RAINBOW WARRIOR BASKETBALL
Rainbow Warriors foster teamwork
UH leads the WAC in assists, and Lojeski's big point totals come within the team's scheme
By going with the flow, Matt Lojeski found his way to the biggest week of his Hawaii career.
Over a remarkable three-day performance in last week's Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic, the Rainbow Warriors guard averaged 24.7 points while shooting 73 percent from the field, and he did so largely without forcing his way to the hoop.
"This isn't the kind of offense where you break people down and go one-on-one," said Lojeski, who was named the Western Athletic Conference's Player of the Week yesterday. "It's just a flow. You have to get in the spots, you have to know where you can get your shots, and that's what I was doing."
HAWAII VS. TENNESSEE-MARTIN
When: Tomorrow, 7:05 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Tickets: $22 (lower level, single seats only), $18 (upper, adult), $5 (upper, students), $3 (upper, UH students), $5 (Super Rooter/Manoa Maniacs).
Fresh off a rousing Rainbow Classic championship, Lojeski and the Rainbows (8-4) will try to keep the positive energy flowing into tomorrow's game against Tennessee-Martin (3-10) at the Stan Sheriff Center. Tipoff is set for 7:05 p.m.
Hawaii brings a four-game winning streak into its game with the Skyhawks, UH's final date of a six-game homestand. The Rainbows open WAC play on the road next week.
"You've got to try to avoid a letdown and get out there and play the same kind of basketball," Hawaii coach Riley Wallace said. "We have to get our fans out there, that helps us, and then we have to get our mental side of the game and come out and attack."
While Lojeski was on fire from the field last week -- particularly in the Classic final against Creighton when he scored 33 points on 12-for-15 shooting -- his numbers were indicative of the Rainbows' overall execution as a team.
He often broke loose with the aid of screens from his teammates, and of his 12 field goals on Saturday, seven came off assists; three each from Matt Gibson and Bobby Nash and one from Ahmet Gueye.
"I like it because it was within the team scheme," Wallace said. "He made shots that guys got for him. He created some, but most of them they found
him in the right position in the offense. Everybody was working hard and it just happened."
Finding the open man and converting on those passes has Hawaii atop the WAC with 212 assists, an average of 17.67 per game. As a team, the Rainbows shot 54 percent last week to bring their season mark to 47.4 percent heading into tomorrow's game.
Four Rainbows are averaging double figures in scoring with Lojeski leading the way at 18.5 points per game. Gueye is next at 11.8 with Nash and Gibson both averaging 10.5.
"It's a very unselfish team," said Lojeski, who moved into third in the WAC at 18.5 ppg and second in assists with 4.92. "It's just a whole team kind of thing, everybody's helping each other."
Tennessee-Martin, a school with an enrollment of about 6,000, enters the game on a three-game losing streak under eighth-year coach Bret Campbell. While Hawaii looks forward to next week's start of the WAC season, the Skyhawks are already four games into Ohio Valley Conference play. They lost to Eastern Kentucky 82-69 on Dec. 20 in their final game before heading to Hawaii.
Forward Gerald Robinson, a junior-college transfer, is the lone Skyhawks player averaging double-figure scoring at 12.3 points per game. Guard Bubba Tolliver follows at 9.7 and is coming off a career-best 24-point outing against Eastern Kentucky, when he hit six 3-pointers.
Notes: UH guard Dominic Waters returned to practice yesterday after missing the Creighton game with a bruised thigh suffered the previous night against Nebraska. The Rainbows took Sunday and Monday off following the Rainbow Classic. ... The Rainbows depart for next week's trip on New Year's Day and begin conference play at New Mexico State on Jan. 4 and Louisiana Tech on Jan. 6.