Gibson gives Nash flexibility
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The return of Hawaii guard Matt Gibson to the Rainbow Warriors' rotation gives head coach Bob Nash a few more options and decisions to make heading into Sunday's game at San Diego.
Whether Gibson, who missed UH's first four games with a knee injury, starts in the rematch with the Toreros remains to be determined over the next few practices. Gibson scored a game-high 18 points while coming off the bench in UH's win over Coppin State on Tuesday.
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Bob Nash has a few to make now with the return of senior guard Matt Gibson to the Hawaii rotation after a four-game absence.
"I've got more options, more decisions to make," Nash said a day after five Rainbow Warriors scored in double figures in a win over Coppin State. "But I like to be in that position, to have more weapons we can use."
In his first game action of the season, Gibson came off the bench to lead the Rainbows (2-3) with 18 points in a 79-58 win over the Eagles on Tuesday. But Nash said that doesn't necessarily mean a return to the starting lineup for Sunday's game at San Diego.
Nash has played a starting lineup of Jared Dillinger, Riley Luettgerodt, Bobby Nash, Bill Amis and Stephen Verwers in all five games this season, and the first-year head coach is back to evaluating which combination will be first on the floor for a rematch with the Toreros at Jenny Craig Pavilion.
San Diego edged UH 73-72 in the Nov. 9 season-opener at the Stan Sheriff Center, two days after Gibson suffered a sprained knee in practice that sidelined him for UH's first four games.
"Chemistry is very important," Bob Nash said yesterday. "So far we've had good chemistry. We got good production out of Matt coming off the bench last night, whether we'll continue that we don't know yet. We'll just keep working in the next three days and see what happens and go from there."
For his part, Gibson understood his role coming off the bench against Coppin State, when he filled out his stat line with four rebounds and six assists against five turnovers in 26 minutes of court time.
"It's hard to give someone's spot away when they're doing everything right, they're not making mistakes, they're playing good defense and they're involved in the game," Gibson said after the game. "It's hard to take that and make him feel like he's being punished for doing the right things out there. So I had to wait my turn."
Added Nash: "Matt's going to play. To him it's about winning. He showed he's a winner, he's a big part of this team, so we're going to lean on him for his senior leadership. And he's a guy that whether he comes off the bench or starts, he's going to play heavy minutes and he's going to be effective."
While Gibson was out, freshman Kareem Nitoto was the only guard available to come off the bench. With several Rainbows able to play guard or forward, the coaches now have a little more flexibility with the combinations on the floor.
"Now we have guards we can rotate in and out of there," Nash said. "What it does is it spreads the load around. We can share and get more people involved."
Sunday's game, the back end of a home-and-home series with San Diego, is set for noon Hawaii time.
UH forward Alex Veit remained sidelined yesterday with an ankle injury. The senior, who played in three games in reserve duty this season, could return to practice today after being out of action since Sunday. Veit has scored five points this season, averaging 5.3 minutes in his three appearances.
Catching up with USD
Things haven't gone all that smoothly for San Diego since its win over UH.
Following a 2-0 start, San Diego has lost five of its last six games, the latest defeat coming last night in a 77-71 loss at Boise State.
The Toreros play four Western Athletic Conference teams over a five-game stretch that began with last night's game. Along with Boise State and UH, San Diego has games with San Jose State and Nevada coming up.
Since losing their first two games by a total of three points, there's been little drama in the Rainbows last three games. Following the closes losses to San Diego and Illinois, UH has beaten Alcorn State by 29, lost to New Mexico by 29 and defeated Coppin State by 21.