Archive for January, 2016

A Strong Start

January 20th, 2016

After two weeks of Conference play, its beginning to look like a two team race. First, UC Irvine. The Anteaters are 4-0 and theirwo road wins last week against Santa Barbara and Long Beach is scary. They have not lost a home game, are 8-5 on the road ( including neutral site games) and have played a tough out of conference schedule. With Mamadou, all 7'6 " of him, in the middle, and Alex Young and Luke Nelson in the backcourt, they are showing they deserve their pre-season number 1 ranking. They are holding teams to 63 points per game and 37% field goal percentage.

On the other hand, there is UH. The Rainbows are off to their best start in 15 years. They lead the league in field goal percentage and scoring margin, and are averaging 80 points per game. It will be one immovable force vrs another when they meet. Interestingly, it wont be until the second half of the season.

Last week, the Rinbows won two on the road. They beat Riverside  easily without Valdes and with a late arriving Bobbitt thanks to strong games from Fleming, Smith and Thomas and then got a little lucky in their overtime win at Fullerton thanks to a strong second half from Jankovic and another good game from Fleming.  These are not the strongest teams in the league, but winning on the road is never easy ( just look at the upsets the past two weeks among the top 25).

The schedule makers have done UH a huge favor with the early part of the Conference schedule. They meet a poor Davis team on Saturday, the only game this week, and then have another week to prepare for a home game with Long Beach.  UC Davis has a single road win and is 1-2 in the Conference. The Beach is 2-2 in the Conference with losses at some mighty tough places to play, but theyeither score 90 or 60 and cant seem to hold onto a lead.

Fans are lining up behind this Rainbow warrior squad and rightfully so. Its a different star or two every night, and they continue to play together and play hard. They are ranked 13th this week in the College Mid-major media poll, one spot ahead of Irvine. They ot three votes this week in the AP poll ( down one vote after winning two road games) and no votes in the Coaches poll ( 1 vote last week). The schedule turns a lot tougher after this Saturday, but by then hopefully Valdes will be back. I still maintain the team has little depth so an injury free season is critical.

Hoopstalk tonight will have Coach Ganot as our guest. Hopefully every weds thru  the final Four on ESPN 1420 at 7 pm. 296-1420 is the number.

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One Down-One to Go

January 15th, 2016

One thing you have to notice about this UH team. Its that someone always seems to step up when someone else is struggling( or not playing). Last night, it was two guys who have not been offensive powerhouses so far this season, Thomas and Smith. Quincy scored 17 points, a career high,  mostly on his patented drives to the hoop and Thomas chipped in with 15 points, including 2 huge threes. Add the scoring from Jankovic and Fleming, and it more than made up for the loss of Valdes and the poor offensive night from Bobbitt.

Riverside was never really in this game. So far, they have been a major disappointment ( 0-3) to start the league. But one team is beginning to make its presence known. Irvine went to Long Beach and came from 10 back to win 58-54. That is a HUGE win. Another nice road win was Santa Barbara's win at Cal Poly.

Tomorrow UH plays at Fullerton. Not a powerhouse by any means, but without Valdes, certainly a tougher game than Riverside. The good news is that Bobbitt will not step on the court hours after landing on the Mainland and should bounce back. I am surprised Riverside hadn't either scouted Smith or simply couldn't stop him, but I think Fullerton will try to keep him out of the paint or foul him before he gets to the hoop. Jankovic and Fleming are proving they will be double digit scorers in practically every game.

Still don't see much bench strength on this team. Yesterday, Tummala played 12 minutes with one bucket, and Filipovich and Drammeh, in relief of Valdes, played a total of 17 minutes and had 3 points combined. Another injury to a starter would be devastating. But the top 6 are as good as anybody in the league, and if Thomas can stay out of foul trouble( he played 33  minutes last nite), he will be a force in the paint.

One negative. After really showing some maturity on the court so far this season, Issac received another technical. He led the Conference, by far, in "T"'s last season, and officials are onto his on court chirping. You got to love his enthusiasm, but one day an ill-advised technical may cost this team a win. Lets hope yesterday was just a onetime event.


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" On The Road Again"

January 11th, 2016

After two home wins to open the season, UH takes to the road for only the second time this season. Cant believe there is another team in the Country that has been fed on so much home cooking. But the Bows have shown they are for real at Home, and for the first time in a decade they have garnered a few votes in the National polls.

UH's wins against Cal Poly and Santa Barbara were significant in many ways. Both of these teams have given the Bows problems in the past. Cal Poly is a tough physical team whose defense frustrated Hawaii over the years. This year's team is not that solid defensively, and could not keep up with Hawaii offensively.

The Gauchos have defeated UH here in Hawaii the last two years with Alan Williams, their all-conference big man. They really miss him this year, and in a tough struggle, UH used its strength inside to overcome poor outside shooting to seal the victory.

In order to make a run at the Conference Championship, you have to hold court at home and split on the road. The past few years, the Bows could not win the big games at home. The win against Santa Barbara proves they can this year. Now, can they win on the road.

The games this week are against the bottom half of the league so we should learn a lot very quickly how they will fare off Island. One potential big problem is the toe injury to Aaron Valdes. A rare basketball injury ( turf toe), but not uncommon in football and it could linger for a while. Frankly, UH has little depth, and Aaron gives the team full effort on both ends, even if his offense has been inconsistent. If he is out for any length of time, it will adversely effect UH's chances of success.

Pretty clear Irvine and Long Beach are the teams to beat. They played difficult away games pre-season, and appear ready to flex their muscles in league play. But this looks  like it could be UH's best team in 15 years. They need to be more consistent from the line, shoot better from "3", and find a third scorer in some games. But their defensive intensity and strong inside play will make them a difficult team to beat. They are playing for this year, and they just might do it.

If Aaron plays this week, I predict two UH wins. If he doesn't, look for a split.

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Time to Get Real

January 4th, 2016

Its nice for UH to come out of the pre-conference portion of their schedule with the best record in years. Its nice that they played Oklahoma tough and beat some other teams we have heard of. But none of that really matters in the end. All that matters when you are a member of the Big West is whether you win the league tournament , and the NCAA bid that goes with it, or win the regular season crown and the NIT bid that goes with it.

Lots of speculation on how good, or not so good, the rest of the Big West is. I think the non-conference records are just so-so. Some wins against middle level schools, lots of bad losses to good squads ( with a few exceptions). I think Long Beach will be good, although its always hard to tell with them because of the really tough schedule they play leading to losses, Irvine has been a disappointment, although still some talent there, Riverside could surprise, and UC Santa Barbara is learning to play without Allen Williams.

But one of the sites I study, a site that sets odds for college basketball on a daily and season-wide basis, has a real pleasant surprise for UH fans. It picks UH to win both the regular season crown and the Tournament. Team Ranking has UH as a 30% favorite to win the Tournament, with UCSB at 25%. Then its Irvine and Long Beach. The rest don't have much hope.

As far as the regular season goes, it has UH with a 11.3 win season and a 37% chance of coming in first. Right behind is UCSB with 10.9 wins and a 29% chance. UC Irvine is predicted to win 10 games.  I cant remember the last time UH was picked by anybody to win the league ( Big West or WAC) or the tournament.

Now its time to prove it on the court. as I said on the broadcast the other nite, I think UH will be a favorite in every home game. I think they will lose 3-4 games on the road ( at Long Beach, Irvine, UCSB and maybe Riverside. But we will see how they get out of the gate this weekend, starting with Cal Poly and UCSB. Cal Poly is struggling with a 6-7 records, but always gives UH fits with its disciplined style of play. UH has averaged only 61 points against them in 6 Big West contests. Cal Poly has played a fairly tough schedule. They lost by 2 at UNLV, 5 at UCLA, ,but lost badly at USC and St Mary's. They have no really good wins. They can score, but defensively they are not the Cal Poly team we know and love. More on UCSB on Friday.

Ok all of you draft king fans. Predictions please on UH's League record. I say 11-5 . 10-6 could still win the Conference. Your thoughts?


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