Archive for December, 2014


December 29th, 2014

With two wins tonight and tomorrow, the basketball Bows will enter Big West play with a record of 12-4. Ok, lets be honest, how many folks predicted that? Not me, although I was off by only the Pitt game.

The surprising early season run as been fun to watch and a tribute to a never say die coaching staff and team. It proves the old basketball adage that if you play good defense, you will be in almost every game. And when the Bows make threes ( like they did in the second half against Wichita State and against Colorado), they will be in every game.

Hawaii always plays well in the Holiday tournament going back to Rainbow Classic times, and this year was no exemption. The wins against Nebraska and Colorado, and the loss against Wichita ( a game Hawaii deserved to win), is just another example. Frankly, I don't think either Nebraska or Colorado will be any better than middle of the road in their respective conferences, and Wichita will go only as far as their outside shooting will take them, but these games helped Hawaii's RPI and certainly will help recruiting being on national TV.

The games this week should be relatively easy wins. You never know however, coming against weaker competition after the excitement and the challenges of the Diamond Head. But the Hawaii backcourt with Bobbitt, Fleming and Nevels ( assuming his injured hand does not keep him out,) along with the strong play of Valdes and the emergence of Jankovic,  makes me pretty confident that even an average outing should not create any real issues .

How good is this team? We will see shortly once league play begins next week .Hawaii gets 4 of the first 5 games at home, and the road game is at Riverside. But I don't think anyone can say that this team has not exceeded expectations so far. Its not just the wins. Its the style of play that has fans buzzing. They create turnovers, make steals, and play hard on both ends of the floor. Do they have any flaws. Of course, They sometimes struggle in the half court, don't shoot well from the outside consistently, and lack depth, especially in the frontcourt.  They sometimes lose focus, but that can be corrected. All in all, they have been a very pleasant surprise.


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Time To Get Serious

December 20th, 2014

The easy part of UH's pre-conference schedule ended with a summer league type win over a badly outmatched Chaminade team last night. The game was over at the half as UH dominated on both ends of the court. Uh had 50 plus points in the paint which more than compensated for very poor three point shooting and 21 turnovers. I guess as a " tune -up game after a two week layover it was worthwhile, but from an competitive viewpoint it was solely lacking.

But the games against schools no- one has heard of and Division 2 teams is over. Starting Monday, the Diamond Head Classic will feature one really good teams and a bunch of mid level teams from Conferences we all know. Its not a very strong field, but other than Wichita State, its a competitive one.

Hawaii will open against Nebraska. At the beginning of the season, folks thought Nebraska could be a top 25 team. Unfortunately, they haven't played like one. They do have two preseason All Big 10 players in Terran Pettaway and Shavon Shields, along with wins against Cincinnati and Florida State, but they have lost to Rhode Island,  Creighton ( a rivalry game) and Incarnata Word ( WHO?). Its a game I think Hawaii can and will win.

But the winner of that game gets the opportunity to lose to Wichita State. No the Shockers are not playing as well as they did the last two seasons, but they come in here with only an overtime road loss to a solid Utah team. They all two of the best guards in the Country in Baker and Van Fleet. Bobbitt  and the rest of the Bow guards will have a significant challenge on their hands. Wichita State will open with the weakest team in the field Loyola Marymount, and if Hawaii should lose to Nebraska, they will have little trouble with LMU in the Consolation Round.

The other half of the bracket is wide open. Perhaps Colorado is the favorite. The Buffalos come in6-3 with wins over Auburn and San Francisco, but they have lost to Wyoming and Georgia. Other teams in the day bracket are Ohio University ( 3-4), DePaul ( 6-4) and George Washington ( 6-3).  Clearly the Shockers are the overwhelming favorite.

I think Hawaii will win 2 games in the Tournament. That would give them a 10-3 record. They have the signature win against Pitt, but the others have come against weak teams. The loss at BYU was not a surprise, and actually, the Bows played well for 30 minutes. The one that got away was the High Point loss. Hopefully Hawaii will be at full strength for the Tournament. Three games in four days is not easy. But Hawaii always plays well in this Tournament and the other teams have traveled a long way. Add all the distractions the State has to offer, and it adds up to a significant advantage for UH.

If you are any kind of a basketball fan, make your way to the arena. This team is fun to watch and can compete with every team in the field ( Yes, the Shockers will be a big favorite if the Bows win Monday). But the games should all be competitive and the team and the Tournament deserve fan support


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Lace It Up

December 17th, 2014

After what seems like an eternity since UH played a home basketball game( at least a game on Oahu), the basketball  Bows hit the hardwood for a Friday night " away game" against " little brother, Chaminade at the Blaisdell.

Some say a two week hiatus is good. Time to rest, regroup, put in new plays, etc. Others say its too long. Lose of fan interest, loss of positive momentum, etc. Whatever, its just nice to get back to playing.

Friday night's game is a no-win game for UH. Win, and every expects you too. Lose, and you have a lot of explaining to do. I watched Chaminade on Maui. They didn't appear to me as strong as previous teams I saw there. Uh has already beaten HPU, another Hawaii Division 2 squad, and frankly, I don't think Chaminade should give UH much of a game. But who knows? What I do know is that for UH to play two Div 2 teams in a single season is not acceptable. I don't want to hear about how difficult it is to bring in Div 1 opponents. One div 2 game a season is enough, maybe too much. The Bows strength of schedule is weak enough without Two Div 2 teams.

For the basketball fan however, there is good news ahead, at least next week.  The Diamond Head Classic will bring in 7 teams to play 12 games in three days. One of those teams, Wichita State, is the real deal. A top 10 team with solid players and a great backcourt.  Yes, they have struggled recently, losing at Utah, and beating Alabama by only 1 last nite at home, but they are clearly the best team Hawaii fans will see all year.

Hawaii opens against Nebraska. Four weeks ago, I would have said ESPN did UH no favors with that opening opponent. But Nebraska is not playing well, and UH has a real chance to win. Only possible problem.  A win and UH will face Wichita State in round 2. Lose and they will face a poor Loyola Marymount squad. The other bracket has DePaul, Colorado, Ohio University, and George Washington. What a concept. Teams folks have heard of.

The only new personnel news is that Hamlet, sorry I meant to Reyes, has left the building. " I am going. I am staying, I am going, I am staying, I am going, " is going. I don't think its  major loss. On the positive side, we will see the UH debut of Stefan Jankovic, the 6-11 transfer from Missouri. He played in 28 games for the Tigers, averaging 3.1 points and 1.6 rebounds. He should give UH some frontcourt depth which they have lacking, and some height in the paint.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to post a response to my blog about the financial future of UH sports. Its a tough issue, and will require some " out of the box" thinking. Happy Chanukah

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interesting times

December 10th, 2014

With a brief lull in UH basketball ( no games until a week from Friday), and the recent developments arising out of the AD's resignation,, I thought I would use today's blog to solicit your comments on what needs to be done to make UH athletics competitive and cost effective.

I think everyone now should realize that UH cannot continue to allow its athletic program to operate in the red. Yearly deficits are not going to be acceptable any longer. The University has too many other needs that require the limited funds available thru tuition, tax dollars and the like.

To me, the single most important question to ask is whether UH sports are really for the University or are they really for the State as a whole. As the only public university in Hawaii, I believe it is the latter. Frankly, I believe that if you polled the students and the faculty as to whether they care if the University maintains a football program, the answer will be No. You can see evidence of that in student attendance and the debate over the modest 50 student fee.

So if I am correct that the athletic programs, primarily football, are for the benefit and enjoyment of the State, then shouldn't the taxpayers, thru their elected representatives on Punchbowl, subsidize it. We do not have the economic resources in the private sector to make up the 8 to 10 million it will take to make up the budget shortfalls. We don't have the Fortune 500 companies that can make million dollar contributions and the last time I looked, there was no Phil Knight out there as well. We simply cannot raise the necessary funds from corporations, etc.

And things are going to get worse. Changes in the way the NCAA and the big five conferences are going to fund student athletics, including increased stipends, meals, medical benefits, etc will increase the costs of UH athletics by several million dollars over the next few years. We are in a football and basketball conference with poor tv contracts, and we have the substantial problem of paying travel costs that no other University faces.

So lets face reality. the present model is badly broken. The question is can it be fixed? or are we at a crossroads for UH Division 1 athletics? Its time for the public to recognize the the Emperor has no clothes. What do you think?


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Back In Action

December 2nd, 2014

Sorry for the two week delay in posts, but I was traveling. While I was gone, I did color on the Pittsburgh game and went to the Maui Tournament. As you all know, Hawaii played a near perfect game to upset Pitt and then went to Florida where they took fifth place with a 2-1 record. As the Bows get ready to take on Delaware State tonight, there record stands at 6-2.

What to make of the first 8 games? I think everyone should be pleased with the 6-2 record, although I wouldn't start talking about a team that will compete for the Big West title. The wins , except for Pitt, have come against lower division teams. The losses have come against average opponents. The Pitt win demonstrated to me that on a given night Hawaii can beat solid teams. The two losses tell me that on a given night Hawaii can lose to average teams.

The backcourt has played well. Pressure defense and good team rebounding have made up for inconsistent offense and an average frontcourt. The opposition has been just we needed in the early part of the schedule with tough teams on the horizon. For example, the team is headed to BYU this weekend and the Diamond Head has one great team, Wichita State,and several solid teams, including Hawaii's first round opponent, Nebraska. Then there is the Chaminade game on Dec 19. Having watched the Swords play on Maui, I think Hawaii should handle them.

Delaware State comes in tonight having just beaten Wake Forest, but lets not go crazy. Wake is playing terribly so far. And Delaware State has already lost to North Texas and by 50, yes 50, to Iona. I had predicted that Hawaii would win 7 of there first 8 home games ( excluding the Diamond Head), and so far I am right on schedule. I thought they might go 2-1 in Florida, but honestly, even against an up and down Pitt team, didn't think they had a chance. They proved me and lots of others wrong.

Credit Bobbitt and Valdes for the Bows solid start. Bobbitt has better than a 2-1 assist to turnover ratio, while averaging almost ten points per game, and Valdes is averaging 15 points and 7.5 rebounds. On the other hand, as Nevels goes, so go the Bows, and so far his offense has been inconsistent. He is averaging under 40% from the field and 28% from three. Smith has been struggling at the point with 17 turnovers and only 5 assists. And the two big men are averaging 6 rebounds per game between them. Webster-Chan has also struggled offensively averaging 37% from the field .

All in all, however, with all that went on in the weeks before the season, Benjy and his staff have done a solid job. The fans have been treated to a fun and exciting brand of basketball. The schedule has been favorable, except for the travel and frequency of games, but after tonight, the Bows will not be back in the Arena for three weeks and only play two games. Time to put in more sets, get some rest, and get ready for some tough opponents and the league.

Speaking of the league, UC Davis has surprised everyone with a 5-0 start. Hawaii at 6 wins has more wins than any team in the Conference. In fact, only three teams are above 500, but as usual, some have played tough opponents as the league tries to improve its RPI.  7 of the teams haven't yet won on the road ( neutral sites excluded).

Anyway, I look for Hawaii to go to 7-2 tonight before what will be a very tough game against BYU in Salt Lake on Saturday. I watched the Cougers in Maui. They are a solid team and should beat Hawaii ( but then again, most everyone except the team and the coaches thought they would lose to Pitt. We will have Coach Rose of BYU on Hoopstalk tomorrow at 7 pm on ESPN 1420. Hope you can join us.

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