WAC preseason poll ranks UH basketball team 2nd
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Depending on how you look at it, the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team is either getting a lot of respect from the Western Athletic Conference this season, or not enough of it.
The Rainbow Warriors were predicted to finish second in a preseason poll of the WAC's head coaches released yesterday. The 'Bows, who have never been predicted to finish first in the preseason coaches poll, were also picked to place second last year.
"It's good motivation," said senior point guard Mark Campbell. "It means we still have to go out there and prove something."
UH's Carl English was picked as the preseason Player of the Year. The 6-foot-5 junior guard averaged 15.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game last season.
"It's preseason, so I don't take anything from it," English said. "I still have to go out and prove myself."
Despite returning four starters from last season's record-setting 27-6 team that won both the WAC regular-season and tournament titles, Hawai'i received just two first-place votes from the WAC coaches.
Tulsa, which returns four starters from a 27-7 team, received seven first-place votes, and is predicted to finish first. Hawai'i went 3-0 against the Golden Hurricane last season, including a victory in the WAC Tournament championship game.
"It doesn't matter right now," Campbell said. "The ultimate goal is to be No. 1 at the end of the season. All the stuff coming out right now is for the fans and the media to talk about."
UH head coach Riley Wallace said he picked Tulsa first (coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team).
"You can use this stuff to motivate your players and maybe help in recruiting, but other than that, you can't read too much into it," he said.
English, a second-team All-WAC selection last season, was the only UH player selected to the preseason All-WAC teams.
"I guess we have to go out and earn everybody's respect all over again," English said. "Phil (Martin) is a great defensive player; Mark (Campbell) is a great player. Those guys never seem to get mentioned for stuff like this."
The WAC preseason poll more or less followed the trend set by national basketball publications. Tulsa and Hawai'i were picked either first or second in virtually every preseason magazine.
"It tells you there are two good teams at the top of the WAC," Wallace said. "I'd much rather be up there than picked way at the bottom."
Nash not committed yet: Iolani School senior Bobby Nash said last night he is not yet ready to commit to a college for next season.
"Hawai'i has always been at the top of my list," he said. "But I still haven't decided."
Nash denied Web site reports yesterday that stated without attribution that he had committed to play for Hawai'i.
"I never talked to any media about it, so it's just rumors, I guess," he said.
Nash, a 6-foot-7 forward, is the son of UH associate head coach Bob Nash, who was a member of the legendary "Fabulous Five" UH teams of the early 1970s.
Bobby Nash said he enjoyed an unofficial visit to Nevada-Las Vegas last week, and could visit UNLV again before making a decision.
"It's between Hawai'i and UNLV right now," he said.
Tip-Off Banquet: The annual Tip-Off Banquet for the UH Men's Basketball Booster Club is scheduled for Nov. 14 at 6 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Tickets are $50 per person (free for "Coach" and "Captain" level boosters), and includes a buffet dinner. Reservations must be made by Friday through the UH basketball office at 956-6501.
Preseason All-WAC First Team
Carl English, Jr., G/F, Hawaii
Kevin Johnson, Sr., F, Tulsa
Quinton Ross, Sr., G/F, SMU
Dante Swanson, Sr., G, Tulsa
Antonio Meeking, Sr., F, La. Tech
Player of the Year
Carl English, Hawaii
Preseason All-WAC Second Team
Terrance Green (Nevada), G, Sr.
Michael Harris (Rice), F, So.
Antonio Reed (Tulsa), G, Sr.
Brandon Hawkins (SJSU), G, Sr.
Kirk Snyder (Nevada), F, So.
WAC preseason poll
(First-place votes in parenthesis)
1. Tulsa (7)
2. Hawaii (2)
3. Louisiana Tech
5. Fresno St. (1)
9. San Jose St.
10. Boise St.