Archive for December, 2015

A Strong Tournament

December 28th, 2015

Ok. I have been telling folks I cant provide an opinion as to how good this year's team is until after the Diamond Head. Why? Because the first eight games didn't really tell me very much. Blow -outs against inferior and Div 2 squads, a last second miracle win against an average Nevada team, and a bad loss on the road to Texas Tech. But after last week's game, I now have an opinion. This team is pretty good.

Game 1, a big win over an up and down  Northern Iowa team . Up by beating North Carolina and Iowa State, and down losing by 20 to New Mexico) who came in last at the Tournament). UNI lacks any decent frontcourt and rely totally on threes. When they fall, they win, When they don't, they lose. is that simple.

The came the game against Number 3 Oklahoma. The Sooners are very good. They have a great backcourt. Perhaps the best shooting guard in the country. But the Bows hung tough and if a loose ball or two, a missed free throw or two, o ran ill-advised technical on you know who, had gone the other way, UH would have had one of the biggest upsets of the year. That game proved to me UH can beat any Conference foe at home.

Then the nice win against an average Auburn squad that and had one really solid player. Unfortunately for the Tigers, he either shot them in or out of games last week. In the UH game, 30 minutes of shooting them out was not overcome by 10 minutes of shooting them in.

The Bows were led by Rod Bobbitt. I guess he likes playing Div 1 schools and being on ESPN. He was great. Deserved to make the All-Tournament team averaging 30 points in the last two games. Found his outside shot, and basically led the offense. Cant say the same for Valdes. He had a very poor tournament offensively. One thing about Aaron, however, he generally plays within himself and gives great effort on both ends of the floor.

Thomas continues to be a foul machine and it has to improve. When he finally got a few minutes to play against Auburn, after sitting most of the first two games with foul trouble, he showed what he can do if he stays on the floor. Both Stefans played well in spurts. Jankovic had a strong outing against Auburn and Jovanovic played well in limited minutes.

Fleming was hot and cold, but played hard with only a few on-court incidents, including the one very costly "t". Smith free throw shooting woes continue, but his defense was solid. He will never be a scorer for this team. And Tummala continued his streaky shooting, but got additional minutes because of Thomas' foul situation.

This week the Bows end Non-Conference with two easy games and they should go into League play with the best record in the league with only two losses. if you had asked me what I thought UH record would be going into Conference, I would have said 8-3. What did you all think? Has this team surprised you or is it where you thought they would be?

Finally, the NCAA sanctions have come out and everybody is talking about it. Too harsh? Is the team being punished for the sins of prior coaches and players? Is the NCAA a joke? Should UH appeal? Is Gib and his attorney really serious when they state he was " very pleased" with the results and that he was " vindicated"? The bottom line is that under his watch UH committed several violations and now will suffer the consequences for years to come. Its really sad, but lets stop talking about what to do about the sanctions next. lets move on and support this team and this program. Its is going to need all of our fan support. Under the new coaching regime ( and new AD), I know we can expect full compliance with NCAA rules, whether you agree those rules or not. What matters now is how this team comes together, and if last week is any indication, they will have a highly successful year



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Diamond Head Preview

December 16th, 2015

After several less than challenging opponents, we will finally get a glimpse as to how good this team is  next week in the Diamond Head Classic. Hopefully, whatever issues kept Bobbitt on the bench last week will be resolved by next Tuesday, but I am not that optimistic that we have seen the last of his attitude problems. The team definitely will need him against decent competition.

Tuesday's games feature Auburn vrs New Mexico and Harvard vrs BYU in the day games, and Oklahoma vrs Washington State and Northern Iowa vrs Hawaii at night. The overwhelming favorite has to be the Sooners, who are ranked number 3 in the nation. In the other bracket, I like the Lobos.

Auburn is 5-2 but is likely to lose to Xavier this weekend. The Tigers have beaten UAB and Coastal Carolina, but have lost to Colorado and Middle Tennessee State. Not exactly a murderer's row. New Mexico, on the other hand, is also 6-2, but has beaten New Mexico State and UH first round opponent, Northern Iowa. Their losses have been to number 11 Purdue and USC.

Harvard, the team I am hosting, has had a tough start. After losing their best player to injury for the year, they are 3-6. One of those losses, however, was to Kansas by only 6. BYU, their opponent, is 8-3 with one more game to play. The Cougars lost to Big West foe Long Beach State and Utah, and have beaten Utah State and a bunch of cupcakes. I will go with my heart and pick Harvard to win that game.

In the nightcap, Oklahoma comes in undefeated. They have beaten Wisconsin and Villanova ( in the Pearl Harbor Classic), and have one more game this Saturday against Creighton. They are a final four team. Their opponent, Washington State, will be playing in the Consolation round for certain. These Cougars are 6-2 with an easy game against Texas State this weekend. They have lost to Gonzaga( not your mother's Gonzaga team), and have no real signature wins so far.

And in the last game of the first round, our beloved Rainbow Warriors ,7-1, with only one near quality win ( Nevada), take on last year's NCAA darling, the panthers of Northern Iowa. The Panthers lost most of their starting five, but are still picked to challenge Wichita State for the Horizon League Championship. Their signature win so far was against the Tarheels.  They are 6-3 with a win against another former NCAA darling, George Mason, but they have lost to Colorado State and Richmond, as well as New Mexico. The will likely lose this Saturday to top ten ranked Iowa State.  I like Hawaii to win this one. It wont be easy, but UH always plays well in this event. Unfortunately, the prize for winning is a date with the Sooners. But that is for another column.

Tonight on Hoops Talk, 7 pm on ESPN 1420, our guests will be BYU head coach Dave Rose and Carolina head coach Roy Williams. You wont want to miss it.

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Calm Before The Storm

December 9th, 2015

Last nights easy win over Hilo and Saturday's game against HPU prove very little about where this team stands once it starts to play the " big boys". Frankly, the jury is still out on how good this team is. The one point win against Nevada and the loss to Texas Tech, the two best teams UH has played to date ( and frankly neither is all that good), have to be compared to the blow-out wins against the lesser opponents.

Last night, Aaron played a dominating game on both ends. Fleming continued his improving play, and Filipovic showed he could provide some solid minutes in relief of a poor performance by Bobbitt. Speaking of Bobbitt, his body language last night as well as his towel over the head attitude, was a major disappointment in a player who up to last night had begun to show some needed maturity. Hopefully it was a one game aberration as it reflected poorly on him and is something that Eran has to stop quickly.

Some things are becoming pretty obvious. One, this team really struggles at the line ( 60%). If it doesn't get up over 65% ( nothing to write home about), it will cost the Bows a win or two. Second, although he plays hard at both ends of the court, and has a strong move to the hoop, Quincy Smith is a very poor shooting " shooting" guard. It is almost painful to watch him try to score from outside the paint and , and when you add his poor free throw shooting into the mix, I wouldn't be surprised to see Fleming move into that starting spot. And the team has to improve its interior defense.

Mike Thomas continues to provide some solid minutes and gives this team a little bulk in the paint.  Jankovic didn't play last night, and he is still trying to figure out where he fits in the offensive schemes. Sai Tummala has been hot and cold. What the team needs from him is consistency.

No one really can be surprised by the teams 6-1 record. They won all the games they were supposed to, and lost the one game they could have won . After Saturday, and except for two more cupcakes right after the Diamond Head, the going gets much tougher. They will open the Classic with Northern Iowa, who beat North Carolina earlier this year. UNI is not the team they were last year, and Carolina was missing their all-American point guard Marcus Paige in that game, but that was a signature win. And if UH is fortunate to beat UNI, next up is Oklahoma who just crushed Villanova at Pearl harbor and is a top 5 team in my opinion.

This team has a chance to do some very good things. The league has shown there is no one dominating team. Irvine is not a lock to win the league. The league has had some solid wins against some " name" opponents, but overall has struggled out of conference. Irvine, Long Beach and Santa Barbara have played some tough opponents in tough places, so it hard to compare their records to UH. But the Bows have many of the pieces necessary to successfully compete in the league, but will have to fix some things going forward. We will all have a better idea where UH stands after Santa leaves on the 25th.

happy Hanukkah.

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Arkansas Pine Bluff

December 2nd, 2015

How many of us have been to Pine Bluff, Arkansas? Today's geography's lesson begins today's blog.

Pine Bluff is the largest city in Jefferson County. Population 49,000. It is the 9th largest city in Arkansas. Lots of farmland and home to the largest bayou in the world. Leading farm products include cotton and soybeans, not to mention catfish. Large number of paper mills give Pine Bluff a distinctive odor.

Not so positive, in 2009, it was ranked as the most dangerous metropolitan area in the US and Forbes as listed it as one the ten poorest cities in the US. The good news, as of 2014, it is no longer listed in the top ten deadliest cities in the US.

The University is the second oldest public educational institutions in Arkansas, and the oldest with a Afro-American heritage.

Notable people from Pine Bluff include basketball player Joe Barry Carroll, Mike Huckabee, and Clark Terry.

The basketball team is currently 2-5. Unlike Hawaii, who played its only road non-conference game last week, Pine Bluff will play 16 road games ( out of 18 games) to start the season. And many are body bag games. They have already played at Oklahoma State, Michigan State, Cincinnati, Nebraska, and now Hawaii, with upcoming road games at Virginia Tech, Iowa State, Texas Tech and Missouri. They have a 2 point win over SE Louisiana and Seattle University.

They are led by leading scorer JoVaughn Love ( 11.7 ppg) and Ghiavonni Robinson(9.4ppg). They do not shoot well ( 37%), and 30% from three and have out rebounded by 13 rebounds per game. They are averaging only 56 points per game while giving up 77, but much of this can be attributed to the level of competition.

For the Bows, they have three games they should win easily after suffering their first loss. Last year, they beat this team by 28 points and I would be surprised if they don't come close to matching that tonight. Valdes had 28 points in that game. Hawaii will look to improve in two major areas. free throw shooting and interior defense. Even in the four wins, these have been trouble spots.


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