Archive | December, 2012

Recap: Crunch-time slips sink Redhawks in first WAC contest

31 Dec

Seattle University just couldn’t come up big when it really counted most.

Down the stretch, they failed to execute offensively. The biggest pain was going 2 of 5 from the free-throw line to end the game and not giving themselves a chance to win it.

Defensively it wasn’t good either. Three times in the last couple minutes, the Redhawks were slow on defense and left Idaho’s Robert Harris wide open from behind the arc. Three times, he made them pay, the last to break a tie with a minute left and give Idaho a lead they would never relinquish again.

It was a painful introduction to conference life for the Redhawks, who had the lead late in the second half, but coughed it up and fell 71-64 to Idaho at home.

On the bright side D’vonne Pickett had his second straight outstanding game, pouring in 17 points on 8-12 shooting (mostly on drives). He added 6 boards and 3 assists. The Redhawks as a team handled the ball well, something that has been an issue for them over the years. For them, 11 turnovers is fantastic.

On the down side, they had nobody at all to match up against center Kyle Barone. Idaho’s best player was too big for Deshaun Sunderhaus to contain inside, and reserve center Louis Green didn’t get much of a chance (nor should he have, he’s too slow to stay with Barone inside). Barone ended up with 25 points and 11 boards and was by far the game’s most valuable player.

Make no mistake, this was a winnable game. If Harris missed one or two of his threes, it could have gone the other way. If Seattle made one or two more threes – they were an ugly 4 for 17 from behind the arc – it could have gone the other way.

But they didn’t. And it didn’t. Conference play is tough.

The road doesn’t get easier either, because the Redhawks will go on the road for maybe the toughest two-game swing in the conference. San Jose State and Utah State are next up. Getting one win out of the two games would be a huge positive.

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Preview: Redhawks host Idaho in first conference battle in decades

29 Dec

It was the 1979-80 season, to be exact, the last time Seattle University took part in a Division-I conference game.

Since then, the Redhawks have floated through basketball independence, the NAIA, Division II, and back up to Division I as an independent. And tonight, against regional “rivals” Idaho, Seattle U returns to its rightful position as a full-fledged D-I member.

The Redhawks have a lot of history to be proud of. Making the national championship game in 1958 against Kentucky, making the NCAA tournament 11 times in 17 seasons, beating the Harlem Globetrotters. Defeating Idaho at home wouldn’t quite be in the same echelon, but it would be a hugely important moment in program history regardless.

As for the game itself, it should be a good one. Idaho and Seattle are pretty closely matched.

The two schools share two common opponents in Eastern Washington and Boise State. Each beat the Eagles on the road in a close contest (Idaho knocked them off by 2 in overtime) and dropped a decision to the Broncos (Seattle at home, Idaho on a neutral court). Both have average-ish records without a standout win.

Idaho has also been somewhat of a bogey team for the Redhawks in recent seasons. The teams have played home-and-home series in the past three years, and the Vandals have taken 5 out of 6.

Keeping that from becoming 6 out of 7 will be difficult, as Seattle doesn’t really have a good matchup for Vandals center Kyle Barone. The big man averages nearly 16 points and 8 boards per game. Seattle’s best bigs are small forwards or undersized 4’s (Clarence Trent and Deshaun Sunderhaus) and asking either to match up against the 6’10” senior Barone is a big ask.

The Vandals don’t have the guard depth Seattle U can run out. Neither do they shoot the ball from outside particularly well. Their only deep threat is Connor Hill, and other than him, no Vandal has hit 10 treys this season. So pressing, while going zone and packing it in on occasion, might not be a bad strategy.

This is a winnable game. This is the type of game that good teams win in-conference and at home. It has the potential to be a huge moment in the rebuilding of Seattle University basketball. Here’s hoping the Redhawks can keep calm, stay focused and rise to the occasion.

WAC watch: Utah State and Louisiana Tech continue to be class of conference

28 Dec

With conference play kicking off in two days, it seems like a good time to evaluate the entire WAC conference and how they’ve done thus far. Spoiler alert – there’s a lot of decent teams, but only two really good ones.

It seems like the conference regular-season championship will have to come from either Louisiana or Utah. Three other teams could surprise and make a run, but I really only see two major contenders for the regular-season title and automatic NIT bid.

The big risers were Denver, who finally caught a break in their schedule and responded. The big fallers were Texas State, who pretty much just lost a lot of games without being all that competitive. For more, read on!

(The last ranking for each team is in parentheses.)

1. (2) Utah State, 9-1. Best win – at Santa Clara. Worst (only) loss – vs. Saint Mary’s. The marquee matchup on Utah State’s nonconference schedule was a road tilt with BYU that has been rescheduled to February. Other than that, there’s a lot of solid if unspectacular wins, the best of which are Santa Clara and Southern Illinois. USU is a quality team.

2. (1) Louisiana Tech, 9-3. Best win – vs. Southern Miss. Worst loss – at Northwestern State. Two of the three losses are head-scratchers, but the overall record is one that’ll send Louisiana Tech into some postseason tournament or another with a decent WAC run.

3. (3) UT-Arlington, 5-3. Best win – at North Texas. Worst loss – vs. Oklahoma. All three losses came against Big 12 schools, and all 5 wins came against teams ranked 250 or higher in the RPI. Safe to say, UTA has yet to truly prove how good it can be, although the OU loss was by just two points.

4. (5) New Mexico State, 6-6. Best win – vs. Southern Miss. Worst loss – at Niagara. Getting a win in one of the two games against New Mexico would have been gigantic, but the Aggies came up just short at home. Still, this is a fine resume – Niagara is the only truly “bad” loss.

5. (9) Denver, 4-6. Best win – vs. Mercer. Worst loss – at Iona. Every Denver win has been by at least 17 points, while some of their losses have been close ones – like at undefeated Wyoming and at home to Colorado State. This is a very solid team whose record doesn’t yet match the talent, thanks to a seriously challenging schedule.

6. (4) San Jose State, 5-5. Best win – vs. Weber State. Worst loss – at New Orleans. The overtime win over Weber is a quality one, but there’s a lot of question marks on this resume otherwise. Losing at one of the very worst teams in college basketball (New Orleans, 339 in RPI) is never good.

7. (7) Seattle, 5-5. Best win – at Eastern Washington. Worst loss – vs. Jackson State. Losing to a previously winless team knocks the Redhawks down a couple of notches. Other than that, SU doesn’t have a bad loss… or a good win, really. Idaho on Saturday will be a nice test.

8. (8) UT-San Antonio, 4-6. Best win – vs. Holy Cross (neutral court). Worst loss – at CSU Bakersfield (by 33!) UTSA has depth issues and some very questionable losses, but they’ve only played one home game so far this year. Five of their first 7 conference games are at home, which will be go-time for the Roadrunners.

9. (10) Idaho, 4-6. Best win – vs. UC Davis. Worst loss – vs. Wright State. The Vandals did hang with Boise State before narrowly falling, and squeaked out an overtime road win at Eastern. But they’ve yet to do anything impressive, or to beat a D-I team by more than 10 points.

10. (6) Texas State, 4-8. Best win – vs. UC Riverside (neutral court). Worst loss – Loyola Marymount (neutral court). Wins over nothing but bad teams and plenty of losses earn Texas State the bottom spot rather easily. The Bobcats have been suspect on defense, giving up 73 points or more in 9 of 12 games.

If you’re curious, here’s a link to the last rankings from the beginning of December.

Preview: Campbell comes to Seattle to (hopefully) be defeated

22 Dec

Campbell just lost to an NAIA Division II team at home.

The Redhawks should win this game.

 

Recap: Redhawks do pretty much everything right, blast Northern Illinois at home

20 Dec

This was exactly the tonic Seattle U needed after an embarrassing loss to Jackson State.

Nearly everyone was a major contributor as the Redhawks blew the doors off Northern Illinois, 75-48. Seven players scored at least seven points. Outstanding offense in the first half and great defense throughout meant that this game was never really a contest.

And nearly everything seemed to go Seattle’s way. Chad Rasmussen drained a three at the first-half buzzer to make the lead 20. Heck, even 6-10 freshman Jack Crook knocked down a triple of his own.

Many players could be singled out on a night that was Seattle’s best team performance of the young season. Like Luiz Bidart for fearlessly attacking the basket, and Louis Green for crashing the boards. Definitely Clarence Trent, for his ferocious alley-oop jam and-one that brought back echoes of Shawn Kemp’s slams in KeyArena.

Prince Obasi deserves special mention, though, because he has become Seattle’s best guard over the last few games. He might even be their best player.

Obasi has been running the offense effectively and providing a ball-hawking effort on D. And does he ever fill up the stat sheet. Tonight he drained a trio of 3-pointers early to boost him on his way to 13 points, adding eight rebounds, six assists, three blocks and two steals. He was the team leader in the latter four categories, and just one point behind Rasmussen’s game-high 14.

All the numbers from tonight’s game were good, so here’s a couple more:

– 11 different players scored for the Redhawks.

– Seattle outrebounded Northern Illinois 38-22.

– The Redhawks are now eighth in the nation in rebounding, averaging 43.5 boards per contest.

Preview: Northern Illinois takes on Redhawks in battle of slumping teams

19 Dec

The Huskies of Northern Illinois are 2-7, have lost all 5 of their road games thus far, and rank 326th in points per game out of 346 teams in the nation.

But all that goes out the window tomorrow night.

They will have seen (or heard) the Redhawks toppled by previously winless Jackson State, and will know the formula to get Seattle in trouble – pressure the ball all the time. If Seattle turns over the rock 28 times again, like they did against Jackson State, they won’t beat Northern Illinois. Heck, they might not beat ANYONE.

Fortunately, Monday night was probably just about as bad as Seattle University can play basketball, and they should – in theory – be ready for a bounceback game.

Sterling Carter could be a key. Benched until the middle of the second half, he came into the game and racked up 20 quick points, shooting 6 of 7 from downtown. There might be some kind of discipline problem going on, given that Coach Dollar has drastically reduced Carter’s minutes, but when you have a shooter that much on his game, it’s a disservice to your team not to play him. Sporty should get more minutes tomorrow.

The other key is, of course, ballhandling. Playing at a fast pace is one thing. Turning the ball over 17 times in one half is another. The Redhawks absolutely need to be a little more deliberate on offense.

It begins with the point guards, Pickett and Obasi, and both can be aggressive almost to a fault. If those two can pick and choose their spots for pushing the offense at a high tempo, the rest of the team will follow suit. The point guards dictate the offense of any basketball team without someone named Jordan or Kobe.

I don’t think it’s too drastic to say that this game is a must-win. The Redhawks absolutely must go into WAC play confident and ready to hang with the power teams of the conference. To believe they can do that, they’ll have to take care of business against teams like Northern Illinois.

Preview: Redhawks continue homestand by hosting road-weary Jackson State

17 Dec

Jackson State did not schedule this game with the expectation of winning.

A member of the South West Athletic Conference, perennially the weakest basketball conference in Division I, Jackson State schedules almost all of its non-conference games on the road. This year, they open with 11 straight road contests.

The reason? Money. Bigger programs like Saint Mary’s, Washington and Texas Tech schedule smaller teams like Jackson State as “guarantee” games. The big school gets a (presumably) easy win, and the small school gets a paycheck that helps them keep the lights on in the gym and fund the athletics program.

With an endowment of just $12 million, Jackson State can get a huge benefit from a paycheck in five or six digits.

So a win seems almost assured. Jackson State is, after all, 0-8. They’ve traveled from Texas to California to Washington on this road trip, and will be playing their fourth game in the past seven days tonight at KeyArena.

The Tigers did give Washington a scare two days ago, trailing by just three points in the last few minutes before the Huskies pulled away to an eight-point victory.

Seattle will be expecting a win by at least the same margin. In fact, anything less than a victory tonight would be a major disappointment. And I can’t see a way that anything less than a victory tonight happens. It should be a nice get-well game, and one that gives the Redhawks confidence.

Recap: Huskies race past Redhawks, remain team to beat in Seattle

14 Dec

Let’s make no mistake, the Seattle University Redhawks have made it known that they are a legitimate Division-I team, and can legitimately play with the crosstown Washington Huskies.

The second half was proof of that. The Redhawks went on a 11-2 run to open the half, pulled the game within 13, made it a close contest and had the KeyArena crowd jumping.

But it was the first half that exemplified how much of a gulf there still is between the two teams.

Seattle came out with a plan to press the Huskies all game long, like they have in the past few seasons. UW coach Lorenzo Romar knew that, and had devised a press-break that worked. The Huskies passed right around Seattle’s pressure and converted easy finish after easy finish in the first half. UW was 18 of 28 shooting in the opening 20 minutes, largely because of all those gimmies.

It didn’t help that the Redhawks had a seriously “off” shooting night for the most part.

The statistics from the free-throw line were a glaring example. UW shot 11 of 12 from the line in the first half. Seattle shot 2 of 12. If you shoot that poorly in practice, a coach will usually make you run stairs or windsprints or something.

By the end of the game, Seattle was 14 of 27 from the line, just a shade over 50%. If they went, say, 21 of 27 – which is what UW shot – then it’s a six-point contest and it’s anybody’s game.

Not everything is doom and gloom, though.

Seattle DID outscore the Huskies by 9 in the second half. They clamped down on defense and started forcing turnovers. And they only turned the ball over themselves 10 times, a massive improvement for a team that usually struggles at taking care of the basketball.

There were a lot of good things to take out of the now-annual Crosstown Showdown between Seattle and Washington. A win wasn’t one of them, but give it time. Give it two or three more years. By then, the Redhawks will be ready to steal one from the Huskies, and really ignite this rivalry waiting to happen.

Preview: Redhawks take on Huskies in battle for Seattle basketball supremacy

13 Dec

The differences between the basketball programs of the University of Washington and Seattle University are stark.

UW has been to the NCAA tournament multiple times over the last decade. SU hasn’t been eligible to even make the tournament until this year. UW plays in the rock-solid Pac-12, SU in the shaky WAC. And, of course, UW hasn’t lost to SU in 34 years.

But there’s a lot more marking these two teams as equals this year, in the fourth year of the renewed intra-city rivalry.

For starters, they both enter the game with a winning percentage dead-on .500: Seattle sits at 3-3 after their win over Eastern, while UW is 4-4 following a disappointing home loss to Nevada (although they do boast solid wins over Saint Louis and Seton Hall).

Some of the other key statistics more or less balance out. UW has a better RPI than their in-city rivals (110 to Seattle’s 191) and has played a much more difficult schedule. Statistically, they’re also a better scoring team. But the Redhawks average more assists per game and are much better at rebounding the basketball, ranking 22nd in the nation to UW’s 200th in that statistic.

Each team is looking at this game as a key point in their season. For UW, a road win here would right the ship and build a lot of confidence among their young, talented players. For Seattle, a victory against their big brother would be the biggest win for the program in at least three decades.

And both teams will have three extremely winnable home games following this contest to try and build momentum. In fact, each team will play Jackson State and Northern Illinois in that stretch along with one other opponent each.

In short, this game will feature the most evenly matched sides the Redhawks and the Huskies have fielded in the modern era of this rivalry. Plus it’s a home game for Seattle.

The Redhawks can win. They know they can. UW even knows they can.

It’s hard to overstate what this victory would do to the perception of Seattle University basketball. If the Redhawks beat the Huskies, the city is going to sit up and take notice. It will be front-page news. It will be on all the radio shows. It will make Cameron Dollar and Clarence Trent the talk of the town.

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. There’s still a game to be played. But, oh, what fun it would be if that game turned out in favor of the Redhawks. It would be an incredible boost for the program in every way.

Much has changed since Redhawks last beat Huskies in men’s hoops

12 Dec

The date was November 28. The year was 1978. Seattle University had defeated the University of Washington, and nobody knew it would take at least 34 years for that feat to occur again.

That year, 1978, was a long time ago. Here’s a few fun facts about the last time that Redhawks topped Huskies on the scoreboard…

Animal House had just been released in theatres.

Current Redhawks head coach Cameron Dollar was three years old.

Hungry Hungry Hippos was the most popular toy in America.

Bjorn Borg and Martina Navratilova were the men’s and women’s champions of Wimbledon.

The Washington Bullets defeated the Seattle SuperSonics in the NBA finals.

Also, they were still called the Washington Bullets.

Also, they were still called the Seattle SuperSonics.

2013 WAC member Utah State University was still Utah Technical College. In 1987, they would upgrade themselves to being called Utah Valley Community College.

The Beegees had a #1 hit song on the Billboard Charts.

Justin Bieber did not have a #1 hit song on the Billboard Charts.

 

 

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