UH’s Gibson back to play Coppin
STORY SUMMARY »
Hawaii will look to get its swagger -- and one of its leaders -- back tomorrow when the Rainbow Warriors face Coppin State at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Coppin State (3-3) at Hawaii (1-3)
» When: Tomorrow, 7:05 p.m.
» Where: Stan Sheriff Center
» TV: KFVE, Ch. 5
» Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
The Rainbows (1-3) are aiming to rebound from a 29-point loss at New Mexico last Wednesday and expect to have senior point guard Matt Gibson available for the first time this season.
Gibson missed the Rainbows' first four games due to a sprained left knee. He returned to practice last Friday and said he's ready to make his season debut tomorrow, though UH coach Bob Nash hadn't determined whether he'll be in the starting five just yet.
"We love him for his energy and his nature on the court," senior forward Bobby Nash said. "He makes me excited to play basketball."
UH and Coppin State will meet in a nonconference game for the second straight year. The Rainbows defeated the Eagles 79-67 last November at the Sheriff Center.
"They've got the same go-to guys, they run the same stuff, we're not going to be surprised," Gibson said. "We just have to stay with our fundamentals and stay focused."
FULL STORY »
It was about a year ago that Hawaii and Coppin State last met at the Stan Sheriff Center.
It only seems longer.
"It's been a long time, played a lot of games," Rainbow Warrior senior Bobby Nash said when asked about UH's game with the Eagles last November.
About 50 weeks and 33 games have passed since the Rainbows beat Coppin State 79-67 for their first win of the 2006-07 season, and the teams meet again tomorrow for another nonconference matchup with tip-off set for 7:05 p.m.
The Rainbows (1-3) will get a refresher on the Eagles' personnel and schemes in their video session before today's practice, and will face a team with experience in making the cross-country trek from Baltimore to Honolulu as Coppin State (3-3) returns all five players who started last year's game against UH.
"They've got a lot of similar personnel, guys who have been here before," UH coach Bob Nash said. "The good thing is Coach Fang (Mitchell) will know how to guard our sets, so it gives you a more realistic look, like it's a conference game as far as a team knowing how to play you. Conversely, we'll know how to hopefully guard them as well."
Tomorrow's game is sandwiched between the two road trips on UH's nonconference schedule. The Rainbows are coming off an 89-60 drubbing at New Mexico last Wednesday and leave Friday for their game at San Diego.
In their last outing, the Rainbows stayed with the Lobos for a half, then were outscored 51-29 after the break.
"Whenever you have a game like that it strikes a chord in you and you have to retaliate," said Bobby Nash, UH's leading scorer at 20.8 points per game, good for second in the Western Athletic Conference. "You have to get back and you have to get better."
Just as the Rainbows are eager to get back on the court following the loss, one player in particular is looking forward to tomorrow's tip-off.
Senior guard and tri-captain Matt Gibson has been practicing since Friday after missing UH's first four games with a sprained knee and is anxious awaiting his season debut tomorrow.
"I'm ready to play, the injury's over," Gibson said after yesterday's practice. "They're not taking it easy on me (in practice). That's how I know I'm ready, when I'm going full speed. The first couple of days were rough, I was a little rusty. I'm getting the momentum, getting back into the flow, just ready to play my first game of the season."
Gibson, one of the team's top perimeter scorers, was slated to start at point guard before he suffered the injury two days before the season opener against San Diego. Bob Nash said yesterday whether Gibson would start against the Eagles hadn't been determined, but his return has been evident in practice.
"We're still evaluating, still preparing. But having him back in the gym with his leadership, the offense is running a bit smoother because he's done it for three years," Nash said.
Still, UH continues to battle the injury bug. Senior forward Alex Veit sat out yesterday's practice with an ankle injury and Bob Nash hopes he'll be available for tomorrow's game.
Coppin State, coming off a 78-57 loss to UNC Wilmington in the Chicago Invitational Challenge on Saturday, is led by senior guard Tywain McKee's 21.3 points per game. McKee was a first-team All-Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference pick last season and scored a game-high 22 points against UH.
Forward Robert Pressey, a 6-foot-7 senior, ranks second on the team with 10.3 points and leads the Eagles with 6.3 rebounds per game.