Tuesday, December 31, 2002
The Hawaii basketball team is now 5-0 since inserting Michael Kuebler into the starting lineup, but it wasn't until last night that the junior guard was truly baptized into Division I ball.
Kuebler proving to be
a spark for Bows
By Jason Kaneshiro
Kuebler scored a career-high 29 points in Hawaii's 81-78 overtime victory over previously undefeated Butler in the championship game of the Rainbow Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center.
He made 9 of 12 shots from the field, but perhaps more important were the 10 free throws he made in 11 attempts, especially the six he converted in overtime to seal the game.
"I couldn't hear anyone, I was just focused on making the shots," Kuebler said of the clinching free throws. "I didn't think I was going to miss any of them. I was able to step up and knock them down."
With forward Carl English fighting through foul trouble most of the game and the rest of the team misfiring from the field, Kuebler's play on both ends of the court kept the Rainbows in the game.
Not only did Kuebler help spark the Rainbows offensively with 25 points in the second half, but he also limited Butler guard Darnell Archey to five points on 1-for-11 shooting. Archey entered the game as the Bulldogs' leading scorer, averaging 12.5 points.
"Kuebler just took over," Hawaii coach Riley Wallace said. "That's kind of like last year the way Carl, (Predrag Savovic) and Mike McIntyre used to do it, they pick each other up. It was a good team effort by the Rainbows."
Butler used a 3-point barrage to open up a 21-point lead in the first half. But Kuebler helped the Rainbows scratch their way back into the game, scoring on a layup late in the first half to cap a 10-0 run that cut the Butler lead to 37-26 at halftime.
"We cut the lead to (11) and as a team we got fired up," Kuebler said. "You could tell in the locker room we were going to come out and give it all we've got and leave it on the court and that's what we did."
After halftime, Kuebler attacked the basket to score eight points in the first six minutes as the Rainbows cut the deficit to four at 46-42.
Butler used another 3-point assault to bolt away again, opening up a 62-45 lead with 6:15 left in the game. But a rebound and putback by Kuebler led the Rainbows on a 12-2 run.
After English hit his third 3-pointer of the second half to bring the Rainbows back to within four, Kuebler hit one of two free throws to cut the Butler lead to 66-63.
Kuebler then sent the crowd into delirium by driving to the basket and dropping in a bucket and drawing a foul. His free throw tied the game at 66 with 1:13 left in regulation and sent the game into overtime.
"I saw under the basket was cleared out," Kuebler said. "I knew the guy was going to try to force me over the screen. I usually get doubled coming off that pick, so I just gave him a little fake into the screen and it was open all the way to the basket."
Kuebler hit two free throws to open overtime and give Hawaii its first lead since early in the first half. After Archey gave Butler the lead with a 3-pointer, Kuebler dropped an assist to Nkeruwem Akpan to give Hawaii the lead for good at 70-69.
He dropped in four more free throws in the waning seconds to seal the victory.
UH ROTC honored: The University of Hawaii Army ROTC program was presented the MacArthur Award as the nation's top-ranked program in a pregame ceremony. The UH Army ROTC was rated the best among 270 programs across the nation.
Accepting the award were Maj. Trey Johnson, Cadet Battalion Commander Nainoa Hoe, Cadet Natasja Allen and Cadet Britton Komine.
Johnson was also awarded the Recruiting Operations Officer of the Year award for the Pacific-Northwest region. In addition to developing the Army ROTC program, Johnson has also assisted with the UH football team's strength and conditioning program.
Allen is a starter with the Wahine basketball team and Komine is a receiver with the Warriors' football team.
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