Georgia ties don’t bind Hawaii’s Nash
Rainbows getting back on defense
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Hawaii basketball coach Bob Nash was born and raised in Athens, Ga., -- home of the Georgia Bulldogs -- through his eighth-grade year.
Several family members, including his mother and sister, have worked at the school in various capacities and a cousin played football at the same time as Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker, and one of his first jobs as a youngster was helping to clean up Sanford Stadium after Bulldogs football games.
But he said there won't be any mixed feelings when the Hawaii and Georgia football teams meet in the Sugar Bowl on New Year's Day.
"It's all for the Warriors," said Nash, who has been associated with UH for 28 years as a player and coach.
A basketball meeting between the schools is also possible later this month as Georgia will play in the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic. The Bulldogs and Rainbows are on opposite sides of the bracket and wouldn't meet until the final day of the tournament.
For the moment, though, Nash's focus is fixed on addressing concerns, particularly on defense, that arose in the Rainbows' loss at San Diego over the weekend. The 'Bows return to the Stan Sheriff Center on Sunday to face Long Beach State.
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The Hawaii basketball team has played two road games this season. Twice the Rainbow Warriors have returned home stressing improvement on defense.
The Rainbows (2-4) got back from a trip to San Diego on Monday following their 81-67 loss to the Toreros and have a few days to shore up the concerns that arose from the loss as they prepare for Sunday's game with Long Beach State at the Stan Sheriff Center.
"It wasn't the crowd, it wasn't altitude, it was just our not buying into the whole concept yet," UH coach Bob Nash said.
"Our post defense needs sharpening up and our one-on-one containment defense needs to get better. Those are the things we're going to address over the next three or four days."
In Hawaii's four games at the Sheriff Center this season, the Rainbows' opponents have combined to shoot just under 40 percent from the field. In two road games against New Mexico and San Diego, that figure jumps to just over 59 percent.
New Mexico burned the nets in the second half of an 89-60 win at The Pit on Nov. 21, shooting nearly 76 percent. On Sunday, San Diego got off to a hot start by shooting 61 percent in building a 16-point halftime lead.
Nash said the Rainbows also struggled in transition when quick shots led to fast breaks for San Diego, which completed the sweep of the home-and-home series.
"They want to be good and they will be. They have to understand that they have to really concentrate defensively," Nash said. "You can't have lapses. We have periods where we're awesome on defense, and then we have periods where we're just awful. We have to get it to the point where we keep those periods of defense where we're doing what we ask them to do to be longer."
The Western Athletic Conference will send one team to the Great Alaska Shootout each year under an agreement with the University of Alaska Anchorage.
WAC commissioner Karl Benson said yesterday the tournament "has a national tradition that attracts top-caliber teams that we are excited to be a part of."
The annual college basketball tournament is held over the Thanksgiving weekend, with some games televised nationally. UH finished third in last year's tournament.
Sunday's meeting with Long Beach State is the Rainbows' lone game in a 16-day stretch leading up to the Rainbow Classic. The 10-day break following the LBSU game coincides with final exams on the Manoa campus. The 44th annual Classic opens Dec. 19 and runs through Dec. 22.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.