March 11th, 2012
First, that was an impressive effort by New Mexico State last night in their 82-57 demolition of Louisiana Tech to win the 2012 WAC championship, and automatic NCAA Tournament berth. Congratulations to them and coach Marvin Menzies.
It turned out that Hawaii gave the Aggies their biggest test of the tournament, even after falling behind 17-0 and 22-2 in a 92-81 loss.
You could rightly say that the Rainbow Warriors lost their last six of seven games of the season. Or that this season was a disappointment for not achieving a winning record or making a postseason tournament.
But the team did something no UH squad had done since 2003, reached a WAC semifinal, and was a few minutes shy of making the championship game. And there won't be a summer of bemoaning why the team quit — there shouldn't be, anyway — because what was seen in Vegas was inspiring, especially under the circumstances.
As Shaq Stokes said, "We found our mojo, but it was too late."
There's plenty to repair and improve over the summer, most notably the team's rep as a defense-first outfit that Gib Arnold established in Year 1.
Player movement is likely, if the last two offseasons under Arnold is any guide. Stay tuned.
I left the tournament most impressed with Louisiana Tech coach Michael White.
In his first year at LaTech coming over as an assistant in the SEC, White returned the Bulldogs to respectability, and with little more than what was already there when he arrived.
Also, class move by UH director of operations Kerry Rupp, the former LaTech coach. He stayed to high-five his former players after their championship game.
Women's basketball associate coach Gavin Petersen is the first confirmed applicant for the Rainbow Wahine head coaching job.
He should have a strong candidacy. His place on staff this year was an important one, even if it didn't result in more wins than the previous year.
Petersen carries himself like a head coach. He should get a hard look, as he received three years ago when he was a finalist for the job that went to Dana Takahara-Dias.