Wednesday, November 20, 2002


Bearcats bring streak
of their own to Hawaii

The 25th-ranked Warriors say
they won't look past Cincinnati,
which has 3 wins in a row

By Dave Reardon

Anticlimactic after completion of a fine conference season?

A rest stop on the way to a date with Alabama?

A ho-hum game against a fair-to-middlin' team from a mid-major conference?

Wrong, wrong and wrong again when describing Hawaii's football encounter with Cincinnati on Saturday at Aloha Stadium, according to UH coach June Jones.

"They'll be ready to play this week because it's Hawaii and they'll be pumped up," Jones said. "They do some things athletically. The AstroTurf is going to make some of them faster. So from that standpoint that's a challenge for our guys."

The Warriors (8-2) go in with five wins in a row and ranked No. 25 in the nation. The Bearcats (5-5) bring a three-game winning streak to the islands.

UC coach Rick Minter feels like his team has finally dug itself out of a hole, and wants to keep the momentum going after beating Memphis, Louisville and Houston by a combined 119-38.

"When we don't beat ourselves we're a solid football team," Minter said. "We're finally back to .500, back to where we started. It's been a long, hard grind. It shows you what happens when you do little things right."

Minter was referring to his team's improvement in the turnover department. In the winning streak, UC has forced 12 turnovers while losing the ball only three times. They were 2-5 and minus-9 in fumbles and interceptions on Oct. 19.

The Bearcats arrive in Hawaii today, and the Warriors promise to be ready for them.

"There's no letdown for this game," junior guard Shayne Kajioka said. "They beat Louisville, who beat Florida State. That says something about their program. And they almost beat Ohio State.

"Now we have to prove we belong in the Top 25. Everyone thinks they're a pushover, but they're not. We have to concentrate and focus."

Almost full strength: UH junior defensive end Travis LaBoy returned to practice yesterday. He missed the Rice game with nagging ankle and shoulder injuries.

"Everybody's back, but some of our linemen are banged up," defensive coordinator Kevin Lempa said.

On offense, sophomore inside receiver Chad Owens probably needs one more week to rehab from a knee sprain suffered in the Oct. 12 game against Nevada.

"I don't expect he'll play this week," Jones said.

Kajioka practiced yesterday after he was briefly hospitalized in Houston on Saturday for chest pains.

"A couple plays before our last touchdown I took a shot with a helmet to my chest and it was real sore and I had trouble breathing. I tried to play through it, but I got caught (by the training staff). It turned out to be just a chest bruise, so it's OK. It's still kind of hard to breathe, but you just have to play through it."

Also, sophomore inside receiver Britton Komine spent yesterday's practice loosening his tight left hamstring.

"That's just a precaution," Jones said. "He should be fine for the game."

Jake plays for Nate: Ukulele artist Jake Shimabukuro headlines the entertainment for "A Tailgate For Nate," a fund-raiser for former UH safety Nate Jackson tomorrow at the street in front of Murphy's Bar & Grill. The event, which also includes sports items for bid, is from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets, which include food and drink, are $50.

Jackson, who has been hospitalized since Oct. 24, is scheduled for heart surgery tomorrow.

Around the WAC: Tulsa quarterback Tyler Gooch, often rumored to be transferring, has decided to stay with the Golden Hurricane. ... Nevada closed practices this week and is preparing for Boise State as a "bowl game." ... Hawaii's arrangement with Michigan State has been formalized. They will play each other Dec. 4, 2004 and Nov. 24, 2007 in Hawaii and Sept. 10, 2005 at East Lansing.

UH Athletics

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