By Brian McInnis
So what's the holdup with the Hawaii men's basketball team's schedule? We're roughly two months out from the start of the college hoops season, without anything to show for it.
The delay is basically this: Filling out the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic has been problematic, to say the least.
All assurances from Lower Campus are the schedule will be released, one way or the other, but it could be missing that key element longtime fans are used to. Yup, the long-running tournament may or may not take a one-year hiatus from the slate.
Granted, it is nothing like what it used to be, an eight-team event that — at one time — featured brand-name opponents. It went to a four-team, round-robin format at the start of the season two years ago with the advent of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.
The teams originally slated to play in this year's Rainbow Classic (besides Hawaii) were apparently South Alabama, Illinois-Chicago and San Diego. At least one of those teams pulled out, however, causing the others to eventually follow suit and forcing UH to restart the process sometime last week. South Alabama is also out as UH's opponent in the ESPN College-Hoops Tip-Off Marathon, but the late-night game at the Sheriff is expected to remain at the same (11 p.m.) time against another opponent.
There is still some hope to have the Classic. Even at this late stage, there are still teams looking to complete their schedules. (Some smaller schools hold out for paydays from larger schools.) But UH is obviously not one of the latter, and attracting teams to come out to the islands for three games in early November has proven difficult.
Thus, the Rainbow Warriors may have to be flexible in how they put the finishing touches on the slate. A heretofore unplanned nonconference road trip might be in the cards.
So might a second Division II opponent (instead of the usual one). This season, the WAC gave all its teams its blessing to schedule two D-II opponents in the regular season, if they wished, because of the WAC's drop from 16 regular-season games to 14 with the departure of Boise State. UH may take that route, as well.
So let's just sit tight, not panic, and see what the UH coaches serve up.
UH coach Gib Arnold said he'd be leaving in the coming days for recruiting in the next contact period, during which home visits are allowed. In addition to his usual stomping grounds in Los Angeles and the West Coast, the coach said he'd make an unspecified foreign stop and visit the U.S. Midwest and East Coast.
As of now, UH is expected to have two scholarships to replace: those of senior guard Zane Johnson and forward Dominick Brumfield, who will not be rejoining the team. That's also assuming Gerry Blakes and Dillon Biggs arrive after stints in prep school.
"We don't have a lot to replace, but we still are covering our bases," Arnold said.
Word was that Brigham Young-Hawaii star guard Jet Chang might leave early to play pro in China, but BYUH coach Ken Wagner confirmed today that Chang would return for his senior season.
Last year's D-II national runner-ups wouldn't be quite the same squad without Chang, who was offered unspecified terms by a Chinese Basketball Association team. Chang averaged 21.2 points on 46.1 percent shooting as a junior, and sizzled in the NCAA D-II tournament in carrying the Seasiders to the title game.
"They offered him ... they said it was a good offer. But he turned it down," Wagner said. "It's nice to have him back."