LIFE without Carter. Well, the University of Hawaii basketball team is 1-0 A.C. -- After Carter.
Despite win, UH
in dark without AC
The Rainbows are 4-0 this season, but without star point guard Anthony "AC" Carter, they struggled to beat Southern Illinois, 80-66, at the Special Events Arena last night.
I know, winning by 14 points might not sound like much of a struggle. But Southern Illinois was no Tulane, which the 'Bows beat the night before. Nor were the Salukis in the same league as Illinois State, a UH victim the previous week.
With Carter sitting on the bench in civvies, the Rainbows sleep-walked to a 38-38 halftime tie before polishing off the Salukis, thanks to Alika Smith, and with help from Casey Cartwright and Chad Hook, who combined for 39 minutes of quality time. Cartwright led all scorers with 19 points.
Playing in an unaccustomed role handling the ball as Carter's replacement, Smith went 1-for-9 from the floor in the first half.
"It took a little out of me, but I still should have hit my shots," Smith said.
But you knew Southern Illinois was in trouble if Smith shot that poorly and the Rainbow were still in the game.
Sure enough, Smith came alive in the second half and wound up with 18 points and six assists while playing the entire 40 minutes.
Smith wiped out Southern Illinois' last lead of the game, 43-42, by hitting three straight baskets, and had the assist on Cartwright's three-point play that made it 51-43 during a 9-0 run. When the Salukis closed to 51-47, Smith sank three free throws after being fouled attempting a trey. It was 62-49 before the Salukis knew what hit them.
Still, Smith admitted he missed having Carter around.
"He's one of the most exciting point guards in the country. We're a little bit slower team without him," Smith said.
CARTER, who re-dislocated his left shoulder in the first half of Saturday's victory over Tulane, says he'll be back a lot sooner than expected.
"The shoulder's feeling pretty good. I think I should be back by Wednesday," Carter said. "I'm not going to be babying my shoulder. Once it gets back right, I'll be ready to go again, playing hard like I always do."
"It's a good win for us," said head coach Riley Wallace, who was upset with the play of his Rainbows in the first half. "The first half was as bad a basketball as I've put on the floor in a long time. We played lousy defense.
"You've got to give them credit. They broke us down one-on-one and we absolutely went like we never had taught any defense at all. We had no rotation, nothing. With a good ballclub like that with good one-on-one players, you've got to have second and third rotations to even compete with them.
"Alika didn't show any leadership in the first half. He knows what he's supposed to do, but he didn't get it done. Then he stepped up, hit a couple of shots, and we got the energy and the crowd into it, got the boards, pushed it and that was the difference in the ballgame."
Abig part of the problem was Carter's absence, according to Wallace.
"We were dead flat in the first half and a lot of that is his energy," Wallace said. "He doesn't let a team go flat on him. He keeps everybody going and excited."
"That's what we need to do. Everybody's got to step it up," Erin "Helicopter" Galloway said.
But the Rainbows will need Carter, especially Saturday when they meet Long Island University and its up-tempo style of play, which has the team averaging more than 100 points a game.
To which Rainbow fans can only hope to say, "Welcome back, Carter."