Open Shots

By Dave Reardon

Friday, December 12, 1997


AP poll voters haven’t
done their homework

WE are in the midst of the Information Revolution, and they keep saying the world is getting smaller. But you'd never know it by how uninformed some people are about things that it is their job to know at least a little bit about.

I'm talking about the media members who vote in the men's Associated Press basketball poll.

Many sportswriters dress badly, drink too much free booze, and in general, have a tendency toward juvenile behavior (I resemble some of those remarks). But I've encountered few stupid colleagues in 20 years -- most sports scribes are fairly intelligent people (it takes some brains to choose a career where you get paid to go to games).

My opinion on that is changing though, thanks to the AP pollsters.

Although my eyes haven't been glued totally to ESPN the past month, and I'd have an easier time explaining how to compute earned run average than the RPI (that's Relative Power Index for you non-hoops-junkies), I've seen enough to objectively say Hawaii, which is 4-0 including a victory over Indiana, deserves to be ranked, probably in the top 20.

The Rainbows currently stand 29th, but would be higher if more of the voters knew anything about the team.

ONE of the basketball pollsters didn't even know Hawaii had beaten Indiana -- not only was he uninformed, he was dumb enough to tell this to another reporter, apparently for publication -- because it was published.

No wonder Bobby Knight thinks we're all idiots.

Now, wouldn't you figure that somebody who has the responsibility of choosing the top 25 college basketball teams in the nation might put a little bit of research and thought into it?

Most do, and in fairness, World Wide Web or not, information still travels slowly out of Hawaii. But it seems reasonable to expect that all of the "experts" would have tracked from the beginning of the season a team that went 21-8 a year ago and returned four senior starters, including a finalist for the John Wooden Award.

But the Rainbows don't even get any respect from the media in their own conference -- in a pre-season poll, they were chosen to finish fourth in the Pacific Division of the Western Athletic Conference.

For every reason that the Rainbows should be ranked, there are lots of reasons to rationalize leaving Hawaii out, even now. (Now, remember, I didn't say they were based on fact.)

Hawaii beat Indiana, 82-65. Yeah, but Knight always plays around with his lineup early in the season, and Indiana hasn't been Indiana in years.

The Rainbows are 4-0. But all those victories are at home.

Hawaii has Anthony Carter, one of the best point guards in the nation. Isn't he out forever with an injury?

The Rainbows look to be deeper than last season, when they were co-champions of the WAC's Pacific Division. The WAC is a weak conference.

UH's Sports Information office is making efforts to get the word out, but it is woefully understaffed. And not particularly creative -- it bills Carter and fellow starting guard Alika Smith as "The Dynamic Duo" and forward Mike Robinson as "Mr. Robinson" in its promotional material. Uh, I think I've heard those before.

The national sports media who pass around the recognition need something a little more unusual to catch their attention. We all remember when Karl Malone was in college and Louisiana Tech sent out little pieces of a backboard the Mailman had supposedly shattered to every newspaper in the free world. It didn't matter if it was real or not -- it was different and it got folks looking at the material and talking about Malone.

Send Dick Vitale a ti leaf with a card explaining what it is on one side and some stats on the other, and the 'Bows will get some props. It might even drum up some tourism.

Dave Reardon is a magazine editor and freelance
writer who has covered Hawaii sports since 1977.
He can be reached via the Star-Bulletin or
by email at dreardon@hmsa.com.




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