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Thursday, December 25, 2003



[ RAINBOW BASKETBALL ]


Hawaii hopes
to avoid lonely
lunch hour

A first-round tournament win
means avoiding an early -- and
empty -- consolation game


For the Hawaii basketball team, success in Saturday's opening round of the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic means avoiding an early wake-up call on Monday.

The reward for the winners of this weekend's first-round games is a spot in the semifinals Monday evening at the Stan Sheriff Center. For the losers, it's a consolation-bracket contest played before the few who are able to take in a game during their lunch hour.



Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic

When: Saturday through Tuesday
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: Live, KFVE-TV (Hawaii games)
Radio: Live, 1420-AM (Hawaii games)
Internet: uhathletics.hawaii.edu
Tickets: Packages -- $68 (lower level, single seats only); $52 (upper level). Individual night sessions -- $16 (lower level, single seats only); $12 (upper level). Individual day sessions--$5 (general admission). Parking, $3.



"(The coaches) keep talking about it, that it's lonely," UH forward Phil Martin said. "I don't want to find out because it's not too much fun to play when nobody's there to watch. The fans really help support and motivate you."

Hawaii has played in the daytime rounds just twice in coach Riley Wallace's 16-year tenure. UH lost a first-round game in 1987, Wallace's first season, and was banished to the consolation bracket in 1995, when Rhode Island knocked off UH on the opening night of the tournament.

For the Rainbow Warriors (5-2) to extend their streak of first-round wins to eight, they will have to get past Lamar (6-3) on Saturday.

The winner advances to a semifinal matchup with IUPUI (5-3) or East Tennessee State (7-2) at 7:30 p.m. Monday. The losers play at 11 a.m. in a consolation game.

On the other side of the bracket, Bowling Green (3-5) plays Fairfield (5-1) at 5 p.m. in a first-round game on Sunday. American (3-6) faces Pepperdine (4-6) at 7:30. The losers play at 1:30 p.m. Monday and the winners meet at 5 p.m.

The championship game of the 40th annual tournament is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Though it is the host team, UH won't necessarily have the easiest road to the championship game. Lamar is led by former Oklahoma and Texas Christian coach Billy Tubbs. East Tennessee State and IUPUI played in the NCAA Tournament last year and are the Classic's two highest ranked teams in the Sagarin ratings at No. 68 (ETSU) and 91 (IUPUI).

Tubbs and Wallace became familiar with each other's tendencies when TCU was a member of the Western Athletic Conference. The Horned Frogs scored more than 100 points in three of its wins over UH in that span, including a 126-84 spanking in 1998.

This year's Lamar squad also plays an up-tempo game, as the Cardinals average 87.1 points per outing and have broken the century mark twice this season.

"It's going to be an up-and-down game," UH guard Logan Lee said. "They're going to change their defenses a lot, they're going to throw a lot of stuff at us and we just have to be prepared for it."

Holiday cheer: Wallace had the team over to his house for its annual Christmas dinner on Tuesday. The steaks and Christmas carols helped the players deal with being away from home for the holidays.

"I haven't been with my family for Christmas for about four years straight now," UH senior Jason Carter said. "So in a way I'm used to it, but then again it's always good to have somebody there in your corner."

Common foes: Lamar and Hawaii have one common opponent so far this season. Lamar beat Texas Southern 79-67 on Dec. 8, while UH routed the Tigers 97-67 last Friday.

Lamar also lost to WAC member Rice 84-78 on Dec. 18.

IUPUI, a possible UH opponent in the second round of the Rainbow Classic, lost to Dayton 61-59 on Dec. 13. Dayton defeated UH 82-72 in the finals of the Maui Invitational on Nov. 26.

Pepperdine lost to a UC Santa Barbara team (65-62) that defeated UH in the 'Bows' season opener.

Short shots: ETSU coach Murry Bartow worked with UH athletic director Herman Frazier when they held the same positions at Alabama-Birmingham. Bartow resigned in 2002 and is in his first season at ETSU. ... Aside from UH, all of the other seven teams are making their first appearances in the Rainbow Classic.


SCHEDULE
Saturday
Game 1: IUPUI vs. East Tennessee State, 5 p.m.
Game 2: Lamar vs. Hawaii, 7:30 p.m.

Sunday
Game 3: Bowling Green vs. Fairfield, 5 p.m.
Game 4: American vs. Pepperdine, 7:30 p.m.

Monday
Game 5: IUPUI/ETSU loser vs. Lamar/Hawaii loser, 11 a.m.
Game 6: Bowling Green/Fairfield loser vs. American/Pepperdine loser, 1:30 p.m.
Game 7: Bowling Green/Fairfield winner vs. American/Pepperdine winner, 5 p.m.
Game 8: IUPUI/ETSU winner vs. Lamar/Hawaii winner, 7:30 p.m.

Tuesday
Game 9: Seventh place, 11 a.m.
Game 10: Consolation championship, 1:30 p.m.
Game 11: Third place, 5 p.m.
Game 12: Championship, 7:30 p.m.

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