RAINBOW WARRIOR BASKETBALL
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Riley Wallace will be taking his final road trip of the regular season when the Rainbows travel to San Jose to face the San Jose State Spartans on Saturday. CLICK FOR LARGE
UH repacks for road trip
The Rainbows will meet San Jose State on Saturday
It'll be a quick pit stop at home to refuel before making a U-turn back to the mainland for the Hawaii basketball team.
The Rainbow Warriors returned on Sunday following a five-day trip and have a few days at home to gear up for their final road game of the regular season on Saturday at San Jose State.
UH coach Riley Wallace gave the team the day off yesterday. They'll practice today and tomorrow and head back to California on Thursday. The short respite gives them a chance to catch their breath entering the season's final stretch.
"They need this warmth and a couple of days off, catch up in school, and we'll get back at it," Wallace said.
The Rainbows (15-12, 5-8 Western Athletic Conference) need to win the final three games of the league schedule to avoid a sub-.500 WAC record entering next month's conference tournament. An eighth consecutive winning season is also within their reach with another victory.
After playing at San Jose State on Saturday, the 'Bows close the regular season with a homestand against Idaho on March 1 and Boise State on March 3.
The team's latest flight home was made merrier by their 93-78 nonconference win at Long Beach State last Saturday, a game that mirrored the peaks and valleys of the season as a whole.
The Rainbows managed a season-low 50 points in a loss at Utah State three days earlier, then fell behind by 12 in a turnover-prone first-half performance against Long Beach State. A couple of 3-pointers by Bobby Nash ignited the 'Bows, who battled back to take a lead and go into halftime tied.
UH then fell behind by nine after the break before storming past the Big West Conference leading 49ers to become the first visiting team to leave the Walter Pyramid victorious this season and break the 90-point mark for the first time since 2004.
"It was a strange, strange game," Wallace said.
"Like I said, it was the worst start I've seen, turnover after turnover, they dropped their heads," he added.
"Then they come right back, the chemistry comes back."
Riley Luettgerodt seemed to find his rhythm on the road trip, hitting for 11 points at Utah State then scoring a career high 23 against Long Beach State.
Hawaii went a remarkable 31-for-33 from the free-throw
line in the game, including 27-for-28 in the second half, which Wallace attributed to the Rainbows attacking the rim.
"That's what teams have been doing to us," he said.
"If you don't do that then you have to rely on your jumpers."
Entering this week's road trip, the Rainbows have won just twice on an opponent's home floor this season, but have been competitive in most of those contests.
They are 4-9 overall away from the Stan Sheriff Center, including three neutral-court games at the Great Alaska Shootout.
Knowing a hot team can make a run at the league tournament, the Rainbows return to the WAC this week looking to generate that momentum prior to the tournament in Las Cruces, NM, set for March 6-10.
"I think they have confidence in themselves," Wallace said. "That's why they're able to come back they way they have."
Conference call: UH's win on Saturday was part of a successful BracketBusters weekend for the WAC.
The league went 4-0 in the games selected for the televised ESPN BracketBusters lineup and 3-2 in the other nonconference games.
WAC commissioner Karl Benson said he had hoped the league would have drawn more high-profile matchups, but said Boise State, Nevada, New Mexico State and Utah State all improved their RPIs over the weekend, as did Hawaii and Fresno State.
UH's RPI is 87th in the country according to collegeRPI.com.
"The intent of BracketBusters is to allow teams to ... maneuver themselves upward and we did that," Benson said during yesterday's WAC teleconference.
"We'll look at this as being a very productive and successful BracketBuster weekend, one that we hope will catapult our teams both in terms of NCAA consideration and NIT consideration."
|New Mexico St.
|San Jose St.
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Fresno State at Louisiana Tech
San Jose State at Boise State
Utah State at New Mexico State
Nevada at Idaho
at San Jose State
Utah State at Louisiana Tech
Nevada at Boise State
Fresno State at New Mexico State