JAN 3, 1982: Riley Wallace gives Larry Connors his shot

It did Larry Little‘s heart good to see Larry Connors break out on this date in 1982.

Racky Sesler went coast-to-coast for a layup and Hawaii beat Oral Roberts 80-78 before 2,708 fans at the Blaisdell Arena. The Rainbows were coming off a successful Rainbow Classic and were so drained that Little, their head coach, was ordered to stay away and let assistant Riley Wallace coach the team for a game.

Wallace turned to sixth-man Connors in the game and received 13 points, five rebounds, a blocked shot and a steal. His 26 minutes for Wallace were a season high.

Clarence Dickerson and Bobby Hancock led the team with 20 points each, but Connors was he pleasant surprise, with Wallace saying “He puts on the pads when he comes to practice.”

The 6-foot-7 forward took his sweet time arriving to Hawaii. He led his Rancho Cordova (Calif.) team to a 72-11 record in his prep career and was conference player of the year but his poor grades scared colleges away.

He went to Santa Barbara City College, but couldn’t crack the starting five. Then UH assistant Cal Smith saw something more and invited him to Manoa. Connors played three years for UH.