Archive | November, 2010

Quick weekend preview: Redhawks could go 3-0

20 Nov

The Redhawks play Louisiana Tech on Friday, UC Irvine on Saturday and Navy on Sunday in the subregional of the Coaches vs. Cancer classic.

Louisiana Tech is a mediocre team in a mediocre conference. They lost their main scorers from last year, and will be playing without 6’10” Brazilian forward Romario Souza. They are beatable.

UC Irvine is a mediocre team in a mediocre conference. They did return 12 letterwinners from last year’s team (which finished 14-18), but they have a new coaching staff that has thus far failed to get a victory. Irvine is hosting the mini-tournament, so they have a slight home-court advantage. But they are still beatable.

Navy is a mediocre team in a mediocre conference. They are led by talented junior guard Jordan Sugars, but there’s not much more talent on their roster. They were blown out by more than 40 against basketball non-power Buffalo, and struggled to beat a Division-III team. They are very beatable.

There’s no reason the Redhawks can’t go 3-0 in this tournament. Each of these three teams have equal or less talent than Seattle does. There’s one main thing that could keep the Redhawks from victories this weekend – themselves.

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Seattle’s first win provides a blueprint to getting more

18 Nov

Last night’s 83-80 victory over Oregon State was hardly a sure thing. The Beavers led by as many as 12 in the second half, and had they gotten a shot away on the last play of the game, they could have taken it to overtime.

But the Redhawks did a lot of things that could spur them to future victories – if they keep doing them. As a team, they shared the ball better on offense, something Cervante Burrell mentioned in his postgame interview. This led to better overall offensive possessions, with more open looks and more trips to the free-throw line after working the ball in close.

This offensive flow led to different people taking over the scoring at different times, and doing it in different ways, something that is going to make SU a much harder team to stop.

  • Sterling Carter was a huge chunk of the Redhawks offense in the first half with 16 points. He showed a hot hand from beyond the arc (5-8 from three-point land for the game), something he has displayed all season so far.
  • Alex Jones helped step up and take over the scoring late in the game with 11 points, all from close range or the free-throw line. Not bad in just 16 minutes.
  • Burrell, all game long, was the offensive catalyst, driving into the lane, creating opportunities for himself and for teammates, and getting to the line. He was a perfect 8 for 8 on free throws, including a few crucial ones near the game’s end.

One shooter, one slasher and one scorer from inside. Against Oregon State, the Redhawks had three diverse offensive weapons, and if all three can pick up where they left off this weekend, Seattle U might be able to get their season right back on track.

Seattle U – Oregon State halftime analysis

18 Nov

It’s tied at the half at 43-43.

The reason Seattle has been competitive has essentially been Sterling Carter, who might be the best freshman basketball player in the country that the majority of the country has never heard of. Through three and a half games he has been, by far, Seattle’s best shooter. The offense slows down and doesn’t run as smoothly when he’s not in the game. For a freshman to have taken that responsibility so early in the season, indicates that something is special about Carter. Whether he can keep up his relative hot shooting is another matter, but for now, the Redhawks will sure take it.

Other quick thoughts:

  • Cervante Burrell and Freddy Wilson need to watch tape of themselves so they realize that they’re forcing up a lot of unnecessarily difficult shots.
  • While Carter is playing with a confidence beyond his years, McLaughlin looks like a nervous freshman every time he touches the ball. The only time he appears confident is when he’s taking an open 3.
  • If you’re watching on TV, look at the screen and squint, and it almost looks like OSU’s bright orange and Seattle’s red are the same color. Hard to tell apart. Too bad the Beavers aren’t rocking their brand-new turquoise uniforms.

 

On shooting the basketball

17 Nov

Seattle U, thus far, has shot the basketball abysmally. At 0.354% from the field, the Redhawks check in at 286th in the country in shooting percentage. Considering there are, at last count, 346 Division I teams, and considering that Seattle is expected to be and should be a program on the rise, that is simply not an acceptable statistic.

If you need another stat to convince you that Seattle has been ineffective on offense, consider this: The Redhawks have made 70 shots. They have turned the ball over 69 times. If you do the math, that’s one, yes, 1, more baskets than turnovers. Yes, it’s early in the season, and yes, that’s still unacceptable.

Why, then? It’s not like Cal Poly or San Francisco, two early opponents who won by double-digits over the Redhawks, are particularly known for defensive intensity.

Rather, it’s been Seattle’s offensive style. Even when the fast break is not available, the Redhawks have been forcing up shots early on in the shot clock, trying to push the tempo. They are not passing the ball well on offense, and are not finding the easy opportunities for baskets.

Last year the Redhawks ranked surprisingly low in assists per game. This year, it’s been the same story, as they average just over 10 assists per game, a lowly 247th in the country – despite having a huge amount of offensive possessions because of their tempo. The guards have been trying to do too much, too soon. Cervante Burrell and Mark McLaughlin, each of whom sport terrible shooting percentages, have been guilty of this. Sterling Carter has avoided this simply because he’s been making tougher shots.

I was chatting with a Washington-area D-II college basketball coach earlier this week, and he mentioned that it’s difficult for a player to simply “become” a better shooter once they’ve hit college. The Redhawks aren’t going to shoot the basketball better overnight. They simply have to be more patient on offense, and find better looks when the fast-break layup opportunities aren’t there.

Sizing up the competition

12 Nov

Tonight’s game against San Francisco is the first of four Seattle will play this year against West Coast Conference opponents. The Redhawks also will face off five times against teams in the WAC.

If and when Seattle does join a conference, it would most likely be the WAC, but their eyes have to be on their old stomping grounds of the WCC as well. Old rivals and in-state power Gonzaga would make the WCC the best fit, but whether that opportunity will be presented to the Redhawks is uncertain at best and probably unlikely.

In any event, here is a summary of Seattle U’s games this season against potential conference foes. How the Redhawks perform in these games could give some indication as to how competitive they could be right away in their new conference.

Western Athletic Conference

  • Louisiana Tech, Nov. 19, neutral court
  • Idaho, Dec. 11
  • San Jose State, Dec. 18
  • at Fresno State, Jan. 24 (Fresno State is leaving the conference within two years)
  • at Idaho, March 5

West Coast Conference

  • at San Francisco, Nov. 12
  • at Pepperdine, Jan. 2
  • at Loyola Marymount, Jan. 31
  • Portland, Feb. 5

The Season Begins: Seattle U at Maryland, and what to look for

8 Nov

This year, after a surprisingly successful season, the Maryland Terrapins will try to adapt to life without its nationally known top scorer and do-everything best player on the court. They will be looking to find out who exactly will be the team leaders. They have a fairly young team, but they like to push the tempo and play fast, so their games should be exciting to watch.

This year, after a surprisingly successful season, Seattle University will try to adapt to life without its nationally known top scorer and do-everything best player on the court. They will be looking to find out who exactly will be the team leaders. They have a fairly young team, but they like to push the tempo and play fast, so their games should be exciting to watch.

That’s where the similarities end.

Maryland ran off 24 wins last year and went to the NCAA tournament, Seattle won 17 and was denied an invitation to the CBI. Maryland beat Duke, Seattle lost to Harvard. Maryland tied for first in their conference. Seattle doesn’t HAVE a conference.

It’s fairly clear that the two programs are a world apart. And that illustrates just how far Seattle still has to go in the college basketball world, despite a successful first season.

This game should not be taken as a serious indicator of how the season is going to go. Seattle, in all likelihood, will lose. In a similar season-opening contest at Oklahoma State last year, they were run out of the gym. It probably won’t be that bad this time around. It might be. It might be worse.

But in all likelihood, it won’t end in a Redhawks victory. Maryland contains a little too much physicality and a little too much overall basketball talent for Seattle to hang with, for 40 minutes, on the opposition’s court.

The keys to look for in this game are simpler things. In fact, these are really three of the keys to the season.

  • Which of Seattle’s newcomers are going to step up? Freddie Wilson and Mark McLaughlin had strong performances in the exhibition game against PLU. Facing the best of the ACC is a different beast.
  • How are the Redhawks going to defend against talented big men? Maryland sophomore Jordan Williams certainly fits into that category. Gavin Gilmore and Alex Jones are going to have their hands full.
  • Can Cervante Burrell make this team HIS team? The junior point guard is probably the best player on the roster, but it remains to be seen if he can handle being the key man in the offense.

2010-11 Preview: Making the Postseason

5 Nov

Coach Cameron Dollar has been vocal about his goals for the Redhawks: Since his Redhawks aren’t yet eligible to make the NCAA tournament, he wants to do the next bext thing and win the NIT.

If such a lofty goal is to be accomplished, needless to say, Seattle U is going to have to be very, very good. Only a few teams were even invited to the NIT from non-power conferences last year (Seattle, without a conference at all, would fall within this grouping). Those that did sneak in had very strong records, and all were from mid-tier conferences.

Seattle would have to be at least on par with the success of these programs, relatively comparable ones who were in the NIT last year:

  • Nevada. 22-10 record in 2009-10, WAC.
  • Illinois State. 22-10, Missouri Valley Conference.
  • Northeastern. 22-10, Colonial Athletic Association.
  • Tulsa. 23-11, Conference USA.

Keeping in mind that since each of these schools played slightly stronger overall schedules than Seattle will this year, and each have the perception of being more established programs, the Redhawks would likely need to put up a record of about 23-8 or 22-9 to even have a shot at being invited to the NIT.

Scoring a berth into one of the other postseason tournaments would likely be much simpler. Based on the teams invited last season, a 20-win season would almost certainly do the trick. Given that Seattle U is still brand new to the Division-I scene, ending the year with a game (or two, or three…) in the CBI or CIT would still be a remarkable achievement.

Welcome to the WAC?

4 Nov

Seattle University could be joining an athletic conference within the next 30 days, and if rumors turn out to be true (admittedly a rather enormous ‘if’), they could find themselves in the Western Athletic Conference.

Sources have indicated that Seattle, along with the Universities of Denver, Texas-San Antonio and Texas State, will be invited to join the conference.

“It’s pretty obvious at this point,” WAC Senior Associate Commissioner Jeff Hurd said. “You know who the football playing schools are and you know who the non-football playing schools are. I don’t know if you can say it’s automatic but if you’re looking at a probability, it’s pretty high.”

Glamorous? Not exactly. Along with the 3 schools mentioned already, Seattle’s rivals would be Hawaii, Idaho, Louisiana Tech, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Utah State. On the other hand, the chance at an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament that comes along with a conference – ANY conference – is sexy. And away games in Hawaii in the winter? Yes, please.

Welcome to the Seattle U hoops blog!

3 Nov

In Seattle University’s transition to Division I sports, a number of their athletic programs have already proven that they can hang with the big boys of the NCAA.

None has made more of an impact than the men’s basketball team, running up a winning record in their first full season in Division I. They picked up huge road wins at Utah and Oregon State, showcased a ridiculously talented player in Charles Garcia, and sent a message that they plan on being a competitive team right away.

Although the team is proving to be nationally relevant already, the coverage has not yet caught up with the program. This blog aims to change that.

We will cover the Redhawks all season long, attempting to provide the sort of analysis and coverage that the program deserves. Hang with us, it’s going to be a fun year!

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