Archive for February, 2011

Tough choices

February 27th, 2011
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Who would you nominate as Hawaii's candidate for WAC player of the week? There are three legitimate choices, as UH beat Louisiana Tech 71-58 and New Mexico State 76-70 at the Stan Sheriff Center.

>>  Junior guard Zane Johnson averaged 19 points and hit nine 3-pointers

>> Senior forward Bill Amis averaged 16 points and eight rebounds

>> Sophomore center Vander Joaquim averaged 14.5 points and 12 rebounds and 2.5 blocks

We'll find out this morning if any made the cut. It might be difficult with the likes of San Jose State's Adrian Oliver going for 36 points against New Mexico State on Wednesday, but you never know.

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UPDATE: And the winner is .... Boise State guard La'Shard Anderson, who averaged 28 points, 4.5 assists and 3.0 steals in two road wins last week. Hard to argue with that.

Zane Johnson was the UH nominee.

WAC tournament outlook

February 25th, 2011
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Three games left for most WAC teams (two for the rest) means a lot could still happen before the WAC tournament March 9-12 in Las Vegas.

Utah State has first place clinched at 12-1.

Here's the current placement and remaining WAC games for the rest of the league. Much could change before the end.

No. 2 New Mexico State (8-5): at Hawaii Feb. 26, vs. Utah State March 2, vs. Nevada March 5.

No. 3 Boise State (8-6): at Nevada Feb. 26, vs. San Jose State March 5.

No. 4 Idaho (8-6): at Utah State Feb 26, vs. Fresno State March 3.

No. 5 Nevada (7-6): vs. Boise State Feb. 26, at Louisiana Tech March 3, at New Mexico State March 5.

No. 6 Hawaii (6-7): vs. New Mexico State Feb. 26, at San Jose State March 3, at Fresno State March 5.

No. 7 Fresno State (5-9): at Idaho March 3, vs. Hawaii March 5.

No. 8 San Jose State (4-9): vs. Louisiana Tech Feb. 26, vs. Hawaii March 3, at Boise State March 5.

No. 9 Louisiana Tech (2-11): at San Jose State Feb. 26, vs. Nevada March 3, vs. Utah State March 5.

As you can see, LaTech looks doomed to finish last (and miss the WAC tourney) with a tough slate of remaining games. SJSU could put pressure on Hawaii and Fresno with a couple of late wins. But if UH can defeat NMSU tomorrow night, it will really open up the race for the No. 2 seed (and the coveted tournament double bye that goes with it).

UH can still get the No. 4 seed by winning out for the regular season, but will need some help to get it.

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It seems a Hiram Thompson miracle recovery for senior night isn't in the cards. Thompson didn't practice today and is still rehabbing the ligament damage around his left elbow.

2011 DHC field coming out today

February 23rd, 2011
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The rest of the 2011 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic field is set to be released today.

UPDATE: As expected, those teams are Auburn of the Southeastern Conference and Southern Illinois of the Missouri Valley Conference.

The six previously known teams in the field are Long Beach State, UTEP, Kansas State, Clemson, Xavier and, of course, host Hawaii. That leaves two spots.

It's shaping up to be a solid follow-up from last year's holiday tournament, won by Butler.

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Word is the most recent commit (verbal) to the Hawaii men's basketball team for the 2011-12 season is one Michael Harvey, a 6-5 sophomore at Feather River Community College in California. However, have not spoken to Harvey or his coach yet, so take that for what it's worth.

Let there be peace

February 21st, 2011
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Good news — diplomacy prevailed.

After a meeting between Hawaii coach Gib Arnold and sophomore forward Joston Thomas this afternoon, it was decided that Thomas will return to play with the team starting at practice tomorrow.

Put those fears about Thomas following in the steps of Anthony Salter and Jordan Coleman to rest.

More on this in tomorrow's edition of the Star-Advertiser. But here's a sampling from Arnold:

"Yeah, I think we have (hammered out our differences) at this time and with all players it’s a continual progression, and sometimes it’s tough to understand roles, and this team’s always going to be coached with a team-first mentality and guys that understand that are going to be successful in that situation. Guys that don’t, maybe looking for other things, it’s probably not the best situation for them. I think Joston needed some time to think about that and I think the time away was good for him to think things through. And I think he’s going to be fine."

To be determined is what Thomas' role will be against Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State this week (Thursday and Saturday, respectively). Thomas has been away from the team for nearly a week, so Arnold could elect to work him back in gradually. We'll see.

Holding pattern

February 21st, 2011
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Nothing has been resolved as of yet on the status of Hawaii sophomore forward Joston Thomas, who did not accompany the team on its road trip to UC Davis over the weekend.

Thomas was not at the team's noon shootaround back at UH today, extending his absence from team activities to about a week.

Hawaii coach Gib Arnold said he'd be meeting with Thomas later today. Arnold said again that Thomas, the team's third-leading scorer at 10.4 ppg, hasn't done anything wrong and is excused for personal reasons.

One would have to think the Thomas situation will be resolved soon, one way or the other, to avoid a lengthy distraction for the rest of the team.

It is believed the reason behind Thomas' absence is regarding a disagreement about playing time and his role on the team. In recent games, the transfer from the College of Southern Idaho saw his court time drop. That's essentially what led to Anthony Salter and Jordan Coleman transferring off the team last semester.

Meanwhile, senior point guard Hiram Thompson is still out from the elbow joint injury he suffered against Nevada. He said today he's still optimistic for a return by season's end, but there was no specific date in mind.

There is a strong possibility most UH fans at the Nevada game unknowingly saw Thompson play for the last time in person.

UH's last two home games of the season are this week: on Thursday against Louisiana Tech and on Saturday against New Mexico State.

Concern about J. Thomas

February 17th, 2011
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Sophomore forward Joston Thomas wasn't at Hawaii basketball practice again this morning, the last full team session before the Rainbow Warriors take to the road to play at UC Davis on Saturday.

It marked the second straight day the 6-7, 235-pound Thomas, one of three Rainbow Warriors averaging double-figure points (10.4 ppg) was not present with the team.

In UH's 69-67 overtime win against Nevada on Monday, Thomas started but played only 9 minutes as UH coach Gib Arnold went with freshman Trevor Wiseman at small forward for 28 minutes off the bench.

"He was excused from these two practices for some personal reasons," Arnold said. "He's got some things he's gotta deal with. We'll deal with it as things evolve."

Arnold wouldn't comment further. The team leaves this afternoon for San Francisco en route to Davis, Calif. It's safe to say Thomas's status at UC Davis in the ESPNU BracketBusters game  is questionable at this point.

This is obviously a point of concern as the team hits the stretch drive of the season, with only four WAC regular-season games remaining. If you're a UH fan, you'd hope Thomas is back of the swing of things by the time the team prepares for its next home game against Louisiana Tech on Feb. 24.

Thomas is turnover prone (he leads the team with 76, or 3.2 per game) and hasn't scored as well of late, but is still an important part of the team, especially if UH is to maintain a rebounding edge on opponents. At 5.8 boards per game, the Washington, D.C., native cleans the glass exceptionally well at the small forward position. It was only five games ago that Thomas went for 14 points and 14 boards against San Jose State, his best all-around game of the season.

He is one of just three Rainbows to play in every game so far this season, starting 21 of those 24 contests.

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Nothing new to report on senior point guard Hiram Thompson, who more than likely will not play in the Davis game. He will make the trip however, good news for the tri-captain, whose family lives just minutes away from the Davis campus.

Arnold said he had yet to hear from doctors on the severity of Thompson's ligament damage in his left arm. Thompson suffered a hyperextended elbow in a fall against Nevada.

Thompson out for now, MRI results still pending

February 16th, 2011
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Hawaii senior point guard Hiram Thompson watched team practice from the sidelines today with his left arm in a sling, a result of the hard fall he suffered in the second half of the team's win over Nevada on Monday.

Thompson had an MRI taken on his elbow, which the tri-captain said he hyperextended when he braced his arm straight to cushion the fall.

"The doctor still needs to look at the MRI to see exactly what it is," Thompson said. "To see if something's wrong with it, the ligaments in my elbow."

He was staying optimistic about a quick return.

"Hopefully I'll be able to get back soon, we'll see when," Thompson said. "I have to keep it stabilized for a while, not do anything with it."

Sophomore forward Joston Thomas was not present today.

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UH plays at UC Davis (9-16, 3-9 Big West) in the ESPNU BracketBusters Saturday event.

Thompson update // Arnold ESPN chat transcript up

February 15th, 2011
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You get the feeling that Hawaii's 69-67 overtime win over Nevada last night will resonate for a while, especially if the Rainbow Warriors can follow it up with a road win at UC Davis on Saturday in the ESPNU BracketBusters event.

Though the win was terrific, the team could be without starting point guard Hiram Thompson for the rest of the season. He went down hard on his left arm early in the second half and didn't return.

His arm isn't broken, but there could be ligament damage, which would have the same effect — a season-ending injury.

Here's what I posted this morning in our breaking news section:

The Hawaii men's basketball team got some tentatively good news today regarding senior point guard Hiram Thompson, who went down early in the second half of UH's 69-67 overtime win against Nevada last night and didn't return.

UH coach Gib Arnold said this morning that Thompson's left (non-shooting) arm was not broken, as was feared last night.

However, there could be some serious ligament damage in the arm, which the team will know more about later today.

"The swelling had to go down, it's one of those deals where they had to wait and see," Arnold said. "But the x-ray did not show a break. But there's definitely some ligament damage in there, and how long (he's out) or to what extent (of the damage) we still don't know yet."

On the play, Thompson raced along the right sideline on a fast break but tripped against pressure near the baseline, bracing the fall with his left arm. He retained possession and called timeout.

Serious damage would amount to a career-ending injury this late in the season for the starting point guard, who's battled various ailments throughout his UH career.

"It was positive on what it could have been," Arnold said. "If it's torn ligaments, he's out just as long as if it were a break. But the one thing we ruled out was it's broken. I would say (I'm) cautiously optimistic.

"He felt it really good last night. I remember when it happened, he stood up and looked right at me and said, 'I'm out. You gotta take me out.' He knew pretty immediately that it was hurt."

Thompson, a tri-captain, is averaging 8.7 points and 2.6 assists per game. He's gotten effective relief of late from junior backup Miah Ostrowski. Ostrowski hit the game-winning floater in overtime last night, putting the Rainbow Warriors (14-10, 5-7) in sixth place in the Western Athletic Conference.

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UH coach Gib Arnold did an ESPN live chat today, with the transcript viewable at this link.

He was candid with an optimistic tone for the future of the program, which is consistent with his message all season. He offered some insights on what the team needs to work on (i.e. turnovers) and what he's most pleased with (defense). He also mentioned the team's planned trip to China over the summer.

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For the UH women's basketball fans, an FYI that today's game at New Mexico State is being televised on KFVE at 4 p.m., with NMSU's AggieVision broadcasters calling the game.

If the Rainbow Wahine (8-16, 2-9 WAC) are to end an 18-game WAC road losing streak, this seems the place they'd have to do it; their only other chance remaining this season is at first place Louisiana Tech. And NMSU has struggled of late to a 4-5 league record (though they beat the Wahine soundly in Honolulu to open the WAC season).

Arnold on ESPN chat tomorrow

February 14th, 2011
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Here's something to whet your appetite for the Rainbow Warriors' game against Nevada tonight at 7 at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Got a question for Hawaii coach Gib Arnold you've been meaning to ask, and haven't been able to call in for Call the Coach? Here's your chance.

Arnold will be on ESPN's SportsNation chat tomorrow starting at 10:30 a.m. (Hawaii time).

To access to chat, click here. You can send in questions early.

And to get you primed for the sort of witty/humorous responses you might expect, here's the quote of the month (maybe the year) so far from the first-year coach.

Arnold on point guard Hiram Thompson's scar from the gash he suffered just above his eye:

"He looks better with the scar, I think. Looks like he’s about to fight you in an alley right now."

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Oh, a couple promotions for the Valentine's Day game if anyone is still on the fence about going:

>> There is a "Toss Your Way to Vegas" halftime contest you can register for before the game. The winner gets what it sounds like.

>> UH season ticket holders in any sport get 50 percent off adult tickets tonight, up to a maximum of eight tickets.

>> The first 500 female fans at the gate get a Valentine's Day carnation courtesy of Watanabe Floral.

>> Lastly, there is a Valentine's Day "Love Toss" contest for a two-night stay at a ocean-front hotel in Waikiki.

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Journey back in time

February 11th, 2011
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That's what it was late last night for Hawaii coach Gib Arnold and one of the Rainbow Warriors, junior point guard Miah Ostrowski.

UH practiced in Punahou's Hemmeter Fieldhouse late last night because all of the UH gyms — the Stan Sheriff Center, Gyms 1 and 2, and Klum Gym — were booked for intramurals. The team drove the short distance from the Manoa campus and went from about 8 to 10 p.m., right after Arnold arrived back in Honolulu from a recruiting trip to California.

Some of the decor was different, but was essentially the same gym both used to play in — Ostrowski just a few years ago as a Buffanblu all-state player, and Arnold for two years in the 1980s, when he earned Gatorade Player of the Year honors.

"I don't think we had the fans," Arnold said, looking up at the rafters. "They've actually done a little remodeling. It's a little brighter than I remember. But yeah, the same gym. Punahou had a game tonight (the ILH playoffs) but we were able to sneak in right after."

"It was good fun," said Ostrowski, who attempted some 35-footers from familiar spots after the 2-hour session. "We got new colors in here and everything, but it was good to come back and see some of the people that used to work here. It was fun. I felt like I had an advantage in here.

"(The rims) look a little smaller than the ones at UH, but it felt good though."

The Rainbows (13-10, 4-7 WAC) play Nevada (9-14, 6-4) on Monday at the Stan Sheriff Center. It was UH's first full practice since losing at Idaho last Saturday.

"The break's been great, the guys lifted and did individual workouts," Arnold said. "It was good to get legs back and all those things. But tonight was good, because we had to get a sweat, we had to go up and down as a team, just get back to doing what we're doing."

On his extended road trip in Idaho and California for recruiting, Arnold had this to say:

"It went good. Probably was able to see about eight or nine players, in a bunch of games, a bunch of practices. Saw three or four different practices, workouts or games a day. It was good to be able to have that little break-off in the middle of the season. Normally you don't have that. You have to be able to take advantage of it."

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How about another flashback?

Astute Rainbow Wahine basketball fans might remember Idaho coach Jon Newlee losing his temper late in the Idaho-Hawaii game at the Stan Sheriff Center two years ago.

It was a precursor of sorts to his finger-wagging antics at UH coach Dana Takahara-Dias in the handshake line following the Wahine's win over UI last week. Newlee, a former UH assistant, took  a complaint to the WAC head of officials about a Keisha Kanekoa intentional foul (or not so intentional, after I viewed the replay several times).

Coincidentally, both incidents involved his same player, Rachele Kloke, taking contact from a Wahine. Two years ago, UH trailed late in the game at the Sheriff and needed to foul a Vandals player to have a chance at a comeback. Idaho would hold on to win 63-60, but not without some drama.

Wahine guard Megan Tinnin applied the foul on Kloke, who tumbled over some chairs on the end of the bench. An irate Newlee reacted immediately.

Tinnin recalled the episode prior to the team departing for Reno, Nev., this week. She felt Kloke oversold the contact for the officials.

"He cursed at me. Me in particular," Tinnin said. "They ran this play set up at halfcourt, and all they do is run out into nowhere. They don’t have designated spots they run to, they just kind of like run. And they’re just running people over as they’re going. So she runs me over because we needed to foul them and get the ball back. I go to foul her and ... she falls over the chairs like I intentionally fouled her.

"(Newlee) goes in my face and just starts cussing at me. That was an incident, and then obviously the other night he wasn’t too happy with how everything (happened).
We’re being the better team right now and ignoring what they have to say, and keep playing."

Should be a VERY interesting game should the Wahine meet the Vandals again in the WAC tournament. UH (8-15, 2-8 WAC) plays at Nevada (16-7, 5-5) tomorrow.