News that could dampen a huge victory hasn’t arrived — yet.
The Hawaii men’s basketball team found out yesterday that senior point guard Hiram Thompson didn’t suffer a broken arm in the second half of UH’s 69-67 overtime win over Nevada on Monday night. However, MRI results are still pending whether the starting ball-handler incurred severe ligament damage in his left (nonshooting) arm, UH coach Gib Arnold said yesterday.
"The swelling had to go down, it’s one of those deals where they had to wait and see," Arnold said. "But the X-ray did not show a break. There’s definitely some ligament damage in there, and how long (he’s out) or to what extent (of the damage) we still don’t know yet."
Arnold thought the results could come in today. Meanwhile, the sixth-place Rainbow Warriors (14-10, 5-7 Western Athletic Conference) prepare to leave tomorrow for Davis, Calif., site of their ESPNU BracketBusters Saturday game against UC Davis (9-16, 3-9 Big West).
At this late stage of the season — UH has only five regular-season games remaining before the WAC tournament — any significant damage would effectively mean the end of Thompson’s UH career. He started back in 2005-06 but went on a two-year LDS Church mission, prolonging his tenure.
Thompson is averaging 8.7 points and 2.6 assists per game, which is far under the pace he set in nonconference play. He’s battled a variety of ailments — some serious, some not so much — throughout his career.
But Thompson’s influence goes beyond his modest numbers. The quiet tri-captain commands respect through his example, if not his words.
Backup point guard Miah Ostrowski has proved himself worthy of the mantle of starting point guard, should Thompson miss significant time.
The 5-foot-9 junior out of Punahou averaged 10.7 points and 5.7 assists in 34.3 minutes off the bench in the three games prior to the Nevada win.
Though Ostrowski had just four points on Monday night, they turned out to be the biggest four points of the game, as he hit two floaters late in the shot clock in the final minute of overtime. Those two final UH baskets were enough to hold off the Wolf Pack, all but assuring the Rainbows of a spot in the WAC tournament.
"Those wins are always good because we always have to pull together and it just makes the team stronger, you know," a jubilant Ostrowski said after the game. "Getting a win like that, it builds confidence and it’s just a good win for us. They beat us at (their) home, so we had to pay them back in a close one."
If Ostrowski becomes the starter, freshman Bobby Miles — who had a 10-assist game against Chicago State in December — would become the primary backup. Miles started 11 games around the middle of the season, but has seen his playing time decline sharply with Ostrowski’s recent strong play.
Thompson went out of the game about 2 minutes into the second half when he dribbled up the sideline on a fast break, but tripped near the baseline by the UH bench. He braced himself with his left arm as he went down, but retained possession and called timeout.
"I remember when it happened, he stood up and looked right at me and said, ‘I’m out. You gotta take me out,’ " Arnold said. "He knew pretty immediately that it was hurt."
Nonetheless, Arnold said he was "cautiously optimistic" about a quick recovery for his starter.