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Arnold finds it tough scheduling UH's nonconference games

By Brian McInnis


Who wants to travel 3,000 miles to potentially lose?

That's the scheduling dilemma facing the Hawaii men's basketball team, which is trying hard to close out its nonconference slate for 2011-12 but is finding takers scarce for its last two openings.

Distance and the Rainbow Warriors' effectiveness at home always have been scheduling factors, but it's been tougher this year than in the past. Factors include rising travel costs and reluctance of playing a UH program on an upswing.

The Rainbow Warriors were 19-13 last season and made the postseason for the first time in seven seasons. In Gib Arnold's first year in Manoa, UH did a respectable job of defending its home court with a 14-5 record at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Not only that, Boise State left the Western Athletic Conference for the Mountain West starting in the coming season. It reduced the WAC regular season from 16 games to 14 and made UH hunt for two extra nonconference games.

"If it was this time last year, we'd be done," Arnold said. "With Boise leaving, we've found it pretty hard. We've asked every Pac-10 team, every Mountain West team to do a home-and-home, and haven't had anybody bite. It's somewhat of a backhanded compliment; they don't want to come here. They don't want to come and play us."

No timetable has been set for the schedule's release, but Arnold said assistant coach Benjy Taylor, who is in charge of scheduling, is "working hard" on it through the difficulties.

Arnold didn't see taking stand-alone nonconference road trips as an option. He figures home-and-home series are the best way to make it work, but getting takers even for those has been daunting.

He felt it had much to do with last season's success.

"I think what happened with a lot of the schools, especially the high major schools, those Pac-10 schools, it's a chance, they come out, and if we play well, we can knock one of those teams off when we shouldn't. And nobody wants to schedule that.

"We've definitely had a lot of feedback from coaches saying, ‘You know, we don't want to go out there and play; we don't know if we can win that game.' "

Arnold hasn't given up on trying to schedule future games with UCLA and USC (where he was an assistant before coming to UH) because of several UH players' strong ties to Los Angeles.

With the next recruiting period just starting, the UH coaches can take to the road again.

"It does help when you go out on the road and you're running into people you're trying to get ahold of or get back to, you're sitting next to them ... and we can hammer out that last game or two there in July," Arnold said. "That's kind of the game plan right now."

The Las Vegas Sun previously reported UNLV of the Mountain West will play a home-and-home series with UH starting on Dec. 31 in Honolulu next season, with the Rainbows traveling to Las Vegas the following season, but UH has not confirmed it.

The third annual Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic field is set, though bracket pairings haven't yet been announced. UH will play three of the following on Dec. 22, 23 and 25: Auburn (Southeastern), Clemson (Atlantic Coast), Kansas State (Big 12), Long Beach State (Big West), Southern Illinois (Missouri Valley), Texas-El Paso (Conference USA) and Xavier (Atlantic 10).

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