Posted on: December 24, 2011 11:17 am
By Matt Norlander
Has anything gone right for Xavier since around 1:50 p.m. on Dec. 10? In the dead of the night, while you were sleeping and getting in as much rest before your Christmas Eve festivities, the Musketeers got knocked off in overtime, 84-82, by 6-5 Hawaii. Prior to last night, Hawaii hadn't beat a team ranked higher than 297 in KenPom's system. Xavier was once 8-0 and looking Final Four-caliber. Now does anyone have any idea what's happening?
It's bizarre. Only Dezmine Wells was missing from last night's game for X, still serving his four-game suspension for his involvement in the brouhaha with Cincinnati. Tu Holloway scored 26, Mark Lyons had 18. X was better on the boards, forced more turnovers and hit nine 3s to Hawaii's four. But it still lost. It still can't correct itself in the wake of college basketball's ugliest moment this season.
I've said before I would try my best to never schedule my team between Dec. 22 and Dec. 26 due to the holidays and all distraction/homesickness that comes with it, but Xavier's problems have little to do with being preoccupied by Christmas -- they'll be playing on Dec. 25 as is, only in the lowest-tiered bracket of the Diamond Head Classic. The game will be against 3-6 Southern Illinois. This is a tournament Xavier should have won; it's really something to see how everything's changed in the past two weeks.
This team is spiraling down right now, obviously. It's a turn of events no one saw coming. The power of punches and the side effects have led to three straight losses and certainly damaged this time psychologically. The last time the program lost three in a row was early in the 2004-05 season, which was Sean Miller's first year as Muskies head man.
Can you get healthy off of Southern Illinois? I don't know, but Gonzaga comes next, on New Year's Eve, and the Bulldogs will be ready and awaiting the challenge -- if it ends up being that. The good news is X gets that game at home.
I can't call it karma -- Cincy was just as at fault for the fight, and it's averaged 96 points in four straight wins since the brawl -- but in no way did I think Xavier would fall apart like this. You didn't, either. Seasons can get away from teams fast in college basketball. We've seen many examples of promising starts spin out into NIT bids. I don't think Xavier's hurtling toward that inferior tournament, but I do think a team that claimed to be proud, brash, unwilling to back down to anyone has looked rattled and intimidated for the past two weeks.
"Zip 'em up" was first a Xavier tough-guy motto. Then it became a point of criticism. Now it's a mocking call.
Posted on: October 3, 2011 10:12 am
Edited on: October 3, 2011 10:59 am
By Matt Norlander
A few weeks back we told you about VCU undergoing Navy SEAL-like training as a prep for its preseason. The idea isn't novel, but only a handful of hoops teams actually endure such rigors each season, so we wanted to highlight it.
Since Hawaii's supplied some video, we're more than happy to give the Warriors credit for grinding it out with the Marines. And like VCU's players, Hawaii's had no idea what was coming until they got to where they were going. Early Saturday morning the team was transported to the Marine Corps Base, located in Kaneohe, which is on the island of Oahu.
Below we have what is going to be the first of a few videos. But, whereas VCU had three early-morning training sessions, Hawaii's players were forced to survive just one morning, and two hours total, of brutality from barrel-chested officers who were all too willing to break in the basketball newbies. The Warriors were decent last year, going 19-13, but losing their first five conference games to start the slate forced the club to chase the rest of the way.
The video below is basically what you'd expect it to be: an officer berating the slack out of Hawaii's players.
Posted on: August 26, 2011 7:52 am
Edited on: August 26, 2011 8:05 am
In our Trippin’ series, we’re talking to teams as they return from preseason trips to foreign locales. Click here for all Trippin’ related stories.
Going into his team’s 15-day trip to China and Japan, Hawai’i head coach Gib Arnold knew it might be a culture shock.
And it was – the team ate bugs, cow tongue, chicken feet, duck tongue and other local delicacies.
“You name it, we ate it,” Arnold said. “We didn’t shy away from anything. If it was on my plate, we were eating it.”
There was only one thing Arnold wouldn’t eat: friend scorpion.
“It wasn’t PF Chang’s or Panda Express,” he said. “It was the real deal.”
What Arnold learned: “I was pleased with how well they got along. We only traveled with 10 guys, and over half didn’t play for me last year. They really gelled. The veteran guys helped the new guys out. It wasn’t just on the basketball floor; it was fun seeing those guys at the markets, trying to buy fake watches and bartering. I think that was as much fun as watching the games.”
What impressed him: Freshman guard Shaq Stokes – “He was our leading scorer. You saw some real, real talent in him. He has the ability to score in bunches. He’s a freshman, so he has a long way to go, but he was fun to watch.”
What concerned him: Zone offense and fatigue – “We only had 10 practices, so we didn’t put in a lot of plays. We ran a lot of basic motion, a lot of ball-screen action. We didn’t really have a zone offense, and in the first game, the team came out and zoned us. That had to do with the amount of time before the trip, though. I was also worried about fatigue, and guys had to play a lot of minutes. By the end of our trip, our legs were pretty much gone. But we’ll have Vander [Joaquim] and Zane [Johnson] back, and a couple of recruits will join us.”
- Hawaii was without perhaps its two best players. Vander Joaquim, a 6-foot-10 big man, was playing with the Angola national team, while former Arizona transfer Zane Johnson was injured. Johnson turned his ankle in a pre-trip practice and wasn’t able to play on it in Asia. “He’s a couple weeks away from playing again,” Arnold said. “We were being pretty cautious with him. We need him more during the season than we did on the trip.”
- Junior college transfer Hauns Brereton was impressive on the trip, according to Arnold. Brereton averaged 20 points and seven rebounds at Western Nebraska Community College, racking up about 25 scholarship offers before choosing Hawaii in mid-April.
- Former USC transfer Davis Rozitis, who hasn’t played in nearly two years, got back on the court. The 7-footer held his own. “It was real good for him just to play games again,” Arnold said. “It was good to see his progress.”
- Bobby Miles, Trevor Wiseman and Joston Thomas stood out among the returnees. “They knew what I expected of them and they delivered,” Arnold said.
- Hawaii picked up former Nebraska transfer Christian Standhardinger earlier this week. Two things helped the Rainbow Warriors’ recruitment of Standhardinger: assistant coach Walter Roese coached Standhardinger at Nebraska, and Arnold speaks fluent German. “I don’t know if that helped us, but I was able to talk to his mom in German,” Arnold said.
- Arnold expects basketball in China to explode in the next few years. “The amount of basketball being played – there’s hundreds and hundreds of basketball courts,” he said. “The number of kids playing it. China’s going to become a major, major power in basketball.”
Photo: US Presswire
Posted on: May 2, 2011 5:09 pm
Edited on: May 2, 2011 5:18 pm
Posted by Matt Norlander
Certain schools can claim certain advantages; it's the crux of recruiting, really. The bluebloods have the history and facilities. Other areas can woo recruits with the local food flavor, the weather, the community lifestyle and, yes, even the predominent attractive female contingent.
Hawaii's different from any other school, though. It sells itself. It has to, what with being in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and all. Something we don't get to see a lot of is just how great the life of a University of Hawaii student-athlete's life can be. So here's a peek. Recently, two newly signed prospects -- Dillon Biggs and Gerry Blakes -- took the Pacific, as Warriors head coach Gib Arnold and assistant Brandyn Akana sent the pair into the mighty waters, attempting to teach the two how to surf.
As you can see below, it wasn't exactly a natural fit. I wouldn't do any better, either.