Disappearing act (updated: Joaquim speaks)

CIT ball

Well, we’ve had a couple of days to digest Hawaii’s 69-65 season-ending loss to Air Force in the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament.

Here’s the short list of things the game could be remembered most for:

A) Air Force bombing 15 3s in 31 attempts without its best player

B) 12th man Michael Harper helping spark a 19-0 first-half run that put UH up three at halftime

C) Vander Joaquim ending his career by storming out of the Stan Sheriff Center with most of the second half still to play

D) OK, nothing is topping C

It was one of the strangest situations you’ll hear about at a college basketball game, though it wasn’t immediately known that when Joaquim disappeared through a tunnel, he intended to leave for good. Since Wednesday night, Joaquim’s been getting skewered for quitting on his team on message boards, Twitter, comments sections, you name it.

Our Ferd Lewis opined on the matter in his column here (subscription required).

UPDATE: Vander sent me a message on the matter, though he didn’t address his walk-out specifically.

“I felt really disappointed. It’s been a frustrating season. Before I made my decision in coming back it was because I had a better expectation going into this season,” he wrote.

He then alluded to his low playing time in the Air Force loss (seven minutes by the time he left), among other games this season, but said he had an overall positive experience in the islands.

“Overall I’m happy to play for the University of Hawaii and this chapter is close(d). … I’m looking forward to my next chapter.”

Unfortunately for the program, to have Joaquim’s episode take place in his final game means that’s the lasting image people will have. In a way, his stunning exit was a fitting, frustrating end to an underwhelming senior season that saw him get injured in the preseason — an MCL tear robbed him of explosiveness — and basically concluded with a humbling tag, Big West honorable mention. Wednesday night, while shocking to everyone on press row as word spread what happened, wasn’t totally out of place in a senior year that was a pretty big step back from his All-WAC junior campaign.

Joaquim 2011-12: 14.3 ppg, 9.5 rpg, .560 FG%, .633 FT%, 58 blk, 21 stl, 33 AST, 65 TO

Joaquim 2012-13: 13.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg, .480 FG%, .764 FT%, 31 blk, 12 stl, 28 AST, 75 TO

Joaquim could very well go on to have a solid professional career, but what he did certainly won’t look good to pro scouts. UPDATED: He was not ready to name his agent yet, but confirmed hiring one is in the works.

He improved his free-throw shooting in particular, and got to exhibit his 3-point touch this season. Yet his frustration with his coaches and teammates was visible in several games, home and away, and he became the face of the team’s struggles late in the season.

Joaquim had some memorable moments this year, like the running 3-pointer he hit against Northern Arizona at halftime of the BracketBusters game and his play late in the loss to Illinois. He peaked in a 29-point, 15-rebound game against Ole Miss, another NCAA Tournament team, in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

Unfortunately for UH, he regressed from there, hitting 20 points only one more time — the aforementioned BracketBusters game. Big West play was generally a struggle for him against quicker, double-teaming guard-oriented teams.

Will you remember Joaquim for the breadth of his work at Hawaii, or its confounding conclusion?


  1. Fake808sports March 22, 2013 9:03 pm

    Seeing Vander walk out was disappointing on so many levels. As he walked past i looked at the fans behind me and we couldnt believe what we witnessed. We joked that perhaps he went to the bathroom, number one? Okay maybe number two. It was then we asked a member of the Governors security detail what happened. He said Vander gathered his stuff and left through the secure entrance which was being monitored by another member of Abercrombies security team. For all the pictures he took, autographs he signed, and positive moments that VJ had this was the one moment that was just utterly stunning. Kids look up to their fave player and in many kids eyes VJ was that player.

    As the member of the gov’s security team put it–just selfish. We sat there just shaking our heads.

    I hope that we can chalk this one up as a kid being a kid. He made a mistake but hopefully somebody gets in his ear and his senses that what he did was just wrong and he gets the opportunity to share his side.

    Lets not forget that Issac Fotu had a great game and could become one of UH’s best. Harper shined with his moments on the court and it was nice to see Spearman shaking off his ankle injury. Standhardinger will only get better as well.

    Lastly, great coverage this season BMC. I asked you at the airport whats next now that the season was over (at that time prior to the CIT invite) and as you stated its clear that the offseason will keep you busy. What a way to start that offseason. Keep up the great work, no doubt you will keep us fanboys informed.

    We plan to be in Anaheim again next year. Hopefully with some better results and maybe we can rush the court.

  2. Isaac McMillan March 22, 2013 9:25 pm

    Vander letting his emotions get the best of him shows weakness. Hopefully he realizes that pro scouts will notice that. In any case, best of luck to Vander. We appreciate everything he’s done for the program. An unfortunate way to end his collegiate career, but he has lots of positives to look forward to.

  3. Aaron March 22, 2013 10:39 pm

    Vander walking off the court reminded me of Wiseman refusing to enter the game last season. There must be more to it.

  4. al March 23, 2013 1:07 am

    gibber did the right thing. he needed to be benched for his “habuteru” on the court and for how he dogged it so many times this year.

    too bad, because he would have gone down as one of the great big men in our history. hang this on himself.

    i hope he grows up, soon. if his father was at courtside, i wonder what two words he’d have for his son then.

  5. Shoko March 23, 2013 7:44 am

    I prefer to judge Vander on his body of work, comittment to the UH and the passion and intensity he brought to the court while at UH rather than on one incident.

    I’ll remember:
    -The 8 double-doubles in 2010-11, 12 double-doubles 2011-12, and 12 double-doubles in 2012-13.

    -The game against Nevada where he had 7 rebounds, 7 blocks and 22 points (2011-12) as well as the 29 points, 15 rebound game against Ole Miss; even though they lost both of those.

    -Vander’s announcement that he would return even when it was reported that Thomas, Wiseman, Stokes and Miles would depart early and folks wondered if he would leave, too.

    -The preseason injury, the expectations that were put on him and the pressure and frustration he must have felt when he didn’t live up to those expectations.

    -The unfortunate incident in his last game that may overshadow his overall accomplishments.

    They say that fame has a 15-minute half-life, while infamy last forever. I hope in Vander’s case that proves to be false.

  6. poorboy March 23, 2013 8:58 am

    Vander from raw, falling over his own feet in pre conditioning drills when first arrived here from Utah JC, to a possible NBA or Euro free agent pro, it was , in my mind a great transformation. I think if he didn’t have the MCL tear, and he could have gotten used to the hacks, doubles, and physical play, and quickness of other teams keying on HIM, not Zane, not Joston, and VJ thought of TEAM first, he would have finished game and season. Must have been frustrated. However, that is a sign of immaturity, sad, his girlfriend was here for his senior nite, seems like very nice young lady. Hope for future, if Vander decides to settle down, his anger, his tantrums, settle down. He has to be like how he was when a sophomore, quite humble, and willing to learn and work.

    If he responded quickly, apologized to Gib, and team, and fans, Hawaii would forgive him. All of us are not perfect, when we were 22 , 23 years of age, we did crazy things we regret, however , the past is the past. If he comes forth publicy and makes ammends , it will help him in future, no matter what is his profession. Sort of like the other story with the local HS and AA Football player. Come forth, be honest, and set things straight.

    Vander’s accomplishments will always be in the UH MBB archives, so that is a given, that legacy remains forever. I think Vander is not an evil person, just has to grow up and become an adult, probably be more humble. Wish him the best, and hope, if he ever comes back to Hawaii, after an overseas(though, everyone is correct, GM’s for all professional sports, they look at psychological, emotional state of potential players they will employ, it is a big monetary investment). Vander, come forth, and apologize, would be good for you and family, as well as MBB Warrior nation that appreciated your skillset. You have your whole adult life ahead of you, get off to a good start. Also, it seems, that Vander might not, probably won’t even honor his academic scholarship, he will be short of getting his degree this summer.

  7. Brian McInnis March 23, 2013 10:51 am

    Valid points all. No question he’s still one of the best big men to come through the program, especially in the last 20 years.

    Thanks for leaving your thoughts.

  8. hon2255 March 23, 2013 1:46 pm

    At least finish out the semester and get your degree Vander, Basketball will not pay your bills once your playing days are over . Think Think young man.

  9. K-Bay March 23, 2013 1:51 pm

    Honor Your Family –Get the Degree…

    Honor the Program & Team — Apologize in Person

    Honor the Fans — Apologize Publicly

    Sooner Better

  10. jeffdman2000 March 23, 2013 4:45 pm

    hes a loser

  11. Derek March 24, 2013 8:09 am

    What is the definition of “unsteady freshman”. Who’s fault is that? Who made the decision to shorten the rotation? I think it’s on the coach. And that, to me, was a mistake. The results showed that. We needed more fire power.

  12. Mauka March 24, 2013 9:57 pm

    I will remember him as a selfish and spoiled baby over his accomplishments.

  13. tony maroney March 24, 2013 10:45 pm

    its not just the player at fault here….yes we were all kids at this stage in our life when I was at Hawaii I grew up a lot…..thanks to the great family that was created with our team…like Vander he and other players from the mainland need that guidance and help when they come to the islands because it is very easy to get down and lonely……Trevor Ruffin and myself coming out of buffalo new York, if I didn’t have him there I probably wouldn’t have came and stayed if it wasn’t for him……but basketball has changed so much now that players are allowed to leave and go to other schools has really gotten out of control……something that a lot of people don’t know is that at one point I quit the team my senior season but it was for the better of our team because something needed to change and when I talked with the coaches we made that change and got as far as we did my last days at Hawaii even though we got screwed out of the NIT…….Being a Rainbow Warrior was the best decision I ever made for myself…..Vander go back or even email…call…or facebook me so we can talk….my email will5014@gmail.com….

  14. K-Bay March 25, 2013 3:33 pm

    i think these freshmen had more opportunities than in most previous administrations, even starting gigs; this was after all not a “losing” program that needed to turn to freshmen, even throw them to the wolves; the seniors and juniors were numerous and talented enough to shoulder most of the load and still provide space for a ready-to-play redshirt (Jawato) or true freshman (Fotu) to play extensively…

    UNLESS Gib finds a couple of IMPACT JC Players, weʻll probably be relying heavily on freshmen, redshirt freshmen and sophomores next season…

    Hope Oziʻs stickinʻ around… i was surprised that he and Manroop rarely found their rhythm or stroke in the game — suppose thatʻs the unsteadiness alluded to…

    i think Summer League rules allow three current players on a team so hope Gib can set up “pods” to work together again (like last year only More Players)…

  15. itsallabouttheW March 27, 2013 10:30 pm

    When the going got tough he quit. You know what they say about quitters. He’ll never be a winner. You don’t want that kind of a person on your team in any endeavor.

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