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Nash needs to go back to the dog days to be successful this season


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POSTED: Sunday, November 08, 2009

People often ask what I like most on local sportstalk radio. By far it is a couple of commercials: the one for Carquest where a woman gushes about how she got sold a more expensive set of windshield wipers than she really needs (like that's a good thing), and the one where a babooze nearly electrocutes another braddah getting ready for a pregame potluck. I hear these over and over, but always find them entertaining.

As for the shows themselves, I can often predict what the hosts are going to say. I know it's the nature of the business, but just mix it up a little bit, that's all I ask.

One of the major criticisms of these local shows is that they parrot the University of Hawaii company line, whether the Warriors, Rainbows and Wahine are winning or losing. Again, that's just the way it is, and I understand that. Contracts and jobs are at stake. What I don't like is lousy teams and/or players being hyped under the guise of objective analysis.

And, that, is why I like Artie Wilson. He doesn't pretend to be objective.

Artie has a weekly radio show called “;On Point.”; I enjoy it because Artie knows basketball, and because Artie doesn't project himself as anything other than a UH flag waver. He's a former player, he's active with the alumni association. He bleeds green and black and silver and all the other colors of the Rainbows. Because his show is just once a week, he doesn't say the same things over and over.

He's a Realtor by trade, and I will buy several houses from Artie—as soon as he has some available on Baltic and Mediterranean, which is all I can afford. Until then, I will depend on him solely for valuable insight about UH basketball.

THE MOST interesting thing I've heard from Mr. Wilson over the years is how his former UH teammate Bob Nash was a bad man (on the court) during their playing days. He was a big power forward who took nuthin' from no one, not even in practice. According to Artie, in addition to being physically dominant, Big Bob exuded more toughness and leadership than anyone could reasonably expect from someone wearing a flower-print basketball uniform.

As Artie likes to say, Nash had “;a lot of dog in him.”;

The problem is, we haven't seen that reflected very much in his team his first two seasons as UH head coach. That is, unless you're defining dog as underachiever. I think what Artie means is dog as in a violent and determined canine, maybe equal parts disciplined watchdog and hungry, wild stray.

Early last season the Rainbows did seem to have some dog in them. They played gritty defense. They worked their offense tirelessly for hard-earned points.

But instead of getting better as the season went along, the 'Bows stagnated and then regressed. Rival defenses converged on star forward Roderick Flemings every time he got the ball. He was hacked regularly when he could put up a shot. When he kicked it out to an open guard, the resulting 3-point tries clanged, rocked and bricked off the rim.

Turnovers—especially in crucial situations down the stretch—abounded. UH lost a bunch of games in the final minutes because of bad passes, finishing 13-17 and 5-11 in the WAC.

They had some pooch in 'em all right—the one in the Bruce Springsteen song:

”;You end up like a dog that's been beat too much, 'til you spend half your life just a-covering up.”;
What Artie and the rest of the UH fans have in mind is the Jim Croce mutt:
“;Badder than old King Kong, meaner than a junkyard dog.”;

IF YOU go by what Nash added to the roster and what they've deleted in the offseason, this is a team fans can get excited about, at least on paper.

He has a big center to play defense and two quick guards who can shoot. He subtracted two guards who can't shoot. Combine that with Flemings and nine other lettermen who have all conceivably worked to get better and you have ... a last-place team. That's according to the WAC preseason polls of media and coaches. The word is the entire conference has improved significantly.

The exhibitions are done. Tip-off against Southern Utah looms. The quest for 18 wins to save Nash's job begins.

By now, you've heard plenty about how much better this team will be than last year's. It all brings me to my favorite canine-related quote, courtesy of Mr. Blonde:

”;Are you gonna bark all day, little doggy, or are you gonna bite?”;

Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), his “;Quick Reads”; blog at starbulletin.com, and twitter.com/davereardon.