Kalani Simpson


By Kalani Simpson

Sunday, January 27, 2002

Hawaii finds a savior
not named Savo

HE is. He is Savo.

No, not our man, crazy Predrag Savovic, not yesterday. Not when every whistle sent him to the bench, and despite his best efforts he just couldn't quite start the insanity. Yes, he inched his way to big numbers, and rebounded like a madman, and worked and sweated and willed his way to a big game that meant a great deal toward a big, big win. But he could never really get his freak on.

He wasn't the manic magician. Not this time.

No, yesterday's Savo was Mike McIntyre, another guy with no conscience, letting fly from inches inside the corner, putting up shot after shot that made little sense in mid-air, but found every answer in the bottom of the net.

He cradles the ball to his chest as he hops, then straightens out that elbow, up, up, up, and finally snaps his wrist and lets it hang there as a reminder while the ball makes its long journey in flight.

He launches it when he's feeling it. He just doesn't care. He makes you crazy. Remember his jumper to ice Hawaii's win over SMU? He had about four of those yesterday, as the Rainbows put a headlock on first place. McIntyre was in such a zone he was playing blind, in a state of slow-motion basketball euphoria, hanging that arm to the heavens, the wrist letting you know he already knows it's going to go in.

And every shot is a smart one, if the shot goes in.

What in the heck is he?! ... Yes!

"Astonishing," was how Jim Leahey described it, after Microwave McIntyre made one from the locker room to give UH the lead.

It was. It is. McIntyre makes anything, when he gets hot, pops it from anywhere, any time. Preposterous shots that work. He was Savo yesterday, he was. McIntyre played that character, he filled that role.

Hawaii needed it.

It was huge, this game. It meant everything. This team is real, and now they know it and now you know it. And perhaps most of all, now Tulsa knows it, too.

This was no fluke. Savo was in foul trouble, and so was Phil Martin and so was Haim Shimonovich, and the Rainbows gave the ball away in the first half, and almost the game with it.

But then they rebounded, figuratively and literally, and then McIntyre caught Savo fever.

Martin showed meanness, something Riley Wallace has been searching for, poking, prodding and asking the talented "nice guy" for. Maybe it finally worked.

The Rainbows will need it, but this win showed plenty from plenty of guys. On the road, with things going wrong, Hawaii announced its presence as the champion of the WAC. And everyone else in the conference is going to have to knock them off.

Tulsa is a genuine basketball big name, and yesterday will have implications. How did this win rank? Let's use something the football fans will relate to. This was Fresno State. At Fresno State.

In that game at Aloha Stadium we were left with Ashley Lelie, his foot finding gold. Here, it's McIntyre -- you can still see him, arm straight, wrist bent, waiting for that swish.

Kalani Simpson's column runs Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays.
He can be reached at

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