'Bows look for revenge vs. Nevada


POSTED: Friday, February 13, 2009

They don't intend to make the same mistake twice.

Getting an early jump on their opponent tomorrow (and not allowing the opposite to happen) is at the top of the priority list for the Hawaii men's basketball team.




        Nevada (14-10, 7-4 WAC) at Hawaii (12-11, 4-7), 7 p.m. tomorrow, KFVE, Ch. 5; KKEA, 1420-AM



Nevada (14-10, 7-4 Western Athletic Conference) exploded for leads of 10-2, 34-15 and 45-25 before the Rainbow Warriors (12-11, 4-7) mounted an unsuccessful comeback in Reno, Nev., on Jan. 22.

The Rainbows feel they've improved as a team since that 74-63 loss to the Wolf Pack—part of a season-worst five-game losing streak—and will be looking to demonstrate their new offensive and defensive philosophies to Nevada tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Hawaii pulled to within six in that loss midway through the second half, but the 20-point deficit was too large to overcome.

“;We had a bad start, we were down early, so the rest of the game we were just kind of digging ourselves out of the hole,”; said UH point guard Hiram Thompson. “;Got close, but it was just too much to dig out. This game we're looking to jump on them early.”;

Thompson and Kareem Nitoto have emerged as an effective dual-point-guard attack for the Rainbow Warriors. Hawaii coach Bob Nash employed them on the floor together to a limited extent in Reno and will likely elect to let the two ballhandlers play off each other again tomorrow.

A simplified offense combined with a renewed passion for defense—the Rainbows have held their last two opponents under 50 points, the first time they've done that in the modern era—has the team's confidence level up in the rafters.

“;I don't think we're necessarily a different team, we're a team that's hopefully getting better,”; Nash said. “;Simplifying things and getting better. So, I don't know if we're all that different. We still turn over the ball too many times. We struggle to shoot at times, but the thing that we're doing is playing a little bit better defense than we've played in the past. These guys are playing with a little bit more pride in their defense.”;

The defensive effort against the Wolf Pack starts with forward Luke Babbitt. In Reno, Nevada's standout freshman hit his first three shots (including two 3-pointers) to put the Rainbows behind from the opening minute. He and Brandon Fields both went for a game-high 19 points, while Nitoto had a team-high 14 for Hawaii.

Babbitt averages 16.5 points and 7.6 rebounds, while Hawaii swingman Roderick Flemings is tied for second in the WAC in scoring at 17.3 points per game.

“;(Babbitt) is a source of concern with all the things he can do for them,”; Nash said. “;We're just going to play him straight up (one-on-one) and just contest everything he does. Hopefully, it's a little disruptive for him.”;

The Rainbows are well rested after having a week off since their blowout win against Idaho on Saturday. The extra time paid off as junior forward Bill Amis was fully immersed in team activities yesterday, and didn't show any affects of the rolled ankle he suffered last week against Fresno State.