By Jeff Portnoy
Its easy at Holiday time to try to sugar-coat things that cant be sugar-coated, so I wont try. Saturday night's loss to Pepperine is a bad loss. Losing by 1 to a good Illinois team or at UNLV can be rationalized. Losing at home against a WCC team picked to finish towards the bottom of their league and who lost to Utah Valley State cannot.
What was most disturbing to me about the loss was the lack of effort , especially in the first half. One team came to play and it wasnt the home team. In every game before this, UH played hard. It grabbed the loss balls, played with emotion, and even when playing aginst more talented teams, appeared to accept the challenge. Saturday night, almost nothing went right.
Once again, poor free throw shooting dominated the adverse statistics. And after 7 games, 6 at home, can you realy expect much improvement. Turnovers continue to haunt the team. Saturday night, in a half court game, 10 turnovers ( not many) led to 22 points ( way too many. That's more than 2 points per turnover). The lack of effort is best demonstrated by the fact that much bigger and stronger UH team ( Pepperdine's tallest starter was only 6'7), only outrebounded Pepperdine by 5. And most of all, Pepperdine controlled the tempo, forcing the Bows to play their half court game instead of the transition game UH prefers.
The lack of consistent outside shooting was again evident, as Brereton and Spearman struggled to make shots. And let's face it, Vander is not back to where he needs to be, not having one offensive rebound and only one block ( that's a total of just three for the season).
Were there any positives? Not many, although you I could look to Tavita's three threes. On a night like Saturday, there wasnt much else.
What is particularly troublesome about Saturday night's loss is that Pepperdine is a lot like the teams Hawaii will play in Conference, guard dominated and not very big. Can you chalk up the loss to it just being a bad night all around? I guess you can. Certainly no one can seriously count this team out, particularly in a weak Big West Conference where the preseason favorite, Long Beach State, is being beaten like a rug by top 100 teams. Is this the team that took Illionois to the wire or the team we saw Saturday night. The jury is still out, at least this juror.