Archive | February, 2013

Preview: Redhawks out for revenge against Texas State

28 Feb

The final three games of the conference season offer the Redhawks the chance to exact a little revenge.

In this case, it’s for the three home games they really should have won. Texas State, in particular, is an example.

Against the Bobcats earlier this year, Seattle led by as many as 12 in the second half but ended up falling 86-83. The Redhawks allowed 51 second-half points to Texas State, and that’s simply not acceptable against any team.

It’s time to see how the Redhawks have improved since then, particularly in late-game situations. They’ve had two weeks to practice and study game tape. They have the bitter taste of a last-second home loss to UT-Arlington still on their minds. Motivation should not be lacking.

If there’s any extra motivation, it might be in the WAC tournament seeding. Neither team will want to potentially face undefeated-in-conference Louisiana Tech in the quarterfinals.

They shouldn’t need that motivation. Beating a Texas State team they could have beaten the first time around – and on paper, should have beaten – ought to be enough.

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Redhawks must continue to improve on retaining Seattle’s high school hoops talent

25 Feb

You don’t have to look very hard to find evidence that the Seattle area is a hotspot for young basketball talent.

Zach LaVine, a UCLA commit and superstar-in-waiting, is the latest example. So is D.J. Fenner, or Tony Wroten, or Tramaine Isabell, or Tucker Haymond, or any one of about 50 other names that come to mind easily.

Some of that talent stays in-state. A lot doesn’t. That’s just how college basketball works, and anyone expecting Seattle U to get every kid from the 206 or 425 has expectations set way too high. I get that.

But how does a kid like Haymond, a Garfield High School star from the heart of Seattle, choose Western Michigan over Seattle U?

The location is much closer to home. The academics are better at SU. And it’s not like Kalamazoo, Michigan, is going to provide a more active social life than the Emerald City does.

Haymond, a 6’6” swingman, was recruited by the Redhawks but originally committed to Western Michigan. He backed out of that commitment. He came to KeyArena to check out SU’s play. He probably met with the coaching staff. He was down to two schools. And then he recommitted to Western Michigan.

The reason for that is actually pretty simple. He probably saw the Redhawks struggling in conference play and adjusting to the WAC, as well as the Broncos starting hot this season and rolling to a 17-9 record, including a road win over Big East school South Florida.

I have a feeling Cameron Dollar will sorely regret not landing Haymond, who could have been a fantastic scoring complement to Deshaun Sunderhaus.

It’s going to be hard to keep any of the guys like Haymond in-state. But you’d still like to have the Redhawks coaching staff be able to keep one solid Seattle-area player a year from leaving the state to play for a mid-major school in an inferior conference.

Recap: Redhawks fall in another heartbreaker, but Sunderhaus and Flora provide reasons for hope

19 Feb

The finish was familiar, as it has been too many times this season.

Seattle University made 1 of 2 free throws, but UT-Arlington made 2 of 2 on the other end to take a 1-point lead. With time running out, the Redhawks worked the ball to Clarence Trent under the basket, who missed a tough shot, and the rebound skittered off Seattle and out of bounds.

All the frustrations of not being able to execute down the stretch, of missing free-throws, of missing the key shot, all of them were there during the last home game of the year on Saturday night.

But there were signs of hope for next season.

Those two signs were freshman Deshaun Sunderhaus and sophomore Jarell Flora. It was somehow fitting that the two underclassmen carried the Redhawks on a night that all five of the team’s seniors were honored.

Sunderhaus and Flora combined for 31 points off the bench. Flora single-handedly carried the Redhawks in the first half, running off 11 straight with three 3-pointers and a powerful jam to give SU a 10-point lead. Sunderhaus chipped in 13 points and 7 boards.

Both of them are contributors on both ends of the court. And both entered the program as freshmen instead of transfers. They’ll be on their fourth and third seasons under Cameron Dollar, since each took a redshirt year.

Those two, along with Clarence Trent, will be expected to carry the team next season.

It might be a big burden to put on two players before next season even begins, but I imagine they’re both up for the challenge. They carried the Redhawks on senior night, and it was nearly enough to score a rare WAC victory.

With a year more of seasoning, maybe Flora and Sunderhaus will be able to lead this SU team, and help turn some of these familiar close-but-no-cigar finishes into Redhawk victories.

Preview: Redhawks must get lucky to beat Louisiana Tech on Valentine’s Day

14 Feb

It’s going to be hard for the Redhawks to upset 21-3 Louisiana Tech tonight. Obviously.

The Redhawks are, of course, 2-10 in conference play, and one of those two wins was when UT-Arlington couldn’t find the bucket with a compass and a GPS.

But if they are somehow going to turn the trick and knock off a much better team, there’s going to be three keys to victory.

Get Hot

One of Tech’s losses came against a power-6 conference school, Texas A&M, on the road in the season opener. The other two were on the road against lesser teams who shot the lights out.

Both Northwestern State and McNeese State shot well over 50% from the floor in their upsets of Louisiana Tech. Each team finished strong with at least 40 points in the second half.

But most of Seattle’s victories have come with strong first-half bursts, allowing them to create a margin too big to make up. They’ll need to be hot in the first half, because Tech is a strong, strong finishing team.

Get Loud

The homecourt advantage is going to have to play a part. Seattle is a long ways from Ruston, Louisiana – it’s actually the longest road trip LA Tech has this season.

All three losses for LA Tech have come away from home. They’re certainly not a BAD road team, having not lost on the road in conference play, but every little bit helps.

Get Lucky

The breaks are going to have to finally go Seattle’s way. If there’s a last-second shot to tie or win, it’s going to have to find a way to fall, unlike against New Mexico State.

Free throws are going to have to bounce in for the Redhawks and out for the Bulldogs. They’ll need a lucky bounce or three along the way.

Any team needs some luck to win any game, but let’s face it – Louisiana Tech has been a lot stronger than Seattle this year. An extra-dose of good luck and good shooting will be needed to have any shot at the biggest WAC upset of the season.

Recap: New-look lineup impresses but falls just short in New Mexico

11 Feb

A message was being sent with the additions of Allen Tate, Luiz Bidart and Jarell Flora to the Redhawk starting lineup.

The message was that nobody on the team gets a free ride. Everyone is going to be expected to work hard, to hustle, to try and make all the little plays. Streaky scorers Trent and Rasmussen sat, while all-work ethic players Bidart and Tate started.

It almost worked. Playing with renewed energy, Seattle University hung with perennial conference powerhouse New Mexico State for 40 minutes, and came up a buzzer-beating 3-pointer short of sending the game to overtime.

Flora, in particular, looked good on both ends of the court, despite bricking that last-second three into the side of the backboard.

In a rare start, Flora chipped in with 8 points, 5 boards and solid defense. The sophomore has played at least 24 minutes in each of the last 5 games and appears to be winning Coach Dollar’s confidence. The Redhawks are a team full of either offensive (Rasmussen) or defensive (Tate) specialists, so it’s nice to see someone emerge who can play both well.

Seattle’s aggressive defense kept the Aggies from getting too many open looks, although they did take 36 free-throws to give their scoring a huge boost. (Seattle was 8-13 from the line to NMSU’s 24-36.)

On the other hand, some players were too aggressive – Clarence Trent fouled out in just 11 minutes of action off the bench. Probably not what the coach wants to see from the athletically gifted junior.

One open look they did concede was to Bandja Sy, who jumped OVER Louis Green for a Vince Carter-esque jam in the first half that had SportsCenter written all over it.

Green will need to have a short memory about being posterized. And the Redhawks will need short memories too, as 21-3 Louisiana Tech rolls into town. They’ll need to come out full of energy and hustle again just to have a shot.

Preview: Redhawks become Road Hawks, starting with trip to Denver

7 Feb

Winning on the road, especially in conference play, is never easy. Just ask Kansas.

The Jayhawks, ranked #5 in the nation and an annual contender for the Final Four, lost at TCU last night. TCU was 0-8 in conference play and is one of the very worst major-conference basketball programs.

That’s not exactly inspiration for Seattle University, but more an outline to the challenges ahead. Because if they want to have some success to close out the conference season, the Redhawks will have to become Road Hawks.

6 of the last 8 games in the regular season are away from KeyArena, starting with tonight’s face-off with Denver in the Rocky Mountains.

The last time Seattle made the trek to Denver, it ended in heartbreaking fashion. The Redhawks let an 8-point lead with three minutes remaining slip away, and the Pioneers hit a last-second 3 to win 84-83.

Avoiding a similar fate will be difficult. Denver has a very good team, and aside from Louisiana Tech, might be playing the best basketball of anyone in the conference. The Pioneers have a balanced team that takes high-percentage shots, led by forward Chris Udofia, a very difficult matchup for anyone on Seattle’s team.

For Seattle to win, they’ll need some high-percentage shots of their own. Denver is very good defensively – they held Seattle to 51 points in KeyArena in January. Taking contested outside shots just plays right into Denver’s hands.

 No matter what, it will be difficult for Seattle to win on the road, at a high elevation, at a very good team. It’s that simple. But it’s also the last televised game of the season for the Redhawks, so a positive showing – and another close game – would be a nice treat for Northwest viewers.

Recap: No Sunderhaus means no scoring for Seattle against Utah State

4 Feb

Saturday’s game against Utah State proved just how indispensable freshman Deshaun Sunderhaus is to the Redhawks.

With him in the lineup almost every other game, Seattle U ranked 9th in the entire nation in rebounding. Without him, they were outrebounded by a nearly 2-to-1 margin. In the first half, the Redhawks had zero offensive boards. None.

Sunderhaus’s tenacity on the boards was missed, and so was his scoring. For the second straight game the Redhawks didn’t break the 20-point barrier by halftime. They got away with it against San Jose State because the Spartans were just as woeful on offense, but the Aggies… not so much.

Unsurprisingly, they lost by 22. Chad Rasmussen was the scoring leader with 10 points.

It’s amazing how important Sunderhaus has become in his first year of college basketball. Cameron Dollar surprised almost everyone by starting the forward at the beginning of the season, and it took only a couple of games to see why.

With a couple more seasons to learn the college game better and become a better decision-maker, Sunderhaus could easily become an all-WAC player. He’s got a good motor, a nose for the basket, an improving midrange shot, and solid low-post skills. That’s a lot for a guy who still can’t legally have a drink.

As for the rest of Saturday’s game? It was ugly enough to make you want a drink yourself.

The bright side was the crowd, which was one of the best of the season. A KeyArena environment like that is one of the better ones in which to watch a college basketball game. Here’s hoping for more of that in the last two home games of the season.

Recap: Prince and Green lead the team to first Redhawks home WAC win

1 Feb

We might have seen our two Redhawk team leaders emerge last night.

Prince Obasi and Louis Green, both seniors, had exceptional games as they led the Redhawks to their first Division I conference victory at home in 30 years.

Both were solid defensively, and are probably the two best defenders on the roster in general. Obasi played nearly every minute of the game. Green had four blocks and seven boards to go along with 13 points.

And Prince Obasi – ready for this? – was 7-9 from the line. He of the sub-60% free-throw percentage was solid from the stripe. He hit two near the end of the game in the final minute to help salt away the victory.

That’s the kind of leadership this team so desperately needs. And Obasi deserves a ton of credit for starting to display it. He routinely plays the most minutes of anyone on the court, and is making better decisions in his time on it. Last night he had just 2 turnovers to 4 assists.

Before lavishing too much praise on the Redhawks, it’s important to note that they were facing a San Jose State team missing their best player, by far, in James Kinney. His 21 points per game were not replaced by anyone. They missed Kinney in their last game against UTA and scored 47. They missed him against Seattle and scored 48. Without Kinney, the Spartans are toothless.

Not that the Redhawks had many teeth, either. Their starting forwards scored exactly two points. If the Redhawks can win games with Clarence Trent and Chad Rasmussen completely MIA, that’ll be a positive, because neither is exactly consistent.

But a bit of good fortune might have been exactly what Seattle needed. And at this point, a win is a win. Hard to complain.

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