Arnold Has All The Right Pieces

Hawaii forward Christian Standhardinger (34) shoots a layup against St. Mary's in the Diamond Head Classic Dec. 23. Hawaii beat Saint Mary's 76-74 | AP Photo, Eugene Tanner

Hawaii forward Christian Standhardinger (34) shoots a layup against St. Mary’s in the Diamond Head Classic Dec. 23. Hawaii beat Saint Mary’s 76-74 | AP Photo, Eugene Tanner

If you haven’t discovered this year’s UH Rainbow Warrior basketball team, run (don’t walk) to Stan Sheriff Center. Last week’s opening games in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic featured matches against two excellent teams picked to make the NCAA tournament in Boise State and Saint Mary’s.

After a heartbreaking loss in the final seconds to the Broncos, UH had to be back on the court against the West Coast Conference Gaels, where Hawaii used relentless defensive pressure to force 17 turnovers, and got outstanding point-guard play from Keith Shamburger, as well as a terrific 22-point, nine-rebound effort by Christian Stanhardinger, to win on the latter’s last-second shot 76-74. It seems like Gib Arnold finally has gotten the pieces to play the uptempo transition game featuring fearsome defensive pressure that he’s espoused since taking the UH job. All have come together to create the most exciting brand of basketball that UH has seen in many years.

And conference play hasn’t even begun. Hawaii was picked sixth in the Big West this season, but if the Rainbow Warriors stay healthy, they will be considerably better than that.

Completing the joy for UH basketball fans, the Rainbow Wahine is an unusually undersized but gritty team that doesn’t seem to give any quarter to being overmatched. Taking their cue from intensely competitive coach Laura Beeman, the Rainbow Wahine have already had a couple of big comeback wins. Expect more when they begin conference play! * Let the firings begin! While the best NFL teams gear up for this week’s playoffs, the teams that didn’t perform well are strategizing for the future. The first order of business is deciding whether to keep the coach, and the decision involves far more than looking at the record.

Two coaches whose teams underachieved are considered to be safe: Atlanta’s Mike Smith and the Giants’ Tom Coughlin – both enjoy the respect of ownership and have a level of past success.

Other coaches seemingly have run out of good will. Detroit’s Jim Schwartz saw his team nosedive after a good start, and Washington’s Mike Shanahan not only failed to win, but his relationship with owner Dan Snyder has soured. Both coaches could be gone within days of the final game.

And you can’t underestimate owners’ whim in explaining some of the decisions. A case in point will be the fate of Cowboys coach Jason Garrett. Owner (and general manager) Jerry Jones could either fire Garrett for failure to win consistently or retain him, blaming past failures on injuries and fate.

And where do owners go to find new coaches? Do you recycle currently unemployed former NFL coaches or delve into the coordinator ranks? Or maybe go the college route like the Niners did with Jim Harbaugh or the Eagles with Chip Kelly? Considering how critical the decision is and how expensive it becomes, there sometimes seems to be remarkably little logic in the selection process.

Hauoli Makahiki Hou!