UNLV's Curtis Terry laid in two points ahead of Hawaii's Bobby Nash during the Rebels' victory on Friday night.
Rainbow Warriors not worried about road loss in season opener
The Hawaii basketball team's early-season schedule doesn't allow much time for dwelling on the past.
Hawaii vs. Coppin State
When: Tomorrow, 7:05 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: KFVE (Ch. 5)
Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
The Rainbow Warriors returned from Las Vegas yesterday following a 73-59 loss at UNLV on Friday, and must quickly turn their attention to tomorrow's home opener against Coppin State.
"We'll see how they bounce back," UH head coach Riley Wallace said. "You just have to take the positive things out of it and go from there. It's early in the season, we've got four more road games before Christmas, so we have to bounce back and get it together."
Tip-off for the first meeting between Hawaii and Coppin State is set for 7:05 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Rainbows had initially planned on practicing shortly after landing in Honolulu yesterday, but instead will get back in the gym today to prepare for Coppin State, which opened its season with a 94-43 loss at Virginia Tech on Friday.
The Rainbows stumbled out of the gate in falling behind by 19 in the first half against the Runnin' Rebels on Friday. They rallied to take the lead briefly in the second half, but struggled again down the stretch as UNLV pulled away.
Wallace credited the Rebels' defensive pressure for disrupting the Rainbows' attack, but found a positive in how the team responded after falling behind early.
"You don't know because you've got a lot of new guys working together. Three of our starters were out last year, so it's their first game in a while," Wallace said. "We hit some shots and kept playing defense. ... I think we learned a lot and we'll be better for it."
Among the bright spots was a 20-point performance by UH guard Matt Gibson, who sparked the Rainbows' comeback from an 11-point halftime deficit as UH took a 48-46 lead.
Forward Ahmet Gueye posted 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Wallace credited the leadership of sophomore point guard Dominic Waters for helping stabilize the game when UNLV ran out to a 23-4 lead.
"He came and kind of got that comeback going," Wallace said.
Matt Lojeski and Bobby Nash, two of the Rainbows' more reliable shooters in the preseason, will look to rebound from a rough night in which they combined to go 4-for-23 from the field and missed all nine attempts from 3-point range. Though he struggled shooting the ball, Lojeski contributed nine rebounds and a team-high six assists.
Wallace chalked up the shooting woes to an off night combined with UNLV's defense.
"We just didn't handle the pressure early on -- there were too many turnovers and we didn't shoot the ball," Wallace said. "(UNLV's) pressure caused a lot of that. They'll be back."
If their travel schedule has the Rainbows feeling pressed for time, Coppin State isn't hearing any of it.
Coppin State, located in Baltimore, will have to endure a cross-country odyssey from the East Coast to Oahu for tomorrow's game.
The Eagles' trip to Hawaii is part of a murderous nonconference schedule that includes visits to No. 25 Tennessee, Kansas State, Missouri, Oklahoma, No. 11 Alabama, No. 18 Connecticut and No. 7 Ohio State before New Year's. The Eagles play 12 of their first 13 games on the road.
Coppin State went 12-18 last season and was picked fourth in the preseason Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference poll. The Eagles return four starters and are led by junior guard Tywain McKee, a first-team preseason all-conference pick. McKee averaged a team-best 15.4 points per game last season. He paced the Eagles with 10 points on Friday.
"They run a pretty good halfcourt offense," Wallace said. "They zone a lot and they will transition into their halfcourt offense."