By Brian McInnis
Hawaii coach Gib Arnold entertained the Honolulu Quarterback Club with some general UH hoops updates on Monday. Here were some of the main items discussed at the Maple Garden Restaurant. The food was tasty.
>> He led off by calling Christian Standhardinger and Isaac Fotu "two of the best forwards in the conference" as part of why he is anticipating the coming Big West season.
>> Fotu turned down at least one fairly lucrative pro contract from a team in New Zealand to return for his sophomore season. A quarter-million was the figure Arnold tossed out, but stay tuned for specifics from Fotu when he arrives in about a week. "He said he's exactly where he wants to be."
>> Standhardinger continues to train with the German national team, though there are no major international competitions this summer. The real test is if he can latch on next summer.
>> The coach talked up academics and regular class checks as part of the team's strategy for success. "This last year our team had the highest GPA in school history," he said, though it was not clarified if the spring semester was included in that assertion.
>> Arnold again posited that "I think we'll be the most athletic we've ever been" with the influx of Michael Thomas and Aaron Valdes as eligible players. He said he hopes to press to an extent in the coming year.
>> It's clear Keith Shamburger is still the point guard in waiting. It's been told before, but Arnold threw out the anecdote of telling Shamburger "you made a mistake" in the postgame handshake line between UH and San Jose State after each Rainbow Warriors head-to-head win over two seasons, until Shamburger finally told him, "Coach, I made a mistake" as a sophomore.
>> Arnold desires home-and-home series with the new coaches at USC and UCLA, though actually getting such an arrangement to transpire will be another matter entirely. He does hope to schedule Pittsburgh either on Oahu or on Maui around Pitt's appearance in the EA Sports Maui Invitational in the fall of 2014. He said he's been in touch with Jamie Dixon on the subject.
>> Speaking of Jamies, there is apparently still at least a little hope that ex-video coordinator/fan cult hero Jamie Smith can be brought back for a second season. Smith is back in Europe, and would still have to jump through some visa hoops to get here. But Arnold was unequivocal that he wants him back.
>> The 2013 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic bracket hasn't been released yet, but Arnold said he thinks Oregon State will appear on the same side of the bracket as UH. OSU head coach Craig Robinson is the brother in law of President Obama, and the POTUS should be on the island while the DHC is played if his vacation schedule is true to form as the last four years of his tenure. "I want that to happen," Arnold said of a matchup with the Beavers. "We want President Obama to come to a game."
>> There's been some talk of a future trip to Australia and/or New Zealand as an NCAA-sanctioned international tour in a future summer, ala the "Warriors to Asia" trip to China in 2011. Still a ways off in the planning.
>> Current and incoming UH players arrive the first week of July, starting with Fotu on the 2nd. Watch for them at the College Summer League at Manoa Park Tuesdays (some Thursdays) and Saturdays. I'll be out there tonight to scope the league before the UH players arrive.