Brent Blum breaks down all of the teams participating in the Rainbow Classic.
Ah, Hawaii. I can feel the
warmth from here. The Cyclones are looking to get healthy and rested on the
basketball floor, getting a couple W's in the tropics. This tourney will be a
good barometer of where Iowa State actually is. They should be the
favorite to win, but could lose all 3 games if they don't bring it. Let's take a
look at the teams.
The Bulls (5-3) enter the first
year in the mammoth and extremely loaded Big East. They could be in for a long
year. The Bulls have losses to Florida International, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, and Michigan. The teams they have defeated have a
combined record of 11-27. The Bulls are very young, returning only two starters
and two bench players from a year ago. Senior guard James Holmes (6'2') is sixth
in the Big East in scoring with 19.1, and first in minutes at 39 per game. Big
man Soloman Jones (6'10") is a enforcer inside averaging 4.25 block a game, good
enough for fifth in the nation. Other main-stays are PG Chris Capko (6'1" 7 APG)
and F Melvin Buckley (6'6" 13.5 PPG) These four are all in the top 10 in the Big
East for minutes played, each averaging over 35 per game.
The Beavers (4-3) match-up with
Northwestern St. (6-2) on ISU's side of the
bracket. The Beavers and Cyclones have one common opponent in Fresno State. The Beavers lost at Fresno 70-63. They also
have losses to Tennessee Tech (62-90) and Portland (62-76.) But, they are coming off a
nice win against Georgia. They also won an exhibition
game over Lewis & Clark, a team that explores the perimeter very well. The
Beavs are led in part by former Iowa Hawkeye Nick DeWitz. DeWitz a 6'8 F is
averaging 11 points and 5 boards. Guard Chris Stephens leads them in scoring at
14 PPG, shooting 46 percent from deep. They are very balanced with 8 players
averaging between 5 and 14 points.
St. is located in Natchitoches, Louisiana, which is just SW of Shreveport, or
in the NW of Louisiana, thus the name of the school. They are creative down
there. The Demons have had a nice start to the year. They have wins over
Oklahoma State and Mississippi State. Their only losses were to
St. and Missouri. They are paced by 6'7' F Clifton Lee, who is avg.
16 points and 8 boards. He had 24 and 9 against Okie State. 6'3" G Jermaine Wallace is
averaging 10 points per game and is not shy on hoisting shots from downtown
(16-45.) The Demons play everybody, with 11 guys averaging 10 or more minutes.
They will run with the Clones if ISU gets the chance to play
St. (7-1) meets Western Michigan (2-4) on the other side of the bracket.
The Rams (Mountain West Conf.) are off to a hot start, starting 7-1 for only the
eighth time in school history. Soph. 7'0' F Jason Smith was regarded as the best
recruit in CSU history as a freshman last year. This season he is blowing up (in
a good way) averaging 18 points and 9 boards. Guards Sean Morris and Cory Lewis
are also averaging double figures for CSU with 12.9 and 11.1 points per game,
respectively. The Rams have played two other Big 12 teams defeating Colorado and losing at
The Broncos out of the MAC are
struggling, dropping 4 of their last 5. The Broncos have played one common
opponent to ISU, losing at home against UNI 69-63. They also lost to the Tim
Floyd coached USC squad last game 79-62. They are led by a couple sophomores 6'7
C Joe Reitz (14.2 PPG and 7 RBG) and 6' 7' F Andrew Hershberger (13.2, 8 RBG.)
They are shooting a below
average 26 percent from deep. The Broncos only have 2 seniors on their roster,
so I guess they are more like Colts.
The host school Rainbow Warriors
(4-2) out of the WAC meet Loyola Marymount (3-6). Hawaii has won four
straight Rainbow Classics and six of the last eight. They haven't lost on the
island this season, including impressive wins over then fourth ranked
Michigan State (84-62) and Utah State (69-59). 6'9 F Julian Sensley leads
the Warriors with 17.5 points, he also adds six rebounds. Sensley is putting up
over 23 points a game at home. 6'8 F Ahmet Gueye (14.3 PPG) has scored in double
figures in every game. 6'5 G Matt Lojeski is shooting 61 percent from downtown
The Lions are out of Los Angeles,
and probably most known for their high-octane offense from back in the late
1980's, when they scored over 100 points 25 times in the 1989-1990 season. And
due to the tragic death of All-American Hank Gathers, who collapsed while
playing in the conference tournament that same year. This group of Lions has
lost 6 of 8 games after defeating BYU in the opener, including a 47 point
set-back at Washington. They are led by 6'8 F Matthew Knight, who is putting up
better than 17 points and 10 boards. The big junior is out of Tasmania,
Australia; a town that sounds very exotic. The Lions have hit a 3 pointer in all
but one game since 1995.
My Prediction: Semis: ISU
and Northwestern St.; Colorado State and Hawaii
Finals: ISU and