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UH hopes it won’t be point-less during Classic

Brian McInnis
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FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARADVERTISER.COM
Bobby Miles will be Hawaii's only healthy point guard at this week's Diamond Head Classic.

Some scenarios, particularly those of the doomsday variety, are best not to think about. Unfortunately for Hawaii coach Gib Arnold, there is little choice.

Arnold’s Rainbow Warriors march into the second Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic tomorrow armed with just one true ball-handler – freshman point guard Bobby Miles – with the news that senior guard Hiram Thompson is all but ruled out for the nationally televised tournament with a stiff back.

UH’s first-round opponent in a strong second-year field is Florida State of the Atlantic Coast Conference, a team that deconstructs its foes’ offenses like an angry wrecking ball operator. The numbers bear that out: The Seminoles are second nationally in opponent field-goal percentage (33.7) and aren’t far behind in points allowed (58.6) and shot blocking (7.6).

Host UH (7-2) follows against either Utah or Butler on Thursday followed by a foe from the other side of the eight-team bracket on Christmas Day.

DIAMOND HEAD CLASSIC DAY 1

Florida State vs. Hawaii

» Tomorrow, 8 p.m., at Stan Sheriff Center

» Also: Mississippi State vs. Washington State, 10 a.m.; San Diego vs.

No. 15 Baylor, noon; Utah vs. Butler, 6 p.m.

» TV: All first-round games on ESPNU.

» Radio: UH games on KKEA, 1420-AM

"It’s a big concern, with one point guard," Arnold said. "You’d like to have three. At the least two, and we’ll be down to one, looks like. You know, Bobby’s solid, he’s a freshman, but he’s done a great job and it’ll be a big, big opportunity for him to play against the No. 1 defensive team in the country with the ball pressure. So he’s going to grow up real fast."

The Rainbow Warriors have performed well since the departure of two reserve guards, with two blowout wins over inferior competition. But combined with injuries to senior captains Thompson and Bill Amis (out with foot stress fracture), UH’s depth is, well, kiddie-pool shallow. Eight Rainbows will likely suit up for the next three days against some of the toughest competition they will face all season.

Miles, who is coming off a career-high 10 assists against Chicago State, thinks he’s ready to hold the fort. UH’s emphasis with Thompson and Amis is getting them back for the Western Athletic Conference season starting Dec. 29 at Utah State.

"Just hoping (Hiram) gets better soon, as fast as possible," Miles said. "(In my career) I always had someone else that the team trusted with the ball and stuff, but right now, for the next game, it’s me getting up the court and getting the team involved in the plays."

Arnold said in the event Miles must sit with foul trouble, he will try a ball-handling committee, including guard Zane Johnson and forward Trevor Wiseman. Wiseman was Golden Valley High’s point forward last year.

"If they ask me to do it, I’d be glad to do it. I love doing that," Wiseman said. "I’ve been waiting to do it. That’s where I’m most comfortable at, running down the court. I like a fast-paced game."

The Seminoles (9-2) are adept in disrupting that with traps and presses, led by 6-foot-9 whirling dervish/forward Chris Singleton, the reigning ACC defensive player of the year. He leads the team in points, rebounds, blocks and steals.

The last time UH and FSU met, a two-game series in Honolulu in 1971, UH swept the eventual national runner-up. That included an infamous forfeit by FSU in the first game, when they trailed 30-10 and coach Hugh Durham refused to leave the court after being ejected by the officials. The current FSU coach, Leonard Hamilton, had no knowledge of it, and was more concerned with the progress of the current ‘Noles.

"We feel that we have a ways to go. Our defense has been solid," Hamilton said. "We’re a team that’s trying to continue to keep winning games while we develop. And hopefully we can develop a little more while we’re in this tournament."

 

CAPSULES

Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (7-2)
Conference: WAC

Coach: Gib Arnold (first year)

Top players: G Zane Johnson (12.6 ppg, .387 3PT%), F Joston Thomas (12.1 ppg, 5.9 rpg), G Bo Barnes (10.1 ppg, .462 3PT%).

Notes: UH is undefeated at home in six games. … Johnson and Barnes have hit 48 of team’s 68 3-pointers. … plus-10.1 rebound margin is ninth in the country and .402 team 3-point percentage is 24th.

Florida State Seminoles (9-2)
Conference: Atlantic Coast Coach: Leonard Hamilton (eighth year)

Top players: F Chris Singleton (14.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 30 stl, 26 blk), G Deividas Dulkys (10.8 ppg).

Notes: Second nationally in defensive field-goal percentage at .337 and third in blocked shots at 7.6 per game. … Singleton notched a triple-double (22 pts, 11 reb, 10 stl) against UNC-Greensboro on Nov. 14.

Washington State Cougars (8-1)
Conference: Pac-10.

Coach: Ken Bone (second year)

Top players: G Klay Thompson (21.0 ppg, 5.0 apg), G Faisal Aden (16.9 ppg, .412 3PT%).

Notes: Thompson and Aden are highest-scoring tandem in the tournament. … WSU is receiving votes in AP Top 25. … Cougars are fifth nationally in defensive field-goal percentage at .358.

Butler Bulldogs (6-4)
Conference: Horizon

Coach: Brad Stevens (fourth year)

Top players: F Matt Howard (17.9 ppg, 8.1 rpg), G Shelvin Mack (14.7 ppg, 3.6 apg).

Notes: Last year’s national runner-up is better than record indicates, with losses at Louisville, vs. No. 1 Duke, at Xavier and to Evansville in overtime. … UH rallied to beat Butler in overtime for the 2002 Rainbow Classic championship.

No. 15 Baylor Bears (7-1)
Conference: Big 12

Coach: Scott Drew (eighth season)

Top players: G LaceDarius Dunn (21.8 ppg, .489 3PT%), F Quincy Acy (14.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg), F Perry Jones III (13.9 ppg, 8.9 rpg).

Notes: Bears, who made the Elite Eight last year, were unbeaten and ranked No. 9 until 68-64 loss to Gonzaga on Saturday. … BU is second nationally in scoring defense at 53.9 ppg. … Dunn has played five games since weathering a suspension to start the season. He needs seven points to move into second on Bears’ career scoring list.

Utah Runnin’ Utes (7-3)
Conference: Mountain West

Coach: Jim Boylen (fourth year)

Top players: F Will Clyburn (19.5 ppg, 8.9 rpg), G Josh Watkins (14.8 ppg, 3.7 apg).

Notes: Former WAC rival has beaten UH more times (47) than any other foe, though the potential second-round opponents haven’t played since 1999. … Clyburn, a JUCO transfer, hit the go-ahead 3 in an 86-84 win in Utes’ last game, vs. Boise State.

Mississippi State Bulldogs (7-3)
Conference: Southeastern

Coach: Rick Stansbury (13th year)

Top players: G Ravern Johnson (22.4 ppg, .468 3PT%), F Kodi Augustus (12.1 ppg, 8.0 rpg).

Notes: Bulldogs hop from one island to the other after 88-57 loss to Virginia Tech in the Bahamas on Saturday. … F Renardo Sidney made his much-anticipated official debut in that game with 12 points. … Star point guard Dee Bost is still ineligible and won’t appear in the DHC.

San Diego Toreros (2-8)
Conference: West Coast

Coach: Bill Grier (fourth year)

Top players: G Darian Norris (11.0 ppg), F Ken Rancifer (10.8 ppg, .425 3PT%).

Notes: Only team with a losing record in the tournament. … Toreros have yet to beat a Division I opponent this season, with only wins over Occidental and La Verne. … 10 different USD players have started a game this season.

 

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