Thursday, January 25, 2001
Hawaii-Hilo men's basketball player Alan Thomas has learned this year that less is more.
SMALL COLLEGE NOTEBOOK
Thomas, teammates tighter
A Pacific West All-Conference selection in his first season with the Vulcans last year, Thomas averaged 20.1 points per contest for a team that went 12-14 overall and 6-8 in the conference. The 6-4 senior shooting guard from Brooklyn, N.Y., was the top returning scorer in the PacWest entering this season.
Thomas' scoring average is down just a hair this year at 19.5 ppg, but he's taking nearly three shots less per game (10.53) to get his points.
A "slasher" who attacks the rim, he remains the focal point of the Vulcans' offensive attack, but has involved his teammates more this season with great results.
"Basically, teams come in keying on me a lot," said Thomas, a UHH tri-captain.
"And I can pretty much guarantee that they'll lose if they do that.
"Kyle (Bartholomew), Stanley (Ibia) and Scotty (Prather) have all stepped up and shown what they can do."
Last year, UHH did not win a single conference game on the road and lost both of its games against eventual Pacific Division champion Brigham Young-Hawaii. This season, the Vulcans (9-8, 4-4) have already won one of their three conference road games and are 2-0 against the Seasiders, the preseason pick to repeat as division champs.
It was Ibia who led UHH in scoring in both wins over BYUH, though Thomas still contributed significant points. On Monday, Thomas led UHH with 29 against Hawaii Pacific for its third consecutive conference victory, but he was one of five Vulcans to score in double-figures.
"Last year, it was just give me the ball, give me the ball," UHH coach Jeff Law said of Thomas. "But this year, he relies more on his teammates and has confidence in them. He wants to get everybody involved because he knows that's what it takes to win."
Indeed, Thomas is averaging almost one assist more a game this season at 3.41, tied for 14th overall in the conference, despite playing the two-guard position. He remains the third-leading scorer overall in the PacWest, but also contributes in a big way on defense with an average of two steals and 4.5 rebounds a game.
"I fill in the gaps," Thomas said. "Whether that's rebounds or points, whatever it takes to win."
Thomas would like to help lead the Vulcans to their first winning season in seven years and into the Division II playoffs. But with two tough home games up next against Pacific Division leader Montana State-Billings (13-3, 6-2) tomorrow and Saturday, he also knows the task will not be an easy one.
"It would mean so much," Thomas emphatically said. "It would mean a lot to me and to the team, and it would change the whole school's perspective on winning."
Chaminade in pollChaminade (9-8, 3-5) is the only local team in the latest NCAA West Regional poll released yesterday, coming in at No. 10. The Silverswords host Western New Mexico at McCabe Gym tomorrow and Saturday night.
Brigham Young-Hawaii (10-7, 4-4) renews its heated rivalry with Hawaii Pacific (8-9, 3-5) in their first conference matchup of the year Saturday night at Laie.
Brandon Lee, Special to the Star-Bulletin