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'Bows basketball looking dangerous


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POSTED: Wednesday, February 11, 2009

By applying the defensive clamps, the Hawaii has tightened the Western Athletic Conference men's basketball standings.

After blowout wins of 72-43 over Fresno State and 71-49 against Idaho last week, things are looking up for the Rainbow Warriors (12-11, 4-7 WAC).

While No. 21 Utah State is running away with first place at 11-0 in the conference, seventh-place Hawaii is within just three losses of Boise State and Nevada, which are tied for second at 6-4 apiece. UH has five more conference games (including two at home) to improve its seeding in the WAC tournament next month.

In their first practice of the week, the Rainbows felt good about themselves heading to Saturday's contest against the Wolf Pack at the Stan Sheriff Center.

UH shot a season-best 57 percent in its win over the Vandals last week and was also efficient against the Bulldogs, but stalwart defensive play was the main reason the Rainbows got the jump on their opponent in both games. The 'Bows held Fresno and Idaho to first halves of 10 and 17 points, respectively.

Junior forward Petras Balocka chalked it up to a new team demeanor.

“;I think it's more intensity on defense, like everybody WANTS to play more defense,”; Balocka said. “;Before we kind of like just went through motions. Now it's kind of like, we WANT to defend and we felt good this weekend. Our offense is always there. It's just about our defense.”;

Hawaii held last week's visitors to the Sheriff Center to 26.9 and 38.1 percent shooting from the field.

“;I think the guys developed a killer instinct,”; Hawaii coach Bob Nash said. “;We want to protect our home court the rest of the way, and I think they're developing that instinct of not wanting to lose. So they come in knowing that we got to get out early, play solid defense, and gotta be intense for 40 minutes.

“;I think our first halves of each game have shown how intense these guys can play,”; he added. “;Holding opponents to 10 points and 17 points in a half in modern basketball is pretty darn hard to do.”;

After being benched in two of three previous games for erratic shooting, guard Lasha Parghalava was welcomed back to the rotation against the Vandals on his birthday. He didn't disappoint with 10 points on 3-for-3 shooting.

“;It felt good, you know,”; said the junior. “;I was sitting on the bench a little while, so I had to come back somehow. I was ready for it.”;

Forward Bill Amis remained out of team activities yesterday as he continues to rest a rolled ankle suffered against Fresno State.