Hawaii’s WAC tourney foe a mystery
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Hawaii's seed in the Western Athletic Conference tournament is set. Who the Rainbow Warriors will play in a quarterfinal game next Thursday remains unclear.
Hawaii at Louisiana Tech; Thursday, 3 p.m. Hawaii time; live on KKEA 1420-AM
With Fresno State's loss to Utah State last night, Hawaii (11-16, 7-7 WAC) is assured the fifth seed in the tournament. The Rainbows will face the fourth seed on March 13.
The top four places will be untangled over the final two days of the regular season. Boise State (12-3 WAC) can clinch the top seed with a win over Utah State (10-4) on Thursday. If the Broncos lose, things could get messy with Nevada (11-4), New Mexico State (10-4) and Utah State just behind.
The Rainbows left last night on their final trip of the season. They play at Louisiana Tech on Thursday and close the regular season at NMSU on Saturday.
The Rainbows will be kept busy keeping up with their academic studies while studying the scouting reports on their upcoming opponents with the help of academic coordinator Conred "Red" Maddox.
"Our guys will go over there and be in an environment where they're studying every day because they're missing so much school," UH coach Bob Nash said. "They're still students and they still have to go to class."
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The Hawaii basketball team will be off campus for the better part of two weeks, but that doesn't mean the Rainbow Warriors will be free from school.
With the team embarking on an extended road trip last night, it's the job of academic coordinator Conred "Red" Maddox to keep the players on task with their schoolwork while they're on the mainland for their last two regular-season games and the Western Athletic Conference tournament.
Maddox is in charge of coordinating study halls and tracking the requirements of the players' classes while staying in contact with the instructors.
While on the road, the team will have at least one 2-hour study hall per day. More often it'll be two sessions, including this Sunday -- which will probably draw a groan from the players, but "they'll deal with it," Maddox said before the Rainbows departed Honolulu.
The Rainbows were scheduled to arrive in Ruston, La., this morning and will play Louisiana Tech on Thursday. They'll head to Las Cruces, N.M., on Friday and face New Mexico State to close the regular season the following night.
The team will then stay in town as they prepare for next week's WAC tournament. UH plays its quarterfinal game on March 13.
"I'll meet with each (player) regularly along the road trip and make sure they stay on top of things and seeing what they're doing, work on study skills and ways to approach things," Maddox said.
"It's my role to help them understand what it means to be a student and, two, that being a student really isn't that difficult once you learn the process."
During most trips, Maddox will try to reserve a hotel conference room for study halls. If not, he'll have the players keep their room doors open while he roams the hall to make sure they're getting their work done. Some professors will also entrust Maddox to administer tests on the road.
"We bring plenty of laptops and make sure we have wireless so they have access to the Internet and can do any research or e-mailing teachers or sending papers in that they should," said Maddox, who has worked at UH's Nagatani Academic Center since 2000 and is in his first year with the men's basketball program.
While in New Mexico, he's arranged for the players to use the NMSU academic center for some of the sessions.
"That's the great thing about Coach (Bob) Nash, he really makes an effort to make sure they're getting a lot of study hall time," Maddox said. "He's willing to adjust his practice schedules if necessary to get the time that we need."
Jenny Matsuda, the department chair of student-athlete academic services, will join Maddox in Las Cruces when the UH women's team arrives next week for their tournament.
Guard Matt Gibson
didn't participate in the Rainbows' workout yesterday morning to rest a sore knee that has limited his practice time lately.
"We're just going to rest him a couple of days, try to get him ready for the LaTech game and see how he feels," Nash said. "We want to keep it rested so it doesn't flare up and give him a lot of pain.
"We don't want it to swell up prior to going into (the WAC tournament)."
Gibson hurt his knee on the Rainbows' previous road trip and didn't practice early last week. He played against both Idaho and Boise State, averaging 17.5 points and 6.5 assists.
In the house
The Rainbows drew 62,862 fans to the Stan Sheriff Center in 18 home dates this season for a turnstile average of about 3,492. The tickets-sold average of 6,170 was the lowest since the Stan Sheriff Center opened in 1994.