Archive for March, 2013

Vander and the Big ( Little) West

March 25th, 2013

Just back from San Jose where i watched Oregon and my alma mater, Syracuse, advance to the East Regionals. That makes sense. Send Syracuse to San Jose to play in the East First and Second Round and seed Oregon 12th.

But it didnt give me a chance to weigh in on two topics i have been blogging about all year, Vander and the Big West. First Vander. I dont care what anybody says, his classless act of leaving the Bench and the Arena during the game is inexcusable. End of story. I dont know what it says about both he and the program, but its not good. I dont care how " frustrated he was about his poor play in that game or his disappointing season", you play as team and you dont walk out on your team-mates. He has been a head case the entire time he played here, but folks were happy to look the other way so long as he was a dominating player. I believe the University allowed him to dictate his conduct both on and off the court (just count up his technicals and official's warnings), but i dont care how many rebounds and points you have, he will be remembered for his last act as a Rianbow, at least by me.

And all year i have been talking about how weak a conference the Big West was and some of you took issue with that. Well look how the Conference has fared in the postseason. Pacific, the Conference CHamp, loses by 29 to Miami. Long Beach, the regular season champ, lost by 56, yes that's right, to Baylor in the NIT. Cal Poly, who beat us twice, lost by 42 ( yes that's 42) to Weber State in the first round of the Riley Wallace Invitational and we lost by 4, at home, to an Air Force team that didnt have its best player ( leading scorer and rebounder) and then left here and lost by 21 to Weber State. Case closed. This league needs to improve, and fast, or become irrelevant on the National scene.

By the way, everybody is talking about how nobody knew anything about Florida Gulf Coast. If you listen to Hoopstalk, you heard their head coach as a guest on our show back in December after they had beaten Miami. Finally regular season show is this weds at 7. We will have a Final recruiting show in late April. and because of web issues, several entries into the Final Four contest never got posted until today. So we had 8 entries, and the contest will go on

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UC Irvine again?

March 19th, 2013

Dont be surprised if UH beats Air Force tomorrow night that it gets a rematch of its first round loss last Thursday night against UC Irvine right here at the Stan Sherrif Center Saturday night. Riley's CIT is losing teams in the West left and right, and Irvine is at home tomorrow night against High Point, a small school in North Carolina flying cross country to lose. Cal Poly plays at Weber State and my guess is that the winner of that game ( probably Weber) will host Air Force if it beats Hawaii, and that if UH wins its first two games, it will play its third round game at Weber State.

Meanwhile, the NCAA got underway tonight with St. Mary's winning easily against Middle Tenessee. The Gaels next play Memphis and a 11 upset of a 6 is not out of the question. Does this win give us a hint as to how good Gonzaga is since they beat St. Mary's three times? Congratulations to former UH assistant Eran Ganot who is now an assistant at St. Mary's,

Lots of interesting press about why and how Hawaii wound up in the CIT. Not sure what the real facts are, but it appears the big winner is Coach Arnold who is in line for a nice bonus for post season play and another chance to win 20 games, which means an automatic contract extension. Also not sure exactly what it will cost Hawaii to host either one or two games, but it looks like somewhere between 50 and 100,000 dollars. Lets hope the attendance exceeds 5,000 paid so UH doesnt lose money on this pay to play tournament.

Looks like the annual NCAA bracket contest will not have enough players this year. Too bad. Lots of fun and great prizes, but we have until 5 am Thursday to see if we can get at least ten entrants. The rules are in yesterday's bolg

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One Contest Ends and Another Begins

March 18th, 2013

First congratulations to Azulie who predicted UH would not win a game and would score 59 points in the Conference Tournament contest. UH scored 60 and lost. Azulie, email me with your address at jportnoy so i can get you your prizes.

What can i say about the game that's not been already said. A very disappointing loss in the biggest game of the year. UH was terrible in the first half and even their mini 11 point run to open the second half never got them to a single digit deficeit. Issac struggled again on the road, Vander was totally outplayed in the first half, Jace forgot to shoot for the first 30 minutes and then couldnt hit a basket, and the Irvine guards dominated the Hawaii backcourt. But kudos to Hans who played his heart out from the opeing tip to the closing buzzer.

The reward for losing is a bid to the Riley Wallace Invitational and a chance to play at least one more home game ( probably 2 as Air Force's best player is unlikely to play). I am not a big fan of this tournament , but i guess UH ponied up the cash to host ( somewhere between 35 and 50,000 dollars I am told). Not many teams in the West were prepared to do so, so come on out to cheer the team on and hopefully keep any financial losses to a minimum.

Its time for the annual NCAA Portnoy Bracket Contest. You can enter until 5am Hi time on Thursday, one entry each. Big Prizes await the winner. You need to pick the elite eight for 2 points for each correct guess, the final four for 4 points each, the semi-final winners for 8 points and the National Champ for 12 points. Also pick the total amount of points without going over in the final game as the tiebreacker. We will need at least ten entries.

Gift Certificates to some of Hawaii's favorite restuarants await the winner. For some hints from the experts, listen in tomorrow on ESPN 1420 for hoopstalk at 7 for a special 2 hour edition as jackson and I, and some surprise guests, will give you our picks. Then pick the opposite.

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Its UC Irvine

March 11th, 2013

After Irvine's comeback Saturday night to beat Davis, UH ends up with the 5th seed and will meet Irvine Thursday night in the last game of round 1. Is this good or bad? Well, if Davis had held on for the win, UH would have been seeded 6th and would have faced Cal Poly, a team they have lost to twice already, so that's good.
On the other hand, Irvine matches up well with Hawaii inside and plays good defense. That's bad. On the other hand, they are not a very strong offensive team, not a great 3 point shooting team, and is pretty poor from the line, so all that is good.

Before the final two games of the season ( those stats are not yet out), Irvine led the Conference in Assists, Blocked Shots, Defensive Rebounds, Field Goal Pct Defense, and Rebounding Offense. They were near the bottom in Free Throw Pct and Steals. Hawaii ranked 2nd ( behind Irvine) in Field Goal Defense , Offense and Defensive Rebounds and is first in Rebounding Margin.

So expect a game in the 60's. Hawaii lost at Irvine by 4 , 68-64, and beat them at home by 6 , 78-72. Irvine has closed the regular season by winning 6 of 7, while Hawaii ended 3-3.

Irvine has very balanced scoring with 6 players averaging 8.6 points or more, Damon Starring is their leading scorer at 13.3 ppg. They have balanced rebounding stats as well. They were undefeated in Conference play at home and won twice on the road.

The All Conference team was announced today. Not surprisingly, Standhardinger made the first team and Fotu was the Co-Freshman of the Year. Vander, disappointingly, only made Honorable Mention, but frankly, that's all he deserved in a league where he dominated in size most of his opponents. Maybe it will spur him on in the tournament to prove the voters wrong.

Team rankings has Irvine and Pacific as the Tournament co-favorites at 22% each, with Cal Poly next at 15% followed by Long Beach at 14%. next up is Fullerton at 8%, UH at 7%, and Davis at 6%. I am surprised by the high % for Irvine and Fullerton and not the modest prediction for Long Beach.

For those of you playing the contest, You now know UH's first round opponent. Remember, the Big West reseeds after each round so our next opponent is unknown, but i think it will be Long Beach.

My prediction? you will have to wait until Weds. I leave tomorrow to broadcast both the men and women's games with Bobby. Jackson and I will have our Conference preview show Weds night after the woman's second round game ( they get a first round bye after finishing third- congratulations to the Wahine for a very good season). Dont forget to get in on the contest. Check last week's blogs for rules

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Missing Goals ?

March 8th, 2013

well with last night's loss to 9th place Northridge, the regular season has come to a disappointing close. Hawaii will finish either 5th or 6th depending on how Davis does tomorrow night against Irvine. Its Conference record is 10-8 in what, in my opinion, and the opinion of most observers, was a down year for the Conference, a Conference that lets be frank, was fairly weak. Hawaii ends the regular season with 17 wins ( 16 against Div 1 opponents) and 13 losses. It had a one really good win, against Long Beach, but lost to all the other solid basketball programs like Illinois( yes in overtime), UNLV, Miami, and Old Miss. It won three on the road, but those were against the bottom feeders in the league ( teams finishing 7,8, and last).

The team had been picked to finish either 2nd or 3rd pre-season so that goal was missed. I would guess another goal was 20 wins and a post season berth, but unless they win the Tournament or UH ponies up lots of cash to play in the Riley Wallace Invitational, those goals will be missed.

Were there positives. Of course. First student attendance was way up and the atmosphere at home games was big time thanks to those students. Issac Fotu showed that by the time he leaves UH ( hopefully in three more years), he will be the player of the year in the Big West ( if Hawaii is still playing basketball in that Conference). After a rough start, Jace proved to be a solid pointguard as his assist to turnover ratio was excellent. Standhardinger was the team's leading scorer at almost 16 points a game, and I believe will make the Big West first team. Vander ended the regular season with a 14 point, 8.5 rebound stat line, but in my opinion, did not have the year expected after his performance last year in a much tougher conference in a league this year, where he towered over his opponents most nights . Hans had an up and down year, starting well and ending strong after a mid season slump.

So now the Bows enter the Tournament as either the 5th or 6th seed and will play either Cal Poly ( oh no), Irvine or Pacific. Hawaii beat Irvine here and played them tough on the road. Hawaii beat Pacific here on Pacific's worst three point shooting night, and lost to them on the road on the night Spearman got injured. I will give you my tournament prediction next week, but one thing is certain, Hawaii's ultimate goal is still within reach. That is to win the Tournament and go to the Big Dance. If that happens, nobody will care about the missed goals.

Your opinions on the regular season are requested. Differing opinions are welcome. And dont forget the contest which closes on Weds of next week. You now have a better idea of the seedings and possible opponents. This team , if it plays the way it did against Long Beach both times, can win it all. If it struggles to score from outside and cant defend the three, it could go down early. Cant wait for the third season ( the Tournament) to begin

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Some Contest Hints

March 6th, 2013

As we approach the end of the regular season, there is a site that predicts Conference Tournament Champions by providing each teams likelihood of getting into the Big Dance in one bid leagues, like the Big West. They use mathematical projections based upon several factors. For your enjoyment and to assist in playing our game, here is what they say as of today.

Believe it or not, the favorite is UC Irvine at 21%, followed by Pacific at 19%. Next up is probable regular season champ Long Beach at 16%, just 1 % ahead of Cal Poly. Surprisingly, Fullerton is next at 11%, ahead of Hawaii at 8% and Davis at 6%. Taking up the rear is Santa Barbara at 5%.

Now i guess things could change slightly depending on games this week, but dont expect it to change too much. If you are counting, these folks think Hawaii has the 6 th best chance of winning the Tournament ( not very encouraging, but that's why they play the games).

By the way, the same site picks seeding in the Big Dance. They have UC Irvine at either a 14 or 15, Hawaii a 16 ( possible play-in game if they make the Tournament?). Not much love anywhere for the Big West. Look forward to lots more entries in the contest. Check the last few blogs for the rules and dont forget Hoopstalk tonight as we review the last week of the regular season and look ahead to the league tournament

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a really tough loss

March 4th, 2013

Saturday night's home loss on senior night to Cal Poly was a real disappointment to the 9000 or so fans who showed up for the Bows final home game ( unless they get an invite and pay the fee to play in the Riley Wallace Invitational). Along with Pacific's last second win at Riverside, Hawaii's loss eliminated any chance of finishing in second, and as things stand now, they are in 5th place with a chance to finish anywhere from 3rd to 6th.

Its not going to make much difference since the other three teams in the mix are UC Irvine, UC Davis, and Cal Poly, all teams that defeated Hawaii on the road, with Davis and Cal Poly sweeping the season series with the Bows. If i had to pick who i think Hawaii matches up best against in Round 1, its Irvine.

The game Saturday exposed once again Hawaii's difficulites in beating teams that play disciplined basketball. They were again outrebounded by a smaller team, and allowed way too many uncontested threes. Interestingly, Cal Poly, who had won only three road games all year, decided to defend Hawaii out at the three point line, giving the Hawaii bigmen ( Vander and Issac) free reign inside. Hawaii struggled to make any perimeter shots until the final minutes when Tavita hit two threes.

The final sequence was certainly deflating. Hawaii was down three after a spirited comback from 12 down with under 5 minutes to play when Hans missed a three with about 11 seconds left, Cal Poly was fouled on the rebound. They missed the frontend of a 1 and 1, but outhustled UH for the rebound and again Hawaii fouled sending a 90 percent free throw shooter to the line. He missed, and with just about 7 seconds left, Hawaii grabbed the rebound and headed up court. The Bows had one final time out but decided not to use it, and a swarming Cal Poly defense kept Tavita from getting off a shot forcing him to pass to Jawato who had to dribble completely around the peremiter before getting off a weak three that was too late and never came close to the basket anyway.

Thursday night, Hawaii plays its final regular season game on the road at Northridge. The Matadors have nothing to play for as they are essentially eliminated from the Tournament, but it will be their Senior night. For Hawaii, it really turns out to be a relatively meaningless game, although i am sure Gib would like to go into the Tournament on a one game winning streak.

I will joining Bobby in Anaheim for both the Men and Women's games. Both teams have a chance to do some damage. As i have said many times during the past few weeks, I would not be shocked if Hawaii wins the Tournament nor will i be surprised if Hawaii loses in the first Round ( disappointed yes). The league is that balanced.

Dont forget the contest. great prizes if you pick the number of games the men will win at the tournament ( 0 to 3) and the total points Hawaii will score ( without going over). And forget Hoopstalk weds at 7 on ESPN 1420. For contest rules go back two blogs ago.

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it wasnt pretty, but its a "W"

March 1st, 2013

Last night's game was much closer than anybody expected and much closer than it needed to be. Frankly, the Hawaii inside game was almost nonexistent as they had to play a against a solid frontline and a very good center in Alan Willaims. For much of the game, Vander played poorly as it looked as though he came out wanting to prove he could play well against another good bigman, but the opposite occurred for the first 35 minutes. He was " benched" at least twice by Gib, and at one point verbally expressed his frustration at the coaching staff. But in the end, he was the difference ( along with Tavita) as he calmly made 6 consecuutive free throws in the last minute and a half to seal the victory.

Jace Tavita was the star. All season i have been writing about how important it is for Jace to shoot the three as teams play way off of him allowing opponents to double team the bigs inside. Last night proved how correct that opinion is as he made 5 of 7 threes and saved the day for the Bows. Not only was he the leading scorer ( what odds you could have gotten on that), but it caused Santa Barbara to come out to guard him late in the game opening things up for Fotu. As i first said here some weeks ago, he is clearly the most imporved player on this team this year.

Credit the Bows for winning an ugle game, coming from 8 down with under 8 to play. But they will not be as fortunate saturday night against a much better Cal Poly team if they dont come out from the opening tip ready to play. Its Senior night, and its a very important game as Hawaii battles to finish second or third. I think second may be slipping away, as Pacific won a big road game last night to stay a half game ahead of
Hawaii with one road game left at woeful Riverside and then two winnable games at home. But you never know?
Its the home fams last chance to see this year's team unless they get a home game in the Riley Wallace Invitational, assuming they dont win the Conference Tournament ( something i think they have a solid chance of doing, although i also think they could lose in the opening round, the Conference is so balanced this year, at least the top 5 teams are). So come on out to cheer the team on and to say goodby at what is always one of the best Senior nights in college basketball. They deserve your attendance and support

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