Hawaii forward Bill Amis worked his way back from two separate foot injuries and months of frustration not for himself, but for his fellow Rainbow Warriors. Being named to another team yesterday hasn’t changed that outlook.
Amis earned All-Western Athletic Conference second-team recognition yesterday, as voted by the league’s nine coaches. Junior guard Zane Johnson was the only other player recognized for fifth-seeded UH (18-11, 8-8 WAC), which rallied after an 0-5 WAC start.
"It’s good, but right now just trying to focus on more team stuff, and maybe I’ll look back after the season and kinda reflect on it and think about it a little bit more," Amis said. The 6-foot-9 tri-captain averaged 15.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and a WAC-best 2.2 blocks, despite missing a significant portion of the season to a foot injury.
ALL-WAC FIRST TEAM
» La’Shard Anderson, Boise State, G 30 points in two games against UH
» Troy Gillenwater, New Mexico State, F 19 points in two games against UH
» Adrian Oliver, San Jose State, G 28 points in two games against UH
» Brockeith Pane, Utah State, G 22 points in two games against UH
» Tai Wesley, Utah State, F 39 points in two games against UH
The 6-6 Johnson, UH’s leading scorer with a 15.8 average, was named to the All-Newcomer team and was an All-WAC honorable mention.
"I think both deserve it and both had a year that warranted some accolades from the conference. I’m glad for them," UH coach Gib Arnold said shortly after the team’s short flight from San Jose, Calif., to Las Vegas, site of the WAC tournament starting Wednesday.
Fifth-seeded UH plays eighth-seeded San Jose State (15-14, 5-11) at the Orleans Arena in a rematch of the same extended mainland trip. The Rainbow Warriors won at SJSU 77-71 on Thursday, but came out flat in an 85-70 loss at Fresno State on Saturday.
It’s still been an impressive WAC season for the Rainbows, who were picked to finish last by the WAC coaches and media in the preseason.
"I think we’ve done a really good job of battling through adversity all year, through injuries and through tough times," Amis said. "We’ve never given up and we’ve always fought. So I’m real proud to be a part of this team."
After Utah State won its fourth straight regular-season title and earned the top seed in the tournament, it received a haul of awards. Aggies senior forward Tai Wesley was named the WAC Player of the Year and Stew Morrill was the Don Haskins Coach of the Year.
The WAC first team was Wesley, USU guard Brockeith Pane, SJSU guard Adrian Oliver, Boise State guard La’Shard Anderson and New Mexico State forward Troy Gillenwater.
Besides Amis, the second team was USU guard Brian Green, Nevada forward Dario Hunt, Idaho guard Jeff Ledbetter and Fresno State center Greg Smith.
Johnson was joined on the newcomer team by Nevada guard Deonte Burton, Nevada forward Olek Czyz, USU’s Pane and Fresno State guard Tim Steed. Burton was the WAC Freshman of the Year.
One of the biggest pieces in UH’s resurgent year, sophomore center Vander Joaquim (11.9 points, 9.1 rebounds in WAC play), was not recognized. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own players.
"I don’t know if the voting would have gone exactly the way I would have voted, but I’m just one vote," Arnold said. "Vander’s young. There aren’t many young guys on many of those things. Vander will definitely have his day before he graduates."
Arnold also hinted that he would have liked to seen Amis on the first team.
UH ranked second in the WAC in defensive field-goal percentage at 39.2 and fourth in points allowed at 66.7, but didn’t place any players on the all-defensive team.
Arnold chalked that up to an emphasis on team defense over an emphasis on a single player to make plays. Amis, Joaquim and versatile freshman stopper Trevor Wiseman were candidates.
"I was pretty surprised we didn’t have anybody on the all-defensive team," Amis said. "But nothing really you can do about it; it’s the way the voting goes."