Kalani Simpson


By Kalani Simpson

Even Dr. Seuss is cool
when UH is at home

THERE was a man. Somehow you could see him, about five rows up, in the middle of the madness of Monday night. He was just one of those faces that stand out in a crowd.

And then Carl English nailed a 3-pointer and then Michael Kuebler did the same and then the Stan Sheriff Center erupted, and you could see this guy. A face in the middle of it all.

He could take it no longer. He'd leapt to his feet (or was he already there?) and he hopped up and down and waved his arms as if all of this was too much for him, as if he simply could not handle the enormity of the moment.

You could see this sensory overload, even among the thousands of faces in the arena, and in the middle of the shot's aftermath, emotion exploding all around, you could read the guy's lips:

"Oh! My God!"

Later, the same guy would dispute an official's call with such energy and verve that he sprinted down those five rows, one hand behind his head, the other out front of him, the basketball symbol for charging. When he ran out of room, he found himself in the front row, next to Hawaii athletic director Herman Frazier, who found himself next to this man.

Frazier seemed pleasantly taken aback by the sudden presence of this nut. Frazier stood, clapping, smiling now, and as the place went bonkers, raining emotion down on the court, Frazier put his hand behind his head, jokingly, just for a split second, joining the basketball crackpot beside him. They stood there, together, dueling officials.

The crowd continued to go nuts. Everyone was together, all together, excited about this game, and this team.

You just knew Hawaii was going to beat Fresno State.

THEY SAT THERE afterward, resplendent in Horton Hears a Who chic. Everything feels right when you're winning, when you're at home, and English and Kuebler met the media sporting green Cat in the Hat hats, and they knew they were cool.

"It's our house," English said that Monday night. "And you're not going to get a win in here."

On the road, as they are today, the Dr. Seuss look would have been simply ridiculous.

They wouldn't have the confidence to pull it off.

The road is a different story. At home, where the band plays, where thousands live and die with every shot, where there are crazy people in the stands that lift them, and are lifted by them, UH has won 22 straight.

On the road, that streak is, uh, zero.

The energy isn't there, the emotion of being taken for a ride by that home crowd. And yet they somehow have to get as high. Higher.

"It's not something I can do," Riley Wallace said. "They have to do it collectively as a team."

Last year's team could do it. This year's has already lost at Boise, and here come three games on an 11-day swing.

At home everyone is a "secret weapon." Everyone is the man.

"We feel like nobody can come in here and beat us," English said. "If we could take it to the road, we'd be a tough team to stop."

Yes, that's the idea.

Kalani Simpson can be reached at

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