POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Dec 07, 2010
It defied convention, but not logic.
When Hawaii men's basketball coach Gib Arnold started three true freshmen and two sophomores on the road against ranked BYU on Saturday, his eye was as much on the future as the present.
That's not to say the first-year coach went into the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City expecting to lose to the No. 21 Cougars. Hawaii did, 78-57, and fell to 5-2. But with no other true road games before the start of Western Athletic Conference play, it was an opportunity for a valuable lesson that Arnold felt he couldn't pass up.
"They (the freshmen) were able to see what that's like," Arnold said of the hostile environment against a quality team. "I think it's important that those guys get that learning experience early, because those guys gotta grow up fast if we're going to build this program. And that is a big part of them growing up."
The Rainbow Warriors eased back home safely on Sunday and had yesterday off from practice to recover from the 0-2 road trip. UH's next game is against Division II Hawaii Pacific on Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Of the three freshmen -- point guard Bobby Miles, shooting guard Bo Barnes and small forward Trevor Wiseman -- it was the first career start only for Miles. Barnes started at home against Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and Wiseman got the nod at Cal Poly.
Along with sophomores Joston Thomas and Vander Joaquim, it was a youthful lineup most coaches wouldn't dare to trot out. Arnold, though, isn't most coaches, and it wasn't a spontaneous decision. He said he thought of it after the 54-53 loss at Cal Poly. UH's seven active rotation players -- including usual starters Zane Johnson and Hiram Thompson -- all played between 26 and 29 minutes.
The reshuffling still resulted in UH's 13th straight road loss going back to 2008-09.
"I don't think you ever go into any game wanting to lose, so I'm not satisfied with losing two games on the road. Not at all," said Arnold, who noted Miles usually has taken good care of the ball and Barnes has improved his rebounding and defense. "I totally expect this team to win on the road. ... We need to expect to win. And you know, I think in time those wins will come."
Thompson wasn't affected and came off the bench to score a team-high 15 points. But Barnes and Johnson both struggled against the Cougars' guards and shot a combined 2-for-17.
Despite that, UH still has four players averaging double-figure scoring: Thompson, Thomas, Barnes and Johnson.
» Arnold said he would "probably" talk with junior point guard Anthony Salter by today's practice. Arnold had given Salter a leave from the team before the two-game road trip. Salter said his absence had to do with his low playing time.