Half effort was at fault in 'Bows' loss to NMSU


POSTED: Saturday, January 23, 2010

Roderick Flemings is, indeed, ready for the NBA—but only its slam-dunk contest.

We were treated with a too-rare on-court reminder Thursday: Flemings is gifted with an extreme amount of raw basketball talent. That tomahawk jam was likely the most spectacular dunk ever in a game at the Stan Sheriff Center, including when Vince Carter and the rest of the U.S. National Team hammered Steve Nash's Canadians on the way to Australia and the Olympics in 2000.

Yes, Flemings was over-hyped coming in last season, but also, yes, he's got the goods.

Against New Mexico State, it wasn't just the one play.

Flemings—prone to inexplicable disappearing acts, sometimes for halves at a time—played the best I've seen him play, and it was very good. Scoring (23 points) and rebounding (10 boards). Assists are nice, but I like that he had none this time; he took control. Keep him coming off the bench if that's what works.

As a team, it was the most passionate and efficient we've seen the Rainbows this season. But it lasted for just a half ... the first half (or all but 5 seconds of that, and we'll get into that later).

IF YOU only saw the highlights, you might think the Rainbows lost because of New Mexico State guard Jahmar Young's ice-cold kill shot from 18 feet at the end (it came after UH's Hiram Thompson tied it with a clutch 3-pointer).

But you can actually blame it on the opening minutes of the second half, when the Rainbows frittered away a 12-point lead.

During the break they somehow forgot the basketball basics they were so good at in the first half—things like boxing out, taking care of the ball and moving with purpose on offense. Forward Brandon Adams, who has come on strong of late, even admitted the 'Bows got “;lazy”; at the outset of the second half. That self-assessment might be a bit harsh, but I'll definitely go as far as “;complacent.”;

It was a carryover from the end of the first half. Thompson took the final inbounds pass with 5 seconds left ... and did nothing, just covering up the ball to avoid a steal. It was what you're supposed do with a 12-point lead—that is, if there's 5 seconds left in the game, not before halftime. There was plenty of time to get off another shot and build the lead to 14 or 15 headed into the lockers.

Of course it's hindsight to point at that as a crucial play. But that the Rainbows took such a passive approach while in control of the game, especially at home, is alarming. This is the same kind of thing the football team, post-June Jones, has been ripped for doing, or rather, not doing; it's like taking a knee when there's time for a shot at the end zone from around midfield, but the coach determines the risk vs. reward ratio as unfavorable.

Have you ever seen a pick six off a Hail Mary attempt? I haven't. I also can't fathom how you figure there's more downside than potential positive to going for the basket when you've got the basketball with 5 seconds left. Were the Aggies defenders that intimidating?

UH is 9-10 with 11 regular-season games remaining, including tonight against LaTech. That target of 18 wins for head coach Bob Nash's job security is virtually unattainable. If athletic director Jim Donovan determines Bill Amis' injury cost UH some wins, Nash could get his contract extension anyway.

Still, with this team he would've been better off with a goal of winning 36 halves.

Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), his “;Quick Reads”; blog at, and