Archive | November, 2013

Defense stands tough, Redhawks hang on for thrilling 69-68 win

26 Nov

Seattle University survived another heart-stopping finish at KeyArena, fending off a late UC Riverside rally to hang on to a 69-68 victory Monday night.

A strong Redhawks defensive stand on the last play of the game forced a Riverside post player to take an last-second, off-balance, fallaway shot from outside that was well off the mark. The rebound fell harmlessly at the buzzer and Seattle snatched their third win of the season.

The Redhawks of seasons past find a way to lose that game. With only two points in the last three minutes, and a could-have-been-crucial turnover on Isaiah Umipig with 25 seconds left, it would have been easy to fold. But Seattle played their toughest defense of the game instead. A smothering stand of man-to-man coverage took away any possible Riverside penetration to the basket. The defense stepped up with the game on the line.

It probably didn’t need to be that close, though. The Redhawks opened the game on a 10-0 run and looked ready to run away with it before letting Riverside back into the contest repeatedly. Seattle settled for jumpers too often against an undersized opponent. Riverside, a poor three-point shooting team on the season, hit some open outside shots and traded the lead back and forth with Seattle in the second half.

Umipig, it should be noted, had an otherwise strong game, and Clarence Trent was a big contributor as well. The two combined for 36 points and several highlight-reel dunks. On nights when the three’s aren’t falling (Seattle made just 4 of 14), their abilities to get to the basket are crucial.

And on nights when the game hangs in the balance until the last seconds, the team’s overall defensive intensity will be vital as well. It’s looking like we’ll have quite a few of those nights at KeyArena this year.

Key Moment: The last-second defensive stand. Riverside elected not to call timeout on the final possession, and Seattle’s defenders stepped up and stopped them anyways. It was, thus far, the play of the season.

Key Player: Clarence Trent. The senior led all scorers with 19 points, and chipped in with 4 rebounds and 3 steals. He did spend too much time outside – he finished 1-6 from three-point range and 7-12 inside the arc. Trent’s not really a shooter – he excels when he can use his athleticism to outmatch his opponents. And to be fair, he did that often to great effect against the smaller Highlanders, making back-door cuts to the rim to receive alley-oop passes. When Clarence is aggressively making moves to the basket, with and without the ball, he’s difficult to stop.

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Recap: Redhawks roll Evergreen State 100-59, grab hold of winning record

18 Nov

It took about four minutes for Seattle University to get their offense on track against NAIA school Evergreen State on Saturday. Then Deshaun Sunderhaus caught an alley-oop pass, slammed it home, and the Redhawks were off to the races.

By the time they were done, Seattle U had run away with a 100-59 victory, pushing their record to 2-1. Sunderhaus and Isaiah Umipig each had 19 points in a game the Redhawks were expected to win big – and did.

Sunderhaus’s slam kicked off a 21-0 Redhawks run that made the score 27-6 and effectively ended the game as a contest. From there, Cameron Dollar rotated his squad in and out, giving significant playing time to freshmen like William Powell and Emmanuel Chibuogwu.

Seattle’s big men, in particular, dominated the Geoducks. Sunderhaus went effectively unchallenged in the paint and finished with a double-double, while Jack Crook played his best game as a Redhawk with 7 points and 14 boards – 10 of which came in the first half.

Key moment – Sunderhaus’s slam. Seattle had missed a few easy shots leading up to that moment. After the dunk, the Redhawks got the ball back quickly and Umipig drained a three. Evergreen State called timeout to try and stop the inevitable momentum, but the damage was done.

Key player – I’m going to highlight William Powell’s contribution. In just his third game with the Redhawks the true freshman chipped in with 14 points off the bench, adding 5 boards and 2 assists. He will likely continue to get significant minutes at the 3-spot with Emerson Murray out injured. For a guy who probably wasn’t expected to be relied on much in his first year, Powell has been quietly impressive so far.

Recap: Jarell Flora leads miracle Redhawks comeback in home opener

14 Nov

Everybody in KeyArena, from the coaching staff down to the ushers, had to be thinking exactly the same thing in the second half of Seattle U’s home opener, as the home team missed close-range baskets and lacked cohesion on defense and fell behind by 18 points.

“We’ve seen this before.”

But the Redhawks would then unleash something completely new – hot shooting, clutch plays and a miraculous come-from-behind victory to knock off CSU-Fullerton 75-71.

Seattle U trailed by 14 with 4 minutes to play and won by 4. They ended the game on a 24-6 run, largely thanks to the blistering outside shooting of Jarell Flora, who finished with 25 points and 5 three-pointers.

It was Luiz Bidart who would ultimately put the game in the hands of the Redhawks for good, hitting an open 3 off of an Isaiah Umipig drive-and-kick with a minute left in the game to give Seattle a 72-69 lead. After the teams traded missed shots, Clarence Trent hit one of two free-throws. Fullerton managed to score to get within two points with two seconds to play, but Seattle’s long inbounds pass found Flora who hit a layup at the buzzer for the final margin.

All this seemed incredibly unlikely after Fullerton opened the game on a 16-4 run and led for all but 3 minutes of the game. It was the biggest, latest comeback by the Redhawks since rejoining Division I.

Now, is this a sustainable way of winning? Heck no. No team can count on ripping off 32 points in the last 8 minutes, or hitting 12 of 25 from downtown. Seattle got just 9 combined points from their three starting forwards. There is much work to be done.

But I doubt very much that anyone will care after that win. And they shouldn’t. The Redhawks pulled off possibly the most incredibly comeback in school history and had 2,000 people in KeyArena screaming and absolutely ecstatic.

Key player: Has to be Jarell Flora. When you score 16 points in the last 8 minutes of the game, you are helping your team win. Umipig and Bidart also were key in the comeback.

Key moment: The sequence with four minutes left in the game that turned a 14-point deficit into a tie. It unfolded as follows:

Fullerton turned the ball over. Umipig made a three. Fullerton turned the ball over. Bidart hit a three. Seattle called timeout and forced another turnover. Umipig drew a foul and hit two free-throws. Fullerton drew a foul and missed two free-throws. Flora hit a three. Fullerton missed a three. D’Vonne Pickett grabbed the rebound, got it to Umipig, who got it to Flora, who hit another three.

That entire sequence took place in LESS THAN A MINUTE. It was a 14-0 run in 54 seconds of game play. It was, in fact, miraculous.

(Additional note – guard Emerson Murray did not suit up for the game and was in a walking boot on the sideline. No timetable on his return; however, he said it was just a “little foot problem” and did not appear concerned.)

Recap: Redhawk upset bid foiled by late first-half Husky run

11 Nov

In the most competitive of the rekindled Seattle city rivalry games, the Redhawks fell 88-78 to the University of Washington in a game that was really closer than the final score indicated.

Seattle went with a big starting lineup, with Isaiah Umipig, Jarell Flora, Clarence Trent, Deshaun Sunderhaus and Shore Adenekan taking the floor for the opening tip. Don’t be surprised if at times guard Emerson Murray gets the start in place of Adenekan, particularly against teams with less size than UW.

The bigger surprise was coach Cameron Dollar mixing a lot of zone defense with his typical high-pressure man-to-man. It was a relatively new look for the Redhawks, and it was effective particularly early in the game before the Huskies could adjust. If Seattle U can keep teams off-balance offensively by mixing up the defense, most of the rest of the teams on their schedule won’t be able to handle it as well as UW did.

It’s really hard to be too critical of anything that happened last night. Except for one big six-minute run (more on that below), the Redhawks outplayed the Huskies. They were effective enough on offense, aggressive on defense, and (hallelujah!) managed to limit turnovers. But it’s worth noting that after Jernard Jarreau left due to a nasty knee injury early in the game, UW just seemed a bit off in all facets of the game. Losing a starter 90 seconds into your first home game will do that to a team, and credit to the Huskies for regrouping.

One more note, on the attendance. A crowd of 6,704 was at Hec Ed for the Huskies’ opening game. Last year’s crowd for the same game at Key Arena was 6,137. Besting the first mark next year, maybe hitting 7,000, should be a very manageable goal for Seattle U next year.

Key player: Isaiah Umipig. The Redhawk transfer dropped in 15 points in his first official game with Seattle University, and looked supremely confident running the offense in the first half. His outside shot went a little cold in the second half as UW changed up their defense to contain him, but Umipig showed potential to be a serious offensive weapon in the WAC. A fantastic debut.

Key moment: The Husky run to end the first half. Seattle U trailed 42-33 at halftime after leading 28-18 late in the half. That’s a 22-4 run over about 6 minutes that wound up being the difference in the game. CJ Wilcox began hitting shots from outside, the Redhawks couldn’t score, and Seattle U was really saved by the halftime whistle or else the game risked moving into blowout territory. The entire team will need to do a better job at managing the game when opposing teams go on runs – especially on the road. That’s the kind of thing that will cost you precious road wins in conference play.

Season preview, Redhawks vs. Huskies: Time for the little brother to grow up

9 Nov

Seattle University’s men’s hoops squad has struggled to escape the shadow cast by the University of Washington basketball team for the last five years. It’s a difficult task to shed the “little brother” label for a number of reasons. The biggest might be that Redhawks coach Cameron Dollar came to SU from an assistant position at the UW, and has brought a very similar style of play to his Redhawks squad.

That similarity is blindingly obvious in the likely starting five for each team. In all but one case, the players lining up on either side of the tip-off circle are extremely similar. The positional battles have been outlined below, with the Redhawks player listed first and his Husky counterpart in parenthesis.

Point guard: Isaiah Umipig (Nigel Williams-Goss) Two slightly undersized, extremely quick, do-it-all point guards. Both have reputations as very good passers. Umipig might tend a little more toward the score-first side of things than his UW freshman counterpart.

Shooting guard: Emerson Murray (Andrew Andrews) Here is the one spot on the floor where the players matching up don’t mirror each other. Murray is a well-rounded shooting guard who has built an instant rapport with his fellow transfer Umipig. Andrews is an inconsistent sparkplug. Both are in their second years in their respective programs (although Murray was ineligible last year).

Swingman: Jarell Flora (CJ Wilcox) Two natural two-guards playing at the three spot for relatively small, quick, up-tempo teams. Wilcox is one of the best shooters on the west coast. Flora is the superior defender, and began developing a nice offensive game at times last year. If he can play with confidence, he could be the leading scorer for this Redhawks team.

Forward: Clarence Trent (Jernard Jarreau) Two undersized power forwards, both able to run the court very well, whose primary strength is in their athleticism. Jarreau is rangier and the better defender; Trent is more physical and more aggressive on offense, and will be counted on in a leadership role for a Seattle squad with just one other senior (Dvonne Pickett, Jr.)

Post: Deshaun Sunderhaus (Perris Blackwell) Two natural post players with good moves in the block, enough quickness to recover on defense, decent midrange games… but no one truly elite skill. Blackwell is a little bigger and more experienced, having starred at USF. Sunderhaus might have been the best overall player for the Redhawks last year as a freshman.

Another problem with the little brother complex? When you play the same style of game, but your older brother has an inherent talent advantage, it’s really hard to beat him.

For a football example, take Washington (a good, up-tempo up-and-coming program) and Oregon (a powerhouse playing exactly the same offensive style). For the last several years, Oregon’s talent advantage has simply been too monumental to overcome. But Oregon has had trouble with Stanford, who play a completely opposite smash-mouth, grind-it-out game.

So here’s how the Redhawks can challenge their older brother: Take a cue from Stanford and hit him in the mouth. Play tough, aggressive defense, and take time on offense to find a quality scoring opportunity. Take the ball to the rim and get to the free-throw line all game.

It’s time for the little brother to develop his own identity and step out from the shadows.  Time for the Redhawks to take flight.

University of Idaho, WAC season preview: Vandals going small to shoot for the big dance

7 Nov

University of Idaho

Preseason rankings: Tie 4th (coaches), 2nd (media)

The Vandals are theoretically Seattle U’s rivals in the WAC, and they’ve certainly been a thorn in the side of the Redhawks. The teams have played a home-and-home series for each of the past 4 years and Idaho has won 7 of those 8 games. Not to mention, Idaho has come in and scooped several talented high school recruits out of the Redhawks’ backyard – most recently Seattle guards Sekou Wiggs and Patrick Ball.  It’s been a while since the Vandals had any national success, though. They’ve made 4 appearances in the NCAA tournament and the most recent was in 1990. This season, their last in the WAC, might be their best chance since then to return to the big dance.

When they play: Feb. 1 in Idaho, Mar. 1 at home

H – 6 A – 7 N – 2 Power Conference – 3 (Oklahoma, WSU, Boise St), Lower Division – 1

With Idaho on the rise, featuring one of the WAC’s best players in Stephen Madison, and Boise State coming off an NCAA appearance and being picked by some to win the Mountain West, the game in Boise on Nov. 27 could be the best all-Idaho basketball game ever. The Vandals also host Washington State and Big Sky power Montana in some solid home contests.

One to watch: Stephen Madison. The senior forward is a strong offensive weapon, but he’s a streaky one. Last season he hit over 20 points 6 times, but was held in single-figures 8 times. He’s at his best when he’s able to be aggressive and get to the free-throw line.

Blog prediction: 2nd. Yes, Idaho did lose WAC player-of-the-year Kyle Barone, a force last year in the post. But in addition to adding a strong recruiting class, they will have the services of senior guard Glen Dean, a lightning-quick guard who starred at Eastern Washington before spending a season in the Pac-12, mostly as a starter, at Utah. That’s a big plus. The Vandals might have trouble defending inside, but the 1-2 punch of Dean and Madison should still be enough to propel the Vandals into the upper tier of the WAC.

Chicago State, WAC Season Preview: Pippen-led squad aims for postseason return

6 Nov

Chicago State University

Preseason Rankings: 6th (coaches), 6th (media)

Last year, Chicago State won the Great West Conference Tournament (held in Chicago) and secured an automatic place in the CollegeInsider.com Tournament. It was the program’s first-ever D-I postseason appearance – despite an 11-22 record on the season. Four starters return from that team, including a trio of experienced seniors in guard Quinton Pippen, forward Matt Ross and senior Nate Duhon. But the Cougars’ talent level overall just isn’t that high – in the past three seasons combined, they’ve compiled a ghastly record of 21-74. Head coach Tracy Dildy has some serious magic to work if he’s going to make this roster competitive in the WAC.

When they play: Feb. 27 at home, Mar. 8 in Chicago

H – 6 A – 9 Power Conference – 5 (Indiana, Depaul, Creighton, Cincinnati, Illinois) Lower Division – 2

A lot of big-name teams are mixed in on this schedule, plus a couple more from the always-tough Missouri Valley Conference – but all of those games are on the road. Depaul is probably the best chance for a statement-making upset.

One to watch: Quinton Pippen. Recognize that last name? Quinton, a 6’4” senior guard, is the nephew of a more famous Pippen who played in Chicago. Pippen the younger was last season’s Great West defensive player of the year, and will be counted on to provide backcourt leadership.

Blog prediction: 7th. Veteran presence and home-court advantage might help the Cougars knock off a few more talented teams at home, but this Chicago State squad simply isn’t that good. They have no true outside scoring presence to prevent teams from packing it in. In fact, they have no scoring presence period. Shooting 40% from the field, as they did last season, isn’t going to cut it most nights. If only they could sign one of Michael Jordan’s relatives, too.

Missouri Kansas-City, WAC season preview: Rebuilding Roos

4 Nov

University of Missouri – Kansas City

9th in coaches poll, 8th in media poll

Missouri – Kansas City is very much a team in transition. They lost their leading returning scorer, Estan Tyler, who transferred to North Dakota of all places. They join a new conference and have a new coach, Kareem Richardson. They bring in nine newcomers to the squad this year. And they’re going to need to develop some new ways to put the ball in the bucket. Last year’s Roos averaged a shade over 60 points a game – good for 306th in the country. Some impact transfers (Reese Holiday, from Toledo, will sit out this year after transferring) will help in years to come, but this season could be rough for the Roos. No returning player averaged more than 8 points per game last year.

When they play: Jan. 4 at home, Mar. 6 in Kansas City

Schedule Breakdown: H – 6 A – 7 Power conference– 3 (Creighton, Iowa St, Louisville) Lower Division – 1

That Louisville game, a reunion in Kentucky for former Louisville assistant Richardson, could get ugly. Beyond that, there are some interesting home games against perennially solid mid-majors Milwaukee, Indiana State and South Dakota State.

One to watch: Trinity Hall. The Roos are going to need scoring from somewhere, and one of the candidates who will need to step up is 6’7” senior forward Hall. A smaller power forward in the mold of Seattle’s Deshaun Sunderhaus, Hall averaged 6 ppg while battling injuries last season, but he will be needed to consistently provide a post presence this year.

Blog prediction: 8th. I just don’t see who on this roster is going to step up and be able to carry this team offensively. Will it be free-shooting guard Nelson Kirksey? Can Kirk Korver- whose brother Kyle starred at Creighton before going on to the NBA – improve on his 34% three-point shooting mark? There’s a lot for the Roos to figure out, and I’d expect them to get buried repeatedly in their nonconference games. We’ll see if Richardson can instill an identity in his team by the time conference play rolls around in January.

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