RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Bob Nash is more concerned about wins and losses now than the upheaval in the Hawaii athletic department. "I've got a job to do and that's getting these guys ready to play Nevada," he said.
Above the fray
Nash is keeping the basketball team focused through the school's crisis
STORY SUMMARY »
Through all of the commotion buzzing through the Hawaii athletic department over the past few days, the work goes on for the Rainbow Warrior basketball team.
Rainbow Warriors Basketball
Nevada (8-5) at Hawaii (5-9, 1-1 WAC)
» Saturday, 7:05 p.m.
» Stan Sheriff Center
» TV: KFVE Ch. 5
» Radio: KKEA 1420-AM
UH's WAC home opener has been designated as "Green and White Night." Details are available at HawaiiAthletics.com.
Having the four-time defending Western Athletic Conference champion coming to town tends to help maintain focus.
"I'm just worried about basketball right now," Nash said after yesterday morning's practice, a few hours prior to the announcement of athletic director Herman Frazier's dismissal. "I've got a job to do and that's getting these guys ready to play Nevada."
After picking up their first road win of the season, the Rainbows (5-9, 1-1 WAC) will try to maintain their momentum when they open a three-game homestand against the Wolf Pack at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Recently, the coaching staff tweaked the offense and the Rainbows responded with two of their most productive games of the season last week.
"We've changed the way we approach things a little bit in terms of how we want to transition," Nash said. "Our point production has gone up, turnovers have gone down, those are the things we like to see."
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RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
UH's Riley Luettgerodt, left, says the 'Bows are playing unselfish, and coach Bob Nash likes the team's offensive execution.
The Hawaii basketball team has found that picking up the scoring pace doesn't necessarily mean having to speed up its game.
In fact, the patient approach the Rainbow Warriors have taken to on offense recently produced two of their highest scoring games of the season.
The Rainbows, who had broken the 80-point mark once in their first 12 games while trying to implement an up-tempo transition game, reached that point twice in splitting a Western Athletic Conference road trip last week and set a season high in an 85-79 win over San Jose State.
"We've modified our offensive strategy a little bit," UH coach Bob Nash said. "We're not just going to be in a situation where we just racehorse, shoot quick shots and give up run-outs against us.
"We looked at our shot selection early on in transition and felt like guys were shooting it a little too quick without recognizing whether or not we had the advantage. We made some changes, asked the guys to get a little deeper in the shot clock before letting it fly."
The Rainbows (5-9, 1-1) will try to maintain their offensive flow when they open a three-game Western Athletic Conference home stand Saturday against four-time regular-season champion Nevada at the Stan Sheriff Center. The stretch continues Monday with a rematch against San Jose State and concludes Jan. 19 against Fresno State.
The Rainbows are shooting 51 percent from the field over their last three games while averaging 19.3 assists against 15.3 turnovers. They matched a season high with 23 assists on 28 field goals in the San Jose State win.
"We're scoring a lot of points and we're really not pushing the ball," UH swingman Riley Luettgerodt said. "I think people have found that if they make the extra pass everybody's going to get a shot.
"If someone's open, the next person may be even more wide open. Everybody's playing unselfish and getting good shots for everyone."
Senior point guard Matt Gibson has dished out eight assists in each of the last three games, matching his career high, while averaging 18.3 points. While running the offense, Gibson has also been able to create off the dribble to find a teammate for a shot, get to the basket, or draw a foul. He's 21-for-24 from the free-throw line in the last three games for a UH team ranked second in the WAC and 21st in the country at 75 percent.
"We have plenty of guys who can knock down open shots a lot better than I can. I'm just looking to draw some defense and get us some easy points," Gibson said.
On the flip side, defense remains a concern. The Rainbows allowed Utah State and San Jose State to shoot a combined 51 percent and sent them to the free-throw line 84 times in two games. The Aggies and Spartans also outscored the Rainbows 68-44 in the paint.
Since center Stephen Verwers was lost for the season, the Rainbows have gone with a smaller lineup down low with 6-foot-6 Bobby Nash playing power forward alongside 6-8 P.J. Owsley.
"We're going to give up some position inside because we're just undersized inside," Bob Nash said. "We're going to scheme things to try to get some help for our bigs so they don't get down on that island by themselves with big guys going over the top of us."
While they give up some size in the post, Bob Nash has been pleased with the way the lineup of Gibson, Luettgerodt, Nash, Owsley and Jared Dillinger has executed the offense.
"I like the way our four perimeter guys have been playing," Nash said. "We can go big when we need to, but the offense has to be a smooth running machine and that's what we have when he have our seniors out there."