Archive for January, 2014

A Major Disappointment

January 31st, 2014

just days after one of the signature wins in Gib Arnold's coaching tenure, The Rainbow Warriors came down to earth last night losing to Long Beach State. Based upon what was at stake and the excitement surronding this team, this is one of tougher losses to accept.

It wasnt Hawaii's offense that let them down. It was the defense ( and I use the term losely).  Long Beach, a team averaging 66 points a game before last night, put up 92 points on a 60% field goal percentage. They scored over 40 points in the paint, not on putbacks, but on dribble drives thru the hawaii defense leading to easy layups. I have said before that i thought Hawaii lacked secondary defense in the lane, and boy, did the Long Beach guards expose that last night. Time after time, they penetrated in the lane leaving only Fotu to defend. Where was Stardhardinger defensively all game. Frankly  i recall one defensive stop by him all night.

Thru most of the season, Hawaii's press has caused problems, but not last night. Long Beach's guards were as quick as Hawaii guards, and just as athletic. And Mike Caffey was unstoppable.

But all is clearly not lost. Yes, Hawaii gave one back at home, something you cant do more than once or twice and compete for the league crown. But even with the loss, Hawaii stands only one game back from the three teams tied for the lead. Northridge comes into town tomorrow and I expect Hawaii will bounce back and defeat the Matadors, a team they should have beaten on the road.

Hopefully, folks will show up for the game. I know last night was a Thursday game, but the crowd numbers were disapoointing. Not the folks who showed up, or the students who were out in force, but the casual fan who stayed away. With all the hype surronding the Irvine win, I expected a huge crowd. Didnt happen.

Long Beach, when they score, is a solid team. You cant look at thier overall record because many of their losses came on the road against top 75 teams. And they were not at full strentgh until the semester break. They will compete, as always. for the league championship, and Hawaii needs to put last night behind them as they have three, now very critical, home games , coming up. I didnt think they would sweep these four games, but i didnt think they would lose the first one. The pressure is on, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It means the fans and the team believe they can compete at the top level of this league. Its starts again tomorrow.

Now the disclaimer. You know the drill by now. These are my personal views, not necessarily those of the any other Regent or the Board.



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The Weekend Looms Large

January 29th, 2014

After Uh's two road victories last week, excietment about the prospects for this year's team is at an all-time ( at least for this year) high. The win against Irvine brought the Rainbow Warriors to withn a game of the Conference lead, and with four home games coming up, many think that come mid-February, the Bows will lead the Conference.

Not so fast however. First Long Beach, tied with UH for third, comes into town, followed by Northridge. Then its Santa Barbara and Cal Poly. Uh has already lost to Northridge and Cal Poly, but they should defeat Northridge pretty easily at home. Cal Poly has had Hawaii's number for the past two years, but they are playing poorly away from home. Santa Barbara is considered by some to the best team in the league and Long Beach is now at full strength with the addtion of UCLA transfer Tyler Lamb and Travis Hammonds. The 49ers also have Mike Caffey and Dan Jennings and after a brutal pre-conference schedule, are coming into form. They just beat Cal Poly there, something which is not easy to do and have wins over USC and Nevada out of Conference.

But it is beginning to look like this maybe Hawaii's year. After three up and down years, and three down years before that, this year's team seems to be putting it all together. They are averaging almost 83 points per game  and lead the Conference ( all games) in scoring offense, scoring margin,  rebounding margin, and turnover margin. You wont lose too many with those stats. Fotu leads the Conference in field goal Pct, Standhardinger is tied for second in scoring ; Nevels is second in three-point FG Pct; and Shamburger is second in assists.

I expect big crowds for this weekend's game. There is palpable excitment in the community about this year's team and with Irvine at Santa Barbara on Thursday, Long Beach at Hawaii Thursday, Long Beach at Irvine next week, and Irvine at Cal Poly this S, expect the leader board in the Conference to be shaken up by the end of next week.

Every team but Hawaii has lost at least one home game in Conference and only Irvine is perfect on the road. You have to hold court at home and at least split on the road to finish in the top three. Hawaii right now is on its way, but there are many games left to play.

As always, the blog refects my personal views, not those of any other Regent.


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One for the Road and One for You

January 27th, 2014

Uh's win Saturday night against Irvine was maybe the most important victory in Gib's tenure at UH. The team fought back from a ten point second half deficit against the league leader on its home court before a sold out arena . Yes, you need to have a little luck and a coaching error by Irvine ( I will discuss in a minute), but the victory positions UH to challange for the league lead after Santa Barbara and Cal Poly lost games they should have won and Hawaii now has four straight home games.

First, they may not be the Fabulous Five, but they are  becomming the Iron Men five. This road trip had all five starters play almost all of the minutes, and in Saturday's game, score all of the points. The bench may provide a minute or two of relief, but hopefully the starters wont wear our or foul out. The starting five's conditioning to date has been something to admire.

After a rough first few league games, Keith Shamburger has really come on. In fact, he was just named the Big West Player of the Week. Well deserved. And coming on the heels of his Aunt's death and funeral, you would have to think a higher force directed that last second three point shot off the glass and into the basket.

Stardhardinger may have made the seond most important play when he fouled out Irvine's 7 footer. And Fotu was unconscious from the field. All in all a great win.

But i would be remiss if i didnt bring up the play that probably cost Irvine the win. No, not the missed end of a two point foul shot opportunity that would have Irvine up 4 with 5 seconds to play. I am talking about the failure to foul UH on the inbounds play from the sideline that led to Shamburger's three. It is pretty clear that the necessary play with 5 seconds to play, up three, is to foul and make the shooter go to the line, where evn if he makes both, you still lead by one. Then, assuming you can inbound the basketball, your team goes to the line with less than 4 seconds to play at the other end of the court. make the free throws, the game is over. miss, and your opponent still has to go the length of the court in less than 4 seconds and make a three ( if you dont foul again). Instead, Irvine made the cardinal error and allowed Uh to get off a shot after taking the ball in in its offensive zone. Yes i know, UH might have made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second hoping for the rebound. But how often does that happen at the end of a game.

I would like to hear from you folks on whether you agree or not. That's the fun of being a fan. Yes, it worked out great for the hometeam and for that, we are all grateful. and i want to make this clear. UH played great, and even if they had lost, it would have taken nothing away from its effort and performance. You know, somtimes being lucky as well as good makes for a championship. Its the good that comes first.


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One Down- But Tough One to Go

January 24th, 2014

The Road Trip started as expected. An easy win over Davis. Lets face it. Davis is a bad team. It lost at home to Riverside, another bad team. But UH put togther a strong team effort with all five straters in double fiqures. Shamburger found his stroke , as did Spearman, and the trio of Nevels, Fotu, and Stardhardinger all performed well. Cant say much for the bench. They hardly played.

Its get much tougher tomorrow. The game against Irvine will really tell us exactly where this Rainbow Warrior team stands in Conference. Irvine is not an NCAA tournamnet team, but it is tall, athletic, and at home. It is one of the top three teams in the Conference, at least so far. A road win  by UH would go along way to justify the increasing optimism about how far this year's team can go. A loss, at least one that is competitive, will tell us that this team has a ways to go to be in the elite in the Conference.

With four consecutive home games against quality Conference teams coming up, a win tomorrow would give UH a real chance to be at or near the top of the Conference at the turn.  A loss  would not end the season, but would put the team under 500 after 5 games.

I think UH will give Irvine a game. I dont predict a win however. Irvine is undefeated this month. Its " homecoming", and the 7'6' Mamadou Ndiaye stands tall in the middle.  Last night aqgainst Northridge, he had 10 points and 10 rebounds.One key to the game will be can UH continue its hot shooting. Irvine is 12-0 when it holds opponents to under 40% field goal percentage. Another key is the physicial condition of Irvine foward Will Davis. He hardly played last night and if he out, big advantage to UH.

Should be a good game. And it should tell us a lot more about how good this UH team will be entering February.


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After Three games

January 20th, 2014

well i am back from my trip to North Carolina where I got to see Duke play and beat Georgia Tech and Carolina lose to Miami. Duke lacks a solid inside game and will strugggle against big teams while Carolina lacks good perimiter shooters. Put these two teams together and you have a top ten team.

Meanwhile, the Rainbow Warriors are off to a 1-2 start, losing both games on the road and winning one at home. The two road loses were disappointing, but the lose at Cal Poly was no surprise , while the loss at Northridge could easily have been a w but for questionable calls and some poor decision making in the final minute.

The win saturday night against Riverside doesnt really tell us much. Riverside is awful. Yes i know they came from way back to beat Davis at Davis ( our next opponent), but frankly, these are the worst two teams in the league. But  a positive sign was the way UH came out ready to shake off the road loses in pounding Riverside from the first minute and never really letting up.

But to compete for the Conference crown, you have to win at least half of your road games, and not lose more than a game or two at home. The team now goes out on the road to Davis and then Irvine. A loss at Davis would be hard to explain while a win at Irvine would be huge. Irvine is one of the top three teams in the Conference. They have 3  7 footers and at the moment is undefeated in Conference play.

Stardhardinger and Fotu, along with Nevels, have played consistently well in Conference play so far. Spearman has been up and down, while Shamburger has really struggled from the field ( although he showed signs of coming out of it Saturday night).

After this two game road trip, the team is home for four consecutive games against some of the better teams in the league. My guess they will come home from this trip 2-3, and they will need to win at least 3 of the four home games to have a shot at competing for the league lead.

Now that we are deep into Conference play, the blog will come out several times each week. Would love your take on the team so far. As i said previously, the non-Conference record was just about what i had thought. But until this team shows me it can win on the road, I am not yet ready to predict post-season ( at least in a real tournament).

The usual disclaimer.  I am a member of the UH Board of Regents, but the views here are my personal views only


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