Archive | February, 2012

Seattle at Fresno State – 78-72 LOSS

24 Feb

There’s not a whole lot a college basketball team can do when an opposing player decides to channel the spirit of Kobe Bryant.

Sophomore sensation Kevin Olekaibe did just that against the Redhawks on Thursday night, pouring in 43 points against the Redhawks. 43! In a college basketball game. That’s not a normal offensive output by one college basketball player, that’s a normal offensive output by USC.

Seattle still made it a game though, leading early and hanging close all the way before eventually falling 78-72 after being unable to pull out enough defensive stops down the stretch. It didn’t help that Fresno was money from the free-throw line, either. Or that they went to the free-throw line constantly in the first place.

Hero: For the Redhawks, Prince Obasi. He has quietly settled into a more effective rhythm coming off the bench for Seattle, and has had a solid second half of the season. His 12 points and 5 assists were evidence of that.

Goat: Anyone guarding Kevin Olekaibe. It’s never good to let someone shoot 12 of 25 from the field, and attempt 14 free-throws at the same time. (He made them all.)

Key stat: As it has been so many times this season, free-throw shooting was what did in Seattle U. In the final 6 minutes, Fresno State did not make a field goal, but made 15 of 18 free-throws to salt away the game. For the contest, they shot 31 of 39 from the line. The Redhawks were just 8 of 16.

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Pepperdine at Seattle – 81-70 WIN

18 Feb

Every game against West Coast Conference opponents comes with a little extra meaning. That’s the conference the Redhawks truly belong in, alongside the likes of Loyola Marymount, Portland and Gonzaga. But for whatever reason, the conference is avoiding adding any more teams, leaving Seattle to prove that it belongs someday.

And every win, like last night’s, is one step toward proving exactly that. Sure, Pepperdine isn’t very good – they entered the contest with an 8-17 record and a sub-40% field goal percentage. But it’s a whole lot better to thump a not-very-good team than to be thumped by them, like the Redhawks were at Pepperdine last year by 20 points.

Seattle got off to probably their best start of the season, leading 32-23 after just 10 minutes of play. That 120-point pace wouldn’t hold up, of course, but it was nice while it did. The offense was clicking, the defense was active, and Cervante Burrell and Aaron Broussard were clearly the two smartest guys out on the floor.

The second half would make it more interesting. Pepperdine quickly pulled themselves back into it, at one point briefly leading, before Seattle regained a tenuous 59-53 lead with about 10 to go. It would remain close until the final moments, when Eric Wallace’s put-back jam made the lead 9, and the Redhawks would shoot free-throws well for the last two minutes to salt away the win.

It wasn’t the prettiest win in the world. But it had a lot of promising elements. The crowd was small but vocal. The players weren’t stellar, but they were energized. And the arena had a feel of what it might be like, one day years down the road, to be in a WCC conference matchup.

Hero: Eric Wallace. He might not have been the statistical leader for Seattle, but he was the key on the court. His 4 blocks in the first half set an aggressive defensive tone. When he got an extended rest in the second half, the Waves crept back in the game. And his nasty throwdown with two minutes to go put the exclamation point on the victory.

Goat: Allen Tate. The guard got his first action late in the first half. On his first play with the ball, he picked up an offensive foul. At the other end, he was called for a defensive foul. Kind of sums up what has been a frustrating year for the transfer.

Key stat: 20-12. That’s the all-time record between these two schools – which is in Seattle’s favor. In terms of history, at least, they deserve to be a WCC team.

Northwest at Seattle – 90-58 WIN

15 Feb

If your name is Cameron Dollar and you put a home game with an NAIA school on your schedule, you aren’t looking for a close contest. You aren’t looking for an RPI boost. You’re looking for your team to deliver a good old-fashioned butt-kicking.

Fortunately, that’s exactly what Dollar got against Northwest University in a game Seattle U led at various points by scores of 14-1, 34-7 and 61-27. Northwest didn’t actually make a two-point basket until the second half. Essentially, this one was over as soon as it was put on the schedule.

These types of games do play a purpose, though, aside from just padding the win column. Being able to empty your bench and give everyone some playing time is always good for team morale. Being able to experiment with different offensive plays and defensive schemes against real competition is valuable down the road. And hey, the fans sure enjoy being on the positive end of a nice blowout victory.

Hero: Jarell Flora chipped in with 15 points, actually leading the team. Flora’s a freshman, one with quite a bit of potential, so it’s nice to see him having this type of impact. The Redhawks could rely on him to be having double-digit scoring nights as soon as next year.

Sidekicks: Because there’s really no goat when you schedule an NAIA school, aside from perhaps the fans of said NAIA school who actually expected a close game. No, the sidekick awards go to T.J. Diop and Gavin Gilmore, big men who have contributed little positively this season. Diop put in 7 points and 6 boards, and Gilmore was close behind with 6 and 5. They’ll be happy to be on the stat sheet in a positive way for a change.

Key stat: 24-3. That’s Northwest’s record, so they’re definitely a good team at their level. Sadly for them, this game was not played at their level.

Seattle at Longwood – 100-99 WIN

13 Feb

Is there a better, more interesting and exciting scoreline than a 100-99 victory? 100-69 might be more satisfying, but in terms of pure excitement, it seems hard to beat the game Seattle U played this weekend.

Saturday’s victory over Longwood University was nearly the exact opposite of the previous game, a heartbreaking loss to Idaho on the final possession.

Against Idaho, everything went right in the first half. Against Longwood, Seattle got off to an extremely slow start, trailing by 19 at the break, having turned the ball over 10 times already and allowing their opponents to shoot nearly 60% from the field.

Against Idaho, nothing went right in the second half. Against Longwood, the Redhawks roared back to make the game close, but still trailed by 6 with two minutes to go. They cut it to 2, then Cervante Burrell forced a turnover and converted a layup to tie the game and send it to overtime.

Against Idaho, Aaron Broussard had the ball in his hands for the last-second shot and missed it. Against Longwood, he had it again, after Eric Wallace had snagged an offensive rebound, and scored the game-winning shot.

It was a fabulous finish. Shame that it had to be in the morning, non-televised and on the east coast. Due to those combined forces it probably fell off the radars of local basketball fans completely.

Hero: This makes Aaron Broussard an easy pick. After all, he DID make the game-winning shot. He also scored 33 points in 33 minutes played. Now that’s using your time on the court effectively.

Goat: Seattle’s 3-point shooting in general. 44 threes is a ludicrous amount to attempt, particularly when you don’t shoot them well. 13 of 44, which totals out to a painful sub-30%, isn’t good.

Key stat: Seattle U attempted 20 more shots than Longwood – they took 89 and 69, respectively.

Seattle at Idaho – 70-69 LOSS

9 Feb

It’s not good to lose a game when you have at least two chances to win it. It’s not good to lose a game when you shoot nearly 50% from three-point range. It’s REALLY not good to lose a game when you lead by double-digits at halftime.

Seattle accomplished this trifecta against Idaho, who is quickly becoming the most annoying team the Redhawks face every season. Idaho’s annoyance goes back to the 2009-10 season. Idaho triumphed in KeyArena when Charles Garcia didn’t know how much time was on the clock and failed to get off a potential game-tying shot. At least against Idaho this year, Aaron Broussard got off his buzzer-beating attempt (even though he obviously missed).

Earlier this year the Vandals thumped Seattle on the road again in one of the lowest points of a low season. Whatever it is about Idaho, they seem to have Seattle U’s number.

Of course, the Redhawks and Vandals will meet twice a year, for every year in the foreseeable future. Sooner or later, Seattle will have to find a way to neutralize those pesky potato farmers.

Hero: Cervante Burrell. He has really picked up his play in the second half of the season, earning back his starting spot and then some. Cev checked in with 10 points and 11 assists. The Redhawks haven’t had that many assists in numerous entire games.

Goat: Clarence Trent. Speaking of people who have picked up their play… means that we’re not speaking about Trent. He was, again, mostly a non-factor. Worse, even. Trent missed a gimme shot in the last couple minutes, and turned the ball over on the potential game-winning possession.

Key stat: 45 and 24. Those were Seattle’s point totals in the first and second halves, respectively. It was the second straight game where this pattern held – against Arkansas State Seattle scored 46 and 29, respectively. This shows me that the Redhawks are getting better… but they don’t quite know how to close out games.

Conference realignment and Seattle U’s future in the WAC

3 Feb

There is shaping up to be a lot of change in Seattle University’s new conference.

There are going to be quite a few new teams, and there are going to be a few holdovers. So. First, the holdovers. New Mexico State, Utah State, Idaho, Louisiana Tech and San Jose State are the five old-guard schools of the WAC that will remain next year.

There’s the private-school guard, the new schools that on first glance seem like they’d better belong in a different conference  – Denver and Seattle.

Rounding out the new five are the Texas Schools – UT Arlington, UT San Antonio and Texas State. The three don’t offer historically powerful athletics programs (although UTSA is the cream of the Southland conference this year), but they do offer very small footholds in very nice media markets.

Joining the conference in all sports except football in two years, for some reason, is Boise State. The addition doesn’t add a needed football-playing school and it doesn’t add a big market, and Boise State sure isn’t being added for its strong academic reputation, so it seems to be rather pointless. But at least it’s a “name” school in a conference rapidly becoming devoid of them.

At this point, here are the football schools in the new conference – the five ‘original’ WAC schools, Texas State, and UT San Antonio. There have been rumblings of UT Arlington starting a football program, but that would have to be a few years away, at least. The WAC needs to get back to 8 football schools, and it needs to do it fast.

How is this going to happen? The conference needs to add football-playing schools that would be willing to move to the WAC and that are geographically fitting. Enter Sacramento State or Portland State. Both fit the bill. Crucially, both are in large media markets currently without a top-flight football program at any level (although in both there are solid programs an hour or two away).

Let’s take Sacramento State as an example. They would seem to be the best fit, as they are a large university that is currently a geographic outcast in the Big Sky. The Hornets would provide a close travel partner for San Jose State. That would push the conference to this for all sports, not including football:

Northwest: Seattle/Idaho, Boise State/Utah State, Sacramento State/San Jose State

Southeast: Denver/New Mexico State, UT San Antonio/Texas State, Louisiana Tech/UT Arlington

Utah State has been making noises about leaving for the Mountain West, as well, and if the Mountain West actually agrees to this eventually, Portland State would be a nice replacement. The Vikings have less of a history of athletic success, but more potential going forward. They play in shiny new remodeled PGE Park, in a large city with no other football programs. And they’d be a perfect travel partner for Seattle, allowing Idaho and Boise to be natural and logical travel partners themselves.

So the future isn’t all bad. It’s not GREAT, but it’s not bad. The conference could easily become a solidly-balanced one, with a few strong programs, a diverse geographical coverage without making travel too difficult, and a presence in many strong media markets. And Seattle will be a part of it. It could certainly be worse.

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