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Rainbows ready to rock the house

By Brian McInnis

LAST UPDATED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 11, 2010

Expect the volume in the Stan Sheriff Center to reach ear-splitting decibels tomorrow night.

Sure, fan excitement surrounding the new-look Hawaii men's basketball team is high. Yet the real noise should come not from the stands, but from the sidelines.

New Hawaii coach Gib Arnold and Montana State coach Brad Huse must break in a bevy of newcomers as both teams open the season in the 47th Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic.

For Arnold, it'll be his first official game as a Division I head coach. Hawaii fans, don't stay quiet on his behalf.

"I hope it's really loud in the arena," Arnold said. "I think I'll be all right with having the players hear my voice, too. The louder the crowd is, the louder I'll have to be, and that's a good thing."

Montana State presents a fitting first hurdle for Arnold's transformed Rainbow Warriors. There are 11 Bobcats newcomers, including seven straight from high school.


» Tomorrow: Montana State vs. Hawaii, 7 p.m.; Cal State Fullerton vs. Central Michigan, 9:30

» TV: Oceanic Digital PPV Ch. 255

» Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM

Arnold will likely have seven players suited up for their first real game in a Hawaii uniform.

"Coach Arnold's done a good job since the day he got here to set it as a new team and a new culture, and it has been ever since (he arrived)," senior forward Bill Amis said.

Though both teams are overhauled, there is one significant difference. The Bobcats return their top two scorers from last season - All-Big Sky forward Bobby Howard (14.3 ppg) and swingman Eric Rush (11.1).

"I think we're just trying to figure out what we have," said Huse, in his fifth-year at MSU. "I think we have a decent base of kids. Some of them are going to be game-time decision to see how they respond."

There was plenty of guesswork in UH's scout of MSU (15-14, 10-6 Big Sky last season); there was no game film from this season to work with. But the consensus is the Bobcats can shoot and space the floor.

The likely UH starting lineup is Hiram Thompson at point guard, Zane Johnson at shooting guard, Joston Thomas at small forward, Amis at power forward and Vander Joaquim or Douglas Kurtz at center.

"My last first game of my career," said Thompson, the lone returning starter. "It'll be exciting ... there's always nerves before a game for me. I don't know how people feel, but I'll have some butterflies."

The Rainbows showed an eagerness to throw out a variety of defensive looks in their win over Chaminade. Besides their base man-to-man help scheme, UH applied two types of zone and some upcourt pressure.

"It's like a pitcher. We have our man-to-man defense is our fastball. And that's probably what we're going to try to bring as much as possible," Arnold said. "Then every once in a while we gotta throw a change-up, gotta throw some junk at them, to see how they react to that as well."

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