Archive for February, 2016

Games Do Not Get Any Bigger

February 19th, 2016

Tomorrow nights game against Irvine may be the most important game UH has played in the regular season in years. Its not as big as last year's Championship game against the Anteaters, but its close. After last nights close win against CSUN, a game in which frankly  they would have lost without an incredible game from Jankovic , the Bows will need complete games from everybody.

Its not likely Hawaii will shoot almost 50% from three and make 14 three pointers. That was the difference in Hawaii's blow-out win against Irvine last week along with some solid defense which kept Irvine's  big men from doing any real damage. Irvine stayed in their zone almost the entire game and Hawaii made them pay. If UH cant score from outside, they will have difficulty scoring in the paint.

If UH comes out with a win, the regular season Conference championship and the automatic NIT bid that come with it, will be in hand as the Bows will have a two game lead over Irvine and Long Beach with only 4 games to play. With a loss, it becomes more difficult and may come down to tiebreakers. Irvine has a win against Long Beach, Hawaii a loss, and both UH and Irvine still have games with the Beach with Hawaii having to go there.

Many are now predicting UH as the Conference Tournament likely winner. In fact, a service I subscribe to gives  Hawaii  a 36% chance. That same service says Hawaii has a 7% chance to get an at-large bid ( I think that's optimistic, but in the crazy season in college basketball ,who knows). My service predicts Hawaii as a 13 seed, others have UH as a 14. One or two predict UH as a 12 seed.

UH is listed as an NCAA Tournament team that can cause some havoc if it makes the Tournament. It is one of 5 so-called mid-majors listed. I agree. UH's only losses are to top 5 Oklahoma, A surging Texas Tech team on the road, and a poor performance against Long Beach. Yes, they have beaten many weak teams, and have had some close calls against other less than powerhouse opponents, but the trick is winning, and UH is doing that.

So you cant overestimate the importance of tomorrow's game. But on the other hand, all will not be lost by a loss. Beating Irvine at home will be a challenge. In fact, I think UH will lose in a close contest. I hope I am wrong, but even if I am right, UH will be in a tie for first with only two weeks to go. Three of Hawaii's remaining games are against the lower half of the league, with two at home. A loss tomorrow will make the final regular season at Long Beach all that more important, but a regular season league championship and/or a really good seed going into the Tournament is well within reach.

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A Night To Remember

February 12th, 2016

Last nights victory over Cal Irvine was memorable for many reasons. A record tying 14 "3's"; a record student crowd of over 1400 hundred; sole possession of first place in mid-February; NCAA bracketology showing UH in the Big dance; etc, etc etc

It was a night to remember. In a game that many, including me, thought would be close and played in the 60's, it was anything but. The Rainbows took it to Irvine on both ends of the floor. Everyone is talking about the three's, but I was evenly impressed by the lock down defense on Irvine's guards and big men. It was a Big West Player of the Year night for Bobbitt, with strong support from Thomas and Valdes. Irvine was the top team in the league defensively, but they were no match for UH last night. And as predicted, they remain offensively challenged.

If you listened to Hoopstalk or the pregame, I said the key for UH was to make 10 threes and shoot better than 50% from beyond the arc. They had 10 threes with 16 minutes left in the game, and ended with a three point percentage close to 50%. Will Irvine get some measure of revenge next Saturday? Its quite possible as UH will not shoot like that again, especially there, but for one night, the magic returned to the Arena unlike anything I have seen in years.

There is still much basketball to be played. UH has 4 more road games, including games at Irvine and Long Beach ( watch out for the Beach). Irvine has an easier schedule with Hawaii and Long Beach at Home. But for now, and until next Saturday, UH is the top dog. ( I know, they have Fullerton Saturday nite and Northridge on the road next Thursday, but they are both bottom-feeders).

Its been several years since UH basketball fans have been looking at predictions for the NCAA Tournament. I remember those days and how much fun it was to see UH in the mix. I still don't think an at-large is possible because of UH's mediocre RPI and poor strength of schedule, but an NIT bid and/or a Conference Championship is certainly within reach. The next goal is to hopefully crack the top 25. It wont be easy because most of the remaining games are against poor teams, but its going to be hard to ignore a potentially 24-25 win team.



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A Bitter Loss

February 1st, 2016

Well what can say about Saturday night's defeat at the hands of a below 500 Long Beach State team?

Well, you can start by saying Hawaii never did show up. Except for Quincy and Thomas, the rest of the team played poorly. Valdes was not ready to come back from his injury, Fleming hurt his ankle but was clearly outplayed by Faust and whoever else the Beach put on him, Jankovic committed two really dumb fouls and shot 2-9, and Bobbitt lost his shot (3-9) and more importantly, his composure ( more on this later).

As a team two things I was concerned about came back and haunted the Bows. Poor three point shooting ( 6-25) and poor free throw attempts ( 20-34). These two items have hit or miss, but lately, more hit than miss. The confounding stat was rebounding. An average Long Beach State team just destroyed the Bows off the boards 47-28. Inexcusable and unexplainable unless one team just wanted it more.

Is the season over? of course not. Irvine lost at home to Santa Barbara so Hawaii still sits a half game behind the Anteaters, but Long Beach is looming in the rear view mirror. It just makes Thursday's game at Santa Barbara, as Donald Trump would say, HUGE. Hawaii just got by the Gauchos a few weeks ago here in Hawaii, and they are playing better basketball, witness the win at Irvine.

The loss really doesn't bother me as much as the loss of composure and incidents between team-mates and players and coaches that I either witnessed or heard about after the game. I am told there were words exchanged between coaches and Fleming and Valdes ( that will happen in a frustrating loss), but Bobbitt's tangle with Jankovic was totally uncalled for, embarrassing to the program, and potentially exposed some serious divisions within the team.

To recount, late in the second half, as Hawaii was clawing back into the game, Jankovic missed an easy bucket and then , in frustration, got his 4th foul going for the  basketball. It was a stupid and totally unnecessary foul that put him on the bench. Bobbitt then started calling Jankovic out for the foul yelling at him up and down the court. Yes he was angry, but you don't show up a team-mate in that situation.

But that's not all. At the next time-out, Bobbitt and Jankovic started jawing at each other again on the bench and had to be separated by a team-mate before blows were exchanged. A few minutes later, at the next time out, Jankovic came off the bench to greet Bobbitt and exchange a hand, but Bobbitt blew right past him. And to top it off, when the game ended, Jankovic went to the locker-room and did not stand with his team-mates for the alma mater.

If this is the way this team is going to react to adversity, watch out. Hopefully, Coach Ganot can put things back together, but he has a big job in front of him. Winning is great, but losing with class is something you expect from UH. These kinds of divisions between team-mates and players and coaches need to be addressed if this team is to get back to playing winning basketball.

I don't think anybody realistically thought Hawaii was going to go undefeated in Conference. Yes to lose in front of the first sell-out since 2004 is tough, but its only one loss. This team is still one of the best in the Conference and the tough part of its schedule is coming up. Its time to put this loss behind them, and get ready for a tough game at Santa Barbara. Hopefully  the guys can follow the leadership of Thomas and Smith and focus just on basketball

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