Hawaii men’s basketball: 100th Season Best-Team Bracket, Elite Eight, Day 2

Anthony Carter clutched the game ball moments after UH upset No. 2 Kansas 76-65 on Dec. 30, 1997. Carter was named MVP of the Rainbow Classic. / Star-Advertiser file photo by Dennis Oda

Today would’ve been the last day of the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16.

How’s that for some perspective as you hang out at home, looking for things to do?

In our tournament, it’s Day 2 of the Hawaii basketball 100th Season Best-Team Bracket. The top seed, 2015-16, rolled to another easy victory as decided by the voters on Thursday, becoming the first team to make it to our “Final Four.”

Another spot is up for grabs today between two storied NIT teams. It’s the fifth-seeded, trend-setting “Fabulous Five” inaugural squad of 1970-71, vs. the “Dynamic Duo,” our No. 4 seed of 1997-98 that registered the single biggest upset in UH history.

The “Elite Eight” of the tournament is set after Twitter voting favored all eight of the highest seeds last week.

Voting begins at 9 a.m. (HST) on Twitter. You can vote below, or directly on the Warrior World Twitter page.

On to the day’s matchup:

>> No. 5 1970-71 (23-5, NIT quarterfinals)

John Penebacker battled Georgia Tech for the ball in February of 1971. / Star-Advertiser file

Bob Nash skied for a rebound against Alaska-Fairbanks in February of 1971. / Star-Advertiser file

The names will never be forgotten by UH fans, and Hawaii schoolkids learned them before the names of the islands: Bob Nash, John Penebacker, Al Davis, Jerome “Hook” Freeman and Dwight Holiday, collectively known as The Fabulous Five; they were all from the continental United States, but coached by Red Rocha, a Hilo High grad and former NBA All-Star and champion. The aloha-print clad ‘Bows first showed glimpses of something special when they beat rival BYU in the Rainbow Classic. Davis (a high school teammate of Freeman from Chicago) led UH with 18.9 points per game and all five averaged in double-figure scoring. Nash averaged 12.9 rebounds and grabbed 25 rebounds in a win at Rhode Island, a record that he’d top twice the following year. Other signature wins included a title-clincher over BYU for UH’s first Rainbow Classic championship, two home victories over Georgia Tech, as well as at Arizona State and at Pepperdine. There were close losses at Loyola, St. John’s and San Diego State. UH was 18-0 at the Blaisdell until losing to Centenary in the second day of a back-to-back, 67-66 in the home finale on Feb. 27. The Rainbows nonetheless earned their first-ever NIT bid, and beat Oklahoma 88-87 in double-overtime in New York City, before losing to St. Bonaventure in the second round (which was actually the quarterfinals at the time). The Five were durable; all five played all 28 games, and they averaged well over 30 minutes each. The team averaged 90.3 points per game, outscoring opponents by around 15.
Roster: Davis, Tim DeSilva, Freeman, Holiday, Todd Huber, Steve Johns, Mike Kendall, Nash, Tom Newell, Penebacker, Dennis Sallas, Mark Skillicorn, Bob Titchenal.


>> No. 4 1997-98 (21-9, NIT quarterfinals)

Erin Galloway jammed on a drive past Indiana’s William Gladness in the 1997-98 season opener on Nov. 28, 1997. / Star-Advertiser file photo by Dennis Oda

Chris Herren, a Hawaii nemesis, ended the season of the Rainbow Warriors in the NIT quarterfinals at the Stan Sheriff Center by scoring 35 points in Fresno State’s 85-83 win. / Star-Advertiser file photo

When Anthony Carter and Alika Smith came back for their senior year, the secret was out; they were touted as one of the best backcourt tandems in the nation. It didn’t matter, however, that coaching legends Bobby Knight and Roy Williams knew this; the UH guards and their teammates beat Knight’s Indiana Hoosiers 82-65 on opening night and then — in what remains 23 years later the biggest upset in UH’s program history — the Rainbows knocked off Williams’ No. 2-ranked Kansas Jayhawks 76-65 in the Rainbow Classic on the day before New Year’s Eve. That made the ‘Bows 10-1 and earned them the No. 21 spot in the AP poll. But then came conference play, and Hawaii was not much better than a .500 team the rest of the way. It finished the WAC regular season strong with five straight wins, but then lost to UNLV in the first round of the league tournament. After victories over Arizona State and Gonzaga, UH lost to Fresno State in another NIT quarterfinals disappointment. Smith (18.3 points, 67 3s made) and Carter (18.2, 7.3 assists, 2.2 steals) were again excellent throughout the season. Names like Erin Galloway, Eric Ambrozich and Micah Kroeger are just as recognizable with this group, and Mike Robinson was the captain. Carter’s 212 assists is the program’s season record for total dimes and he was just behind all-time leader Reggie Carter (7.4 per game) in assist average (7.3). But Hawaii had just six rebounds, total, more than its opponents over the course of 30 games. A.C. Carter went on to play 13 NBA seasons, while Smith went on to become an assistant coach at UH and at the high school level.
Roster: Ambrozich, Carter, Casey Cartwright, Galloway, Rahula Hall, Chad Hook, Kroeger, Luke Meyers, Greg Miller, Brian Moeller, Dean Penebacker, Mike Robinson, Robbie Robinson, Kelii Silva, Smith, Ales Zivanovic.

Brian McInnis and Dave Reardon assembled the season summaries. Curtis Murayama designed the 100th season bracket.