, and I had dinner with Bernie and Laurie in Syracuse in March of 2009.

I guess what i now know all too well is that you never really know the demons that possess some people. Although we were not in constant contact over the last 45 years, I would see Bernie almost every year either at the Final Four , in Maui, or at a Syracuse game. We were in regular email touch and he was on my radio show last year.

I knew Bernie's wife fairly well. When we would get together, we would talk about our families, and I knew that they a few  family issues, like many families do, and although I know Laurie to be an outspoken person, I never  suspected she was aware of Bernie's conduct and apparently did nothing to stop it. Also, what was she thinking when she had that taped conversation with Bobby Davis.

Also, although i represent the media, I don't understand the lame excuse ESPN gave to CNN last night as to why they never gave the tape to the police or Syracuse for almost 9 years. The reasons they gave is that they did not have a second accuser until a few weeks ago, and also they did not view themselves as having any obligation to assist the police investigation. Hogwash. They had a tape of Bernie's wife confirming what Davis had told them, and their failure to go to the authorities allowed, possibly, these activities to go on for 9 additional years.

People have asked me about Jim Boeheim's future. I have no idea, except my friends in Syracuse tell me that other than perhaps coming out initially too strongly on behalf of his longtime friend ( something he has now publicly regretted), there is currently no evidence that he or anyone else associated with Syracuse Basketball or the University had knowledge of these events, except for the intial charges investigated back in 2002 when no one came forward to corroborate the accusations. In other words, at least based upon present knowledge, this is not Penn State.

Its kind of hard to focus on the game of basketball right now, but hopefully some good will come from all this, although right now, i am not sure what that could be. Maybe folks will become more aware of child sexual abuse by prominent folks, although if they didn't become more aware after the Catholic Church situation, I am not sure these two incidents involving prominent coaches will do it. When you read about these things, it almost always concerns folks you dont know. Its an entirely different story when the accused is a long time friend.

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A Turkey of a Game

November 23rd, 2011

ok, ok, before you haters out there get on me, lets get real about last night's game. It was a woeful performance, and i think even Gib would agree. After beating an inferior opponent a week ago,, and losing to a top 20 team on the road, last night's game was an opportunity to see exactlyy where this year's team in the early season. Unfortunately, it exposed lots of problems.

First, lets give Eastern Washington its due. It is a solid club, but let's face it, they lost 20 games last year in the Big Sky. Yes, they played Oregon and Gonzaga tough in loses, but we are not talking about a top 150 RPI school here.

What was exposed. Number 1, we have no dependable complimentary outside shooter for Zane, and teams have fiqured it out. He will continue to face double teams, and he will not get many open looks which he needs to score. After the game, Coach Arnold said that guy has to be Bereton, but frankly, i havent seen it yet.

Next, Vander really misses Bill Amis. Teams realize he is the only real inside threat and they are doubling down on him every time he touches the ball. He is still not very comfortable in his passing game, and tends to get tangled up in the paint. Last year, teams had to contend with Amis down low. No one has stepped into that role yet.

Stokes has a long way to go. His shooting percentages in the first three games has been awful, and his defense needs lots of work. Yes, he is only a Freshman, and I like his attiude on the court. If this team is to go anywhere, he needs to step up soon.

Rozitis is a 7 foot big man with limited rebounding skills. Last night, the Bows were out-rebounded by a smaller team , and several rebound attempts were merely swatted at by the team, not taken down and controlled.

On the positive side, Bobby Miles played a solid game at the point and has shown much improvement over last year. And Wiseman continues to play steady basketball on both ends of the court.  Jefferson shows promise defensively.

Thomas continues to be an enigma. He continues to make mental errors and take ill advised shots, but when he plays within himself, he shows how important he can be to the long term success of this team.

 The big problem last night was the defensive failures in stopping the penetration by the Eagles. They drove inside at will for lay-up after lay-up. There was little help defense, and showed that Hawaii will have trouble with teams with quicker guards. Frankly, lets hope last night is not indicative of where this team will be come conference play. They have a fairly easy opponent this Friday in Pacific, and they have to know how disappointing their performance was last night to the fans and the coaches. They were out-hustled and out-played. The jury is still out on this team, but there are problems that need to be addressed and some that may plague them throughout the season. I remain optimistic, however, that the coaches will get things fixed and the team will chalk last night's loss as " just one of those things".

Happy Thanksgiving. Come on out Friday to show this team some support. The season has a long way to go.

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November 22nd, 2011

lots of basketball in hawaii today. here is how i see the results.

on Maui, the semifinals will feature number 6 Duke against number 15 Michigan. Duke will win this game, but it wont be easy. Duke has a strong frontcourt and lots of good guards. what they dont have is a good tweener who can defend a player like Michigan's Tim Hardaway, Jr, who scored 21 yesterday in Michigan's win against Memphis.

In the late game, UCLA plays Kansas. UCLA, who has struggled against Division 1 teams so far this year. The Bruins ran by Chaminade in the second half  after the Silverswords were down only 2 at the half. Kansas beat a tough Georgetown team in the best first round game. Give this one to Kansas fairly easily.

Then tonight, The Rainbow Warriors return home to play Eastern Washington. The Eagles are 1-2, having beaten South Dakota with losses against Oregon and Gonzaga. They led both of these games in the second half. If you play the compare game, they lost to Gonzaga by 8, Hawaii by 19. Hawaii should win this game by 8 to 10, but to do so, they will have to defend the three ( Eastern Washington has attempted almost 29 threes per game, making 11), and cut down on turnovers, 23 against Gonzaga. The good news is that Eastern Washington is a poor shooting team, making only 37 percent from the field.

So far, the Rainbow Warriors fairly easily won the game they were supposed to win and lost the game they were supposed to lose. They hung tough with Gonzaga for about 33 minutes, but faltered badly down the stretch. Tonight should give us a little clearer understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of this year's team. I still believe that with the very easy schedule they face prior to the Diamond Head Classic, they should not lose again until the second round of the Classic ( the only bump in that road could be Pepperdine on the road).

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its Michigan

November 21st, 2011

Michigan ran away from Memphis in the second half to win rather easily, setting up a potential semi-final against Duke. These teams last played in the 3rd round of last year's NCAA tournament with Duke coming away with a hard fought win.

Michigan, ranked 15th, had little trouble with 8th ranked Memphis, winning 73-61. Michigan was led by Tim Hardaway Jr's 21 points. Memphis is clearly over-rated, and Michigan has good balance and will be a force in the big 10.

The field for 2012 and 2013 have been announced. UNC leads next year's field and my Orangemen will be here in 2013.

The next game will feature number 5 Duke against Tennessee. I see an all State of Tenessee loser's bracket game tomorrow morning

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at the half

November 21st, 2011

at the half, the score is Michigan 37-memphis 31. But the excitement came after the buzzer when both teams met at midcourt for a little pushing and shoving after Memphis last second layup was blocked as time expired.

Michigan got an early lead, lost it with 6 minutes to go, but ended the half on a 6 point run. Memphis biggest lead was 4.

fun facts. Michigan's best player may be Tim Hardaway, Jr, son of former NBA and UTEP great, Tim Hardaway. The Memphis Tigers have 8 players from Memphis. By the way, outside of the Memphis zoo, when was the last time anyone saw a tiger in Memphis.

Other Tournament fun facts. Only Duke and Syracuse, both of my alma maters, have nver lost here in Maui. Duke is 12-0 and Syracuse is 6-0. UNC has the most wins 13. Chaminade, the " host team" , is 6-73 with its last win coming in 2007 when they beat Princeton.

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from courtside on maui

November 21st, 2011

just minutes away from the first game of the 28th annual EA Sports Maui Invitational. The first game features second favorite and top ten Memphis against Michigan. The second game this morning will have favorite Duke against Tenessee. Duke has never lost a game here on Maui and i would be surprised if they didnt win the championship again this year.

Later this afternoon, Chaminade takes on UCLA and Georgetown plays Kansas. If things go according to form, the semi final tomorrow with Memphis against Duke should be a classic with Kansas expected to walk into the final.

This is my 23rd time here at the Maui Invitational and it has grown into what most people acknowledge is the best tournament of its kind. The chance, for example, folks from Duke, Memphis and Kansas to watch their teams from ten feet away and mingle with them at the hotels is unmatched.

I wont get to see the final on weds as i need to get back to Honolulu after the Duke semi-final tomorrow to call the Hawaii-Eastern Washington game with Bobby. Oh well.

its time for tip off. i will be back with a summary of this game in two hours

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Oh Canada

November 19th, 2011

In a game strangely similar to last year's loss against BYU in Salt Lake, Hawaii scored only 4 points in the last 7 and a half minutes and lost to the Gonzaga Zags by 19 Saturday night. The Rainbow Warriors kept it close for 32 minutes, but fell apart in the final minutes to lose 73-54.

It was a memorable night for at least one reason.  Coach Arnold got ejected after picking up his second technical foul. One reason for the technicals might have been the foul disparity as Gonzaga shot 28 free throws to the Bows 8 ( they only made 18)

The game saw the good and bad you get with a freshman point guard. Shaq Stokes was the leading Rainbow scorer with 17 points on 6-17 shooting, but he had 6 turnovers to go with a single assist. Bobby Miles had three points in 38 minutes, but had 5 assists against only 2 turnovers.

As i have said many times already this year, as Zane goes, so go the Warriors. Zane had, for him, a poor night. Only 12 points on 4-12 field goals. Vander had 12 rebounds but only 6 points. Rozitis had his best game with 9 points and 9 rebounds. And we talked about on the show Thursday, you cannot expect double-doubles from Wiseman on a regular basis. Tonight he had 3 points and 6 rebounds in 20 minutes. Solid, but not spectacular.

The Bows went into the game as 13 point underdogs and were down by 6 at the half. Just like last year when they were a big underdog against a top 25 team in BYU, they kept it close until they faltered down the stretch.

They have now beaten a team they were supposed to beat easily, and lost to one they were supposed to lose to, all by pretty predictable margins. The game Tuesday against a decent Eastern Washington team should be pretty competitive and may give us a few more hints about how good this team will be.

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bernie fine

November 17th, 2011

i was getting ready to blog about the hoopstalk show tonight and the upcoming game against Gonzaga when i got a phonecall from Bobby Curren asking me if i had seen the breaking story about Bernie Fine, Syracuse University's assistant basketball coach for the past 30 plus years. I hadn't, but i now have. What a shock.

I have been friends with Bernie since I was a Freshman and he was an upperclassman at Syracuse, and he rushed me to join his fraternity. I didn't join that fraternity, but I have remained friends with Bernie since 1965. In fact, just yesterday he and I exchanged emails and i got no hint of this breaking story.

I know Bernie pretty well. I know his wife and kids. In fact, i had dinner with them just 18 months ago in Syracuse. I am shocked by the allegations. I have already talked to friends in Syracuse who are friends with Bernie and they tell me people are in shock. Parents of at least one former player have told my friends that their son never saw anything suspicious. I have also been told that the accuser and alleged victim is well known within the Syracuse basketball community.

I, like you, need to wait for the facts to come out before concluding whether Bernis is a pedophile, or has been unjustly accused in the aftermath of the Penn State situation. For now, i cant believe that the Berniw Fine I call a friend could have been molesting Bobby Douglas for years, and perhaps others as well. I know Bernie as a family man who did take a number of boys under his wing, even while he was a student at Syracuse. This is a tragedy no matter how it ends up, and it has hit very close to home for me. lets hope the truth prevails

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One Down

November 15th, 2011

UH dominated Cal State Northridge in the second half on its way to a fairly easy victory over a clearly over-matched opponent last night before a small, but vocal crowd at the Arena. There isnt much to take away from the game , but some things were obvious.

On the positive side, is there a better offensive player in the WAC than Zane Johnson? I doubt it. But if he goes down, it will be a long season. Zane is clearly the primary offensive weapon on this team, and will need to contribute 20 points per game if the Bows are to be competitive. Trevor Wiseman had his best game as a Rainbow, contributing a double- double and playing well on the defensive end. Can he do that game in and game out. Probably not, but he gives Coach Arnold a solid player at the 4 . And Bobby Miles looks like a better player than last year. He is still not a great shooter, but he is a solid point guard who cal help this team off the bench.

On the less than positive side, what's up with Josten Thomas. He got limited minutes again, and dint do much except fire up 16 foot shots that clanged off the rim. He is real enigma, and how long Gib tolerates his inconsistent play remains to be seen. Vander had an average game in a situation in which he was taller than the Matadors and should have had a good game. He looked a little tentative offensively, and it might have been due to some early foul trouble. But he failed to pass the ball out of the post and wanted to body his way to the basket NBA style. I wonder how much he misses Bill Amis on the inside.

Lastly, Shaquille Stokes had another poor shooting night and made a few Freshman mistakes. Yes he woke up in the second half, and I like his attitude on the court, but he is not yet the second coming of AC Carter. It was the style of game that favored Stokes ( up and down), but he didnt take advantage of it. However, he demonstrated a few great moves to the basket and made a few good passes. I look forward to seeing how he progresses.

Well, it was game that UH was expected to dominate, and after a lackluster first half, the Bows took it to the Matadors in the second. But this Saturday may well be a very different story. The team goes to Vancouver to play Gonzaga, a top 25 team close to its home. It will be a real test for the Bows who maybe as much as a 20 point underdog. But remember last year when the team traveled to BYU and gave Jimmer and the Cougers a contest. I dont expect UH to win, but credit Gib for taking on this game. The good news is after Saturday, I dont think UH will be an underdog in any game thru the first night of the Diamond Head Classic.

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