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Diamond Head Classic Preview

By Brian McInnis

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 02:26 a.m. HST, Dec 22, 2012


ARIZONA WILDCATS (9-0)

Conference: Pac-12
Coach: Sean Miller (fourth season)
Key players: G Mark Lyons (13.9 ppg, 3.0 apg, .415 3PT%); G Nick Johnson (13.6 ppg, 3.5 apg, 3.0 spg, .438 3PT%);  F Solomon Hill (12.9 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.3 apg, .410 3PT%)
Notes: No. 4 Wildcats are highest-ranked team to appear in any DHC … Lyons, a Xavier transfer, played in the DHC last season with the Musketeers. He is one of two non-UH players set to appear in the event more than once, along with SDSU’s JJ O’Brien, a Utah transfer … Miller played for Pittsburgh in the 1990 Rainbow Classic and lost 84-82 to UH in the title game … Wildcats are 12th in the country, shooting .408 on 3-pointers as a team.
Miller: “I think what we want to do is to enjoy each other and the fact that we are in Hawaii and make the most of the opportunity. We want to try to win every game, and at the same time enjoy the fact that it is the holiday season. We’re going there to try to win the tournament, knowing full well that it’s a very understated field.”

E. TENNESSEE ST. BUCCANEERS (2-7)

Conference: Atlantic Sun
Coach: Murry Bartow (10th season)
Key players: F Lester Wilson (17.9 ppg, 6.8 rpg, .392 3PT%); F Hunter Harris (7.9 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 1.3 bpg)
Notes: Four projected starters are out, including two key players who combined to score 19.7 ppg last year (Sheldon Cooley and Marcus Dubose). They were dismissed for violations of team rules after two games … ETSU was a late replacement team for Texas Tech, which dropped out of the field … Bucs are expected to dress only eight players at the DHC … former ’Bow Petras Balocka started his college career at ETSU.
Bartow: “Struggle is the word. I’ve never had anything like this. … We’re just trying to improve, take teaching moments out of every game. We’re in a one-bid league, so if you can build your team, you don’t panic. You want this to be a great team-bonding deal.”

HAWAII RAINBOW WARRIORS (5-3)

Conference: Big West
Coach: Gib Arnold (third season)
Key players: F Christian Standhardinger (17.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.6 spg); C Vander Joaquim (13.9 ppg, 7.3 rpg, .519 FG%); G Brandon Spearman (12.5 ppg, .353 3PT%); F Hauns Brereton (11.0 ppg, 6.4 rpg, .342 3PT%)
Notes: Host team is 5-4 in the DHC, finishing fourth in 2009 and fifth in 2010 and ’11. … UH has four players averaging 6.4 rebounds or better. … Point guard Jace Tavita is tied for 16th nationally in assists at 6.3 per game. … Arnold was an assistant with the USC team that won the inaugural DHC in 2009. He did not play UH.
Arnold: “I think it’s a great field from top to bottom. I really like (the challenge posed). It’s next to impossible to get these caliber of teams to come to play us on a single game.”

INDIANA ST. SYCAMORES (5-3)

Conference: Missouri Valley
Coach: Greg Lansing (third season)
Key players: G Jake Odum (15.5 ppg, .522 FG%, 4.2 apg); F Manny Arop (11.8 ppg, 6.8 rpg)
Notes: Larry Bird’s alma mater has lost to two ranked teams this season, 86-59 at then-No. 13 UCLA and 77-68 in OT vs. No. 23 New Mexico. … Sycamores have held opponents to 63 points or fewer five times this season … Odum is in the ISU top 10 in career assists and steals. … Lansing needs one more victory to tie John Wooden for 12th all-time in victories at ISU (44).
Lansing: “(We’re) just a really inexperienced team. Only Odum played a lot (last year), we’re playing eight, nine new guys. We’re still finding our way. … we’ve showed spurts of really good play but we’ve also showed spurts where we weren’t very good.”

MIAMI HURRICANES (7-1)

Conference: Atlantic Coast
Coach: Jim Larranaga (second season)
Key players: G Durand Scott (15.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, .588 FG%); G Shane Larkin (14.8 ppg, 2.0 spg, .517 3PT%); C Reggie Johnson (12.6 ppg, 10.1 rpg, 1.9 bpg)
Notes: Larranaga, who took George Mason to the 2006 Final Four, is tied with Tubby Smith at 19th on the winningest active coaches list with 490 victories. … The U is 5-0 since Scott’s return coming off a six-game ban for impermissible benefits … Hurricanes have five players at 6-10 or taller.
Larranaga: “ESPN does a fantastic job of creating these exempt events at some incredible locations. Coming here is a special time for our players. We only have one player who’s been to Hawaii. The tournament itself has got a great field. Of course, Hawaii, the host team, has a ton of talent.”

MISSISSIPPI REBELS (8-1)
Conference: Southeastern
Coach: Andy Kennedy (seventh season)
Key players: G Marshall Henderson (17.8 ppg, .353 3PT%); F Murphy Holloway (14.8 ppg, 10.4 rpg, .577 FG%); F Reginald Buckner (10.3 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.9 bpg)
Notes: Rebels’ only previous trip to Hawaii was in 2000 … Henderson leads the SEC in scoring … PG Jarvis Summers is fourth nationally in assist/TO ratio (4.9) … Rebels have scored 90-plus points four times this season and are eighth nationally at 82.6 ppg … Bucker is already the program record-holder in blocks (259).
Kennedy: “We’re excited about the opportunity to be on this beautiful island. Any time you have an ESPN-run event, you know it’s going to be quality on and off the court. … The biggest thing we tried to prepare for is the 11 a.m. local tip. We started to come west (73-70 win at Loyola Marymount on Wednesday) to make that acclimation.”

SAN DIEGO ST. AZTECS (9-1)

Conference: Mountain West
Coach: Steve Fisher (14th season)
Key players: G Jamaal Franklin (18.6 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 3.1 apg); G Chase Tapley (13.9 ppg, 1.8 spg, .458 3PT%); G Xavier Thames (10.4 ppg, 3.0 apg, .429 3PT%)
Notes: Aztecs, a former UH WAC foe, get a refresher of the Stan Sheriff a season before they join the Big West … Fisher coached his Fab Five Michigan team to the 1992 Rainbow Classic title with an 86-74 win over No. 2 Kansas, which had current USF coach Rex Walters at guard. … Senior forward DeShawn Stephens (7.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg) had UH as a finalist for his services out of Santa Monica College before choosing SDSU.
Fisher: “We’re definitely still getting better as a whole each and every day in practice. I really feel confident of how we’re jelling together. From the first game until now, we’ve made some major improvements and that’s what we have to keep on doing day by day.”

SAN FRANCISCO DONS (5-4)

Conference: West Coast
Coach: Rex Walters (fifth season)
Key players: G De’End Parker (15.4 ppg, .593 3PT%); F Cole Dickerson (13.6 ppg, 13.1 rpg); G Cody Doolin (11.7 ppg, 6.3 apg).
Notes: Though there are no seniors on the Dons’ roster, Dickerson is the country’s top rebounder, while Parker is third in 3-point percentage and Doolin 15th in assists.  … Behind Doolin, the Dons ended UH’s postseason run in Gib Arnold’s first season with a 77-74 comeback win at the Stan Sheriff in the CIT second round. …  Walters made his USF debut at Hawaii to open the 2008 season.
Walters: “Coming to Hawaii is always something you circle on your calendar, whether it’s for a preseason tournament like we did five years ago, or the the CIT, which was a great experience for our guys. … We’re young, but talented. Guys are still trying to find themselves, and that’s OK.”






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