Trey Ingram figured he’d be the last man standing, but then he had to pick himself up off the ground just like practically every one of his UH-Hilo teammates has.
The senior guard transfer was at a career-high 33 points and counting late in a tight game at Dominican when he took a charge and landed on his wrist.
Adrenaline carried him the rest of the way, but once that wore off the inevitable reality of what Vulcans men’s basketball in 2017-18 has become set in.
“After the game, I started to see my hand swell up,” he said.
Of course, it did.
“And I could barely see my wrist,” he said.
Of course, he couldn’t.
“I was like, “You have to be kidding me,” Ingram said. “Honestly, this has been the biggest roller-coaster season that I’ve been part of. Overall, you can complain, it’s out of your control.”
Be it snapped hamstrings, broken ribs, bruised wrists, injured feet, sprained ankles, illnesses, medical conditions or just plain bad grades, the Vuls seem to be preordained to feel pain in a season like none other in their history.
On one hand, coach GE Coleman can only laugh.
“I’ve never personally been involved with a year like this in the years I’ve been involved with coaching basketball,” he said of a season in which each of his (arguably) top seven players have missed game action.
On the other hand, Coleman said, “No one is going to feel sorry for you.
“Everybody has to step up, myself included. The whole program, you have to raise your level. The margin is razor thin to begin with, but you have to overcome.”
The long list of Pacific West Conference teams that aren’t going to take pity on UH-Hilo (4-12, 3-6 PacWest) begins with fourth-place Point Loma (15-7, 9-4), which pays a visit to Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium for a 7:30 p.m. tipoff Saturday night. The Sea Lions feature Josh Rodriguez, the newly minted conference’s all-time assist leader.
Coming off a lost road trip and looking to end a five-game losing streak, the Vuls hope to feature Ingram, their leading scorer, as well as welcome back the inside help brought by Devin Johnson, who has been slowed by a foot injury. Both will be game-time decisions.
They won’t feature starting guard Eric Wattree III, who is out indefinitely and hasn’t yet returned from California, where he suffered an unspecified medical condition while the Vulcans were on the road. Reserve Arnold Silva also suffered an unspecified illness.
“To have two could-be life-threatening, illness-type things is very scary,” Coleman said. “The big thing is they are getting healthy and better.”
Also missing are big men Brian Ishola (redshirt) and Denhym Brooke (grades). UH-Hilo, which posted two wins against top-25 teams before attrition took its toll, wants to remain balanced but figures to rely more than ever on guards Ryley Callaghan and Ingram, who said he expects play.
If he does, he’s shown a penchant for providing instant offense, scoring 25 twice this season and averaging 16.8 points per game, fourth-best in the PacWest, on 37.6 percent shooting from 3-point range.
UH-Hilo is second in the conference in 3-pointers, making 8.9 a game.
“I wouldn’t say (I feel) more pressure to score, but I’m taking a different approach,” Ingram said. “I need to put the ball in the basket more myself. I need to shoot a little more with guys out.”
A three-year starter at St. Martin’s University, the the 6-foot-1 native of Scottsdale, Ariz., is essentially on a one-year Big Island adventure with hopes playing pro ball oversees.
He sees the Vulcans’ final 11 games as a chance to leave a legacy.
“My biggest goal is for next year, is for the the guys coming back to change the picture of the program and the atmosphere and make sure everybody is going in the right direction,” he said. “This has honestly been the best year I’ve had in my career. I love my teammates; all of them. I’d go to war with them.
“Being out here in the middle of the ocean, I’ve definitely learned a lot about myself.”• The UHH women haven’t been immune to illness and injury themselves.Freshman Allie Navarette, perhaps the team’s most pleasant surprise, was ill during the road trip even as she scored a career-high 26 points at Notre Dame de Namur. As of Thursday, the 6-foot center/forward hadn’t yet been cleared to play Saturday. The Vuls (6-6, 4-5) and Point Loma (11-9, 6-7) tip off at 5 p.m. at Hilo Civic.Another first-year player, junior transfer Sara Shimizu, continued to emerge at point guard on the road trip, posting 15 points against Notre Dame de Namur and 16 versus Dominican.“In terms of getting us into flow an into a rhythm, she’s played well,” coach David Kaneshiro said, “and that helps the whole offense out.”Asked what concerns him most about the Sea Lion, he said: “Take your pick. Everything.”