Hawaii men’s basketball: 100th Season Best-Team Bracket, Elite Eight, Day 3

Hawaii's Mindaugas Burneika, center, and Luc-Arthur Vebobe (43) blocked a shot by Portland's Coky Rochin on Dec. 19, 2001. / Associated Press file photo

Chalk continues to rule the day in the Hawaii basketball 100th Season Best-Team Bracket.

Friday’s 4-5 matchup between the 1997-98 “Dynamic Duo” and the 1970-71 “Fabulous Five” went the way of the pair, not the quintet, and rather decisively, too — 71.2% to 28.8% as the poll is almost closed.

Will the favorites continue their domination today on Day 3 of the quarterfinals?

The NCAA Tournament-seasoned international wonder boys of the third seed, 2001-02, must contend with the first iteration of the “Duo” in 1996-97. This sixth-seeded A.C. and Alika team didn’t go as far, nor notch a singular win as big, as the ’97-98 squad, but most of the pieces were there and they won a rare conference regular-season championship.

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:

3. 2001-02 (27-6, NCAA first round)

Hawaii’s Phil Martin (2), Carl English (23), Tony Akpan and Haim Shimonovich (14) celebrated Hawaii’s 73-59 win over Tulsa in WAC tournament championship on March 9, 2002. / Associated Press file photo

The heart of UH’s team that went to the NCAA Tournament the year before made it again, the first back-to-back trip to The Dance for the ‘Bows. And this time it was not just because they got hot for the conference tournament. Coach Riley Wallace added a key piece — true point guard Mark Campbell — to a team already loaded with scorers. UH had a sharp-shooting and deep backcourt of Predrag Savovic (20.6 points per game), Carl English (15.5) and Mike McIntyre (10.0), augmented by a solid frontline of Haim Shimonovich, Phil Martin and Mindaugas Burneika — plus Tony Akpan and Paul Jesinskis. All told, it was the high point of the program’s international flair. McIntyre and Burneika were starting-caliber players who came off the bench to regularly score in double figures. This team beat conference rival Tulsa (29-7) all three times they met — including at the Golden Hurricane’s Reynolds Center for the WAC tournament title for the second straight year — and never lost back-to-back games all season in setting what was then a program record for wins. But UH also never played a ranked team until it ran into No. 22 Xavier in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Dallas. Hawaii, a 10 seed facing a 7, built a 12-point lead late in the first half, including a rousing chase-down block of David West by the freshman Akpan. But West and Romain Sato took control right before the break — scoring five points in the last 43 seconds of the half — and the Musketeers cruised to a 70-58 win. UH had a new school season record for wins, but was now 0-4 in NCAA Tournament games. Twelfth-seeded Tulsa, incidentally, upset Dwyane Wade and fifth-seeded Marquette 71-69 in the NCAA first round. UH finished the season at No. 25 in the AP poll, its first ranking in March in 30 years. It remains the last time UH was ranked.
Roster: Akpan, Burneika, Campbell, English, Ryne Holliday, Jesinskis, Gabe Lombard, Martin, McIntyre, Dan Pickart, Savovic, Shimonovich, Lance Takaki, Luc-Arthur Vebobe, Milos Zivanovic.


6. 1996-97 (21-8, NIT second round)

After UH beat Memphis to take third place in the 1996 Rainbow Classic, Micah Kroeger gave Seth Sundberg a high five. Behind them are the “Dynamic Duo” of Alika Smith and Anthony Carter, plus big man Eric Ambrozich. / Star-Advertiser file photo by Dennis Oda

UHs’ Mike Robinson (left) and Danny Furlong went up for the rebound vs. Northwestern’s Joe Harmsen (lt) and Nate Pomeday on Dec. 27, 1996. / Star-Advertiser file photo by Dennis Oda

Anthony Carter (Atlanta) and Alika Smith (Kalaheo High) were from opposite sides of the country. But when they shared UH backcourt duties for two magical seasons it seemed as though they’d played together forever. Carter was a lightning-quick slasher and a leaper, and Smith a deadly 3-point shooter. Defenders learned the hard way that if you paid more attention to either one and his set of skills, the other would likely burn you badly. Thus, the “Dynamic Duo” was born. Carter averaged 18.7 points and Smith was second on the team with 17.9 while hitting 41.1 percent of his 3-pointers. UH was 13th in the nation in shooting from the floor at .487. That was largely due to Carter’s penetration that led to 6.6 assists per game, a mark that helped him win the WAC Pacific Division Player of the Year, UH’s first conference player of the year award. Smith and Carter both were named to the WAC All-Defensive team; the two would finish as top-six players in UH career steals. Frontliners Micah Kroeger, Eric Ambrozich, Mike Robinson and captain Seth Sundberg all averaged between 7 and 10 points. … UH was 9-2 overall after it beat 16th-ranked New Mexico 75-62 to start conference play, and the ‘Bows soon ripped off 10 wins in 11 games en route to the WAC’s Pacific Division title with a 12-4 mark, its first regular-season conference championship. Riley Wallace picked up his second of three WAC Coach of the Year awards for his efforts. But a 65-57 loss to those same Lobos (ranked No. 14 this time) in a tough draw in the conference tourney first round relegated UH to the NIT; it beat Oregon 71-61 at home — the first men’s basketball postseason game held at the Stan Sheriff Center — but after an 89-80 OT loss at UNLV, it was hold-the-MSG yet again for the Rainbows. The bigger fireworks would wait for the following winter.
Roster: Ambrozich, Carter, Aaron Curry, Danny Furlong, Quinton Gallon, Kroeger, Luke Meyers, Greg Miller, Robinson, Smith, Sundberg, Jason Yadao, Ales Zivanovic.

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