Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, December 24, 2001

TV exposure amplifies Rainbow Classic triumph

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

The championship game of the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic proved to be far-reaching and chart-climbing for the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team.

Hawai'i's Phil Martin shoots over Georgia's Chris Daniels in the Rainbow Classic championship game.

Eugene Tanner • The Honolulu Advertiser

The Rainbow Warriors defeated Georgia, 54-44, on Saturday for their most significant victory so far this season. The 'Bows, who begin play in the Western Athletic Conference on Thursday, completed their non-conference season 9-2.

The championship victory over a quality Georgia team from the Southeastern Conference did not go unnoticed.

For starters, the game was televised nationally — and internationally, apparently — on CNN/Sports Illustrated.

"We had 12 messages waiting for us when we got home," UH forward Phil Martin said. "All my relatives called to say what a great game it was and congratulating us."

Martin and his roommate, Carl English, are from Canada.

"It pumps you up when you hear stuff like that," Martin said. "I'm so glad we came through knowing everybody was watching."

UH head coach Riley Wallace said he also received several calls from relatives across the United States after Saturday's game.

"You want the big crowds in there," Wallace said. "But when you think about how many people watched us on TV, it's OK."

All three UH victories in the tournament were televised live nationally and locally. The average attendance for those three games was 4,727.

Regardless of the crowd figures, the victory was also noticed in the latest Rating Percentage Index (RPI), released yesterday.

After the Georgia victory, Hawai'i climbed more than 60 spots to No. 81 out of 324 NCAA Division I teams.

"That's what a big win will do for you," Wallace said. "We just need to follow it up now."

Prior to its loss to UH, Georgia was No. 10 in the RPI. Now, the Bulldogs are No. 15. The RPI helps determine at-large bids to the NCAA Tournament at the end of the season.

In any case, the 'Bows will not have much time to celebrate. Hawai'i will open the WAC season against Fresno State, last year's regular-season champ and the preseason pick to win it again. Hawai'i was predicted to finish second.

"I think it's a great way to start," Martin said. "We came off such a great win over Georgia, we're ready to go."

Fresno State will not be quite so ready. Center Melvin Ely, last season's WAC Player of the Year, will have to sit out the UH game as part of a six-game NCAA suspension for receiving improper benefits.

"Not to say that if Ely was there we couldn't win," Martin said. "But we'll take all the help we can get."

The UH post players proved their own worth in the Rainbow Classic. Center Haim Shimonovich was named the most valuable player after recording 29 points, 26 rebounds and nine blocked shots in the three victories. Martin contributed 32 points and 30 rebounds.

"I would have liked to play against Ely," Shimonovich said. "But it doesn't matter who is there. Fresno State is still good and we still have to play better if we want to beat them."