Archive for December, 2013

On the Way To Conference Play

December 30th, 2013

This week, the Rainbow Warriors will complete the non-league portion of their 2013-14 schedule. They should end up 11-3 after their 2-1 record in the Diamond Head Classic. I had predicted they would win 2, but I admit I did not have the second game opponent predicted correctly, although I did have them losing to Boise before winning 5th place.

The loss to Boise, in retrospect, may have been the the best predictor of how the team is doing. Boise is a solid team and played top 15 ranked Iowa State tough in the Championship game. A missed free-throw and a last second shot off the rim was all that seperated Hawaii from a win against the Broncos. The last second win against St.Marys's does not look so good now that St. Mary's lost all three games here, including that loss to South Carolina. And the win against Oregon State, a middle of the road Pac -12 team, missing its best two big men, is a nice win, but nothing to write home about.

But Hawaii enters these last two Non-Conference games with a 9-3 record with wins against two Div 2 teams, one road win, a tough loss to a very good Missouri team on the road, and a very nice won-loss record. The two games this week should be  wins, although both Norfolk State and Nebraska ( Omaha) come in with winning records. Norfolk State 's best win was against Boston University on the road, but the other wins are against no-name schools. Nebraska( Omaha) will be tougher with a win at Nevada, and tough losses on the road to UNLV and Iowa.

The Big West has had its problems in Non-Conference play. Only three schools have winning records ( Hawaii has the best non-conference record so far), and very few signature wins. Hawaii has to start Conference play on the road in two tough places, Cal Poly and Northridge. Cal Poly is really struggling, but is a much better team at home and gave Hawaii fits last year. Northridge is presently 8-5, but hasnt beaten anybody decent. Then the Rainbow Warriors return home for a single game against terrible Riverside before having to go out on the road to UC Davis and UC Irvine.

I will be on the Mainland the first two weeks in Jan and will get a chance to see Duke and North Carolina play games at home. Really looking forward to it. Meanwhile, Hawaii looks to me to be one of the three best teams in the league going into League play. It will need to win a few on the road to make a run at the league championship

Tagline: Jeff Portnoy is a member of the UH Board of Regents but this blog relects only his personal opinions


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A Signature Win

December 24th, 2013

Hawaii's win at the buzzer last night over St. Mary's is the first signature win of the season for the Rainbow Warriors.. After beating several lesser teams and losing to the three quality teams it had played, the team finally got a win against a quality opponent.

St Mary's came into the Tournament undefeated. It hadnt played a very tough schedule, but had a quality win over Boise at Boise. It was sitting just outside the top 25 until it lost on Day 1 to a weak South Carolina team who got beaten like a drum by Boise yesterday.

Hawaii had lost in a heart-breaker to Boise and as I said in the blog yesterday, often the team that wants ot more will prevail in a Consolidation game the following day. Well, to be honest, both teams came to play. It was very competitive game all night. Hawaii was quicker than St. Mary's and it showed in Hawaii's ability to force turnovers and its ability to penetrate the paint for layups and foul shot opportunities. On the other hand, the Gaels came into the game with 4 starters shooting over 40% from three and their ability to hit the three kept them in the game

The night before Standhardinger had one of his worst performances of the season. Last night, although he struggled from the field, he dominated the Gaels inside with his slashing drives to the hoop which led to 14 made free throws. And, of course, with the game on the line, he drilled a 12 foot jumper from the corner with 2 seconds left for the win.

What have seen from the Rainbow Warriors in the first two games of the Classic is very encouraging. They played hard and fairly consistently against two solid teams. No, not Duke or Louisville, but two teams picked to finish high in their respective conferences. The game aginst Oregon State maybe the easiest of the three, and a win against a Pac 12 team, even one not picked to do especially well, would be a nice way to end the Tournament. For now, Hawaii, in my view, has one of the best Big West non-conference wins so far and cements my opinion that are one of the best three teams right now in the Conference.

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December 23rd, 2013

We are into day 2 of the Diamond Head Classic and there has really been only one major surprise so far. That would be South Carolina's upset of previously undefeated St. Mary's in last night's first game. The other results, 17th ranked Iowa State defeat of George Mason, Akron's defeat of my host team, Oregon State, and Boise's win over the Rainbow Warriors were not upsets by any means.

And earilier today, the Beavers came from behind to defeat George Mason ( yeh) and Iowa State demolished Akron. Iowa State is for real. Tonight, Boise and South Carolina meet to determin who will lose to the Cyclones on Xmas and Hawaii will meet St. Mary's in what should be great game, one team coming off its first loss of the season and the other coming off a heart-breaking last second defeat.

The Hawaii game last night featured two evenly matched teams. I said early in the broadcast it would be decided on the final possession and for once i was right. A missed Hawaii free throw and a last second runner that bounced off the rim put Hawaii in a game that, frankly. may be more difficult than if they were playing South Carolina in the championship bracket.

Games like the one tonight often come down to who wants it more. A short turn-around and the loser bracket for teams that thought they would meet in the Championship round are often won on emotion, not pure talent. You know the Gaels never thought they would lose to the Gamecocks, and Hawaii  came so close to beating the pre-season number two in the Mountain West Conference. A subpar game by two of Hawaii's big men did the Rainbow Warriors in, as both Standhardinger and Rozitis had poor games. Credit Spearman and Fotu for keeping Hawaii in the game.

 The Gaels are a very talented team. In fact, just last week, the beat Boise in Boise. Boise had won 20 plus nonconference home games in a row before that defeat. The Gaels are an NCAA tournament team with  former Hawaii assistant Eran Ganot on their bench. Hawaii has yet to beat a top 125 team , and tonight they get another chance to do so.  I had predicted Hawaii would go 2-1 in the Tournament. I thought they would lose to Boise, but then win the next two. The first of those two wins i thought would come against South Carolina. They have a much tougher opponent tonight, however. It will take a complete effort by hawaii to win. That means both in the backcourt and the frontcourt.  I will stand by my prediction.

 Oregon State's game yesterday was one i know i wont soon forget. President Obama and the first family sat right behind me. The Oregon State folks were so kind to allow my wife and I to stay in the secured areas. I met and spoke to the President twice, once before tip-off and once at the conclusion of the game. And I have some great pictures. For once, it was more than " just a game". And credit to the UH staff, Rich Sherriff and his crew, HPD, and the Secret Service for making what could have been a real logistical nightmare a realatively painless event ( unless, i guess, you were stuck in traffic). Maybe we will see the president again  at the Xmas Oregon State game ( especially if they play Hawaii). .The First Family kids were at the Oregon State game today by the way.

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Odds and Ends

December 11th, 2013

As UH gets ready to travel to Kauai to take on Pac West opponent, Chaminade, the second of two games against Div 2 opponents, I thought this would be a good time to see how the Big West and Diamond Head Classic teams are doing in the RPI and Pomeroy rankings. In a nutshell, the Big West is not doing well while the Classic will have a few top 100 teams.

First, the Rainbow Warriors. As we know, against div 1 teams they are currently 5-2. In significant games, they have beaten N. Arizona on the road, lost to Missiouri on the road, lost to New Mexico State at home, and beat Montana at home. They have an RPI of 189 ( out of 351 div 1 teams) and a Pomeroy ranking of 131. Of the teams they have beaten, none has a Pomeroy ranking better than 168 ( Montana). The two losses have come against teams ranked 40 ( Missiouri) and New Mexico State ( 75).

Hawaii has the 4th highest RPI in the Big West behind Santa Barbara, UC Irvine and Cal Poly. In Pomeroy, Hawaii ranks ahead of everybody in the Conference except Santa Barbara. The first four schools have a Pomeroy ranking in the top 150, while he bottom 5 rank from 220 ( Long Beach) to 309 ( UC Davis)..

In the RPI, Big West schools, except for Santa Barbara, rank in the bottom half,but the Gauchos are 17th in the College Mid major Poll and Hawaii received 8 votes which puts them in 41st place. All in all, the Conference is not doing well so far, but the good news is that Hawaii looks to be a top 4, if not better, team in the Conference.

As far as the Classic is concerned, Hawaii's first round opponent, Boise State, just lost to Kentucky on the road, but not too many teams will beat the Wildcats this year. Boise is ranked 60 in the Pomeroy rankings. Others in the tournament rank from undefeated Iowa state ( 21) to undefeated St Marys (36) to George Mason ( 136). Hawaii has the second lowest Pomeroy ranking in the Classic field, but is playing at home and always steps it up in this tournament.

So for all of you who ask me how good is this team, I continue to say ask me after the Classic. Hawaii needs to beat some top 100 teams. So far, the game against Missouri , in my opinion, has been its best effort. The wins have come against lesser quality teams. The jury is still out, but voting has begun.


Jeff Portnoy is a member of the UH Board of Regents but this blog reflects his personal opinions.

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Since The Last Blog

December 2nd, 2013

well alot has happened since the last blog. Yes, I have been apponited to the Board of Regents. I hope to contribute in many ways, not the least of which is to discussions regarding UH athletics. No, i will not be giving up the blog although i will have to be careful of avoiding conflicts on basketball issues like coaches contracts. And i will continue with the radio show and game braodcasts.

Maui, as always, was great fun. My undergraduate alma mater, Syracuse, ran thru the field. It wasn't the strongest field (there were only two games where both teams were ranked), but it was a competiive field, at least on paper. Chaminade held its own for some of each game, but lost pretty badly at the end. I will say that they are much better than Hilo, and if they can hit their three point shots for two halves, they could make a game of it when they play UH in two weeks in Lihue.

Meanwhile the Rainbow Warriors won two games. The first, against New Orleans, was not much more than a scrimmage. You can see why the Privateers are one of the worst teams in Division 1 as they return to Division 1 basketball. After the pounding UH gave both Hilo and New Orleans, thier offensive stats are somewhat inflated.

The game against Montana was a different story. After jumping out to an early lead, Montana crawled back to a tie early in the second half by playing solid half court basketball, but UH got its running game going and won fairlly easily. Standhardinger had a monster game and Fotu , even with his wrist injury, helped UH once again dominate in the paint. The team still has, in my view, some offensive issues, particularly in the half court. Shamburger continues to struggle from the field, but is giving UH a steady hand at the point. Nevels appears to be the only consistant outside shooter, although Enos may have the nicest three point touch. And Spearman appears to back at full strength both offensively and defensively. The role players have giving the team some solid minutes. When hawaii can dominate the boards, they are tough to beat. It remains to be seen what happens when they have to play a half court game

The road will shortly get much tougher. After this wees's road game at Northern Arizona and the game with Chaminade, the Diamond Head Classic should give us a good indication of where this teams stands going into Conference play. Northern Arizona just lost at home to UC Riverside, and although it is on the road, at some altitude and proabaly snowy and cold, this is a game UH is supposed to win. Ditto Chaminade. But the first round opponent in the Classic is a very good Boise State team, and depending what happens in that game, either St. Mary's or South Carolina the next round. Boise is easily the best team the Rainbow Warriors will have faced all year ( unless they wind up playing Iowa State in the Classic).

I predicted UH would be 5-2 at this point and 7-2 going into the Classic. I have been correct so far on all games and am pretty confident on the next two. We'll see

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