How low can the Rainbows go?
By Ferd Lewis
If the University of Hawai'i ends up making a men's basketball coaching change — and it is getting increasingly harder to see how it won't — then last night's game could have been the exclamation point.
The Rainbow Warriors hit more than an artistic low in the 102-89 non-conference loss to Cal Poly, they did it statistically as well.
With some of the remnants of a crowd of 2,669 perversely counting it down, the 'Bows had an opponent ring up 100 points on them for the first time in the 16-year history of the Stan Sheriff Center.
Not a nationally ranked or even conference championship contender, either, but the fifth-place team in the Big West, of all people.
Some of the Mustangs, a team that arrived with a 9-16 record having lost six of its last seven games and a 6-point underdog, took souvenir pictures of the scoreboard afterward. Yes, it has come to that now for the skidding 'Bows.
UH has other reasons to remember it. In a season that has gone beyond frustration and disappointment for the 'Bows, last night's loss, the eighth in a row, pretty much summed it up in the worst of ways.
Roderick Flemings scored 39 points — the most by a 'Bow on this home court — but ignored the coaches' commands not to foul with 31 seconds remaining to help find time to do it. He seemed to glance up at the scoreboard that showed him with 36 points, one below his UH career high, before doing it.
As bad as the game finished for the 'Bows, it began even worse. The 'Bows were out-hustled, out-shot and even beaten on the boards by the decidedly smaller Mustangs in a first half where they, not by coincidence, trailed by 21 points (51-30).
UH played defense passively and the 'Bows, the Western Athletic Conference's worst 3-point shooting team, seemed like it wanted to get into a long distance shooting contest with the Mustangs, who made 9 of their first 14 3-point attempts.
Remarkably, the 'Bows closed to eight points (64-56) with 13 minutes, 50 seconds remaining in the second half, and were within 10 (73-63) with 9 minutes, 33 seconds left but couldn't do any better. Going without a field goal for more than 4 minutes didn't help.
So, here the 'Bows are 9-17 (2-10 WAC) with four regular season games — all WAC contests remaining. They might need two wins to avoid the WAC cellar and gain entry to the conference tournament.
But after last night, barring a miracle, it is hard to see where — or how they'll get them.
More likely, it will take something remarkable just to avoid the ignominy of finishing with a 12-game losing streak.