By Brian McInnis
It's that time again, ladies and gentlemen. College basketball teams across the country tipped off action on Friday, and UH is no different tonight against Tennessee State in the 49th Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Rainbow Classic.
Remember, it's a 6:30 p.m. start for the Rainbow Warriors against the Tigers. New Mexico State and Western Michigan follow, likely tipping that one off around 9 p.m.
Senior guard Brandon Spearman will miss this tournament, and it's probable backup point guard Quincy Smith will be out for the opener with lower back tightness (though he may dress). Redshirt freshmen Aaron Valdes and Dyrbe Enos are poised to soak up some minutes from those two respective injured players.
There's a real possibility that Enos, the new backup ballhandler, will see important minutes against TSU, WMU and NMSU.
"It's a good opportunity for me," said Enos, the 2012 state player of the year out of Kamehameha. "I'm going to try to play the best I can, as hard as I can. Leave everything on the court. Just take advantage of this opportunity.
"I think my shot's been good. Playmaking-wise, I still gotta work on that, but I feel as long as we run our offense we should be fine."
One thing to keep an eye on tonight off the actual court: the UH student attendance. Ex-video coordinator Jamie Smith helped the program make huge strides in that regard last year, but Smith is cooling his heels back in his native Britain right now. Will all the momentum of that section and the themed nights regress to mediocre participation without him? It bears watching.
If you haven't seen it yet, check out our 2013-14 UH basketball preview section. Our design team did an outstanding job.
Spearman understandably didn't want to talk to the media in the days immediately following his freak injury in the BYUH exhibition. He's still very frustrated with the situation — especially coming off his ankle injury late last year — but he was ready to talk in the mid-week.
Here's what he had to say on his status.
"Right now everything's going good," Spearman said. "Just getting a lot of rehab in. That's pretty much it. I have no time set on when I'll be back or whatever, but I'm gonna try to be back for my guys as soon as possible.
"This one's definitely different (from last year). This one's a high ankle sprain so it definitely takes some time. But there's nothing I can do, just getting rehab. That's pretty much it. ... Pretty much just stim (treatment) and ice. Working out in the pool a lot. Just been doing a lot of stretching. A lot of stuff like that. It's helping it a lot. And only time can tell."
The one positive for Spearman is he's mobile enough to get shots up on his own in and around practices. Long rebounds are tough; he can't chase after them.
"Just working on my form. Putting up a lot of free throws," he said. "That's pretty much it, that's all I can do."
Spearman shakes his head about the play on the BYUH tipoff that caused his injury. An opponent crashed into his legs around the circle, causing him to turn his foot.
"It was a scary moment," he said. "I dunno, I'm still frustrated about it, honestly. I wish it wouldn't have happened to me, but I guess plays like that happen. Never heard of a play like that happening but I mean, it happened to me. So I'm pretty much frustrated about it but there's nothing I can do. It's basketball. It's life. It's going to happen. I'll try my best to get back on the court as soon as possible."