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Star-Bulletin Sports


Wednesday, January 9, 2002


[UH BASKETBALL]



UH



’Bows hope Bulldogs
less assertive
than HPD

Mishap with police leaves
UH guards shaken but ready
to defend their streak


By Cindy Luis
cluis@starbulletin.com

The Honolulu Police Department was able to do something that no Western Athletic Conference team has done so far this men's basketball season: Stop Hawaii.

Yesterday in Waikiki, Rainbow guards Carl English and Mark Campbell found themselves on the ground in handcuffs with guns to their heads after police pulled over what they thought was a stolen car. Campbell's car had been stolen in November but it was recovered last month and returned to the UH junior.

Apparently, the HPD computer hadn't caught up on the paperwork showing the car was back with Campbell.

"It was scary," said English.

Before yesterday's practice, Hawaii coach Riley Wallace joked about his "jailbirds" although they weren't arrested. Wallace, however, was very serious in preparing the Rainbows for tomorrow's game with Louisiana Tech.

"They've got good athletes and they get up and down the floor well," Wallace said of the Bulldogs. "They've also done well on the road.

"I think we'll match up well with them, but it will be a tough game."

Hawaii (13-2, 4-0) puts its seven-game winning streak on the line against LaTech (8-4, 2-1), competing in its inaugural WAC season. The Bulldogs are coming off Saturday's 74-71 loss to visiting SMU, a game won by the Mustangs on a 3-pointer at the buzzer by Quinton Ross.

"This is the signature sport in the (conference) and you'll see games like this night in and night out," LaTech coach Keith Richard said after Saturday's loss. "We played our hearts out and we just came up short."

It was the first loss in seven home games for the Bulldogs, who went 2-3 on the road in nonconference games. LaTech lost to then-No. 9 Iowa in the season opener and beat Jackson State and Auburn before losing at Oklahoma in overtime and at Alabama-Birmingham.

The Bulldogs have three players averaging in double figures, led by senior guard Gerrod Henderson (14.8 ppg). Junior guard Darrian Brown, a transfer from Ole Miss, is next at 12.6 ppg with junior forward Antonio Meeking averaging 11.3 ppg.

"I think their overall quickness poses a problem for us," said UH associate head coach Bob Nash. "They have good perimeter shooters and (6-10 forward) Zach Johnson is tough in the post.

"We have to cover the outside and play good post-up defense. We've got to come out and play better defense than we did in the last game and keep improving."

Hawaii is holding teams to an average of 58.9 ppg but gave up 68 and 62 points in wins last week at UTEP and Boise State.

"That was probably the hardest week we've had since we started playing," said UH sophomore center Haim Shimonovich, the WAC leader in blocked shots. "It was great to win those two games, but we have to look at the big picture. We want to win the WAC so we have to play hard every game.

"Every game is big right now. We lead the WAC so every team wants to beat us. We're the targets."

Shimonovich was particularly happy to have 6-8 freshman Tony Akpan declared eligible for tomorrow's game. The Nigerian national had been under scrutiny by the NCAA for matters relating to his arrival in the U.S. to play high school ball.

"Getting Tony back is big for us and big for me," said Shimonovich. "He'll be able to give me a rest. He's strong, can move and he'll help the team."

"He's a raw talent with a tremendous up-side," Wallace said of the 240-pound Akpan. "He's quick, strong, can shoot the ball well and picks things up pretty fast.

"And it means we can put in a big body when Haim goes out. I expect him to help us, but he's still inexperienced with a lot of room to grow."

Wallace will try to get Akpan some playing time this week. The freshman was eager to officially begin his career.

"I'm excited about getting an opportunity to play," said Akpan. "I wanted to do something to help my team when we were struggling, but I couldn't. I'm looking forward to playing."

Notes: The men's basketball program will host an International Night Fund-raiser Jan. 29 at the Stan Sheriff Center. Tickets are $100 for the event, which includes entertainment, food and a silent auction. For more information, call the UH basketball office at 956-6501. ... Ticket orders for the WAC Basketball Tournament, March 5-9, in Tulsa are being accepted at the UH Ticket Office through Jan. 15. After next week, tickets can be purchased by calling the Tulsa Sports Commission at (918) 560-0246. All-session passes are $125. A premium seating package, which includes a parking pass, costs $350. Single-session tickets will go on sale March 4 if the tournament is not sold out. The team hotel for both the Hawaii men's and women's teams is the DoubleTree Warren Place.



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