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.