FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
After grabbing a rebound Saturday night, UH's Paul Campbell looked for a shot under the basket.
Early platoon system paying dividends now
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A three-game winning streak has vaulted the Hawaii basketball team among the contenders in the Western Athletic Conference.
Hawaii at Nevada
When: 1 p.m. Hawaii time, Saturday
Where: Lawlor Events Center
Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
The next three games will go a long way in determining whether the Rainbow Warriors (10-11, 6-3 WAC) will remain a factor in a crowded race over the second half of the conference season.
Having completed a sweep of their homestand to move into a tie for third place, the Rainbows play at Nevada on Saturday in a nationally televised game on ESPN2. That's followed a week later by a matchup with first-place Utah State at home and a road game against Fresno State.
"We've worked hard to get to this point, I don't think there's any letting up now," UH coach Bob Nash said after the Rainbows' 71-57 win over Louisiana Tech on Saturday. "We're going to continue to work to try to get better. We have a big obstacle ahead of us going on the road playing at Nevada."
The Hawaii program has yet to record a win in Reno in the all-time series.
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Jared Dillinger took a shot against LaTech's Adrian Rogers in the Rainbow Warriors' win Saturday.
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A move to inject some instant energy onto the court early in the conference season has had some lasting benefits for the Hawaii basketball team.
When Rainbow Warriors coach Bob Nash turned to a platoon system in a couple of games last month, it gave players at the end of the bench a few prime-time minutes.
Now those same guys are playing more prominent roles in the UH rotation.
"The platoon did help me out a lot," said sophomore center Paul Campbell. "Before that I wasn't really getting too much (playing time) and when I did get in it would be for 2 minutes or 1 minute and I wasn't really sure what my role was when I was out there on the court.
"When we did the platoon system stuff, it just helped me get a lot more comfortable and just know where to go and what spots to be at."
Hawaii's senior-laden starting group continues to provide the bulk of the Rainbows' production, but they've gotten some key minutes lately from the bench in the midst of a three-game winning streak that has propelled them into the Western Athletic Conference race.
The Rainbows (10-11, 6-3 WAC) took Super Bowl Sunday off following a 71-57 win over Louisiana Tech and have a week to prepare for their visit to Nevada on Saturday at Lawlor Events Center. It will be televised nationally on ESPN2.
Hawaii enters the game tied with New Mexico State for third place in the WAC, a half-game ahead of the Wolf Pack (13-8, 5-3). Nevada handed UH its biggest loss of the conference season so far, a 77-59 defeat in Honolulu on Jan. 12.
"We have a big challenge ahead of us and we understand that," UH coach Bob Nash said of UH's trip to Reno, where the program has yet to record a win. "They got beat by Utah State (on Saturday) so they're going to be hungry ... to get a win at home on national TV. So we're going to have to be ready to handle any kind of obstacle they throw at us."
In wins over NMSU and LaTech last week, seniors Matt Gibson (34 points, 18 assists), Bobby Nash (32 points on 59 percent shooting), Jared Dillinger (30 points, 7-for-12 on 3-pointers) and Riley Luettgerodt (28 points, 11 rebounds) continued to pace the Rainbows.
When starting forward P.J. Owsley went down with a knee injury on Thursday, sophomore Bill Amis started in his place, contributing eight points and five rebounds with Campbell first off the bench in the post.
Campbell, who hadn't seen more than 7 minutes in just three games prior to last week's homestand, played 12 minutes against NMSU and 11 vs. LaTech. He provided eight points, seven rebounds and a block in two games. Senior forward Alex Veit came in late both nights and knocked down perimeter jumpers.
"If we need to go deeper on the bench because of foul situations, I don't have any hesitation now in putting Alex or Paul in there because they've played in the heat of battle," Bob Nash said. "It's not just clean-up duty at the end of the game, they've played when the game means something."