Since 1972, when Hawaii's Fabulous Five went 24-3 and packed Blaisdell Arena in Honolulu game after game, success has passed somewhere over the Rainbows. A debilitating probation incurred during the tenure of former coach Bruce O'Neil left his successor, Larry Little, with precious little to build on, and Little stepped down at the end of last season. His nine years were hardly paradisiacal. Players were shipped in and out, and little more than half graduated. Expectations had ebbed so low that last season, when Garland Hughes became the first of Little's Rainbows ever to graduate in as few as 4½ years, he actually apologized. Seems that Hughes felt he might have given hoops short shrift in favor of academics.
Walking into this situation is former BYU coach Frank Arnold, who replaces Little. Under Little, the Bows would annually match themselves up against the weakest team in their Rainbow Classic Christmas tourney, then play some mainland power like Maryland or Oklahoma, and lose. Meanwhile, across town, NAIA Chaminade would beat Virginia, Louisville or SMU, then suffer the indignity of their Division I neighbor refusing to play them.
Hawaii passed over Chaminade coach Merv Lopes, a native islander, in favor of Arnold. The new Bow coach would do well to upgrade his schedule—and see that his players stick around and pay more attention to theirs.
SIX TEAMS TO PITY
Creighton. The Bluejays lost their center. They lost their backup center. They lost their point guard. They lost their coach. They're left with a pair of guards—Gary Swain and backup Renard Edwards—known as the Smith Bros., because they cough up the ball so much.
Nonetheless, new coach Tony Barone led a mock victory celebration at a preseason practice. The irrepressible Jays hoisted Barone high and cut down the nets.
•West Texas State. No one seems to want to go to the tumbleweed town of Canyon, Texas, for even two years. The Buffaloes have brought in a herd of 17 juco transfers since 1984, yet nine are already gone. Matters are so miserable that the Missouri Valley school will drop to Division II next season.
•Hawaii Loa. The Mongoose, an NAIA team with a 5-45 record in its two seasons of competition, will play Georgetown, Oklahoma, Illinois, LSU and Memphis State. Perhaps Loa should change its nickname to Mongeese: There's strength in numbers.
•Georgia State. The good news: The Panthers return three starters. The bad news: Those starters helped State go 2-26 with nary a win in Trans America Athletic Conference play last season.
•U.S. International. The Gulls have won three and lost 53 over the past two seasons. Can they survive the loss of 5'2½" floor leader Zach Lieberman, a.k.a. the Hully-Gully Man, who fled midway through last season?