Coaches rank UH last in conference


POSTED: Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Warning: In case of complacency, break out polls.

If the Hawaii men's basketball team ever finds itself lacking material in the “;chip on the shoulder”; department, it doesn't need a stirring speech. All the Rainbow Warriors require for fire is a couple of clicks on a keyboard.

The Rainbows were picked last of nine teams in both the Western Athletic Conference coaches and media preseason polls released yesterday, and the UH players had a thing or two to say about it.

It wasn't just a team snub. Roderick Flemings, an NBA hopeful who averaged 16.6 points per game last season, didn't make the WAC preseason first team in either poll.

Flemings — who anticipates going at half speed for at least another week at practice after being diagnosed with a possible lower abdominal strain — shrugged it all off.

“;It's hard being on top. Being at the bottom is easy, you have nowhere else to go but up,”; Flemings said. “;So I mean, I just use that as motivation to try to tell our guys that they don't think much of us, so we need to go out here and give it our all. 'Cause I know we a lot better than they think we are.

“;They don't really know everything about the new guys, Dwain (Williams) and Doug (Kurtz) and J-Lay (Jeremy Lay), so they really don't know what we got going on.”;

Utah State was picked to defend its WAC title in both polls, despite the loss of 2008-09 WAC player of the year Gary Wilkinson. USU was followed by Nevada, New Mexico State and Idaho. For 5-6-7, it goes Boise State, La Tech, Fresno State in the media poll and LaTech, Fresno, Boise in the coaches. San Jose State and Hawaii bring up the rear in both.

“;It's important to prove everybody wrong,”; senior forward Adhar Mayen said. “;Show everybody what Hawaii's about. We're totally different, we're not like that. That's not us.”;

Nevada sophomore forward Luke Babbitt, last season's freshman of the year, was picked as preseason player of the year. The projected first team was identical in both polls, with Babbitt, Idaho point guard Mac Hopson, Nevada point Armon Johnson, USU guard Jared Quayle and NMSU guard Jahmar Young as the top five.

UH's Flemings, an All-WAC second-teamer last year, was projected to land there again by the coaches alongside Fresno forwards Paul George and Sylvester Seay, LaTech guard Kyle Gibson, and USU forward Tai Wesley.

UH returns a solid cast from last year's 13-17 (5-11 WAC) squad, but so does just about every other team in the league. Even San Jose State received a mystery first-place vote in the media poll.

Hawaii coach Bob Nash doesn't share the rest of the league's belief in his team's standing.

“;I don't think you can say that one team is head and shoulders over the other on any given night; anybody can win,”; Nash said.

See the men's and women's coaches and media polls and preseason All-WAC teams on Scoreboard, page 55.


Wahine picked to finish eighth

The Hawaii women's basketball team was picked to finish eighth in the nine-team WAC in the league's coaches and media preseason polls released yesterday.

No Wahine players were picked to the preseason first or second teams after last year's team (8-23, 4-12 WAC) set a school record for losses.

“;I cannot say that we were surprised, looking back at how our team finished last year in the WAC and the amount of returnees that we have,”; first-year coach Dana Takahara-Dias said. “;It just gives us an opportunity to work harder, and to understand that we still have a ways to go. It'll provide incentive for our players and our coaching staff.”;

The coaches chose Fresno to win the WAC and the media picked LaTech. The Lady Techsters' Shanavia Dowdell was named the preseason player of the year.