Court Sense

Court Sense

Hosted by former Hawaii basketball beat writer Brian McInnis, the Court Sense podcast hits upon hoops with relevant guests in the islands — past and present. You might get a healthy dose of fantasy, sci-fi and video gaming, too. McInnis is also the co-host of the Rivals Waikiki Pregame Show that airs one hour before every Rainbow Warrior Basketball game.

March 27 – Former Hawaii team captain and All-WAC second-teamer Bill Amis connects from London during March Madness to talk about a whole host of topics, including his recent 15 minutes of fame on social media. Amis, one of six players to block 100 or more shots for his UH career, went on to have a productive seven years as a pro spanning Europe, and he just launched his own business, Off the Court, to help student-athletes capitalize on their likeness rights. Meanwhile, it’s already been a turbulent offseason for the one-and-done ‘Bows.

March 10 – In this Big West tournament edition of the pod, one of the guys calling the action from the Mandalay Bay Casino in Las Vegas, Trent Rush, takes a break from his prep work to talk matchups on the men’s side of the bracket. Does Hawaii have what it takes to emerge from the field as the 6 seed? First the Rainbow Warriors, who have not won a tourney game since 2016, must take their matchup with No. 3 UC Riverside. Meanwhile, the fifth-seeded UH women get No. 4 Cal State Bakersfield in their quarterfinal on Wednesday.

Mar. 5 – Welcome to March! The first madness-month edition of the pod doubles as the first appearance by an active Rainbow Wahine basketball player, none other than senior forward Amy Atwell. The fifth-year sharpshooter from Australia is closing in on becoming the program’s all-time 3-point marksman, but she has more pressing concerns on her mind — namely, bringing back a conference championship to Manoa. And, who knows, she still might have a couple of cracks at it. But first, the UH women and men face UC Davis in the final games before the conference tournament.

Feb. 27 – A fixture in the Hawaii basketball program for more than two decades, former assistant coach Jackson Wheeler left a indelible impression with just about everyone he came across — players, fellow staffers, media members, you name it. With his ability to relate to a broad cross section of people and tell-it-like-it-is style, he was invaluable in bringing in some of the top talent on some of the top teams in the 1990s and 2000s. Meanwhile, the 2020-21 Rainbow Warriors battle to rise above the dreaded play-in round of the conference tournament.

Feb. 20 – The winningest player in the history of the Hawaii men’s basketball team, Mike Thomas, reminisces about his five-year career in Manoa spanning three head coaches, an NCAA investigation and NCAA Tournament run. Thomas breaks down how Gib Arnold, Benjy Taylor and Eran Ganot found success through different methods. He’s left hoops behind — at least as a player — and is focusing his energies in athletic training, player development and music. Meanwhile, the bank is open for Biwali Bayles as the ‘Bows withdraw a one-point W at Cal State Northridge.

Feb. 12 – Hawaii basketball co-captain Justin Webster, the reigning Big West Player of the Week, is in high demand after his sublime shooting led the Rainbow Warriors to a two-game sweep of Cal Poly and got UH back to .500 in Big West play. An 11th-hour pickup by the ‘Bows last year, Webster kept falling back on the work that he’d put in with his father, a former NBA draftee. In doing so, he went from overlooked commodity to go-to guy and team leader by the midpoint of his second season in Manoa.

Jan. 30 – Dayton Morinaga, the founder and operator of the Hawaii basketball-centric website, trades war stories with the host from his more than two decades of covering Rainbow Warrior hoops. From being on site for NCAA Tournaments in the early 2000s as a beat writer for the Honolulu Advertiser, to journeying on the mythical 2011 “Warriors to Asia” tour, to the present season defined by the pandemic, Morinaga has seen a ton. Meanwhile, the ‘Bows try to end a run of futility against nemesis UC Irvine.

Jan. 22 – Let Dr. Sai Tummala be the cure for what’s ailing you this week, as the former Hawaii sharpshooter comes on to share memories of that magical 2015-16 season that capped his college career as a graduate transfer from Arizona State. Tummala went on to get his degree from the John A. Burns School of Medicine and is in residency for orthopedic surgery at the Mayo Clinic in his native Phoenix — a hotspot during a pandemic.

Jan. 14 – At last, the pod gets a guest from the current Hawaii men’s basketball roster. (It only took 35 episodes … that’s the host’s fault.) Senior forward Casdon Jardine demonstrates why he was a natural candidate for co-captaincy, with an easy give-and-take to match his ultra-efficient start to the season as the nation’s leader in 3-point percentage. He nearly willed the ‘Bows to a road sweep of UC Riverside and now matches up with a familiar foe from his WAC days in Cal State Bakersfield.

Dec. 17 – Hawaii’s Big West-opening series was canceled due to a positive COVID-19 test for Cal Poly, following a trend for the entire conference. Thankfully, former ‘Bow Brandon Spearman had some time between training sessions and chatted about his overseas career, interesting roommates, his bond with Gib Arnold and the possible whereabouts of his “Tip of the Spear” award.

Dec. 18 – Former Hawaii basketball point guard and current Spectrum Sports analyst Johnny White gives his take on the Rainbow Warriors’ 2020-21 season-opening win over Hawaii Pacific and offers up some observations on the team’s many new players. White speaks about two prominent games of his era (1998-2000), being a point guard for Riley Wallace, and playing for an NBA D-League title in its very early days.

Dec. 11 – NBC Sports Philadelphia hockey correspondent Taryn Hatcher, a former Hawaii News Now sports reporter, talks life since she made the move from the islands to her backyard market in 2018. Covering the NHL’s Flyers is challenging, but nothing compared to when she arrived in the islands and had the teleprompter crash while reading Polynesian names on her first high school football weekend. Plus, the UH basketball season finally gets underway — minus a key player.

Dec. 2 – Chaminade basketball coach Eric Bovaird isn’t at this week’s Maui Invitational in North Carolina, and heck, his team is scattered to the wind while the small Division II Catholic school yields to state COVID restrictions. But Bovaird, ever the optimist, sees no reason to pout. His giant-slaying Silverswords will be back someday and, until then, he’s got time to re-live his journey from rural Pennsylvania to the shores of Lahaina.

Nov. 25 – Just in time for the revised start to the 2020-21 college basketball season, ESPN/Big West fun-loving analyst Richie Schueler prospects the shaky ground the sport is on as teams press ahead with competition — even as many games are postponed and canceled due to COVID. (Hawaii is among the programs still without a posted nonconference schedule.) Schueler gives his outlook of the BWC and what obstacles, chiefly UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara, stand between Hawaii and a title.

Nov. 12 – Former Hawaii big man and current Rainbow Warriors graduate manager Gibson Johnson provides some updates on the state of the ‘Bows a mere two weeks before the newly slated start of the 2020-21 season. Johnson, an All-Big West honorable mention in 2016-17, details why he pursued coaching over playing pro right after college and recalls his reaction to being dubbed “Old Man Swag” by the host for his effective, deceptive, YMCA-esque post game. Plus, the Stan Sheriff Center gets a new name.

Nov. 6 – Good friend of the host Falaniko Maosi, an avid Twitch streaming enthusiast, explains why and how he got into playing video games for a live online audience and what he’s learned about the most successful streamers broadcasting today, including the burgeoning Twitch Hawaii community. The former tuba player for the University of Hawaii analyzes the undeniable correlation between marching in the band and launching a streaming channel.

Oct. 30 – Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach and three-time NBA champion Phil Handy carves out some quality time on the heels of winning a special title in the Orlando bubble. The former Hawaii basketball forward reveals how his father and Riley Wallace sealed the deal on a skeptical Handy going to UH, how the Rainbow Warriors won the 1994 WAC tournament, and how his self-started player development business blossomed into NBA opportunity. What could be next for him, given his six straight trips to the Finals?

Oct. 21 – After coming within two games of an NBA championship, Miami Heat player development coach and former Hawaii basketball great A.C. Carter comes on and shares thoughts of his team’s memorable sojourn in the Orlando bubble. UH’s first conference player of the year relives his incredible journey from hustling on Atlanta hardcourts as a high school dropout, to making it out to the islands, to gritting out an extended career in the Association.

Oct. 16 – Former Hawaii basketball director of operations Chris McMillian becomes the first member of Gib Arnold’s old UH coaching staff to come on the pod and share his perspective of what happened when everything fell apart amid an NCAA investigation back in 2014. McMillian, now a full assistant at Idaho State, gives a candid assessment of what went wrong and what he learned from the experience.

Oct. 8 – Local hoops legend Shawna-Lei Kuehu, now a coach at Kealakehe High on the Big Island, traces back her path through her transformative college days at Hawaii that included raising her baby daughter while meeting the many demands of a star Division I student-athlete. She says what she can on a tough subject: her ongoing lawsuit against Punahou and a former Buffanblu assistant coach who is accused of sexual assault by multiple ex-players.

Oct. 1 – “Dynamic Duo” era sharpshooter Alika Smith shares thoughts on an NBA Finals matchup between two old Hawaii teammates turned big-stage assistant coaches — Phil Handy of the Los Angeles Lakers and Anthony Carter of the Miami Heat. Smith dishes on his rare homegrown stardom, his battles and friendship with Fresno State’s Chris Herren, and the time he saw a dejected Bob Knight walk back to Waikiki.
(Photo: Dennis Oda, 1997)

Sept. 23 – Valley Isle-based sports broadcaster and podcaster Jordan Helle wistfully reminisces with the host about his favorite memories of the Maui Invitational now that the premier in-season college basketball tournament is being relocated to North Carolina for 2020 due to the COVID crisis. What were the best teams, players and moments witnessed between the two at the raucous Lahaina Civic Center? There’s no shortage of choices.

Sept. 17 – Hawaii men’s basketball assistant coach Chris Gerlufsen was thrust into an unusual spot last November, temporarily taking over for ailing head man Eran Ganot mere weeks after arriving in the islands for a new job. He sums up his surreal two-month tenure as the program’s 22nd head coach, addresses what changes could lie ahead for UH and the rest of college hoops, and recounts facing the late, great Kobe Bryant as a player for Philadelphia’s East High against Lower Merion.

Sept. 1 – Former Hawaii point guard Brocke Stepteau, no stranger to a true underdog story, recounts his humble beginnings at Hawaii as both an undersized walk-on and aspiring music artist putting pen to paper. Since moving to New York City post college, “Step” has strode far, but has a long way to go in the bustling Big Apple. One of the Rainbow Warriors’ most clutch playmakers and 3-point marksmen in recent years lays out his vision to translate success to his new arena, the studio.

Aug. 27 – Honolulu mayoral candidate Keith Amemiya, the former executive director of the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, recounts the path that led him into the political realm for the first time at age 54. After surviving a free-for-all of a primary, he’s into a head-to-head battle with another veteran of local sports, Rick Blangiardi, for the general election Nov. 3. There is no shortage of crises to address for the winner, so why does Amemiya want to do it?

Aug. 23 – Former Hawaii swingman Jared Dillinger relives his rags-to-riches basketball arc, from Air Force Academy cadet, to UH walk-on and scout teamer, to senior starter, to 13-year (and counting) pro in the Philippines. The hoops-crazed country is about to attempt its own COVID “bubble” for basketball under possibly questionable circumstances, but for Dillinger that’s nothing compared to when he had to chauffeur noted wild card “Little Matt” Gibson around Manoa.

Aug. 7 – KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello hits pause during a busy week of COVID-related breaking news to reminisce with his old friend from Kailua High School. DeMello, one of the most visible faces in Hawaii sports, shares some twists of fate that led him to this point in life, plus his philosophy on his prolific social media game and what he thinks could happen with college football in 2020 and 2021.

July 30 – Former Hawaii basketball all-conference guard Predrag Savovic reminisces about the good old days in Manoa, his stint in the NBA, and playing against old teammate Carl English in Spain. Savovic, the No. 4 scorer in program history, sets the record straight on the identity of the biggest pranksters of the 2000-01 and 2001-02 NCAA Tournament teams and tries to recall the origin of “I am Savo.”

July 16 – Los Angeles Lakers digital content manager Joey Ramirez, a University of Hawaii graduate, details his dream job over the last six-plus years since latching on with the storied franchise at age 20. The 2019-20 season has been one of extremes for the Purple and Gold, from the highs of LeBron on the court, to the lows of the loss of Kobe Bryant followed by COVID derailing the season. Plus, Ramirez shares how some hazing at UH softball Bingo helped prepare him for the big time.

July 11 – Hawaii soccer head coach Michele Nagamine attempts to balance optimism and realism as the prospect of NCAA fall sports grows more fraught by the day amid the national coronavirus surge. Will there be a 2020 season at all? Recorded on the 21st anniversary of the 1999 Women’s World Cup final, “Coach Bud” recalls watching her old college teammate Brandi Chastain pull off an iconic moment.

June 30 – Former Rainbow Wahine basketball standout Sarah Toeaina readily agreed to a podcast request during her recent, mandatory two-week COVID-19 visitor quarantine in the islands. The overseas hoops pro opens up on Scandinavian living and language barriers, her special rapport with her father, and what she misses about her time in Hawaii. Plus, the host has some career news.

June 21 – Former Hawaii high-flying hoops wing Aaron Valdes comes back to earth to share his thoughts of recent social strife, how things might’ve been different had he pursued his love of water polo, and if he’d just stayed for that final year at UH. The two-time Mexico league champion explains how his old 7-foot-6 UC Irvine nemesis Mamadou Ndiaye dunked a franchise into oblivion (and did Valdes a favor).