Wallace to begin getting fired up
In his days as an assistant coach at Hawaii, Jeff Law prided himself on getting head coach Riley Wallace riled up.
"When I was coaching with him and I had the scout team, I told those guys, 'If Riley's barking hard at his guys that means you guys are doing really well,' " Law recalled.
Law will do his best to get his former boss agitated again tomorrow when he leads the Hawaii-Hilo Vulcans into Manoa for an exhibition game against the Rainbow Warriors at the Stan Sheriff Center. Tipoff is set for 7:05 p.m.
The outcome of the game won't be reflected in the records of either team, but winning remains a priority as they warm up for their season openers.
"I think Friday will be a big step toward Michigan State," UH guard Matt Lojeski said. "It'll be interesting to see how things go."
Law had two stints as an assistant at UH -- 1988-92 and 1994-98 -- before taking over in Hilo. Since posting a 7-19 mark in Law's first year as coach, the Vulcans have steadily added to their win total and went 25-4 last season.
Law was named the NABC/NCAA Division II West Region and Pacific West Conference coach of the year and the team's success last season earned the Vulcans a No. 23 ranking in the Division II preseason poll.
But Law said the preseason accolade hasn't factored into the team's preparations for this season.
"We've forgotten all about that," Law said. "It came out a while ago and it was really last year's guys that got that ranking. These guys are trying to put their own thumbprint on the program, so it doesn't mean a whole lot of anything."
UH-Hilo stayed close with the Rainbows in last year's exhibition meeting, trailing by five at halftime before UH-Manoa pulled away for a 75-49 win.
Wallace has been busy blending the talents of seven returning letterwinners with this year's class of recruits since opening practice with Twilight Ohana last month.
He's shuffled the combinations regularly in practice and hopes to spread out the minutes tomorrow as the Rainbows get their first taste of game conditions.
"The main goal is to get everybody some playing time. It doesn't always work that way because you're playing to win," Wallace said.
"It'll be a conditioning thing, and you have to stay organized. (UH-Hilo will) play good defense on you and he's got quickness."
The Vulcans lost their top two point producers from last season, led by Osadonor Esene's 20.9 ppg, but welcome forward Joe Travis and guard Justin Griffin back from redshirt years.
Travis, sidelined by a knee injury last season, was a second-team All-PacWest pick in 2004 when he averaged 14.4 points and 7.9 rebounds. Griffin averaged 12.6 points that year to earn honorable mention all-conference honors.
"It definitely fills a void," Law said. "I think those guys will be able to pick up where the other guys left off."
UH-HILO VS. UH-MANOA
When: Tomorrow, 7:05 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Tickets: General admission, $7 (adults), $4 (upper level--ages 4-18, UH students)