By Dave Reardon
Saint Mary's coach Randy Bennett was not in a very good mood after Hawaii edged his team at the buzzer in a Diamond Head Classic game on Monday night. Can't say I blame him — some of the first -half calls that got his team in foul trouble were a little sketch. Regardless, a great win for UH which made the plays when needed. The Rainbow Warriors are a very entertaining team that will make noise in the Big West and maybe beyond.
Here's what Bennett had to say afterward, followed by a few quotes from UH coach Gib Arnold (got to his postgame presser late because I had to wait outside of Saint Mary's lockerroom quite a while.
Q: "You stayed with Hawaii the entire game but couldn't get over the hump."
A: "We played well."
Q: "Anything on the officiating, was it called to tight?"
A: "Don't even tease me with that question."
Q: Hawaii made strong runs at the end of the first half and start of second half. Any comment on that or what they did?
A: "Ah, they played downsize. We got in so much foul trouble early, in that first half. And they played downsize. We didn't do a very good job defensively, again. We're really struggling there. But we couldn't play much better offensively."
Q: "This is a bit awkward to talk about right now, but it's no secret your name came up a lot when the Hawaii job opened up three years ago. Any comment?"
A: "Rumors. Straight rumors. There was nothing there. (Former Saint Mary's AD and current UH associate AD) Carl Clapp's here. He's a good guy. That's my one connection to Hawaii and I have a lot of respect for this program and school, it's a good place."
Here's a long Gib Arnold answer to a question I got in at the end of his post-game talk with reporters:
Q: "Where does this win rank for you?"
A: "I haven't had a lot of time to think about it, but as far as the win itself it's a great win against a great team. 24 RPI, they win 20, 27 games a year. A program that's where we want to be. I was in the WCC with Randy Bennett. We were stepping all over them and they took over a last place team. I told that story to my team that they're where we want to go they've done what we want to do. They've done the heavy lifting. They're a program. we're a team that occasionally plays good basketball.
"A big step to becoming a program is beating another program and we did that tonight. It's a big win especially big coming off a tough, tough loss. I think that adds to it.
"Again, I found that … as a coach I learned a lot about my team today because of the circumstances. what I learned pleased me as a coach.
"We're not there. We've got to play a really good Pac-12 team. Every year we call every single Pac-12 team and ask them to play us, home and home. We're told no every single time. Now we've got a shot at one.
"The guys from L.A., the West Coast guys are excited about the game on Christmas (against Oregon State."