Gibson’s status unclear for ’Bows’ last homestand
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Following a disappointing stay in California, the Hawaii basketball team returns to the Stan Sheriff Center to close the home schedule this week.
Idaho (6-19, 3-10 WAC) at Hawaii (11-14, 5-7); Thursday, 7:05 p.m.; Stan Sheriff Center; TV: KFVE; Radio: 1420-AM
The Rainbow Warriors face Idaho on Thursday and Boise State on Saturday.
Senior guard Matt Gibson may be back Thursday after missing Saturday's loss at UC Riverside with a sore knee.
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RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
UH's medical staff will determine if Rainbows point guard Matt Gibson can practice today.
The Hawaii basketball team entered the week of its final homestand with the status of a key senior still a bit hazy.
Point guard Matt Gibson, the Rainbow Warriors' leading scorer, sat out UH's 79-62 loss against UC Riverside on Saturday with a sore knee.
After returning from their week-long stay in California on Sunday night, the Rainbows had a day off from practice yesterday and return to work today in advance of Thursday's home game against Idaho.
"I'm just waiting until the medical staff tells me what his status is," UH coach Bob Nash said yesterday afternoon. "If he's in practice (today), he's good to go. If not, we'll see how he feels the day after. ... It's the medical staff's call."
The Rainbows (11-14, 7-5 Western Athletic Conference) close the home schedule with games against Idaho (6-19, 3-10) on Thursday and conference leader Boise State (20-7, 10-3) on Saturday.
Both games are set for 7:05 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center. UH's seven seniors will be recognized following Saturday's game.
Gibson averages 16.5 points, 5.1 assists and 1.9 steals per game to pace the Rainbows. Nash said Gibson was to see a doctor yesterday to make sure there was no structural damage.
With Gibson out, freshman Kareem Nitoto made his first career start against UC Riverside and finished with a season-high 13 points with one assist in 26 minutes.
"I thought Kareem did a good job statistically," Nash said. "But there's little things -- knowing when to pass, knowing situations -- that just comes with experience."
UH also ran a lineup with Bobby Nash and Jared Dillinger at the point early in the season when Gibson missed the first four games with a sprained knee.
For his part, Idaho coach George Pfeifer expects to see Gibson on the court come Thursday.
"I know Matt didn't play in the BracketBusters game, but we're sure he's going to play in our game," Pfeifer said during yesterday's WAC coaches teleconference. "He really gets that program going night in and night out because of his ability to do things with the basketball, either scoring or getting it to other people."
The Rainbows' roller-coaster season took a dip last week with the Fresno State loss bruising their hopes of contending for the WAC regular-season title.
Hawaii entered the week in fifth place, two games behind Boise State and New Mexico State in the loss column and one behind Nevada and Utah State.
"This team, they find a way to bounce back," Nash said, "and I know they'll do that this week."
The Rainbows are coming off a lackluster game against UC Riverside in which the Highlanders shot 57 percent from the field. UCR guard Larry Cunningham
's 31 points on 10-for-15 shooting were the most scored by a UH opponent this season.
"We didn't have that same fire we generally play with," Nash said. "We had pockets of it, but it wasn't anything that was sustained. And it wasn't just one guy, it was a team thing."
UCR will visit the Sheriff Center on Dec. 23 in a return game for the BracketBusters matchup.