Archive for December, 2010

'Bows arrive in Reno // Jackson's monster night

December 30th, 2010
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After a narrow defeat to Utah State in snowy Logan, Utah, the Hawaii men's basketball team left early this morning for Salt Lake City.

There was a minor problem on the bus ride — the snow chains on the team bus' tires broke at one point, causing a half-hour delay — but the Rainbow Warriors (9-4, 0-1 WAC) still arrived in SLC on schedule 2 hours later. From there, it was a straight flight to Reno, Nev., for tomorrow's game against the Nevada Wolf Pack (3-10), and UH arrived safely.

ESPN has been fond of televising the Hawaii at Nevada games over the years (though UH is still winless there in 13 tries). This year is no exception, so don't forget — the game is on ESPNU at 3 p.m. Hawaii time (5 Pacific).

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It was an impressive effort last night by the Rainbows in early all aspects of the game, except a key one — rebounding. UH came in with a plus-6.2 average margin, but was soundly outplayed 32-13 on the glass. USU's 18 offensive rebounds was too much to overcome, and you can bet UH coach Gib Arnold will make that an emphasis of today's practice.

The good news, no snowstorm in Reno.

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If you haven't heard by now, Rainbow Wahine freshman forward Kamilah Jackson went for 31 points and 25 rebounds last night in UH's 84-74 win over Cal State Bakersfield, one of the best individual performances in program history.

She had 29 points and 20 rebounds with 10 minutes to play, but Jackson got some rest near the end of the game and the team started going to Keisha Kanekoa more to close out the win.

She broke Judy Mosley's freshman scoring record of 30 points in 1987 and was one off Renee McKnight's rebounding record of 26 from back in 1978.

It was also the first Wahine 30-point game since 2001, when Crystal Lee had 32 points at TCU.

Just an outstanding night all around. Jackson's rebounds were almost all off misses of teammates and CSUB bricks — she wasn't passing the ball to herself off the glass a bunch of times. She just outworked the opposition under the basket over and over, shooting 11-for-18 from the field and 9-for-12 from the line.

She put up some ridiculous numbers at Sacred Heart Cathedral High last year, but no one expected this kind of production from her. Amazing.

'Bows arrive in Logan // A bowl of Stew ... Morrill

December 28th, 2010
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The Hawaii men's basketball team got to chilly Logan, Utah, this morning and prepared for tomorrow's Western Athletic Conference opener vs. Utah State.

UH flew to Salt Lake City then bused 2 hours to Logan. In the evening, they got in a 2-hour practice in one of the auxiliary gyms on the USU campus.

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USU coach Stew Morrill is always a good quote, and he said some interesting things on a conference call with media this morning.

He sounded quite impressed with UH's 9-3 start to the season, and it didn't come off as coach-speak.

"They’ve got a lot of energy with their new coach, Gib (Arnold)'s doing a really good job," Morrill said. "A bunch of new players who are performing for them. I really like how hard they’re playing. ... They’re impressive to watch. They just have a number of weapons ... They’ve got a really nice balance of athleticism and skill and guys who can shoot the ball. You look at their stats, they’re impressive in every area. They’re definitely impressive to watch and prepare for."

Morrill has been with the Aggies for 13 years. That covers the team's move from the Big West to the WAC — the opposite move that UH is making in basketball in two years.

Boise State is leaving for the Mountain West after this season. Fresno State and Nevada are out the door after 2011-12. Utah State, for now, is remaining in what's left.

"I think it’s sad," Morrill said of the changes. "I think it’ll be sadder a year from now when we lose a couple more teams. It’s the nature of the landscape in college athletics. But I’m a little bit of a traditionalist and I just think it’s unfortunate. The WAC has been raided or whatever you want to say. It’s going to change greatly over the course of time. Everybody will be fine, everybody will figure it out. But it’s always a little nostalgic when you see things change."

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The Arnold-Gaines connection

December 27th, 2010
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Hawaii coach Gib Arnold, like so many others, was shocked to hear of the sudden demise of former UH basketball star Chris Gaines.

Gaines, the all-time leading scorer in UH history at 1,731 points, died of a heart attack on Christmas in Orlando, Fla. He was only 42.

Arnold knew Gaines personally. Arnold was in Hawaii as a senior at Punahou the year Gaines came into the program under Gib's father, then-UH coach Frank Arnold. The two are less than a year apart in age.

"I was in high school, and all preseason, after the season, I'd come and play pick-up ball with all the guys," Arnold said after today's practice. "So I got to know Chris pretty well and got to play with Chris. Just a real quiet scorer, just a great basketball player. You could tell he had loads of talent, and ended up being the leading scorer in the history of the school. It was earned with hard work. A heck of a player, and a real nice guy too. Everybody liked Chris.

"I heard about it coming in on the radio this morning. I was shocked. I know he's about my age. It was a shocker for all of us who knew him or played with him at all."

Treasure that win against Utah // MSU fight update

December 24th, 2010
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Hawaii's history against the Runnin' Utes has been, shall we say, less than stellar. Last night's 68-55 effort was only the Rainbow Warriors' tenth all-time victory over its former WAC rival in 57 meetings.

Yes, you read that correctly.

Back when the schools used to meet on a yearly basis, Utah made a tradition of regular beatdowns of UH, especially in Salt Lake City. Of course, as the record will attest, they did so in Honolulu, too, with nine straight overall wins in the series coming into last night (although the last meeting was in 1999). Utah has beaten UH more times than any other school, and the teams aren't likely to meet again very often with the Utes on their way to the Pac-12 and UH going to the Big West.

So UH fans, enjoy that win, especially because of the way it happened with Hiram Thompson making an inspiring return to the court, shrugging off his still-obvious back problems to lead the team. He didn't run out of the tunnel to make his entrance, but if anyone wants to make any Willis Reed-esque comparisons, you go right ahead.

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The latest on the brawl between Mississippi State players Renardo Sidney and Elgin Bailey in the Stan Sheriff Center stands is that both have been indefinitely suspended and sent packing from the islands.

Thus, the Bulldogs (8-4) will be without those two key big men against the Rainbows (8-3) tomorrow on Christmas in the Diamond Head Classic fifth-place game. It will be interesting to see whether MSU, which has faced so much strife already this season, can rally around its remaining players, or gets ripped apart like so much wrapping paper.

There is no television for this game. (ESPN covers 10 of the 12 games in the tournament, with the only ones they don't televise being the seventh- and fifth-place games.)

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Though I was at the arena at the time of the fight, I did not witness it, as I was just coming back from the media room. An agitated Sidney was being escorted past me just as I came out of the tunnel, and everyone in the stands was standing and looking at the spot a few rows up behind press row where the fight occurred.

If you're one of the few who still hasn't seen the shocking fistfight, go to this ESPN video for an extended clip of the fight. It was longer than it appeared from the initial clips during the UH-Utah game last night.

The MSU beat writer at the Clarion-Ledger, Brandon Marcello, offers some insights there.

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Hope everyone has happy holidays. Enjoy the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl, those of you going.

Arnold's thoughts on FSU game

December 23rd, 2010
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The shorthanded Rainbow Warriors never quit last night against a sound Florida State team, firing away in the final moments of their Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic opener to make it a single-digit loss, 70-62.

Postgame comments from coach Gib Arnold and players Joston Thomas and Zane Johnson reflected that.

Gib Arnold:

Opening statement: I thought the guys played hard, I thought the guys battled. You know, this team has never quit, they're not going to. The team has got a lot of passion, played the game hard, played the game together.

You know, we did some things that hurt us. We gave up 23 offensive rebounds to an outstanding team that rebounds well and is long. But you can't give a team like that 23 more shots. We turned the ball over way too many times (also 23).

But you know, we guarded them. We held them to 32 percent (shooting). We shot the ball from the 3-point arc better than anyone has against them. And we stayed in it, we didn't give up. For that I'm pleased, but obviously, you know, we need to win these games. And that's what this program wants to do. We want to come in here and beat teams like that, especially on our home floor, and one day win this tournament.

Q: Thoughts on the crowd (of about 8,000)?

A: Great. Great crowd, kept us going. You know, we were short on numbers, we were tired, it kind of kept us in there a couple times where it got real loud and they got behind us. It bothers us that we didn't get a win for them,  but I hope they saw the passion and effort in this group. They played hard for them.

Q: On Bobby Miles, had to play him all 40 minutes?

A: Had to. I had to. And he'll play 40 tomorrow night (against Utah). He'll play 40 on Christmas. He'll go 120 minutes (in the tournament). He's not coming out, he knows it. It's what we've gotta do, unless he fouls out. Then we'll probably put Trevor (Wiseman) over at the point. You saw a bit of Trevor today with his ball-handling skills. I thought he did a good job handling the ball.

Q: When Bobby picked up the two fouls in the first 4 minutes, were you concerned?

A: Yeah, when he picked them up quick. You can play the entire season with two fouls, is what I told him. And I mean, he was fine, he was smart the rest of the game. ... He could stay in for the full 40 minutes.

Q: It seemed like Joston played pretty smart with four fouls near the end ..

A: Yeah. Yeah. We had to. The substitution pattern was a little different than what I would have had. Defensive schemes were a little different, I probably would have stayed in man. I thought we did a better job of rebounding and guarding them in man, but we got into foul trouble and we kind of had to go zone. The depth situation obviously hurt us.

Q: Does playing that good a defensive team help in the WAC?

A: They held us at 35 percent, we held them at 32 percent, I was pleased with that. But they're long and they can switch anything, and they can hedge the ball screens extremely well. You can't get past them. Chris Singleton can guard a point to a center. And so there's never a mismatch offensively. One of the main things we do is we try to create mismatches on the offensive end, and whether they switched or trapped, there was never a mismatch.

Q: Was packing it in defensively a conscious thing?

A: Yeah, we definitely want to keep it outside vs. inside-out. And I think we did a good job on their shooters.

Joston Thomas

I thought we played hard, but because we was young we didn't really understand the depth of the game. But we going to bounce back from it. The only thing you can ask of us as a young team is that we play hard, try to jell together. Recently, we just got together. We started off good, we're going to try to keep it going.

If we limited our turnovers, in the first half I felt like we would have been up by two. ... I had four (turnovers), so I'm just going to be accountable for what I did. I just felt like I could have gotten more on the glass. It just wasn't clicking for me offensively. But defensively, I thought we did a good job. (Today), we're going to get offensive rebounds, knock down some shots, and get back to what we do.

Q: Did you guys feel your lack of depth?

A: I mean, most of the guys approached it like a regular game. ... (The freshmen) aren't used to that kind of environment. Now we got a game under our belt like that. I feel like tomorrow and the rest of the tournament and any other big game we got down the line, it's going to be good for us.

Q: Was FSU's defense bothering you?

A: I mean, they was kind of physical, but it wasn't nothing we couldn't handle. We go through that every day in practice. I felt like the turnovers got us. It was nothing that they did personally. It was what we was doing. So I give credit to them.

Q: On not giving up, does that carry over?

A: Oh, that has to be a constant thing in basketball. You never can give up in basketball. You got 40 hard minutes, you never know what can happen.

Zane Johnson

We played well ... it's good that we didn't give up, but if we cut down on our turnovers and rebounded on the defensive glass, it's a totally different game. It's disappointing, but we just have to move on.

Q: How much did you guys feel your lack of depth?

A: Without Hiram, that's another guard, and that means heavy minutes on me, Bobby and Bo, but we're conditioned and we want to play 40 minutes, we're capable of playing 40 minutes. We can't make any excuses there. It all comes down to boxing out and turnovers.

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UH faces a large team in Utah, which has two 7-footers. UH center Doug Kurtz was a teammate of the Utes' leading scorer, Will Clyburn, at Marshalltown (Iowa) Community College.

Hoops news all around

December 22nd, 2010
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Keep checking back to the breaking news section of the Star-Advertiser website for write-ups about today's quarterfinals of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

So far, we've had two blowouts. Washington State outplayed Mississippi State soundly in the second half for an 83-57 win, and No. 15 Baylor thumped San Diego 83-50 in the second game.

Don't forget, UH (7-2) takes on Florida State (9-2) tonight at 8 p.m. in an ESPNU-televised game. KHON2 sports director Kanoa Leahey has the play-by-play call.

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UH sophomore forward Joston Thomas was even more jacked up than usual this week.

Why? He knows two players on the Florida State roster from his days growing up in Georgia.

He lost contact with Chris Singleton and Pierre Jordan once he moved to Washington, D.C., for prep school.

"Met each other on the (AAU) circuit. I played with Pierre, and with Chris as well," Thomas said. "We friends, so it's going to be fun, you know. Business, but it's going to be fun."

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Plenty of news on the UH women's basketball front today, too.

First-year assistant coach Gabe Henry has resigned his post and will return home to Kansas City to take care of his ailing father.

Head coach Dana Takahara-Dias promoted Sherice Ajifu from director of basketball operations to Henry's position.

Henry is a good guy, best of luck to him in his future endeavors in basketball. Ajifu has been with Takahara-Dias from the start, so she should be able to make the transition of roles smoothly.

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Also, the Wahine announced the signing of former Hilo High standout Vicky Tagalicod, a USC transfer.

Tagalicod, a 5-foot-9 point guard, will practice with the team starting in the spring semester and be eligible to play in games starting in the spring of 2012.

She redshirted her first year at USC with an injury. But local hoops fans, particularly those from the Big Island, remember how athletic and versatile she was. With UH's starting backcourt of Keisha Kanekoa and Megan Tinnin finishing their eligibility this season, Tagalicod is a big pickup.

Takahara-Dias already knew Tagalicod from the Team Aloha all-star squad.

Arnold unbeaten in DHC ... can he stay that way?

December 21st, 2010
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That will be tough. Florida State offers Hawaii the best defense the Rainbow Warriors will probably see the all season.

But remember this cool fact: UH coach Gib Arnold is unbeaten in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, having won it last year in his final season as USC assistant coach.

It was the inaugural edition of Hawaii's new eight-team tournament, which is run by ESPN Regional TV. An extremely physical USC team edged Western Michigan, knocked off Saint Mary's (an eventual Sweet 16 team) and upset No. 20 UNLV in the title game. Trojans point guard Mike Gerrity emerged for his new team with dominant performances and was named tourney MVP.

"It's a little bit surreal, but it's great," Arnold said after Tuesday's light practice, which included some scout work for the 9-2 Seminoles. "I had a great experience here last year, and it was fun for me to come back and our team played well, and (got to) see family and friends. Now to be here permanently is pretty special and this tournament brings a lot of real good memories."

Besides Arnold, former USC backup center Davis Rozitis is also here as a transfer to UH. However, he is sitting out all games this season per NCAA transfer rules.

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Senior point guard Hiram Thompson isn't resigned to missing the tournament with the stiff back, but his chances of a speedy return from the brutal fall he suffered against Chicago State aren't good. He was still limited to shooting and light running during yesterday's practice.

"Trying to get as much treatment as possible, and trying to get loose," Thompson said. "(On that play) I thought I had an open steal, and felt my legs get taken out. I tried to get my hands down (to brace for the fall) but it was too late. Just went straight on my back. I've already kind of had a bad back the past year and everything, so it just kind of re-aggravated some things I've tried to get healed up."

Ever a positive person, Thompson was holding out hope that he'd be able to come back for these next three games, which are big for UH with national TV exposure on the line.

"Right now it's kind of up in the air, but I think with the treatments this week, today and everything, hopefully I'll be ready," Thompson said.

Arnold appreciated Thompson's desire to come back, but was taking a realistic approach.

"You know, he's hurt," Arnold said. "He'll want to play hurt. But we're going to monitor it and make sure. If the doctors give him the go-ahead to the trainer, then we'll try. But if not, we're not going to do anything that could possibly damage him or hurt him worse."

UH will likely be down to eight active players. Senior forward Bill Amis still has his right foot in a boot because of a setback with his stress fracture.

"Guys are excited, guys are going to be fine," Arnold said. "We're down a little bit, but I don't think anyone's planning on not showing up. They're going to play for us. We know how good Florida State is, especially their defense. ... It's a pretty big task, but our guys are going to give it everything they got."

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Thompson, Amis sit out practice

December 20th, 2010
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Senior forward Bill Amis and senior guard Hiram Thompson both sat out — or in Thompson's case, stood and watched — during today's Hawaii practice leading into the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

Amis is still wearing a boot to recover from his stress fracture in his right foot, while Thompson is resting a balky back caused from a brutal fall on his side against Chicago State on Maui.

UPDATE: Thompson's MRI on his back, taken over the weekend, was negative for any lasting damage, but he will likely miss at least the first game of the tournament, against Florida State on Wednesday.

"I'm alright," Thompson said at practice today.

UH will be at only eight active players against the Seminoles (9-2), one of the toughest foes the Rainbow Warriors will face all season.

Thompson was limited to shooting around and riding an exercise bike, while Amis sat with his foot wrapped, cheering on his teammates.

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Tourney time is here. The HADHC logo is on the Stan Sheriff Center court, and most of the visiting teams are in Hawaii. Florida State visited Pearl Harbor today and practiced at Hickam Air Force Base.

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UH women's basketball freshman Kamilah Jackson had her streak of five double-doubles broken against No. 9 UCLA last night. The WAC's leading rebounder had 10 points and eight boards in the 72-44 loss.

The Wahine shot just 28 percent and were shut down in the second half. They trailed by just 11 at halftime.

Return from Maui

December 18th, 2010
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The Hawaii men's basketball team returns from the Valley Isle today riding high from its largest victory margin of the season in the 86-57 win over Chicago State on Maui.

However, the status of senior point guard Hiram Thompson is still unknown (he fell hard on his back going for a steal on a lofted inbounds pass). A team official said Thompson was scheduled to have an MRI today.

If Thompson cannot play against Florida State to open the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic on Wednesday, UH (7-2) will have only one ball-handler — freshman Bobby Miles. Against CSU (3-10), Miles had the first 10-assist game by a UH player since the 2007-08 season, when Matt Gibson had 11 against New Mexico State.

Miah Ostrowski won't be able to provide relief at the point until after the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.

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After the game, UH coach Gib Arnold said he'd be in favor of playing games on neighbor islands in future years.

"I liked it. It was different," Arnold said. "The timing was difficult in that it was finals (week) and there were a lot of other things on our mind. But the idea of coming to a neighbor island, I think, is a great idea. And we really enjoyed it. I enjoyed playing in front of a new crowd and I thought the thought was fabulous. They were in the game, and they were knowledgeable, and it was a lot of fun for our guys. We appreciated it."

After the game, the Rainbow Warriors waved thanks to the crowd (announced officially at just under 1,000, but there appeared to be more as most of the 2,400-seat gym was full) and signed autographs.

Arnold was asked if coming to a neighbor island for a game was something he'd want to do on a yearly basis.

"Yeah, I think so," he said. "As a university and as a staff, I think it's important we go out and play in the neighbor islands. Get out there and let our fans come and see us live whenever they can. I'd think we'd rotate among the neighbor islands, but Maui would definitely be one of our first priorities, because the Civic Center here is a great venue. But again, we'd probably think we could do it at some of the other neighbor islands as well."

I could see why he'd want to return. Great crowd overall, and the tightness of the Civic Center really amplifies the noise. It wasn't on the level of say, the EA Sports Maui Invitational, but that was to be expected. Potentially the start of something good there.

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Speaking of other neighbor island games, the UH women's basketball team (4-4) takes on No. 9 UCLA (8-0) tomorrow at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium in Hilo tomorrow. The game will be on KKEA, 1420-AM. The Wahine follow against East Carolina (4-5) on Monday.

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Congratulations to senior forward Bill Amis, who officially graduated today.

Set up on Maui

December 17th, 2010
By



Hey all,

The Rainbow Warriors got in safely to Maui last night after practice on the UH campus.

They'll have a shootaround at the Lahaina Civic Center prior to tonight's game at 7 against Chicago State.

Senior forward Bill Amis, the team's leading scorer and rebounder by average, will not be playing in this game, as he's not ready yet coming off the stress fracture in his right foot.

Chicago State (3-9), meanwhile, has just one win over Division I competition this season. But as former CSU coach Benjy Taylor said, it's college basketball, anything can happen on any given night.

A reminder: this game is not televised. You can listen to the broadcast on KKEA, 1420-AM or by getting live stats at the hawaiiathletics.com site.

I'll be doing periodic updates on twitter @brian_mcinnis during the game .

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Being back on Maui was a near-homecoming for UH assistant Brandyn Akana, who is from Molokai.

Q: So you're pretty familiar with the island?

A: High school (Molokai High), for volleyball and basketball, every weekend was in Maui with a bunch of schools. We’d go (to Maui), spend a lot of weekends, playing sports. We’d play in the Lahaina Civic. So it’s going to be fun to go back and coach there.

Is it tough to prepare for this game?
I think that’s why we did what we did early in the season. We went up to BYU-Hawaii, we treated it like a road trip, we stayed out there (for a scrimmage). It’s kind of a road game because we do have to get on a plane and sleep in a hotel. But at the same time we have some home atmosphere. Some family will be there, and fans will be cheering for us. It’s kind of a mixture, which is good. This will just help us be prepared for the season.

What are your thoughts on the Lahaina Civic Center?
Nice atmosphere, and we’ve seen it on ESPN with the (Maui) Classic, how they can pack it in and make a lot of noise. All the fans are on the floor, basically, because it’s a smaller gym. That’ll definitely get our guys excited. Talked to a lot of people on Maui, and they’re excited about it. Come and support, and see the Rainbow Warriors play.
I think these guys (our players) are very fortunate to do that, to go to another island to play a regular-season game.