The threat of Hurricane Iselle meant that the College Summer League playoffs had to push back games and adopt a less-than-ideal format to complete the playoffs.
Four games packed into in one day on Saturday meant that the four lowest seeds in the six-team league were required to win twice in a few hours if they were to survive and advance to next Saturday’s championship game.
In theory, that meant the advantage of a bye (and just having to play one game against a tired opponent) held by top seeds Chosen Few and Clark Hatch Fitness was nearly insurmountable.
Well, so much for that logic.
Fifth-seeded Grantco Pacific, led by Christian Standhardinger and Geremy Robinson, and third-seeded Solar Universe, led by Derrick Low and Aukai Wong, carried the day with two wins apiece and will meet for the title.
“Well, growing up, we used to have that kind of games in a row,” said Solar’s Dyrbe Enos between victories. “But this is a different level. Should be fun, though.”
Unfortunately, the delayed playoffs meant a few of UH’s primary participants in this summer league (Isaac Fleming, Mike Thomas, Brocke Stepteau) went back home on the mainland with the completion of the summer school second session. That left Enos and Zach Buscher with Chosen Few.
“It would (have been) fun to play against them (in the playoffs) and see what they’re made of and stuff,” Enos said.
For Grantco, in particular, the day was a shocker, given that it lost six straight games to complete the regular season. Stepteau is probably shaking his head back in Texas, given that it suddenly won again once he left.
“It’s important that you give your all and you play great when it counts,” said Standhardinger, who scored 31 and 38 points in Grantco’s two wins, over defending champion Wealth Strategy Partners (102-99) and top-seeded Chosen Few (84-77). “That’s what we did. Those two games are the most important games of the season so far, and we produced and we succeeded.”
It should be noted that Chosen was competing without its best player, Bill Amis, who’s departed for his next pro season in Bucharest, Romania.
Even Standhardinger, who was renowned for his relentless motor as a UH player, acknowledged getting a little tired in the semifinal game.
“We slowed the game down a lot … once they started pushing the ball, it was very, very hard for us to (compete), so we had to slow it down again, and we did that, and that’s why we won.”
In the other semifinal, Solar’s Wong, a UH Hilo alum, went absolutely ballistic. He lit up Clark Hatch from all over in scoring a playoffs-high 44 points in a 96-88 victory. Meanwhile, Low delivered his customary playmaking to boost coach Artie Wilson‘s team back to the finals.
Solar has to be considered the favorite for the championship game.
“The matchup with Phil Martin‘s team would have been very bad for us,” Standhardinger said, considering the size of Clark Hatch. “Now I think we have a shot. But obviously we are the underdog.”
As for the future of Standhardinger, UH’s most productive player over the last two seasons, it appears he might be headed to Asia after previously expecting to land with a pro team in Europe.
“I play a tournament in Chicago, then I will go to Germany, spend some time with my family,” he said. “And my agent said we will have something in Japan or wherever.”
Most recently, UH alums Bobby Nash and Zane Johnson have had pro stints there (not to mention Bob Nash, coach of the Toyama Grouses in the BJ league). It’ll be interesting to see how Standhardinger’s unique style takes there, if that is indeed where he ends up.