Keeping Score

By Cindy Luis

Tuesday, September 9, 1997


Time to get folks
charged up over A.C.

ELECTRIFYING!

Or try "Plug Him In."

Actually, what about just plugging Anthony "A.C." Carter for All-American honors? College basketball season is still two months away, but it's not too early to start a national campaign for the Rainbow senior guard.

My mailbox has been full since July with press releases and gimmick posters from other schools, touting their high-profile players. The University of Hawaii media relations office is still formulating its plan for Carter, last season's WAC Pacific Division Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year and All-Defensive team member.

Did we mention honorable mention All-American? How about one of 25 finalists for the John Wooden Award, the Heisman Trophy of college basketball?

It's an ad campaign that writes itself. Throw in an extension cord or outlet cover in the mailing and you've got a campaign sure to get a charge out of the voters.

"We're going to do something, I just don't know what yet," said Lois Manin, UH media relations director. "We're trying to come up with a good punch line and we're looking at a possible tie-in with a sponsor like Hawaiian Electric.

"He's a legitimate All-American candidate, especially being one of the Wooden nominees. We know we need to do something and I'll be sitting down with (marketing director) Scott Harada to plan. We'll probably starting sending out mailings in October."

WHILE that should be enough time, it might not be enough to get Carter on some of the preseason All-American teams in various basketball publications. Those selection processes are being done right now.

Carter, senior guard Alika Smith and Wahine senior forward Nani Cockett missed out on exposure for postseason honors when UH began its campaign too late last March. The promotional cards were handed out at the WAC Tournament, after the deadline for the media and coaches to vote on the all-conference teams.

Part of the problem is there was no budget last season for promoting the players, Manin said. She finally had to get permission to borrow money from an account used to produce an island guide for visiting teams.

"I don't think it's too late to get the interest going," Rainbow men's coach Riley Wallace said. "Sometimes, if it comes out too early, people forget about you. They (media relations) need to continue doing what they started last March, push him for All-American at least to the pollsters who vote on the AP (Associated Press) Top 25 and those on the Wooden selection committee. If he has good hype, his chances are better."

SURE, one never knows what kind of season Carter will have this year. But, as a Wooden Award nominee, he is already considered one of the top 25 players in the country. There's no need to take a wait-and-see approach for a media campaign.

Hawaii basketball fans apparently are not waiting around. Wallace expects his season ticket sales to be at their highest level ever for the program.

Midnight Ohana is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 17. It should be dazzling coming-out party for the Rainbows, who are ranked 13th by Playboy magazine, the highest-ever ranking for the program.

Hawaii returns four starters from a team that went 21-8 and exited in the second round of the NIT. Back is the guard tandem of Carter and Smith, fawned over by Dick Vitale as one of the premier backcourts in the country.

Seth Sundberg is gone but will be replaced by 7-footer Bryan Moeller, who had a good showing at the recent Pete Newell Big Man Camp. And there's also Erin "Helicopter" Galloway, a 6-8 forward who flew off the charts during last week's jump testing, touching a record 12-21/2.

Still, Light 'Em Up time for the 'Bows can start by plugging A.C.



Cindy Luis is a Star-Bulletin sportswriter.
Her column appears weekly.




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