Sports Notebook

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

RPI rating likes Rainbows

There's nothing like winning to keep a basketball team's energy at a high level when the wear of a lengthy road trip threatens to drag it down.

Hawaii has won eight of its last nine regular-season games entering Thursday's Western Athletic Conference contest with Southern Methodist, and the team's success has given the team a boost in the practice gym and in the numbers game.

"They're all up and feeling good about themselves," UH coach Riley Wallace said after the team's workout yesterday in Dallas. "They're all working hard."

Following a win at San Jose State on Saturday, the Rainbow Warriors (10-3 overall, 2-1 WAC) checked in at No. 43 in the Rating Percentage Index rankings released yesterday. The rating system is based on a team's winning percentage against NCAA Division I opponents, its strength of schedule and its opponents' strength of schedule.

"That's what a road win will do for you," Wallace said. "But like I told (the team), you have to keep it going. You have to win some games on the road to keep it up there."

UH has an RPI of .601 and is listed just ahead of Michigan, Memphis and Illinois.

The 'Bows are among five WAC teams in the top 100. UTEP is the next highest WAC team at No. 48, followed by Nevada (51), Rice (52) and Fresno State (71).

As a league, the WAC ranks 10th among 32 conferences.

The Rainbows arrived in Dallas on Sunday and began preparing for SMU's schemes with a light practice yesterday. The intensity of the workouts will increase today and tomorrow.

In addition to practice, the team is also planning to break up the road trip by attending tomorrow's NBA game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Philadelphia 76ers.

Shortly after playing SMU on Thursday, the team will travel by bus to Ruston, La., for Saturday's game against Louisiana Tech.

Big week for Harris: Rice forward Michael Harris was named the WAC Player of the Week yesterday after posting three double-doubles last week.

Harris averaged 24.3 points and 12 rebounds in wins over Louisiana Tech, Boise State and UTEP. He had 30 points and 15 rebounds against Boise State last Thursday.

Guard Michael Kuebler was UH's nominee for the award. Kuebler remains the WAC's leading scorer with 19.8 points per game and is first in 3-pointers made with 2.69 per game.

Harris is second in scoring at 19.1 ppg. Harris is also second in the conference in field-goal percentage (.604) and is third in rebounding (9.7 per game).

Keeping tabs: Former UH guard Carl English is averaging 9.9 points per game for the Charleston Lowgators of the National Basketball Development League.

He is playing 18.7 minutes per game coming off the bench and is the team's top 3-point shooter (19-for-47). He scored a season-high 24 points against Columbus on Jan. 3. The Lowgators lead the six-team league at 12-5.

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