Hey everybody, welcome to Court Sense, my blog on University of Hawaii basketball as I cover the Rainbow Warriors on a daily basis for the Star-Advertiser.
I hope to offer up some insights from practices as Gib Arnold guides his new team through a period of challenging transition in Manoa.
Expect to see occasional items about UH women's basketball, as well.
I'm also new to blogging, so feedback is always appreciated. Thanks for reading!
-- Brian McInnis
Deshawn Stephens, a 6-foot-8 power forward at Santa Monica (Calif.) College, gave his verbal commitment to Utah State today, according to the Corsairs' athletics website.
Stephens was one of two players to take an official visit to UH over the weekend. He took in the UH Ohana Hoopfest on Friday night and seemed to get a kick out of the coaches' haka. But apparently, the Aggies' winning pedigree was too much to overcome. San Diego State and Long Beach State were his other choices.
UH currently has two scholarships available for the 2011-12 season.
Today, the big news was that the Rainbows were selected last among the nine teams in the Western Athletic Conference in both the coaches and media polls. Not a huge surprise; voters tend to go with returning talent as much as anything, and UH returns just one starter (point guard Hiram Thompson) from last year's last-place team.
Utah State, the defending regular-season champion, was the pick to win the WAC in both polls, followed by New Mexico State.
There are just so many questions about UH that can't be answered immediately, as there is much for the young 'Bows to learn from Arnold and his assistants. Of course, the team has much loftier goals than its projected finish.
No UH players were picked to the preseason All-WAC teams.
"I've been here three years, I know we have a good team," senior forward Bill Amis said at practice today. "That's just what writers and coaches have said. But we're going to go out, and we're going to prove them wrong."
Arnold had a pretty good line in a post-practice session with the media. He's already turned the polls into bulletin-board material.
"Sure, you use it as a positive," he said. "And again, if the polls were what mattered, we would just not even have a season. So, besides, it’s guys like you in the media voting for us. I know you guys don’t know anything, so we’re definitely taking that as a positive."
A look at the two polls (first-place votes in parentheses):
1. Utah State (8) 64 points; 2. New Mexico State (1) 55; 3. Nevada 47; 4. Boise State 36, Fresno State 36; 6. San Jose State 32; 7. Louisiana Tech 24; 8. Idaho 19; 9. Hawaii 11.
1. Utah State (19) 259 points; 2. New Mexico State (8) 237; 3. Nevada (2) 190; 4. San Jose State (1) 135; 5. Fresno State 133; 6. Boise State 129; 7. Louisiana Tech 116; 8. Idaho 78; 9. Hawaii 73.
All-WAC preseason teams: The coaches and media first teams were identical, except for the preseason player of the year picks. Utah State, not surprisingly, got plenty of love with four players on the media first and second teams.
Coaches first team—Adrian Oliver, San Jose State Sr. G; Troy Gillenwater, New Mexico State Jr. F; Wendell McKines, New Mexico State Sr. F; Greg Smith, Fresno State So. C; Tai Wesley, Utah State Sr. F (player of the year).
Media first team—Adrian Oliver, San Jose State Sr. G (player of the year); Troy Gillenwater, New Mexico State Jr. F; Wendell McKines, New Mexico State Sr. F; Greg Smith, Fresno State So. C; Tai Wesley, Utah State Sr. F.
Coaches second team—Olu Ashaolu, Louisiana Tech Jr. F; Nate Bendall, Utah State Sr. F; Daequon Montreal, Boise State Sr. F; Tyler Newbold, Utah State Sr. G; Pooh Williams, Utah State Sr. G/F
Media newcomer of the year—Brockeith Pane, Utah State Jr. G.
Oh, here's a note on the Rainbow Wahine already, who were picked seventh in the coaches poll and eighth in the media poll for Dana Takahara-Dias' second season.
Alert hoops fans might have noticed senior point guard Keisha Kanekoa walk off the floor awkwardly early in the women's celebrity game during the UH Ohana Hoopfest on Friday night, with what looked to be a rolled ankle.
She was back in action with the team the next morning. No missed time.
That's it for now!