Time has come for Flemings to step up
By Ferd Lewis
When Roderick Flemings' name is announced over the public address system at the Stan Sheriff Center these days you can't help but flash back to his almost breathless arrival at the University of Hawai'i some 20 months ago.
Back then, on letter of intent signing day, men's head basketball coach Bob Nash compared him with the sainted Anthony Carter saying, "Not since A.C. have we signed a player with the type of talent and excitement that Roderick brings." In anticipation, UH began season ticket sales immediately.
Now, as the Rainbow Warriors prepare to open their Western Athletic Conference season Saturday against Idaho, you wonder what Flemings' legacy will turn out to be. How he leads the 'Bows through this, his last WAC season, will say a lot about how UH fares and, ultimately, how he is remembered here.
And, too, it will say plenty about the fate of the coach for whom he was a marquee acquisition.
The games have gone fast. After nearly a season and a half in a UH uniform, Flemings could have as few as 17 of them remaining in his much-hyped two-year stay. Or, playing as if on a mission and summoning all his talents, with a little luck he might be able to lead 'Bows into the postseason.
Either way, there is ample opportunity to make memories and shape a legacy.
To be sure, we've seen flashes of brilliance from No. 23, such as the 37 points against Eastern Washington last year. We've seen how, playing like a man possessed, he can hoist the 'Bows on his back and take over a game, as was the case with Southern Utah this season. He can be colorful and inspiring.
And he can also be mystifying. We've seen games in which he has disappeared or been rendered a non-factor, notably the four-point performance against New Mexico.
There have been, along with a flirtation with the NBA Draft, injuries and double- and triple-teaming defenses.
Last year, especially, UH struggled to get Flemings the ball in optimum situations and had few other offensive threats to keep teams from loading up on him.
This year you wish he had Bill Amis around. But the emergence of Dwain Williams as an offensive weapon these past few weeks suggests Flemings should have a fair stage on which to display his abilities and some room to operate. As much as he is going to get, anyway.
With three consecutive 20-plus-point games, two of which came while Flemings was out with a bruised knee, Williams now leads the 'Bows in scoring at 15.6 points per game.
But there is no mistaking that this is Flemings' team to lead by example and talent, and his time in which to do it.