Star-Bulletin Sports



UH wants to open
against Kentucky

Wallace planted the idea
in Tubby Smith's head
at the Final Four

By Dave Reardon

Hawaii basketball coach Riley Wallace is trying to schedule Kentucky to play UH in the Rainbows' season-opening game at the Stan Sheriff Center this season.

Wallace spoke with UK coach Tubby Smith at the Final Four. Smith told Wallace he is open to the idea, but did not make a commitment.

"I told Tubby we lose 40 points a game (from last season's team)," Wallace told the Honolulu Quarterback Club yesterday. "But Tubby's no fool. He said, 'Yeah, we'll think about it.'"

The Wildcats are scheduled to be in the islands for the Nov. 25-27 Maui Classic. UH usually opens its season the week before that tournament.

Hawaii is 0-2 against Kentucky. They played home-and-home in the 1985-86 and 1986-87 seasons.

Kentucky finished last season 22-10 making it to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.

In recruiting news, tomorrow is the first day of the signing period. Wallace said the Rainbows might be close to penning the first of four scholarship recruits.

A 5-foot-11 guard visited last weekend, and several more potential recruits are expected in town this week.

Star-Bulletin all-state first-team forward Ikaika Alama-Francis has been invited to walk on to the Rainbows.

The 6-6 Alama-Francis is being heavily recruited by Hawaii-Hilo and Hawaii Pacific. Pete Smith, Alama-Francis' coach at Kalaheo High School, is the father of Alika Smith, an assistant at Hilo.

Alama-Francis is also a good volleyball prospect, and UH is interested in him in that sport as well. But Pete Smith said "basketball is his first love."

Emigijus Lukosius, a 6-7 forward, visited two weeks ago. If Lukosius chooses Hawaii, he will be the third player in a pipeline of Lithuanians from Weatherford (Texas) College, following Nerijus Puida and Mindaugas Burneika.

Michael Kuebler is a 6-5 guard who played with UH's Mark Campbell at Clackamas (Ore.) Community College. Kuebler, who led his league with a 25-point scoring average last season, is expected to visit Hawaii in the coming weeks.

"Hawaii is my first choice right now (over Furman)," Kuebler said. "But I want to make my visits first. Coming from junior college, I'm impressed by everything so I need to take my time."

Wallace is not at liberty to talk about potential recruits, per NCAA rules. He also declined to speak about his contract negotiations yesterday. Wallace is nearing the end of a contract that pays him $175,000 per year in total compensation.

Wallace did say it was retired Fresno State coach Jerry Tarkanian who recommended that he look into succeeding him as the Bulldogs' head man. Wallace did not receive a return call from FSU after he expressed interest in the job, which pays more than $300,000 per year.

Fresno State hired Oklahoma assistant Ray Lopes last week.

Star-Bulletin sports reporter Jason Kaneshiro
contributed to this report.

UH Athletics

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