JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Senior guard Matt Gibson said the Rainbows are looking to get some momentum going into their WAC opener on the road against Utah State on Thursday and a win over Centenary today would be a good start.
’Bows have 1 shot at earning momentum
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The Hawaii basketball team closes a rocky homestand today when the Rainbow Warriors face Centenary at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Tip-off is set for 5:05 p.m.
The Rainbows are 1-4 on the homestand and haven't tasted victory since defeating Long Beach State on Dec. 9. They'll look to get back on track and try to build some momentum heading into the Western Athletic Conference against a Centenary team that enters the game at 7-6 and owns a win over Texas Tech this season.
"Any time you go into conference play, the game before that is very important because you want to start that snowball effect of wins," said UH senior Bobby Nash.
After playing their last game of 2007, the Rainbows leave for the mainland tomorrow and open the WAC schedule with games at Utah State on Thursday and San Jose State on Saturday.
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It started promisingly enough.
It was three weeks ago today that Hawaii defeated Long Beach State to open a six-game homestand. Since that Dec. 9 victory, the Rainbows dropped three straight in the Rainbow Classic, saw a starter suffer a season-ending injury, and had a comeback fall short against New Mexico on Thursday to fall to 3-8.
With the run at home ending today, the Rainbows will try to generate some positive spin when they face Centenary (7-6) in their final game before heading on the road to open the Western Athletic Conference schedule.
"We've been talking about momentum going into the WAC and we haven't gotten any yet," senior Matt Gibson said. "Seems like our last win was a while back, so we need to go get one."
Tip-off at the Stan Sheriff Center is set for 5:05 p.m.
Although the Rainbows have had to fight through some adversity of late, coach Bob Nash was pleased with the team's demeanor in its workouts following a 79-69 loss to New Mexico.
"I like the attitude we've had the last two days of practice," Nash said. "They've bounced back, they're resilient, they haven't given up, everybody's still got fight in them and we're going to play hard no matter what."
After playing their final game of 2007, the Rainbows depart for the mainland tomorrow and will celebrate the new year in Utah, where they face Utah State on Thursday to open WAC play.
But thoughts of starting the league season were kept on hold yesterday as the Rainbows continued to sharpen their offensive patterns and worked on shoring up their defense after seeing their last three opponents combine to shoot close to 53 percent from the field.
In their last game, the 'Bows' efforts to cover New Mexico's shooters on the perimeter left driving lanes exposed and the Lobo guards were able to penetrate and find the big men open in the post as UNM scored 46 points in the paint.
Centenary comes in with a guard-oriented attack led by 6-foot-1 Tyrone Hamilton's 17.4 points per game.
"Penetration is what killed us last game and that's what this team does, so we've been focusing on stopping penetration and helping and rotating and being in the right spots defensively," Gibson said.
Perhaps better known locally as the alma mater of former UH coach Riley Wallace, Centenary has played a couple of big-name opponents this season, with mixed results. The Gents, who have just one senior and 10 freshmen or sophomores, knocked off Texas Tech 70-66 on Dec. 1, but are coming off an 86-41 loss at Georgia Tech on Dec. 22 in their last game before heading to Hawaii.
Along with Hamilton's production, the Gents rely on 6-2 guard Nick Stallings (16.3 ppg) and 6-7 forward Lance Hill for offense.
"We know they're not a roll-over team," said guard/forward Bobby Nash, UH's leading scorer at 15.7 ppg. "They're going to come out and play hard and play smart and we just have to counter it. We have to counter that with being patient on offense and grinding, and getting down in the stance and playing solid defense."
The atmosphere in the Sheriff Center figures to be a bit quieter than usual today. The UH band, cheerleaders and Rainbow Dancers have already left for New Orleans, where they will perform at the Sugar Bowl.