Former Arizona Wildcat Zane Johnson isn’t in the NCAA Tournament, but he has done good things all year for a surprising Hawaii team that is still playing.
Johnson is the leading scorer for the Rainbow Warriors, who were picked to finish last in the WAC. They ended up with 19 regular-season victories and advanced to the CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament, beating visiting Portland 76-64 on Tuesday night.
Johnson, a 6-6 shooting guard, had 19 points in that game to improve his season average to 15.9.
Johnson, who transferred from Arizona after Sean Miller was hired in the spring of 2009, has been as advertised for Hawaii: He can shoot.
In his first season of eligibility at Hawaii, he became one of the best and most prolific 3-point shooters in the WAC. He has tied the school record with 97 made 3-pointers, and he has hit 41.8 percent of his attempts from behind the arc.
The knock on him at Arizona was that he wouldn’t have been the kind of defender that Miller demands, but Johnson has bought into that part of the game for first-year Hawaii coach Gib Arnold.
“I dunno, it seems like something just clicked and now I actually enjoy playing defense,” Johnson told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser earlier this year.
“I used to HATE playing defense. Now I actually enjoy playing it and, I think part of it is, we play defense all day. It’s finally catching on with me, and I realize now that defense does win ballgames. It’s not just offense.”
Johnson averaged 3.4 points per game in his two seasons at Arizona.