UH starts the march toward March
FIRST it was fun, and then it was crazy, but then it was slowly slipping away.
And then Matt Gibson poked that ball away, sprinted after it, dove and skidded hard on the floor. Created chaos, caused carnage under the basket, was fouled, and made both.
Bobby Nash slapped him five, hard. Bob Nash stood up. Riley Luettgerodt stole the ball, went behind his back, spun in the lane, made an impossible play.
Then another possession, and Gibson stepped back, and popped, 3.
And Gibson, cutting to the basket, a layup, a tongue out, a clenched fist.
P.J. Owsley drew a charge.
And it was loud, then, and everybody stood up. Stew Morrill, the Utah State coach, was losing it, and the Rainbow band played. How was there this much noise? There weren't any people there. The place was almost empty, just 3,746 in the house, a nothing Monday night. How was this happening?
But then Gibson hit another one. A floating jumper, and the 'Bows led by four.
Matt Lojeski hit a 3 off a long rebound. An ovation.
I don't know how good these guys are. But I love to watch them play.
Hawaii was playing with Riley Wallace's passion, last night. Matt Gibson was. Bobby Nash is emotional and physical and tough.
Hawaii just took this game down the stretch. Hawaii just took it, seized it, strangled it, when UH had to, the Rainbows just took this game, made it theirs.
Lojeski had a huge block with just over 3 minutes left.
Gibson had a miraculous hustle save, then nailed a ridiculous 3.
"The hustle plays," Gibson would say. "As long as we're getting the hustle plays and scrapping and getting the loose balls, those are the things that are going to win games."
It was crazy, and fun, and the Rainbows were playing with fervor, just taking the game away from Utah State.
These guys may have it in them just yet.
I don't know how good these guys are, but they just might get it together by March.
And that's what matters, in college basketball.
"I wouldn't say it's a disappointment yet," Gibson said of this season. "We lost some games we should have won." He knows people know that.
But college basketball is about what you do in March, and now Gibson is diving and the offense is clicking and the defense is clamping down.
These guys may have the pieces just yet.
Dominic Waters was effective as the starter at the point (Gibson played super sub off the bench), they found plays for him, got points from him. Owsley made plays. Ahmet Gueye was in foul trouble early in the second half, but had already managed to have had a big game by then. Seven rebounds. Five blocks.
Stephen Verwers, still developing, had five fouls in him.
Lojeski was tough, scored, passed, rebounded, even dunked.
"Oh, man," Gibson would say. "Matt Lojeski did a great job." Utah State star Jaycee Carroll had just 13 points, most of them coming almost too late. Lojeski had chased him and chased him and chased Carroll all over the gym.
"That's a big reason why we won," Gibson said.
And Gibson and Nash had that fire, just took the game when it mattered, were just tough.
I don't know how good these guys are. But last night they beat a team most would have said was better than them.
Gueye was even on the bench when the Rainbows made their big move.
"It's just who's going to step up at what time," Gibson said.
"Basically, you've got to go down in the pit and do work," Nash said, of taking Gueye's place at the 4.
"You just do what you have to do," Nash said.
They all did.
You'd have to call them officially Dangerous for the rest of the season.
All they have to do is get it together by March.
"We're not out of the mix yet," Gibson said. "And the more big games we can win the better."