By Brian McInnis
The Hawaii men's basketball team is feeling pretty confident going into tomorrow's showdown against Western Athletic Conference leader Utah State at the Stan Sheriff Center.
UH coach Gib Arnold promised "a little somethin'-somethin' " along with UH football coach Greg McMackin for fans who arrive early at the arena. Could it be the board shorts-and-slippers look he alluded to on the Call the Coach Show earlier this week? I don't think he was referring just to the Bud Light Tailgate Party (5 to 7 p.m. outside the SSC), but we shall see.
Apparently, the "All in Against the Aggies" promotion is paying off; expect a big crowd for this one. A UH official said tickets sold were already in the neighborhood of 6,500 today, meaning it should go above 8,000 in the 10,300-seat arena. It'll be interesting to see if the crowd eclipses that for the Florida State game in the Diamond Head Classic, which was about 8K.
A reminder, UH Manoa students get in free, as they have all season.
It will be a huge moment when Miah Ostrowski checks into the game for the first time since the death of his father, Kui, early Wednesday morning.
Ostrowski has practiced as normal (or as normal as possible) since the tragedy, something that continues to amaze me. Getting chills just thinking about the ovation he should get in the USU game.
Here's some extra Q&A from the Ostrowski interviews conducted a couple days ago:
On his father:
He was my No. 1 coach. I never really listened to anyone as much as I listened to him. After games, before games. I’d always take his word over anybody’s word.
He made me mentally strong. Just the way he lived life and stuff. ... He was always cool to everyone. That’s how I try to be.
On the games last week:
When I look at it that way, it’s like, I’m happy I got to play for him, a couple games. And football I wasn’t really playing, but I got to play in the Tulsa game. He got to se me play a little, you know?
Basketball was his love. It was both of our loves growing up. He did everything for me. He always made sure I played the best, played up. Made sure I was ready for everything, talked to me before games.
I’d see him every weekend. He’d always call and see how everything’s going. It’s not that far away, but I always talk to him, they always check up to make sure everything’s OK. How’s practice going and stuff l ike that.
He was my biggest fan.
Tony Sellitto (Kui's former coach at Maryknoll)
He had a great winning attitude.
I liked to play with my kids and everything, but (Kui) was serious about his son. He’d do all this stuff with him every day. He was really into his son, really enjoyed Miah.
I must have said to him two words in two years. I never had to say anything to him. He played hard, he played smart. I think he was a captain, but he wasn’t a captain who said, ‘C’mon, get over there.’ He wasn’t that kinda guy. He just didn’t say anything. He just played all the time, hard, hard, hard hard. A great deal of pride.
I’ve said this since (Miah) showed up on our team, that he’s a great kid and great competitor.
When I came back (to Hawaii), I was able to spend a little bit of time with (Kui). Once (Miah) started playing for us, he was always out there with a big hug and a smile. Was really enjoying seeing his son play basketball and having success.
Obviously it’s tough on him, it’s tough on all of us, but it was business as usual with him and he’s taking this all in stride.
It’s a real shocker to me. I’d always see Miah’s dad at games and stuff. From the last game (last Saturday), I just seen him. I couldn’t really believe it.
Of course, I know what he’s going through because I lost my dad too when I was young. I mean, it’s just a real shocker. No words you can really say how he feels.
He doesn’t really want to talk, but at the same time we want to lighten the mood for him, get it off his mind. But it’s tough.
He looked the same (on the court), but now that I found out (what happened), I could tell in the locker room. Pretty much kept to himself, but Miah does his thing on the court and I’m sure he’ll be just fine.
My dad passed away when I was 2. I know what it’s going to be like for his mom, and I feel it’s going to be a lot different. I’d rather lose them younger than later because you never know.
I’ll just be there for him if he ever needs me.
Michele Ostrowski (Miah's mom)
The kids are very sad. They’re very close with their dad. He was close with all the kids. He was like a kid himself. They’re all having a hard time but they’re trying to be strong. He’s with his mom now. His mother (Leilani) just passed away (in 2009).
On watching Miah play:
He was always excited, always happy for him. They would always play basketball in outside leagues together when he was little.
Basketball was the start of it, when he was like 5 or 6 years old. Gave Miah knowledge of the game, what to look for. He was really good.
Saturday’s the first game that his dad won’t be physically there, but we know he’ll be there spiritually. ... It will be very emotional.