’Bows look to avoid distractions in final homestand
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Distractions are often just part of the deal when the final homestand rolls around.
Idaho (6-19, 3-10 WAC) at Hawaii (11-14, 5-7); tomorrow, 7:05 p.m.; Stan Sheriff Center; TV: KFVE; Radio: 1420-AM
A few members of Hawaii's senior class will have family members in town for the Rainbow Warriors' last two home games of the season. But with games against Idaho tomorrow and Boise State on Saturday, maintaining focus will be a key for the 'Bows.
"As cool as it is to have your family around, as (the game) gets closer you have to block out everything," senior swingman Jared Dillinger said. "We still have two (home) games to win and if we get some help we can still get a good seed (in the WAC tournament). It's not over yet."
Senior point guard Matt Gibson didn't practice yesterday and the Rainbows are preparing a game plan in the event their leading scorer isn't ready for the rematch with the Vandals. UH escaped with a five-point win in the first meeting in Moscow last month.
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Matt Gibson could still be a part of Hawaii's game plan tomorrow night against Idaho.
But the Rainbow Warriors are preparing as if he won't be.
When the team returned to practice at the Stan Sheriff Center yesterday afternoon, the senior point guard wasn't among the Rainbows taking the floor.
UH coach Bob Nash said the staff will have a better idea of Gibson's availability after he visits the doctor today to go over the results of tests on a sore knee that kept him out of last Saturday's loss at UC Riverside.
In the meantime, the Rainbows are formulating a backup plan, just in case their leading scorer isn't ready for UH's next-to-last home game of the season.
"We just have to prepare and move forward as if he's not here and get these other guys ready, and if we get him back then that's a bonus for us," Nash said.
The Rainbows (11-14, 7-5 Western Athletic Conference) host the Vandals (6-19, 3-10) at the Sheriff Center tomorrow to open their final homestand of the season. Tip-off is set for 7:05 p.m.
If Gibson, averaging 16.7 points per game, remains on the sideline, seniors Jared Dillinger, Riley Luettgerodt and Bobby Nash could divvy up point guard duties depending on the situation on the floor.
"We have three senior guys who can play that position," Bob Nash said. "Bobby probably has the most experience, but J.D. is probably a stronger ball handler, so we'll see how that goes. It's a lineup we've used before."
"It'll change things up a little, but we're all confident in taking the ball and running the offense," Dillinger said. "We talked about it and it's just whoever has it at that point, he's going to run it."
Luettgerodt, who's played 40 minutes in each of the last three games, has been the most productive of the Rainbows of late. He tied for the team scoring lead in each of those games and was UH's top rebounder in the last two.
Senior forward P.J. Owsley could slide back into the first five, having recovered from a knee injury of his own, giving the Rainbows more size in the post alongside sophomore Bill Amis.
Along with preparing for the various scenarios, the Rainbows are also shielding themselves from the hubbub that annually accompanies the last homestand of the season, which culminates with senior night on Saturday.
We're not talking about first-year guys," Bob Nash said. "We're talking about guys who are seniors and played a lot of basketball, so I think they can focus on this very big series of games."
UH enters the game fifth in the WAC and 2 1/2 games out of first. They'll try to extend a five-game winning streak at the Sheriff Center against an Idaho team that is 0-13 on the road this season.
The Vandals are averaging 55.7 points in road games, compared to 74.2 in Moscow.
Hawaii escaped with a 58-53 win at Idaho on Jan. 26. Gibson didn't start that game, but came off the bench to score a team-high 16 points.
Idaho is led by guard Jordan Brooks' 12.8 points, 6.4 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game. His 45 steals also place him among the league leaders. The 6-foot-3 junior had 17 points, nine coming from the free-throw line, with six assists against seven turnovers in the first meeting with UH.
"He's a different kind of player," Bob Nash said. "He's more of a guy that can get his stuff down in the paint and put you in situations where you have to foul him because he's so big and strong inside."