With only the championship game left in the 2013 Hawaii Summer Basketball season, I felt it prudent to take this time to reflect on a few of the things that I've learned over the last month or so. The most notable? That all of the UH guys in the league care about winning. A lot.
I guess it might seem sorta intuitive right? They are college athletes, so of COURSE they care about winning. And, if this were the season, I'd probably agree. But this was summer league which, as awesome as it was for me (the fan) to go watch, really meant nothing in the grand scheme of things. And yet the last two nights, everyone participating treated it like it meant something. Because to them, it did.
Most of my favorites, sadly, are now done. Negus, Spearman, Big Mike, Keith, Stef, Flip, Aaron, Garrett, all of whom have been nice enough to humor my smothering enthusiasm, have been eliminated. And I think that's where the analysis of caring begins. It would be easy for them to say after a loss, "meh it was just summer league, it don't mean anything." They could have! They probably should have. But they didn't. And I was taken aback by it. I mean really, it's human nature to shade disappointment with apathy right? "Ah I didn't even really want it anyway!" And if they reacted this way, no one would have blamed them or even thought twice about it afterwards.
Their pain and disappointment however, was visceral. And while I felt bad that they didn't advance, I must admit that I was super heartened for what that meant for the upcoming season (it's selfish I know) for the simple reason that for the most part, the UH guys on each team were far and away the best players. Which was great to watch, but also horrifically infuriating at times. I mean really. Every time a Negus/Spearman/Keith/Aaron/Garrett pass landed right on target only to be bobbled, or kicked, or thrown up wildly, I cringed. In fact, probably the only thing keeping me from yelling unflattering things at their hapless teammates, was the thought that "well, at least THAT definitely won't happen during the year" (tonight, in particular, I found myself repeating this quite a bit.)
And while it's true that the Big West will inevitably provide a significantly higher level of competition (minus Julian and Derrick), the best part for me historically about UH is that our collective sum has always been greater than our parts. As you all know, that is the only realistic way mid-major basketball programs can compete. So, while we've not yet seen the totality of the product this year, the quality of the pieces are really, truly, quite something. I'm not gonna lie, all things considered I'd be pretty shocked/disappointed if we didn't win the Big West since there's not a team in the conference with our level of talent and/or depth. I'll say this once, and once only now: Get on the Bandwagon. I'm driving. NCAA or bust!!