FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii point guard Deonte Tatum tried to work the ball past Louisiana Tech's Paul Millsap down the stretch last night.
Wallace: No more Millsap
After a day when Hawaii honored its departing seniors, the Rainbow Warriors hoped they'd seen the last of Louisiana Tech's Paul Millsap.
UH coach Riley Wallace said he doesn't want to encounter the Bulldogs and their relentless rebounding machine at this week's WAC tournament.
"Hell no. I don't want to see him again," said Wallace, after Millsap scored 20 points and pulled down 23 rebounds in LaTech's 51-48 win over UH, completing the regular season for both teams.
"Why would you want to see that guy again? He puts up numbers every game. We battled him, Bo (Chris Botez) and Matt (Gipson) and Julian (Sensley) all went at him. He's just bigger, thicker, stronger and got great timing."
UH and LaTech probably won't match up in Reno, but that doesn't necessarily mean the Rainbows are clear of Millsap, who led the nation in rebounding his first two seasons and is on pace for an unprecedented third carom crown. He and Bulldogs coach Keith Richard said there's a 50-50 chance the junior will return to Ruston next year for his final season of eligibility, instead of turning pro.
Yesterday's was the third consecutive win for the Bulldogs over the Rainbows at the Stan Sheriff Center, and the fifth overall.
Millsap is the common denominator.
"There's a young man on my team who had 23 rebounds tonight," Richard said. "That's probably the reason why (LaTech won)."
Millsap came just three rebounds short of the UH opponent record for one game, set by Dave Cowens of Florida State in 1969. He moved into second place on LaTech's all-time career list yesterday.
Millsap's five blocks and three steals also aided the Bulldogs' defensive effort. It didn't help UH that starting forward Ahmet Gueye was out with a torn ACL.
"We found out in the locker room before the game, but we had the scouting report on 50 (Botez, who started in place of Gueye), so it didn't matter," Millsap said.
But the 6-foot-8 Millsap did have to adjust to the 7-foot Botez. Although he scored 10 points and had 10 rebounds in the first half, Millsap also committed five turnovers. He had none after the break.
"I was out there trying to make too many things happen, so I slowed down in the second half and let the game come to me," he said.
He let Hawaii's attackers come to him, too, and swatted away two shots near the basket in the closing minutes that could've changed the outcome.
And after intermission, his weight advantage over Botez (245 pounds to 220) more than made up for the height differential.
"He's got a big body and he knows how to use it," said Botez, who finished with six points, six rebounds, four blocks and one turnover in 37 minutes.
Wallace said Millsap reminds him of Paul Silas, a great college rebounder who went on to be a solid player on an NBA championship team with the Boston Celtics.
"He's a warrior, there's no doubt about that," Wallace said of Millsap. "I didn't see the Southern Illinois game, but I wonder how they held him to six rebounds. Must have been the 13-hour bus ride to get there."
Apparently, long plane rides aren't a problem.
"I don't know why we win here," said Millsap, who is from Grambling, just a few miles from Ruston. "It's been raining since we got here, something like it gets back home. Maybe that's got something to do with it."