By Brian McInnis
A big what's up from Wailuku, Maui, locale of tomorrow's game between Hawaii and North Carolina A&T of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.
Before delving into that game in tomorrow's edition, let's revisit some comments made after last night's Hawaii vs. Hawaii-Hilo game in Kailua-Kona.
As sparse as the turnout (331) was for the rare nonconference game between the system schools, coaches of both teams called the game a success.
UH coach Gib Arnold has already talked to UHH coach Jeff Law about future meetings with the Vulcans on other islands, including Kauai and Molokai.
A close call against UHH on Friday night — the Rainbow Warriors pulled away in the second half for a 79-66 win at Kealakehe High — hasn't shaken that goal. However, certain aspects of such a trip (namely the travel arrangements) would have to be improved for a third straight year of interisland games to happen.
"I like the idea of it," Arnold said afterward. "I thought we struggled a little bit coming right off (finals) and playing in the high school gym. That's not an excuse, but I like the idea of it. If it works out, we're going to keep trying to do it, but I guarantee we'll never do it where we fly in on the same day we play. We'll definitely get our guys better prepared than we were tonight."
His counterpart, Law, would be up for future inter-island meetings if the conditions were right. Logistics can be challenging for such games, with factors like mounting shot clocks up high in gyms not equipped with them.
"I would like to do it," Law said. "I tell you right now, there's a lot that went into hosting the game here. A lot on Kealakehe's part, which was awesome. The staff at Kealakehe was great. But a lot of taxation went on for our athletic facilities to come over here to do it as well as we wanted to.
"To host one in Kauai, I don't know. We can't just get in a car and get the floor down and put up shot clocks. I don't know logistically how that would work, but I would certainly be very interested in doing that. I think it's good for our guys, it's good for the community. It's good for them. I don't like playing them in a game because I don't like losing; I'd rather play them in an exhibition game. But you can't play exhibition games on the road like this.
"But I would be open to anything. I think anytime Hilo and Manoa get to play, because we're the same system and that kind of stuff, I think it's only a good thing for the state in that regard, more so than HPU or Chaminade or BYU(H). Because it is a state school, they're our big brother. Hopefully we can keep it alive in some way."
Senior guard Zane Johnson has been alternately hot and cold this year. On Friday, he had ice in his veins against the Vulcans — and not in the good sense.
His 31-game streak of making a 3 in a game came to an end with an 0-for-6 night from deep. It probably wasn't coincidence that he was one of the five UH players to arrive at the arena less than an hour before tipoff due to final exams on Oahu.
"Some guys, that's tough. A guy like Zane is a real rhythm guy who has his little pregame routine which starts a couple hours before," Arnold said. "He isn't able to do it, sometimes it's hard for him to get in a rhythm. Hopefully we won't play any more games where (we) drive right up and get dressed. Give them a little more time."
Congratulations to Johnson and Miah Ostrowski for graduating on Oahu today. They flew back this morning and will rejoin the team tonight for a late practice.