POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Mar 20, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 7:55 a.m. HST, Mar 20, 2011
With about 5 minutes left in last night’s game, I started to really think about how much I’d miss watching Bill Amis play basketball.
Sure, Hawaii was up by seven, and then by nine when the senior forward scored with 4:11 left. I wasn’t thinking that would be the final basket of his UH career, and the next 4:11 would be his last minutes as a college hoopster.
The thought was more that the Rainbows would win, but this would be pau hana for Amis in front of the home crowd either way. Next stop on the CIT schedule-as-you-go was to be at Santa Clara.
It wasn’t supposed to end with a home loss. But, in the end, the Rainbows were betrayed by some miscues and the will of the USF Dons. Errors of youth, errors of fatigue.
The turning point: USF’s Michael Williams took over, scoring five points in the space of 16 seconds, partly thanks to a foul to the head by Zane Johnson. Another big foul against Trevor Wiseman behind the 3-point line gave Rashard Green three free throws, and he made them all with little more than a minute left.
Tired players make mistakes, tired players commit fouls and miss free throws. They also have a little bit less explosiveness. Coach Gib Arnold said he probably should’ve rested the starters a little bit more.
Meanwhile, the Rainbows point guard and crowd favorite, Miah Ostrowski, missed free throws and turned the ball over. Ostrowski’s story wasn’t supposed to end this way either — but at least it goes on, with football practice next week and another half a basketball season next year.
And the rest of the young Hawaii team will learn from this. They’ll have a long time to think about it, to work on closing out wins.
UH controlled the tempo, but USF never got out of striking range. If the CIT is the rinky-dink joke of a tourney some contend it is, the Dons missed the memo, and so did the Rainbows. For the players, they might be wishing they were in the NCAAs while watching it during the day. But that stuff doesn’t matter for the 40 minutes they’re on the court.
The Rainbows can take some solace in that the mistakes they made were not the most onerous and boneheaded committed by college basketball players yesterday. Those occurred in the final seconds of Butler’s win over Pitt.
AMIS FINISHED WITH 12 points and 13 rebounds — a typical night for him. His leadership was as important to this team few expected to win 19 games as the numbers.
“It’s hard to recruit that. It’s hard to recruit mature and leadership,” Arnold said.
At first, Amis turned down our interview requests. Who could blame him after a loss like that. But he reconsidered, and none of us were surprised he did.
He patiently answered several painful to ponder questions about why the Rainbows lost. And, as he is a person who can’t help but be classy, he also can’t help but be humorous without trying. Even after a painful loss.
“In the end they got a Christmas present ... an Easter present ... whatever’s coming up.”
ARNOLD DOESN’T SHY away after a tough loss. And he spoke in depth about the final few minutes.
Was the collapse more about coaching or execution?
“Probably a little bit of both. There were some heavy legs, maybe I should’ve substituted more earlier,” he said. “If you look at the game-changing plays, we didn’t hit free throws at the end, and had an intentional foul. I don’t know how to uncoach that. A couple turnovers. I’ll go back and look at the tape, there’s probably a couple of things I would have done differently.
“Sometimes the ball just bounces the wrong way,” he said. “I like to remember this for the first 38 minutes against a good team that didn’t give up.”
And UH fans can remember the 2010-2011 Rainbows as a team that exceeded expectations and has a bright future. It’s just too bad Bill Amis won’t be out on the court with them.
Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at email@example.com, his “Quick Reads” blog at staradvertiser.com and twitter.com/davereardon.