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Tuesday, February 8, 2005



[ UH BASKETBALL ]




art
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Hawaii's Matthew Gipson dunked during the second half of last week's victory at San Jose State.




Road trip takes UH’s
Wallace back

The Rainbows gear up for LaTech
at their coach's alma mater

The Hawaii basketball team's latest stop on its 11-day road trip has taken coach Riley Wallace back to his basketball roots.

The Rainbow Warriors are spending a few days in Shreveport, La., in advance of Thursday's Western Athletic Conference game at Louisiana Tech, and are practicing at Centenary College -- the school Wallace attended and where he started his college coaching career.

"The school means a lot to me and my wife and my family," Wallace said. "It's a very good school academically, and you have a lot of memories on campus. It's always nice to come back to your alma mater."

A reception was held in Wallace's honor last night to give friends and fellow Centenary alums a chance to catch up with the 18th-year Hawaii head coach.

Wallace and his wife, Joan, graduated from Centenary, and they both have brothers who earned degrees from the college. Wallace, who graduated in 1964 with degrees in Physical Education and Speech, also has a niece who is a current student there.

In addition to practicing at Centenary's Gold Dome yesterday and today, the Gents have extended the Rainbows some southern hospitality by allowing them to use the school's weight-training facility and its academic center.

"The athletic director is a good friend of mine and he made everything available for us," Wallace said.

Wallace played three seasons for the Gents and was team captain his junior and senior seasons. He spent nine years as an assistant coach at Centenary before being promoted to head coach in 1976. The team went 15-27 in his brief tenure. Wallace then began his relationship with UH as associate coach under Larry Little in 1978.

Before taking the Rainbows to practice at Centenary yesterday, Wallace hadn't been back on campus since being inducted to the school's Hall of Fame in 1999.

But other than last night's festivities, Wallace said the trip is "strictly business."

After picking up its first WAC road win of the season at San Jose State on Saturday, UH (13-5, 5-5 WAC) arrived in Shreveport on Sunday just in time to catch the Super Bowl on TV. They'll practice at Centenary again today and take a bus to Ruston, La., tomorrow.

The Rainbows' early arrival also gives them ample opportunity to adjust to the time-zone change before taking the floor Thursday against Louisiana Tech (11-9, 6-5). Tipoff is set for 2:30 p.m. Hawaii time.

The Bulldogs defeated UH 61-59 at the Sheriff Center on Jan. 15 to begin a five-game winning streak. LaTech's run ended Saturday with a 76-58 loss at first-place Nevada.

"Playing Louisiana Tech at home, they're tough, but we'll have no excuses," Wallace said. "We'll have good practices and time to catch up. We'll just have to go play. It's that time of year where you can't afford to lose any of them."

Following Thursday's game, the Rainbows will take a bus from Ruston to Dallas and close their longest road trip of the regular season against Southern Methodist on Saturday.

This is the second "homecoming" trip for Wallace this season. The product of Jerseyville, Ill., visited nearby St. Louis for the Rainbows' game against the Billikens in December.

Tube talk: ESPN will announce the game times and the lineup for its Bracket Busters Saturday coverage today.

The Rainbows will face Wisconsin-Milwaukee on Feb. 19 at the Stan Sheriff Center in one of 11 Bracket Busters games to be televised by the network. Six games will be shown nationally on ESPN or ESPN2, the other five will be available regionally on ESPN Full Court.

Both UH and UWM (17-5) won their games on Saturday and Wallace hopes UH's three-game winning streak will land the Rainbows one of the national TV spots.

"(Beating San Jose State) was our only chance," Wallace said after the 'Bows' 84-73 win. "At least we gave ourselves that chance."



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