Archive for February, 2013

Spearman keeping at it

February 26th, 2013
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Many people may have written off a return this season by Hawaii junior guard Brandon Spearman, who went down with a severe ankle injury at Pacific a little more than a week ago.

Brandon Spearman is still not one of those people.

Spearman's been attacking his rehab hard with team trainer Lyn Nakagawa, and hasn't backed off from his hope to return to action in the Big West tournament March 14-16.

"Like I said, feeling like I'm going to be on the court come Big West tournament time," Spearman said. "It's responding real fast. It's healing fast. Kind of surprising a lot of people. I'm just going to keep up the hard work."

He was out of his protective boot while going through some slower-paced exercises during team practice on Tuesday. He still has the boot handy for protection.

"I've been doing heel-toe walks. Pretty much doing lateral stuff. A lot of agility stuff," Spearman said.

"At first I was on crutches. Got rid of those, now I'm in the boot. The boot's been feeling pretty good. I've been able to walk. It's protecting it, that's why I gotta wear it."

End of the Rainbow

February 13th, 2013
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Well, it's happened. The University of Hawaii and athletic director Ben Jay announced an official shift in nickname for it's men's sports teams from "Rainbows," "Rainbow Warriors" and "Warriors" from sport to sport to just "Warriors" for all its men's teams, effective July 1.

UH women's teams will remain known as "Rainbow Wahine."

You can read the Star-Advertiser's breaking news story on it written by Billy Hull here. There's also the scoop Dave Reardon had about the impending move in Wednesday's newspaper.

UH men's basketball — the primary concern of this blog — is one of the two most visible UH sports affected, along with UH baseball.

For the team itself, this is joyous news. UH coach Gib Arnold has consistently referred to his team as "Warriors," since he arrived in 2010, with mentions of the "Rainbow" few and far between. This season, you'd no longer hear cheers involving " 'Bows" at home games, and road jerseys under Arnold have sported simply "Warriors" on the front over the last three seasons.

To put it mildly, it's not a shock that he was in favor of the move.

"I think it's a good thing. I think change is good," Arnold said from Northern California on Wednesday after UH practice in preparation for Thursday's game at UC Davis. "I think we can be more united as far as the branding and everything goes. I see it as a positive."

I initially weighed in on the subject a little more than a year ago while the debate was hot. You can read that entry here.

Being that the change doesn't go into effect for several more months, you're going to keep seeing the team referred to as the Rainbow Warriors in HSA stories through the end of this season. Enjoy it while it lasts if you're a diehard of the old ways or count it down by the day if you're a proponent of the new law.

Change is coming. People have to accept that one way or another now.

Personally, I can't write only "Warriors" in a basketball story without thinking of the Golden State Warriors, so that's going to take some getting used to on my part.

Got any thoughts on this hot-button topic? Comment away below.

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Now then, onto current events with the, ahem, Rainbow Warriors. UH takes its five-game winning streak (three on the road) to UC Davis' Pavilion on Thursday night.

In case anyone forgot  — highly doubtful — the Aggies got 40 points on 14 shots from Corey Hawkins in a 93-82 win in Honolulu on Jan. 19. That was the only home loss in Big West play by the Rainbow Warriors.

A potential X-factor in the rematch is senior swingman Hauns Brereton, who was out with a bruised knee in the first meeting. Brereton's played well of late, scoring in double figures in four of five games since returning to the starting lineup.

"It's a chance to compete against them. That game I wasn't able to play," Brereton said. "They're feeling good about themselves, but we were missing a player. … they weren't missing a shot. I'm just excited to go and get back at 'em."

More on both the UH nickname situation and the UH hoops road trip — as well as the Wahine basketball homestand against UC Davis and Pacific — in Thursday's newspaper.

UH hoops updates // Tragedy at CSUF

February 4th, 2013
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Coming off its three-game road winning streak, the Hawaii men's basketball team was greeted with a pair of news items on Monday.

First off, junior forward Christian Standhardinger was named Big West Player of the Week for averaging 20.5 points and nine rebounds in the 72-68 win at UC Riverside and the 77-75 win at Cal State Fullerton. You could even throw in his 31 and 16 at UC Santa Barbara for likely getting the decision makers' attention going into the week.

He's really been on a tear of late and helped the team overcome some slow starts by Vander Joaquim. A well-deserved award (the team's second weekly honor this season) for the German Hustle Machine.

Secondly, the ESPN BracketBusters pairings were announced today. UH was paired up with ... drum roll please ... Northern Arizona of the Big Sky Conference.

Last year UH got a quality opponent out of the Big Sky in Montana, but it certainly doesn't seem to be the case this year — the Lumberjacks are 7-14 overall and 4-7 (seventh place) in their league. Perhaps it's fitting that this is slated to be the final year of BracketBusters (unless it gets reworked at some point), because even with a UH win, this qualifies as going out with a whimper. Remember the days of quality UH BracketBusters pairings with Kent State, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and Southern Illinois? Long gone.

I can tell you that at least one person who is excited for the pairing. My colleague Jason Kaneshiro spent two semesters as a Lumberjack in college before returning to UH.

So, back to the road winning streak. Critics could point out that the teams UH beat weren't world beaters by any stretch. That is entirely true. But three straight road wins is hard for a UH team to do no matter where the destinations are. As I wrote in today's paper, it's only happened four other times since UH joined a conference, the WAC in 1979.

And the way UH did it, coming back from double digits in the last two games, made it especially dramatic. The homecoming atmosphere at Cal State Fullerton lent a meaningful college atmosphere vibe to it, as well.

A note: The Miami Hurricanes, who were merely receiving votes when UH opened up against them in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, are up to No. 8 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 poll with a pretty amazing 8-0 start to Atlantic Coast Conference play. Another UH DHC opponent, Ole Miss of the SEC, was ranked but is back just outside of the poll.

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By now I'm sure most of you have heard about the deaths of Cal State Fullerton women's basketball assistant coach Monica Quan and her fiance. If you haven't, you can read about it here.

Here's is CSUF's tribute to Quan.

Pretty stunning and tragic stuff, especially considering UH just played before one of the best road crowds you're going to see at a Big West game. You have to feel for their team, school and AD Jim Donovan, who's still the new face of the Titans athletic department.

Worth noting in all this is that the Titans women play their final game of the regular season March 9 at UH. CSUF is near the bottom of the league standings at present, so it may or may not be their team's final game of the season — they need to finish top eight to make the conference tournament. If it is their last game, you can bet it will be pretty emotional.