CN Rainbow Classic Preview

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.


South Florida


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.


Oregon State


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.


Northwestern St.


Northwestern 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 Wichita 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 them.


Colorado St.


Colorado 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 K-State.


Western Michigan


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 (17-28.)


Loyola Marymount


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 Hawaii


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