Sports Watch

Bill Kwon

By Bill Kwon

Saturday, November 14, 1998

UH basketball might
require some patience

HAWAII: We have lift-off. And with a "Helicopter" right in the center stage.

The basketball Rainbows launch their season tomorrow afternoon when they meet the California Golden Bears of the Pac-10 at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The basketball season arrives in time to lift the spirits of a lot of UH fans who've been down in the dumps because of Rainbow football.

Of course, this is not to say that coach Riley Wallace's Rainbows will come out smoking this season and match last year's excitement, when they went 21-9, thanks to the "Dynamic Duo" of AC Carter and Alika Smith.

They're gone, but Wallace hopes that Erin "Helicopter" Galloway and Mike Robinson, two 6-foot-8 seniors, will assume the dual starring role this year.

Call them the "Durable Duo" or the "Double Decker."

Actually, Wallace doesn't care what they're called as long as they take care of business, namely retrieving rebounds and playing a steadying influence on the newcomers.

Wallace feels there's more overall talent on this year's team than the crew of AC and Co.

"The individual skills and the potential are there. But it's too early to tell," Wallace said. "Even then, I don't know if they'll ever have the kind of chemistry that last year's team had. That team was something special."

WALLACE likes what he sees of Johnny White, who'll be the starting point guard, and Geremy Robinson, the No. 2 guard if returning senior Casey Cartwright goes to the wing. But he hopes the newcomers can mesh quickly into a unit.

"A lot of the guys haven't been structured. They've got talent. But in Division-I basketball, it's a matter of being in the right place at the right time," Wallace said.

"They haven't picked up everything yet. But they're coming around."

The fans will need to be patient with the new crew that also includes 6-foot-8 Marquette Alexander, redshirt freshman Philipp Czernin, a 6-foot-6 swingman; shooting guard Damon Lee and point guard Mike McIntire, who last year at this time was playing for Long Beach (Calif.) Poly High.

Add 7-foot senior Bryan Moeller in the mix and Wallace can go with a nine-man rotation.

"That's good and bad," Wallace said.

Good because he has more bodies. Bad in that no one has really stepped up to be a 30-minute plus player.

If anything, the tough early season schedule should get his Rainbows ready for Western Athletic Conference play, according to Wallace.

"It might be tough for us now but maybe it'll be good for us later," Wallace said about the early going.

HE recalled the 1993-94 season, when his 'Bows got blown out in their first four games and took a 4-7 record into the WAC season. They wound up winning 18 games, including the WAC postseason tournament championship to make the 64-team NCAA field.

There's no Indiana and Kansas this time around, but Wallace thinks this year's early schedule is tougher.

He wasn't only referring to Cal, Marquette, Auburn, Princeton and Oklahoma State, a Top 10 contender. But Coppin State, Murray State and Northern Arizona.

The latter might not have the name recognition to local fans, but basketball cognoscenti are well aware of them, according to Wallace.

Coppin State went to the NCAA three times and the NIT twice in the last eight years. Murray State, another NCAA team, and Northern Arizona each shot better than 50 percent from the floor last year.

"I hope I don't lose four in a row," Wallace said. "Otherwise, they'll do a poll on me."

Bill Kwon has been writing
about sports for the Star-Bulletin since 1959.

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