By Fred Guzman
Anyone who saw Hiram Thompson’s crash landing during Friday night’s game at the Lahaina Civic knew this was likely to happen.
Now, it’s all but certain that Thompson will be unavailable when Hawaii takes a dramatic step up in competition during the Diamond Head Classic that tips off tonight at the Stan Sheriff Center. The game will be aired on AM-900 starting at 8 o’clock
Without their senior guard, the Rainbows will have to exclusively rely on the freshman Bobby Miles to run the point during the nationally televised tournament starting with Florida State.
With Thompson suffering his latest injury about five minutes into the game, Miles was forced to play all but one minute in the 86-57 rout of Chicago State. UH also likely will be missing senior forward Bill Amis, who is still recovering from a stress fracture in his right foot.
But there’s a huge d
ifference in talent between Chicago State, a 3-10 team that competes in the not-so-Great West, and Florida State, a 9-2 team that is a member of the powerful Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Seminoles are coming off an NCAA appearance last March and their only setbacks this year came in back-to-back games against 19th-ranked Florida and No. 2 Ohio State.
Florida State’s top player is Chris Singleton, a 6-foot-9 forward who was a pre-season all-ACC pick after leading the conference with 71 steals and 48 blocks last season. This year, he’s averaging a team-best 14.9 points and 7.6 rebounds.
In today’s other first-round games, Mississippi State faces Washington State at 10 a.m., San Diego meets 15th-ranked Baylor at noon and Utah challenges defending national runnerup Butler at 6 p.m. All four fist-round games will be televised on ESPNU.
RANKINGS: The name should be changed to the Big Beast in college basketball. Five teams from the conference formally known as the Big East ane the top 10 of this week’s ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll with the additions of Villanova and Georgetown.
The top five remained unchanged, with No. 1 Duke, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Kansas, No. 4 Connecticut, which won the Maui Invitational Tournament title, and No. 5 Syracuse all holding steady.
Duke again was a unanimous choice at No. 1, receiving all 31 first-place votes. The Blue Devils also are No. 1 in the latest Associated Press media poll.
For the Big East, Pitt rose two spots to No. 6, while No. 8 Villanova and No. 9 Georgetown joined the top 10. The conference has a total of seven teams in the Top 25, including No. 20 Notre Dame and No. 25 Louisville.
Maui Invitational runner-up Kentucky of the SEC is No. 13.