DHC in review, and rearview

USC and New Mexico State, two hyper-athletic teams, battled for the 2017 Diamond Head Classic championship. USC prevailed 77-72.

The Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic has a way of revealing a team’s shortcomings over a four-day period of the holidays. A Christmas crucible, if you will.

Consider the Rainbow Warriors’ second-half woes exposed.

UH finished sixth place (1-2) in its signature eight-team event, with ill-timed lapses after intermission the deciding factor in losses to then-No. 6 Miami in the first round, then Princeton in the fifth-place game on Christmas Day. UH was tied at the half in both games.

It was a disappointing turn of events with only a home game against Howard (3-12) this Friday remaining before Big West play begins on the road. The Rainbows coaches and players owned up to the fact they did not handle the lapses well — leading to further turnovers and missed free throws — especially late against the Ivy League team.

UH’s two point guards tried to put all that in perspective on Wednesday.

“I think the biggest takeaway is that we have a lot of potential,” Brocke Stepteau said. “We played Miami tough for a half and we played Princeton well for a half. We played pretty consistently against Davidson, but we haven’t had a full, consistent game throughout the season so far. So I think that’s what we need to work on. Just working on having two good halves so we can win all the games we feel like we’re capable of winning. So that’s probably the biggest takeaway.”

Said Drew Buggs: I think it’s just sometimes, teams make adjustments and we have to make counter-adjustments. Learn how to find ways to score when they take away our first or second option. Just find ways to continue to defend maybe when we’re in that offensive slump that all teams face. We just have to learn how to adjust.”

Overall, it was a great tournament, with several last-possession scores deciding outcomes spread across the three days of competition. That included the championship game, with Bennie “Buckets” Boatwright sinking a deep 3 with 4.1 seconds left to lift USC over New Mexico State.

There were no bad teams in this field. Akron led USC at halftime and came within a Princeton buzzer beater of winning in the consolation semifinal. Davidson missed a potential game-winning 3 at the buzzer of its first-round matchup with NMSU. Middle Tennessee, a high-RPI team, could’ve topped both USC and Miami before faltering late. MTSU edged Princeton on Day 1. It really was a free for all.

USC survived it, overcoming considerable adversity on the way into Honolulu when you factor in its loss of a player to ineligibility recently (De’Anthony Melton) and assistant coach Tony Bland in the preseason because of the ongoing FBI investigation, plus a smattering of injuries to key players. There was a loss to fellow DHC participant Princeton at the Galen Center just before leaving for Honolulu (they did not meet again in the DHC).

The all-tournament team was:
Bennie Boatwright, USC (MVP)
Chimezie Metu, USC
Zach Lofton, New Mexico State
Jemerrio Jones, New Mexico State
Dewan Huell, Miami

Year 10 of the event looks, right now, like it could be one of the strongest fields to date. TCU — currently unbeaten and No. 10 — to go with resurgent UNLV, plus Rhode Island, Colorado, Saint Mary’s, Indiana State, and Charlotte.

Here’s UH’s complete results in the nine years of the DHC. UH is now 14-13, though that gets knocked down to 11-13 if you count the three vacated outcomes of the Arnold era. UH has played the eventual tournament champion once — Oklahoma in 2015.

>> 2009, 4th: College of Charleston, 84-71 W; UNLV, 77-53 L; Saint Mary’s, 84-75 L. Champion: USC
>> 2010, 5th: Florida State, 70-62 L; Utah, 68-55 W; Mississippi State, 68-57 W. Champion: Butler
>> 2011, 5th: Auburn, 65-62 L; No. 14 Xavier, 84-82 OT W; Clemson, 75-68 W. Champion: Kansas State
>> 2012, 6th: Miami, 73-58 L; East Tennessee State, 84-61 W; Ole Miss, 81-66 L. Champion: Arizona
>> 2013, 5th: Boise State, 62-61 L; Saint Mary’s, 76-74 W; Oregon State, 79-73 W. Champion: Iowa State
>> 2014, 3rd: Nebraska, 66-58 W; No. 11 Wichita State, 80-79 OT L; Colorado, 69-66 W. Champion: George Washington
>> 2015, 3rd: Northern Iowa, 68-52 W; No. 3 Oklahoma, 84-81 L; Auburn, 79-67 W. Champion: Oklahoma
>> 2016, 7th: Illinois State, 71-45 L; Utah, 66-52 L; Southern Miss, 60-46 W. Champion: San Diego State
>> 2017, 6th: No. 6 Miami, 75-57 L; Davidson, 79-71 W; Princeton, 77-63 L. Champion: USC


  1. cappie the dog December 27, 2017 6:15 pm

    I can make myself cry if I think too hard about that Wichita State game.

    I think it was Christian Standhardinger who didn’t block out his man after the missed free throw.

  2. Hapaguy December 27, 2017 10:19 pm

    I don’t understand why UH allows ESPN to make the bracket that way. Why in the world is the host team playing the best team, 6th ranked Miami, on the first night of the tournament? ESPN will eventually push us out of our own tourney like they did to Chaminade and the Maui Invitational…..

  3. Kahuna December 28, 2017 9:24 am

    If UH get pushed out….UH can kindly tell ESPN they cannot use the Stan Sherriff center….simple as that.

    They can push Chaminade out because Chaminade does not “own” the Lahaina Civic Center so they really have no say on who can play or not.

    If ESPN would tell UH that UH is no longer needed then Matlin can tell ESPN go play at Blaisdell while UH go find another sponsored tournament where UH can generate income and run the tournament themselves. Of course, that tourney won’t have the media coverage but if UH get booted from the DHC, they get no media coverage anyway so no…….UH is not in the same situation as Chaminade. UH can control their own “destiny”.

  4. Hapaguy December 28, 2017 12:57 pm

    #3 Kahuna. UH cannot even control the bracket for the DHC. How they going control their own destiny with regards to the DHC?

  5. kahuna December 28, 2017 1:08 pm

    Hapa….you don’t understand my point. The Diamond Head Classic is played at the Stan Sherriff Center, which is owned by the University of Hawaii. My point is if ESPN was to expel UH from the tournament, UH can just tell ESPN that they cannot use arena.

    What???…you think ESPN can do what they want and take over an arena ? When I say UH control their own destiny, I meant that ESPN cannot kick them out like they did with Chaminade.

    Chamindae was invited to host the tournament. HOWEVER, they do not own the place so they cannot tell ESPN to go pound sand like UH can if ESPN try to kick UH out of the DHC.

    Not sure why this is hard to understand.

  6. kahuna December 28, 2017 1:14 pm

    With regard to playing the top teams in the tournament first…who knows. Maybe Ganot was not objecting to that match up. Not everyone is afraid of competition you know. Maybe Ganot was thinking that a team like Miami would be jet lagged and its better to catch them early before they get their legs back.

    Brackets are made ahead of time sometimes and who knew Miami was going to be that highly rated. If Miami was 4-6 nobody would make a peep….but they were undefeated, all of a sudden UH fans get all scared. I am willing to bet the players embraced the challenge to take down the #6 team in the country instead of whining about how tough a match up it was.

  7. Hapaguy December 29, 2017 1:14 am

    kahuna I understood your point but it makes no sense. ESPN, I believe, owns the rights to the DHC and UH is the host school. What is to prevent ESPN from deciding to play the DHC at the Blaisdell with no UH? Nothing! UH is virtually not in control of anything….

  8. cappie the dog December 31, 2017 6:00 pm

    Hawaii, and other mid-level programs, desperate for national recognition, are whores to the whims of the once-monolithic ESPN. As Dan Patrick puts it, derisively, “The mothership.”

    Midnight tip-off? Sure.

    I can’t recall a more depressing feeling than leaving the SSC parking lot after losing to freakin’ High Point.

    2:15 in the morning, and I have a 6:30 work start-time. Yeah, that was a good idea.

    Hawaii wants any sort of exposure so badly, they’ll play at an ungodly hour.

    Another example, that season-killing road trip to Montana in the BracketBusters. I still remember their point guard. Will Cherry.

    I hate ESPN. But, of course, they are a necessary evil.

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