Sunday, December 30, 2001
[ UH BASKETBALL ]
Jump shots don't always fit well in suitcases.
UH must take defense
on the road
By Dave Reardon
But defense often does.
The big key to Hawaii's 58-40 victory over Nevada last night was the Rainbows' vise-like defense, as it was in stifling Georgia in the Rainbow Classic championship game last weekend.
But now UH will try to prove if it is for real, if it can win away from the 50th state.
Looking ahead -- down the road, which is often a very long and treacherous one in the Western Athletic Conference -- the defense will likely prove more important than excellent 3-point shooting. (UH made 10 of 21 last night.)
When you're shooting in an unfamiliar arena, it won't always go through the net.
But coach Riley Wallace said defense can be a constant, and last night's effort bodes well as the Rainbows leave tomorrow for Texas-El Paso and the first road trip of the WAC season.
"That's what I'm hoping happens with this team," Wallace said. "If we can continue to play good defense on the road, we can hang around and then our shooters get hot in streaks and it either catches you up or it blows it open."
The Rainbows were terrible on the road last season, not winning a game away from home until the last road trip -- the one that ended in Dayton, Ohio, in the NCAA Tournament.
Wallace is as curious as anyone else as to how this team will react to the rigors of the road.
"It's really up for grabs, I don't know," he said. "We had good leadership last year. Troy Ostler, Nerijus Puida, Todd Fields, Lane O'Connor ... those seniors went on that last road trip on a mission to get to the NCAAs."
Senior guard Mike McIntyre came up with three steals last night, including two in successive series in the second half to help seal the outcome.
"I think I got fired up when I got called for that charge right before. I just wanted to get the ball back," McIntyre said. "It was mainly a defense game. I like that kind of game. It's a pride game. Defense is going to win the games on the road, too."
McIntyre finished with only five points and had five turnovers to go with three assists.
"But he gave us a big lift with his defense," Wallace said. "Mike McIntyre really sparked us in the second half."
The Rainbows can improve defensively against fast breaks. Nevada, like Fresno State two nights earlier, stayed in the game by beating UH in transition.
"Against quick teams we've got to communicate better," McIntyre said.
Wallace sees room for improvement, too.
"Our on-the-ball defense still isn't where I want it to be, but the team defense is good," he said.
"(Terrance) Green's a good player. He got 18 points, but he didn't get many good looks. They were all contested shots."
It's so far so good for the Rainbows in the WAC. They have half the formula down for conference success: Don't lose at home.
The other part?
"We know we need to win at least half our conference road games," McIntyre said.
Wallace said the team will leave the islands in the right frame of mind.
"If you lose this ballgame and you go on the road it's a whole different personality," he said.
Ka Leo O Hawaii