By Brian McInnis
Hawaii ramped up its offense to its highest gear yet against an overmatched opponent on Thursday night.
It made for an aesthetically pleasing display as the Rainbow Warriors put up 114 points — their seventh-most ever — and had their third-largest margin of victory at 51 points over Hawaii Hilo.
UH pushed the pace throughout and got 12 different players in the scoring column. Freshmen Dyrbe Enos (nine points) and Jack Hackman (three) scored for the first time in their careers, making for an all-around feel-good night, unless if you were a Vulcans fan. You had to feel a little bit for UHH and new coach GE Coleman coming over the morning of the game and playing a night after a win over Western State.
UH wasn't exactly running up the score, but it didn't dial back the pace, either, with its second and third units in.
"I did think it was a good chance (to keep practicing going up and down)," UH coach Gib Arnold said. "We're averaging 80 possessions a game (going into the Hilo game), which is very high. I told the guys before the game I wanted 50 to 60 of those to be out of our fast break, and then we'd only have to call 10 to 15 plays after dead balls or whatnot. And I think we had more than 80 possessions in this game. But the majority of our points came off the break and came out of our defense. You want that scoring. That's the way you want to play."
UH point guards Keith Shamburger and Quincy Smith combined for 15 assists against two turnovers, as UH maintained its stellar turnover team average of just 11 per game.
UHH hung with UH for about the first five minutes as guard Darnell Williams hit six of his first eight shots and the Vulcans got through UH's fullcourt pressure for some easy baskets. Still, the 'Bows took a 14-point lead into the break and exploded for 66 points from there as the Vulcans wore down.
"Give credit to Hilo," Arnold said. "They did some good things to keep us out of our offense and made some adjustments to our press, and broke our press. Give them credit. We were a little deeper, a little bigger and we wore them down. That was why you saw that big differentiation between that first and second half. But give them a lot of credit."
Now, UH is obviously not going to be able to get this kind of output against a larger, more physically opponent. But it was encouraging to see the 'Bows come out motivated against a Division II squad they probably could have gotten past with a "B" effort.
The 'Bows took Friday off save some weightlifting and film work. Saturday morning, they got back at it in Gym 2 to work on the next game Wednesday vs. New Orleans.
I depart Sunday morning for the 30th EA Sports Maui Invitational, which features another stellar field with AP Top 25 teams Syracuse, Gonzaga and Baylor in the mix. Our superb utilityman, Jason Kaneshiro, will cover the New Orleans game for us.
Look for a little something in Tuesday's paper on dunkaholic Aaron Valdes.