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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, May 20, 2010

Clearly, Arnold made his point, too

By Ferd Lewis

That Gib Arnold has signed eight recruits in his short time as the University of Hawai'i men's basketball coach is remarkable.

But for all the talk about the players he has brought in, what is also telling is the ones Arnold has jettisoned.

Yesterday, the school announced that mercurial shooting guard Dwain Williams is history, joining former backcourt mate Jeramy Lay in the exit lane.

Officially, Williams is "pursuing other options," according to Arnold. Candidly, the door was held open.

If you're counting, this leaves the Rainbow Warriors with an average of nine points and three rebounds returning next year. You'd be hard-pressed to find another Division I school with such meager returning statistics.

Which is why it had to be tempting for Arnold, a first-year head coach, to want to give Williams, who averaged 14 points a game last season, a second chance. Or, more likely, a third or fourth one, if you count the opportunities at redemption extended last year.

Coaches, often to a fault, like to believe they can be the one to reach a player with whom others have struggled. And, the challenge is one Arnold undoubtedly considered.

Especially since Lay, the team's fourth leading scorer (8.4 points) and Williams, second in point production, could have been big-time scorers in Arnold's system; Williams most especially.

Arnold, then a USC assistant coach, saw up close in the Diamond Head Classic last year what Williams was capable of. Williams, who had been touted as UH's "prize recruit" last year, looked every bit the part as an all-tournament pick with a three-game run that included 20 points against Nevada-Las Vegas, 36 against Saint Mary's and 28 versus Northwestern State.

Of course, the flip side was that Williams played only three more games for the 'Bows, serving a couple of suspensions for what were classified as "violations of team rules."

Then-head coach Bob Nash paid a price, too, with the 'Bows going 7-7 with Williams and 3-13 without.

And now, with Williams' departure, it figures to be Arnold's turn to take a hit and not just in scoring totals. Williams' departure is likely to lower UH's Academic Performance Rating, the score the NCAA uses to judge a school's adherence to academic benchmarks, and could cost the 'Bows a scholarship down the road.

It is commendable that Arnold has apparently made calls on Williams' behalf, attempting to secure him a pro tryout overseas.

If you're a new coach who is promising a team that is going to "play hard, play with passion and play together," the proof isn't just in the players you bring in but also in the ones you let go.