Sports Watch

Bill Kwon

By Bill Kwon

Thursday, February 25, 1999

Wallace to get honor
that is long overdue

THIS season hasn't been a keeper for Riley Wallace. You'd have to go back to 1987 -- his first year as coach of the University of Hawaii men's basketball team, when it went 4-25 -- to find a season as forgettable.

The 'Bows, 5-19 going into tonight's game against San Jose State, close out their season Saturday night against Fresno State.

All that is left to play for is pride. The 'Bows aren't going anywhere -- not even to the Western Athletic Conference playoffs next week in Las Vegas, which is the first time that has happened under Wallace.

Still, the Rainbows, especially the four seniors on the team, deserve to be recognized Saturday night at the Stan Sheriff Center. Mike Robinson, Erin Galloway, Casey Cartwright and Bryan Moeller will take their final bows on Senior Night and take their final, symbolic shots at the hoop after the game.

"It will be a different feeling after the last two years," said Wallace. "The season didn't quite work out for them like the way they wanted. Still, they've had good years here to remember."

Robinson, in particular. He had a hand in 47 victories in a Rainbow uniform.

Even though, at times, Robinson played like he had a chip on his shoulder, nobody tried harder to put the team in the win column.

ALSO, who can ever forget Galloway's up-up-and-up leap to block a shot in the victory over Kansas last season that was repeatedly shown as a highlight moment by ESPN. "Da-da-dum. Da-da-dum."

Cartwright had his moments, as did Moeller, coming off the bench whenever muscle was needed under the boards.

The concept of Senior Day was originated by North Carolina's Dean Smith on Feb. 24, 1962, in his first season as coach of the Tar Heels.

Smith began the practice of starting the seniors on his roster in the final regular-season home game. Smith said it's because he remembered how he felt when his old college coach, Phog Allen, didn't start him in his senior year at Kansas.

However, no one does Senior Night in basketball or Senior Walk in football to a better turn than Hawaii.

For the departing Rainbow seniors, aloha means goodbye and also a lot of leis and poignant memories.

"It was Eddie Inouye's idea," Wallace said. When Inouye was UH's sports information director, he told Wallace, "Hey, we do that for football, why not start one for basketball?"

"It has turned out to be a nice thing," Wallace said.

Inouye also suggested the "Midnight Ohana," UH's version of a 12:01 a.m. debut of the basketball season popularized by many colleges elsewhere.

The "Midnight Ohana" with all the optimism of the season now seems so long ago. But there will be other "Midnight Ohanas" in seasons to come, accompanied by renewed optimism each time.

WITH that in mind, Wallace will spend two days at the WAC Tournament in Las Vegas and then hit the recruiting road, trying to watch as many state tournaments as possible. Among his projected stops are Idaho, Texas, Iowa and Oklahoma.

He'll return and then go to his 28th straight NCAA Final Four, this year in Tampa, Fla., March 27 and 29.

Riley's Final Four picks? Duke, Stanford, Michigan State and Auburn.

But Wallace will make one well-deserved stop en route. On March 26, in Shreveport, La., Riley Wallace will be inducted into the Centenary Hall of Fame.

It will be a special moment for Wallace, who spent 15 years at Centenary as a player, assistant coach and then head coach. His wife, Joan, and his brother, Loren, are also alums.

With all the downers that the basketball 'Bows have suffered this season, it's nice to see Wallace at least getting some upbeat individual recognition.

Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

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