By Jeff Portnoy
There is no way to sugarcoat last night's blow out loss to Cal Poly. In what is Hawaii's worst loss of the season, and one of the biggest blow-outs so far this year in the Conference, Hawaii's 29 point loss is hard to understand.
First, this is not Duke losing to Miami. Cal Poly is a middle of the road Big West team. Yes, it did have its signature win at UCLA early in the season, but it is slightly above 500 in the league. Its a team that wins and losses games in the 60's , and it scored 88 points last night. With its tallest player in its starting line-up standing at 6'6, it dominated the boards aginst a Hawaii team whose alledged strength is its frontcourt. Cal Poly had 23 second chance points, and made 11 threes. Coming off Hawaii's home loss to Davis, where it allowed 16 threes, do you now agree with my opinion that Hawaii's inability to defend the three is becomming an issue.
Perhaps more distressing was the play, or should i say, the lack of play ( and effort) by vander. He simply failed to show up. His 2 points on 1-4 shooting, and 1 rebound, to go along with three early fouls should embarass him and could be cause for alarm if he doesnt turn things around tomorrow against Santa Barbara. And for Spearman to have 2 points in over 21 minutes is not a good sign either.
Look, i thought Hawaii would probably loss this game, but by a basket or two. There is no way to find excuses for what is a bad loss. There are quotes from the Star-Advertiser story that the team was tired from the travel. Give me a break. Maybe in Ruston, not in California. Road losses continue to be an issue for Hawaii, and if this team cant find a way to win on the road, it will find itself in the bottom half of a mediocre league.
Its too soon to write this team off. We have seen good efforts, but the last two games are cause for serious concern. Tomorrow, they play a Santa Barbara team that lost last night at home to a Northridge team that hadnt won a game in the Conference. If you listened to Hoopstalk Weds night, you heard their coach tell us that their best player, a 6-9 post player, will not play because of injury. I suspect that played a big part in their loss last night. Frankly, if UH does not come home with a win tomorrow against a wounded Gaucho team that sits in 7th place in the Conference, the season may be slipping away. My guess today will not be a happy day for Coach Arnold and his staff. They must be as frustrated as we fans are with the team's play last night. I cant believe we will see a similiar lack of effort tomorrow.