Archive for March, 2014

Onto Dallas

March 31st, 2014

Ok, who had UConn and Kentucky in the Final Four? Not me, and I guess not anyone else. What a weekend of basketball. Louisville , Arizona, and Mich St. all going home. UConn, a 7 seed, and kentucky, an 8 seed, on their way to big D.

I had picked 4 number ones to make it. I knew that was not likley, but i never thought only Fla would survive. A basket here, a basket there, and Virgina and Arizona might have made it.

UConn is there because it has two great guards. Sounds like two years ago before they got put on probation for recruiting violations. Kentucky was the pre-season number one, played bad basketball until two weeks ago, and now looks like it may win it all. I like Fla over UConn and Kentucky over Wisconsin, and in a game few will care about, unless you are an SEC junkie, I still think Fla will win it all.

I will be in Dallas to cover the games Saturday for the blog.  Should be something to watch what should be two great games in a lousy basketball venue, the 100,000 seat Cowboy Stadium. Hopefully, my press pass will allow me to see the games without watching them on the screen. There is no need to play these games in football stadiums. I know there are lots of fans and corporate types who  want to see the games, but they should be played in basketball arenas like Madison Square Garden or the Carrier Dome. At least next year it will be back in Indy, and that Stadium is not too bad.

At UH, the NCAA has come and gone. My guess is that there will be some nervous folks around the athletic office until that investigation is complete and the NCAA informs UH what, if anything, it intends to do. Lets hope they decide that the internal sanctions imposed by UH are sufficient.

Meanwhile, recruiting is underway and the next few weeks are critical to next year's success. The top teams in the Big West have lots of solid players returning and teams like Fullerton have signed a full compliment of new players. Hoopstalk will look at how recruiting is going starting next week

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Weekend One of the Contest

March 24th, 2014

Well, yours truly, the " expert", got 10 of 16 the first weekend. Had Baylor, missed on Duke and Syracuse, among others. The best any of you competitors did was 11 (2). The worst is 7. One of you even had Dayton. So its close as we head towards this weekend.

What a first 68. No one in the billion dollar bracket contest made it to Saturday. Tha's how crazy it was. Some of the games were classics ( UNC-Iowa State, Kentucky-Wichita State) and some were blow-outs, but is there a better weekend in all of sports. i dont think so.

For UH, recruiting enters a critical month. Lots of holes to fill. And it comes at a time when it has been reported that the NCAA will be on campus for interviews arising out of the Akana situation. You can expect opposing coaches will use this until it is fully resolved.

For the Wahine, the season ended quickly in the NIT. The final few games for UH were adversely affected by poor shooting. And now the question is will Coach Beeman leave for greener, i mean richer, pastures. She is a pac-12 person, and Oregon looms. Hope she stays.

The show this week will be at 6pm on Weds.  We will look at the Sweet Sixteen and make some predictions. After a week off while i attend the Big Dance, Jackson and i will return in early april to review recruiting, who is staying and who might be leaving, and we will preview the early prospects for the Big West 2014-15.

The comments here are my own, and are not necessarily those of any Regent. I feel better now


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This Year's Bracket Contest- Beat the " Expert"

March 18th, 2014

Ok all you folks out there. So you think you know more than this blogger about college basketball. This year i am going to give you a chance to prove it.

Here is how this year'sontest is going to work. I will give you my sweet 16, elite eight, final four, and champion. You will do the same. We will total the scores and if your total score beats mine, you win. What you win, besides bragging rights, will be determined shortly. 1 point for each sweet 16 correct pick, 2 points for each elite eight, 4 points for each final four, and 8 points for the national champ. Ties go to me( of course).

Here are my picks. Sweet 16-Fla;SF Austin;Syracuse;New Mexico;Virgina;Mich St;Iowa State; Villanova;Arizona;San Diego St;Baylor;Wisconsin;Wichita State;Lousiville;Duke; and Michigan.

Elite Eight. Fla;Syr;Virgina;Iowa St;Arz;Wis:Wich St; and Michigan

Final Four Fla; Virgina;Arzizona, and Wichita State I know, all number ones- not gonna happen, but i like the match-ups).

Champion  Arizona

Ok. Now all you Mich St and Louisville folks can jump on this.

Tonight ( Tuesday), Jackson and I will have our annual Bracket show on ESPN 1420.  We will also look back at the Men's season and will have Coach Beeman as one of our guests. Hope you can join us. 7 to 9 pm, two hours. WOW


Champion Arizona

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This One Hurts

March 14th, 2014

There is no way to sugar-coat last night's overtime loss to UC Northridge in the first round of the Big West tournament. It was brutal.

UH came out flat and was down 16 points mud-way thru the first half. Northridge fought for every loose ball, ran the transition game at will, and it looked a lot last year's first half against Irvine. And then, just as poorly as it played the first 10-12 minutes, the Bows put on one of their most impressive performances of the year for the next 20. Their defense tightened, they made some threes, Stardhardinger slashed to the hoop at will (mostly getting fouled where he broke the UH single season record for made free throws), and it looked like the turn-around game of the year. Yes, after a decade of futility in the first round of League Championships (yes the UH men had won only once in ten years, against Idaho in Gib's second year), UH fell apart.

The Bows let a 13 point lead with under 8 minutes to play slip away. Was it the result of a decision to slow the game down and basically play two man basketball with Shamberger dribbling down the clock and looking for Fotu underneath?   Or having Shamburger take almost every shot down the stretch?( Standhardinger hardlly touched the ball in OT). Was it the result of an ill-advised planned foul with 17 seconds left in the overtime with UH up by three. I think it was prudent to foul, but not with so many seconds left on the clock. Was it the result of not having any time-outs left when UH took the ball out after Northridge made those two three throws causing the ball to go to Shamburger inches from the endline leading to a turnover. Was it Nevels fouling out? Was it Issaac capping off a poor game ( it was clear Northridge decided pre-game not to let Issaac beat them with swarming double teams every time he touched the ball) with a very ill-advised offense foul in the last 10 seconds on a moving screen? I could go on and on with the what-ifs.

The bottom line is UH let a game they had won slip away against an opponent lower-ranked and in a game where they were 6 point favorites. And this one will linger. It is fair to discuss whether this team accomplished its goals in year four of the Gib era. Yes, they had 20 wins, but is a 4th place finish in the Big West and another first round loss in the Tournament is not what they and we expected.

So now the talk begins of playing in one of those buy-in tournaments. My opinion. Let the season be over. Both financially and competitively, it’s time to let the goal of playing in a second rate post season event be a thing of the past. Do we really care if UH plays in the Riley Wallace Invitational. I know the team probably does. But what about the fans, only 3000 of which came out for last year's opening home game. I guess I just think it’s time to begin to think about next season. And there is much work to be done. Standhardinger, the heart of this year's team leaves, as does the soul, Brandon Spearman. Losing these two critical pieces will not be easy to replace. Maybe the next week or two would be better spent on the road recruiting.

One final thought. This team played hard all year. They never gave up. They were exciting to watch. Did they achieve their goals? No, but they certainly gave all us something to cheer for. Aloha guys.

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Big West Honors

March 10th, 2014

The Big West named its all Conference Teams a few minutes ago and both Standhardinger and Fotu made the first team. Well-deserved. I must admit i am surprised the other Big West coaches, all from California, voted two Hawaii players to the first team, but they did the right thing. Christian is the second UH player to be named all-conference in back to back seasons . Savo is the other. Fotu was the all Big West Freshman of the Year last season.Its the first time that two UH Players were named all-conference in the same season.

No surprise on the Player of the Year. Its Alan Williams of Santa Barbara. My guess is that Christian may have wound up second in that vote. Michael Williams of Fullerton is the Newcomer of the Year, and Luke Nelson of Irvine is the Freshman of the Year. Finally, Russell Turner of regular season champions UC Irvine is the Coach of the Year. I agree with all these selections.

No other Hawaii player made any other all conference teams( Second Team and Honorable Mention). The Defensive player of the year was Mamadou Ndiaye and the UCSB backcourt of Harmon and Boswell were honored with Best Hustle Player and Best Sixth Player, respectively.

Its off to Anaheim and Long Beach for the Men's and Women's tournaments. I think the Women have a real chance at winning it all ( if healthy), and the Men, I believe, can make it to the finals. I wouldnt be shocked if they lost to Northridge on Thursday, and i woulodnt be shocked if they play saturday night. The keys for the men is defend the three, and find some offense from the perimeter. Relying only on our two first teamers wont get it done. Nevels and Spearman need to contribute 20 plus points between them. Go Bows and Wahines

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National Exposure

March 7th, 2014

Everybody is talking about last night's incident where a fan came out of the stands to confront Gib . Probably the most publicity UH baskeball has received in years. Gib had run onto the court to protest a call when the fan ran onto the court and tried to get in Gib's face. Standhardinger and Nevels pushed the fan away, and fortunately no punches were exchanged. Credit both Gib and the players for keeping their composure in what could have easily turned ugly. In my view, the fan needs to be severely disciplined. Perhaps a suspension from school, but certainly something more than an apology.

Fans rushing the court in college basketball has become a joke. Almost everytime a home team beats a higher ranked team, students rush the court. Its only a matter of time before someone gets hurt. In arena sports, the fans are in close proximity to the court. Last night, the fan ran down from half way up the stands and i dont think i saw any barrier between the stands and the court so i not sure any security person could have stopped him. But after he ran all the way across the court, i didnt see any security either.

Lost in all this was another loss to one of the top three teams. Hawaii ends those games 1-5. Not good. And the one win was very improbable .Last nights final score was not indicative of how one- sided the game actually was. UH trailed all night by double digits. Once again, The Bows could not defend the three, and Issac was missing in action on the road. If UH has any chance of making noise in the Tournament, Issac needs to step up on the road and play like he plays at home.

Spearman had another poor game. His offense has been very streaky, and right now, its going in the wrong direction. One bright spot, potentially, was that Shamburger made 4-5 threes, although for one of the few times this year, he had more turnovers than assists. Nevels had one of his poorest performances going 1-10 from the field. As I have said many times in bhis blog, for UH to compete, it needs to get solid scoring from at least 2  players other than Fotu and Stardhardinger, who by the way had a good game with 18 points and 7 rebounds.

Long Beach lost again, so UH had a chance to move into third with a win. Didnt get it, so we now wait until tomorrow's games to see who UH will play in the 4-5 game. Northridge beat Long Beach and looks like they maybe the opponent. As i said before, that's the worst match-up for the Bows in my opinion. With a win tomorrow, Hawaii will get its 20th win to go against 10 losses. They will wind up 9-7 in the league. Just about where  folks had predicted, maybe slightly better based upon the coaches pre-season poll. I think many fans will wait until the Tournament to grade this year's team. A couple of wins, and i suspect most will be satisfied. A first round loss, and it will be different.

These are my views, not those of the Regents. Like to hear your views on the regular season. Are you satisfied?

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The Calm Before the Storm

March 4th, 2014

Really hard to get too excited about the two remaining regular season games this week.  Yes, it would be nice to get 20 wins ( we will), beat a top three team in Santa Barbara ( we might), and go into the Tournament on a small winning streak, but frankly, not much riding on these last two games. Hawaii will finish 4th, and the only mystery is which of three teams will finish 5th ( Cal Poly, Northridge or Fullerton). Each of these teams have 6 wins and really tough games to end the season. In fact, they only play the top four teams in the Conference, so who knows.

Lots of folks playing the who would we rather meet in the Round One game. Ok, so lets all play. If we beat Fullerton on Saturday, do we want to play them four days later. We just beat them there. How about Northridge or Cal Poly. We beat them here and lost to them on the road. We should have won the game at Northridge and we lost pretty badly at Cal Poly, but that was a different Mustangs team then. My vote. Cal Poly. How about your vote?

The bigger question is if we get by Round One, can we beat one of the better teams? So far, we have a single win at Irvine on a last second miracle three which sent the game into Overtime. After we lost at Long Beach last week, they went into Fullerton and got smoked. None of the teams is unbeatable. On any given night, almost every team in the Conference is vulnerable. That's why whoever wins the Tournament will be a 14 seed at best, likley a 15.

Meanwhile, the Wahine continue their extraordinary season. They are fighting for a top 2 seed, although 3rd is likely. Laura Beeman for Coach of the Year? She gets my vote.

Nationally, 9 teams in the top 25 lost last weekend. Are there really clear favorites to win it all? Arizona is back on track, Florida continues to win , but the SEC is not a very strong Conference this year, Wichita State is undefeated ( yes a tremendous feat, but who have they beat?), and my Dukies and Tarheels are coming on. Watch out for Virgina, Kansas?, Villanova, or my favorite team, Creighton

We will previewing the Big West Tournament on Sunday before I leave to broadcast the men and women's games with Bobby on ESPN 1420. I hope we get to do more than two games ( total).

These are my musings, not those of the Regents

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