RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Matt Gibson and Riley Luettgerodt fought for the ball against San Jose State’s Jamon Hill during UH’s last homestand.
Rainbows glad to be back after long trip home
STORY SUMMARY »
Following a week-long stay in Idaho capped by a 21-hour journey home on Sunday, the Hawaii basketball team took a day off yesterday to recharge before prepping for a two-game homestand.
The Rainbow Warriors (8-11, 4-3 Western Athletic Conference) face New Mexico State on Thursday and Louisiana Tech on Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center. Both games are set for 7:05 p.m.
The Rainbows returned home after posting a split on the road -- losing at Boise State before edging Idaho -- that kept them within 112 games of league leader Utah State.
Hawaii (8-11, 4-3 WAC) vs. New Mexico State (11-11, 5-2)
» Thursday, 7:05 p.m.
» Stan Sheriff Center
» Radio: KKEA 1420-AM
» TV: KFVE, Ch. 5
FULL STORY »
Happy to be home? You bet.
After a day-long journey from Moscow, Idaho, to Honolulu on Sunday, the Hawaii basketball team took yesterday off to recharge before diving into their preparations for a two-game homestand this week.
The Rainbow Warriors returned home at 8-11 overall and 4-3 in Western Athletic Conference after splitting a road trip to Boise State and Idaho last week.
They’ll hit the midway point of the WAC season when they face New Mexico State (11-11, 5-2) on Thursday at the Stan Sheriff Center, then close the homestand against Louisiana Tech (3-15, 0-6) on Saturday. Both games tip off at 7:05 p.m.
After securing the split of last week’s road trip with a 58-53 win over Idaho on Saturday, it took the team close to 21 hours to get home, heading out at 2 a.m. (midnight Hawaii time) and enduring various delays before landing in Honolulu close to 9 p.m.
"We thought we were coming back from Moscow, Russia, instead of Moscow, Idaho," Hawaii coach Bob Nash said. "We took a day off so they can get their legs back and get to their studies and we’ll get back at it (today)."
New Mexico State, under first-year coach Marvin Menzies, won the WAC tournament last season and is coming off a 100-70 rout of Utah State, which was previously unbeaten in league play, last Saturday.
That result tightened the upper half of the league standings heading toward the midway point of the league schedule with 112 games separating first-place Utah State and fifth-place Hawaii. Boise State (5-2), NMSU and Nevada (4-2) sit in between.
The Rainbows will face three teams ahead of them in the standings in the next four games. Following the homestand, they play at Nevada on Feb. 9 and host Utah State on Feb. 16.
"This is a big weekend for us," Nash said. "We can make up some ground on some teams. ... It’s in our hands."
NMSU was bolstered recently by the debut of heralded freshman Herb Pope, voted WAC newcomer of the year in the preseason media poll, and the return of center Hatila Passos from a suspension. In the three games since being declared eligible, Pope has averaged 10.7 points and 7.7 rebounds.
"They come in with a very athletic team, they have great size, they have a lot of different guys that can play inside-outside," Nash said. "They present a lot of different problems in a lot of different areas for us. ... It’s going to be a tough battle but I expect our guys to come out and compete and put ourselves in a position to win."
Louisiana Tech has struggled in a transition year in coach Kerry Rupp’s first season, and will seek its first WAC win of the season when the Bulldogs visit the Sheriff Center on Saturday.
Nash said the disciplinary issue that kept senior guard Matt Gibson out of the starting lineup on Saturday has been resolved.