Saturday, October 16, 1999
madness alive, well
Coach Riley Wallace hasBy Pat Bigold
high hopes for the team after
watching them play in
the Midnight Ohana
Beyond the theatrics, the music, the contests and the glamour of last night's 12th Midnight Ohana, Hawaii head coach Riley Wallace actually got to learn something about his new basketball team.
"I saw enough to know we made some good recruiting choices," said Wallace in the parking lot of the Stan Sheriff Center at about 2 a.m. this morning.
He was talking about the traditional intrasquad game that tipped off at midnight.
"The number one thing we preached is that we want them to be together and play together. They played very unselfish tonight, passed the ball, hit the open man, and looked for each other. I thought that was a good sign. It's not usually this good."
Baywatch Hawaii provided its producers to serve as honorary coaches in the game, and four female (Stacy Kamano, Simone Mackinnon, Brooke Burns, Brandy Ledford) and two male (Jason Momoa, Jason Brooks) cast members to assist the coaches.
In the night's biggest surprise, 6-4 freshman walk-on Oa McGee, younger brother of Rainbows' alumnus Kalia McGee, won the slam dunk contest.
Enroute to winning the title, he made a Jordan-like leap over all four Baywatch Hawaii actresses, who were lying side-by-side on the floor near the basket.
McGee initially asked Stacy Kamano to lie on the court for his first attempt.
"I picked her because she's a local girl and I figured she'd be more down to do it," said McGee, who attended Kamano's alma mater, Kaiser High.
"I was just going to jump over her, but then they all started coming out. I was kind of nervous when they all jumped in. The main thing was, I didn't want to hit the girls. But I figured out how I could do it."
Kamano said it was fun but she objected when McGee asked her to get on her hands and knees.
"I said, no, no, no, because I didn't think that was a very attractive position for me to be in," said Kamano. "So, I just laid on my back. But he made a great shot, so it was worth it."
In a series of playoff dunks with Geremy Robinson, McGee captured the crowd's approval with a windmill and a reverse.
One-third of the NCAA's Division I programs observe what is called on the mainland, "Midnight Madness," signalling the start of the college basketball season.
It's the first chance for fans to scrutinize recruits and review familiar faces.
Hawaii's players debuted before several thousand fans who were admitted free and 92 who paid $25 apiece to sit courtside for the first time.
If there were jitters on the court, it was understandable.
Wallace has one of his youngest teams ever: three seniors, seven juniors, four sophomores and four freshmen.
"There were a lot of young guys out there who are not used to being around this many people," said senior team captain Marquette Alexander.
Canadian Carl English, a freshman point guard, comes from Patrick's Cove in Newfoundland, a village of 50 people.
"I ain't too used to this kind of crowd," said English, "but hopefully I will get used to it fast."
Troy Ostler, a 6-9 junior forward from Salt Lake Community College (Utah), said he'd never played before more than a couple of hundred fans.
"First off, I had some jitters but then I tried to get the crowd into it," said Ostler.
Senior point guard Johnny White said even he had butterflies. But he noticed a smoother flow of play than last year.
"Last year, we shot a lot of air balls, but this year, we didn't shoot any," he said. "Everybody was feeding each other, congratulating each other."
In the brief intrasquad game, the yellow team (coached by Baywatch Hawaii executive producer Greg Bonann and Rainbows assistant Scott Rigot), lost to the red team (coached by the show's co-executive producer, Maurice Hurley and Rainbows assistant Jackson Wheeler), 33-30.
The night's program, which opened with video shots of Rainbow and Wahine players strategically cut into Baywatch Hawaii's weekly intro, was dubbed, "BowWatch."
The intrasquad teams' colors were selected to represent the look of Baywatch Hawaii's lifeguard uniforms.
Alexander led the yellow team in scoring with 16 points. Ostler added nine points and had four rebounds.
Sophomore guard Predrag Savovic led the red team with nine points and three rebounds.
During the 3-point shooting contests between the Wahine and the men, 6-5 forward Nerijus Puida was pitted against his wife, 6-5 forward Dainora. Puida won.
Fan reception to the new Rainbows was warm.
"They will be good because they got a lot of talent," said Wes Toyama of Pearl City. "I think Marquette and Johnny will be the keys."
Alan Santoki, a 16-year-old student, also from Pearl City, said he came to Midnight Ohana because he heard that the incoming class of recruits was one of the best in a long while.
On a sad note, Hawaii's newest 7-footer, junior Todd Fields, had to fly home to Mesquite, Texas, before last night's festivities. His stepfather, former Denver Broncos quarterback Steve Ramsey, died of a heart attack yesterday morning.
A moment of silence in honor of Ramsey preceded the start of the game.
Ramsey, who was 51, played for the Broncos from 1971-76. He played for the New Orleans Saints in 1970.
Fields is expected to be away one week.
Red: Predrag Savovic 9, Mike McIntyre 8, Bernard McIntosh 5, Johnny White 5, Lane O'Connor 6, Lance Takaki 0, Oa McGee 0, Ryne Holliday 0.
Red 33, Yellow 30
Yellow: Nerijus Puida 0, Carl English 1, Troy Ostler 9, Geremy Robinson 4, Marquette Alexander 16, Phil Martin 0, Rahula Hall 0.