Wallace leaves Hawaii with a rally to remember
Hawaii's faint hope of a postseason berth was officially extinguished yesterday with the release of the National Invitation Tournament field and the Rainbow Warriors not included in the 32-team event.
The Rainbows' 2006-07 season will go into the books at 18-13 to end Riley Wallace's 20-year tenure as head coach. Wallace will step down when his contract expires next month as the winningest coach in the program's history with a career mark of 334-265.
No invitation means UH ends 18-13
The Hawaii basketball team was not included in the National Invitation Tournament field yesterday, officially ending the Rainbow Warriors' season.
The Rainbows missed the postseason for the third straight year and ended Riley Wallace's final campaign as coach at 18-13 after being eliminated from the Western Athletic Conference tournament with a quarterfinal loss last Thursday in Las Cruces, N.M.
Wallace's 20-year career as UH coach ends when his contract expires next month, and he will leave as the program's winningest coach.
WAC members New Mexico State and Nevada made the NCAA Tournament, while Utah State and Fresno State made the NIT.
The Rainbows were in transit from Las Cruces, N.M,. back to Honolulu last night when the field was announced.
This season marked the seventh time in Wallace's tenure that UH won at least 18 games, and it's the only time the 'Bows didn't make the postseason after reaching that total.
After a 9-4 nonconference season that included a Rainbow Classic championship, the Rainbows got off to a 1-5 start in the WAC season. They recovered to go 8-3 in the remainder of the regular season, winning their final four games to spur some postseason hopes entering the WAC tournament. But a 73-70 loss to Utah State in the quarterfinals last Thursday all but snuffed those plans.
The four teams that finished ahead of UH in the Western Athletic Conference regular-season standings will extend their seasons this week.
New Mexico State (25-8) claimed the WAC's automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament by winning the league tournament on Saturday. Nevada (28-4), the WAC regular-season champion, was given an at-large bid.
Utah State (23-10), the WAC tournament runner-up, made the NIT, as did Fresno State (22-9), which lost in the quarterfinals of the WAC tournament.
Utah State plays at Michigan tomorrow. Fresno State, which was swept by UH this season, plays at Georgia on Wednesday.
With Hawaii missing the postseason for the third straight year, here are several local and WAC notes in this year's NCAA Tournament:
» Iolani graduate and All-Pac-10 guard Derrick Low will play in his first NCAA Tournament with Washington State, the third seed in the East. The Cougars open against Oral Roberts.
» Jamie Dixon, a former UH assistant coach, leads third-seeded Pittsburgh against Wright State in the West. Two wins could set up a Sweet 16 matchup with Maui Invitational champion UCLA, coached by Dixon's former boss, Ben Howland.
» New Mexico State, making its first NCAA appearance since 1999, drew the 13th seed in the East and will open against fourth-seeded Texas and national player of the year candidate Kevin Durant.
» UH should have a pretty good scouting report on the 7 vs. 10 matchup in the South, where Nevada plays Creighton. The Rainbows lost two tight games with Nevada and beat Creighton 76-60 in the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic championship.
» UH won at Big West champion Long Beach State 93-78 to start a late-season run. The 12th-seeded 49ers face No. 5 Tennessee in the South Region.
» UNLV, the seventh seed in the Midwest, swept a home-and-home series with UH early in the season. The Runnin' Rebels face Maui Invitational runner-up Georgia Tech in the first round.
» Texas A&M is the third seed in the South. Guard Logan Lee played one season for UH before transferring to the Aggies.
» Hawaii went 6-8 against teams in the postseason tournaments.