RAINBOW WARRIOR BASKETBALL
UH's Luettgerodt leaves slump in past
Though scuffling through a prolonged slump, Riley Luettgerodt didn't get in trouble for the shots he took, but rather for one he turned down.
"Against Utah State, there was a shot I passed up and (UH coach Riley Wallace) just said if I don't shoot that I'm coming out," Luettgerodt recalled. "So I was like I might as well shoot it and eventually they'll start going down."
Heeding the edict from his coach paid off for Luettgerodt. The Rainbow Warriors reserve guard/forward went on to break out of the doldrums with 11 points in last week's game against Utah State and scored a career-high 23 in UH's 93-78 win at Long Beach State last Saturday.
He'll try to maintain his roll when the Rainbows (15-12, 5-8 Western Athletic Conference) play at San Jose State (4-22, 3-10) on Saturday.
"I think I got a little scoring confidence back," Luettgerodt said. "It's good to come in and help."
Luettgerodt transferred to UH from Chemeketa Community College in Oregon, where he averaged 26.7 points per game en route to breaking the school's single-season scoring record with 802 points.
He found the points didn't flow quite as easily at the Division I level. He reached double figures five times in the first 16 games, then didn't score more than five in any of the next nine and was shut out three times in that span.
"It was tough, I couldn't throw the ball in the ocean, but I just had to keep shooting," Luettgerodt said. "I always said as soon as I hit a shot it would be back to normal. It just took forever to hit a shot."
He scored just five points in a loss to New Mexico State on Feb. 12, but hit a key 3-pointer that broke an 0-for-23 drought from behind the arc extending back to the Rainbow Classic in December.
"It was a relief; it was good to get it over with," Luettgerodt said. "I never had a slump quite like that, but I'm glad it's behind me."
He added another trey in the 11-point performance at Utah State last Wednesday and followed that with his breakout game against Long Beach State.
Luettgerodt played a season-high 33 minutes against the 49ers, shooting 6-for-9 from the field and making all 10 of his free throws. He also had six rebounds, eight assists and four steals.
"We knew what he could do, it was just a matter of him relaxing and doing things," Wallace said.
Though Luettgerodt struggled to get the ball through the net, his effort in other aspects of the game kept him a regular place in the rotation.
"As long as he works hard defensively and rebounding, you can go with a slump," Wallace said.
On the road: After four days at home, the Rainbows are scheduled to leave on their final regular-season road trip this afternoon.
The team played games in three time zones last week and Saturday's game at San Jose State will be its seventh trip to the mainland.
Repeatedly folding themselves into airline seats isn't easy on the players, but they've learned to deal with the challenges.
"The travel and the schedule is tough on us, but we understand how important these last three games are," forward Ahmet Gueye said.
"On the plane we have really bad seats most of the time. But we try to take the positive out of it and do the best we can. We have to get rest, try to eat well, try to hydrate."
UH is 2-8 in road games this season, and have split their last two trips.
The 'Bows close the regular season with a homestand against Idaho and Boise State next week, then depart for the WAC tournament in New Mexico.
More travel: San Jose State is also dealing with the rigors of the road, playing at Boise State tonight. The Spartans have lost three straight and end a stretch of three consecutive road games tonight. Saturday's matchup with UH will be their first at home in two weeks.