Rainbows desperately needed a game like this
THEY needed this. Oh, how they needed this. The Idaho road woes. The January blues.
A lot had happened since Matt Gibson had hugged that Rainbow Classic trophy tightly, said giddily, "Merry Christmas, everybody!" A lot had happened.
"We've been losing by nail biters and close games. We've been in every game," Gibson said.
It would slip away, "pretty much the last 5 minutes of the game," he would say.
The Rainbows needed a night like this.
San Jose State. Yes, the Spartans had come in here hard luck, as usual, but had supposedly hung tough at Cameron Indoor Arena, playing right with mighty Duke. So much for that. The Spartans were run off the court last night at Stan Sheriff. They were victims of frustration. The 'Bows -- those comfortable doing so -- dunked during warm-ups last night. It was time to do something. It was already coming out. They needed this. They just couldn't wait.
Bobby Nash was diving into passing lanes, last night. Going after balls out of bounds, making plays. Gibson, as usual, hit the floor too.
They got something from everyone. Stephen Ver-wers, the 6-11 sub, was Chicken Man, last night.
You know what I mean.
(He's everywhere! He's everywhere!)
The guy had a career-high 13 rebounds. He had 11 at the half.
He was everywhere. He was Chicken Man.
"It's really a point of pride for us to outrebound the other team," he would say.
Yes, it was San Jose State, now 2-17 on the season. But Hawaii needed this. So much for the January blues.
San Jose State didn't crack double digits until it scored its 10th point with 2:22 to go before the break.
"No mercy!" the crowd yelled, during the second half.
About eight of the 3,719 in attendance chanted "Ri-ley! Wal-lace!" late in the game.
Ahmet Gueye had 13 rebounds, including a putback dunk.
Yes. It was San Jose State. And it was not San Jose State's night.
No matter. It was Hawaii, and it was Hawaii's night, and the Rainbows needed a night like this.
UH emptied the bench. It filled up the stats.
"It was a good overall effort against a team I was fearful of," Wallace said.
Oh, it got a little sloppier, in the second half, the way runaways often do. But the 'Bows were back. At least for one night. At least for this night. At least for last night.
This is what this team has, the rest of the season. This is what these 'Bows have to play for, what they have to give. Great nights at Stan Sheriff, big shots, great stops. A fan with a sign that says GIVE UM LICKING. Memories to be made.
Nights like this.
"When we get to running and fast breaking the game's fun, it's fun to play, it's fun to watch," Gibson said.
Sure, postseason could be slipping out of the equation, barring a miracle WAC Tournament run. (Can that happen again? It's happened before. You never know. March is a long way off -- these guys might have it in them yet.) This is not one of Wallace's best teams.
But there are still winter nights at the Stan Sheriff Center, big shots, great stops, signs, "Hawaii 5-0," hustle, chicken skin.
"I think in our league everybody knows that every given night ..." Gibson said.
"We've got to get our momentum going down the stretch and win some ballgames and get ready for the tournament," Wallace said.
The Rainbows needed a night like this, and they delivered. That's all you can ask for, one at a time.
"One thing I've always appreciated about this team," Wallace said, "is they always come back."
This is Riley Wallace's last season. And it ain't over yet.