Rainbow Warriors still hungry after loss
Even as the Hawaii basketball team gathered for its traditional holiday meal on Thanksgiving, work wasn't far from the minds of the Rainbow Warriors.
Hawaii vs. Saint Louis
When: Today, 8:05 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: Pay-per-view (Digital 255). Rebroadcast on KFVE, 11 p.m.
Radio: Live, KKEA 1420-AM
Rather than watch the turkey day football games on the tube, the Rainbow Warriors popped in a game tape from last season during their annual get-together.
"Instead of the Cowboy game we were watching Hawaii and Saint Louis," senior forward Matthew Gipson said. "The work never stops. It's basketball season."
The Rainbows spent yesterday morning working off the extra Thanksgiving pounds and preparing for tonight's meeting with the Billikens at the Stan Sheriff Center. Tip-off for the nonconference game is set for 8:05 p.m.
Though just two games into the season, the Rainbows are on a wild ride. They hit an emotional high with an upset of Michigan State in the opener. Their spirits then dipped with a 67-61 loss at UNLV last Tuesday.
The Rainbows returned home Wednesday and spent the holiday working to put the loss behind them while getting ready to play their third game in the last eight days.
"We're home now, we've got our legs under us. I think these last two practices, everybody mentally is there," forward Julian Sensley said. "Everybody's hungry, everybody's ready to get back on it."
UH will need to locate its shooting touch after hitting one of 17 3-point attempts and misfiring on 12 of 18 free throws on Tuesday.
"We just have to stay level and keep getting better as a team, that's what's important," said Gipson, who had 16 points and matched a career high with 12 rebounds against UNLV. "We have to keep building and building until we get to postseason."
Just as the team is working to forget the loss to UNLV, Sensley said he's gotten past his worst game as a Rainbow. He was shut out of the scoring column for the first time in 64 games at UH against UNLV.
"Obviously, I want to do well, but I'm more disappointed that I didn't do anything to help the team come out with a win," Sensley said. "I've put it behind me. That hurt a little bit, but I left that in Vegas."
Sensley had one of his better games last season in UH's 53-52 win at Saint Louis. He finished that game with 15 points and 11 rebounds and hit the game-winning shot with 15 seconds left.
The outcome was part of a trend for the Billikens, who lost 11 of 12 games decided in the final minute to end the year at 9-21 for the program's first losing season in five years.
Saint Louis opened this season with a 69-45 win over Eastern Illinois on Tuesday.
"They'll speed it up over previous years," said UH associate coach Bob Nash, who puts together the team's scouting reports. "They have the personnel now where they can transition a little bit more."
Fourth-year Saint Louis coach Brad Soderberg said the Billikens' guard corps is the best group he's had at the school, but he added that the Billikens' ability to play a running game will depend on their ability to rebound, as UH's size advantage is a concern if he goes with a guard-heavy lineup.
"That's something I'm going to have to decide over the next 24 hours because I'm not sure how I want to start the game," Soderberg said prior to the Billikens' practice yesterday afternoon. "They're very big. With Sensley (6-foot-9) able to play the 3 spot with his size, it makes it a challenge for anybody, particularly us."