Gibson moves closer to playing for ’Bows
Hawaii guard Matt Gibson returned to practice yesterday after missing the Rainbow Warriors' first four games due to a sprained knee.
Gibson worked out with the Rainbows on the same Gym II floor where a little more than two weeks earlier an awkward slip knocked him out of action.
"I'm glad to break a sweat, I'm glad my body feels tired right now," Gibson said. "I was excited for this practice today. I'm ready to be back and ready to get it going."
The senior point guard and tri-captain is looking to return to game action Tuesday when the Rainbows face Coppin State at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Gibson was slated to start at point guard until he suffered the injury two days before the season opener against San Diego. Whether he'll be in the first five for Tuesday's game will be determined over the next few practices, UH coach Bob Nash said.
"We'll just monitor the next few days, see if there's any soreness or swelling of any sort and see how it goes for Tuesday," Nash said.
"He's missed four games and the guys who have been here have done a good job. So I'm not going to make that call (on the starting lineup) until I evaluate over the next few days. We've put in a lot of different things since he's been gone, so he's got to catch up to us, and once he catches up to us we'll make adjustments."
Gibson wore a brace on his left knee for yesterday's practice and said he'll wear it for the next couple of games as he builds strength and trust in the knee while also getting his conditioning back up to speed.
"You never know when an injury like that can happen," he said. "I've never had one before in 23 years, so it was kind of a scary thing, but I'm glad to be back."
UH has gotten off to a 1-3 start with Gibson out, with the first two losses coming by a total of three points. Following a win over Alcorn State, the Rainbows were blown out by New Mexico on Wednesday in their first road game of the season.
Gibson didn't make the trip to Albuquerque, spending the time lifting weights, getting treatment on his knee and doing some shooting. He said he would have liked to play against New Mexico and fellow Oklahoma product J.R. Giddens. He will get another shot when the Lobos visit the Sheriff Center on Dec. 27.
"It was real hard, especially in close losses like that when I felt like I could have made a difference," said Gibson.
With Gibson out, forward Bobby Nash handled much of the point guard duties on offense and sophomore forward Bill Amis was shuffled into the starting lineup. Freshman Kareem Nitoto also saw more action at point guard in the meantime.
"When you have a starter out, and a guy that's played a lot of minutes and contested and battled, you can't put a premium on that," Nash said. "Certainly not having him these last four games has taken away some of our firepower. ... Now we can share the load a little bit more."
On the defensive
With New Mexico's 76 percent shooting performance in the second half of Wednesday's 89-60 loss still fresh in their minds, the Rainbows dedicated a chunk of yesterday's practice to fundamentals on defense.
"We're never going to get blown out by another team like that ever again," Nash said of the emphasis on defense.
After Hawaii stayed within seven points of the Lobos in the first half, New Mexico made 22 of 29 shots from the field on their way to scoring 51 second-half points. UH, meanwhile, shot 8-for-23 after the break.
"We didn't play well at New Mexico defensively in the second half and that's obviously a concern for the coaching staff," Nash said. "We went in and played well in the first half. We had a good scouting report on how we wanted to do things. In the second half that completely broke down. We weren't the same team when we came out the second half."