Hawaii works to avoid play-in game


POSTED: Tuesday, February 17, 2009

There's little time for moping around with a crucial road game on the horizon.

The wound of Saturday's one-point loss to Nevada is on the mend as the Hawaii men's basketball team looks to rebound at Fresno State on Thursday in an important Western Athletic Conference contest.

The sixth-place Rainbow Warriors (12-12, 4-8) and last-place Bulldogs (10-16, 2-9) are fighting to stay out of the WAC tournament play-in game.

A no-whining approach was in effect yesterday at the Rainbow Warriors' practice at the Stan Sheriff Center, but now the question of resilience must be answered on the road, where success has been limited (one win in six tries). The team departed on a red-eye flight last night for Fresno, Calif.

Hawaii coach Bob Nash put the team's self-destruction against the Wolf Pack—in which UNR scored the game's final eight points in the last 2 minutes to win 47-46—entirely on himself.

“;I shoulder the responsibility to have our guys prepared at the end of games, to finish games,”; the second-year head coach said. “;Obviously, I failed them in that respect, and I take full responsibility in that respect. That's what I tried to translate to them today. They are a reflection of what I present to them in practice, and how we prepare for games.

“;I told them 'Let it go, we've had adversities before. We've had to bounce back from it. We can't sit and wait and stew and worry about what has happened. We just gotta worry about what's ahead of us, and be ready to play on Thursday.'”;

It didn't leave any room for excuses from the UH players.

“;Yeah, we're not even going to think about that game,”; UH point guard Kareem Nitoto said. “;It's over with now. It was a huge disappointment for the time being but we got a lot more games to play, and we gotta go out there and win.”;

Nitoto did, however, have a good-natured word after the game with good friend Armon Johnson, the Nevada guard who hit the game-winning shot against the Rainbows. It gave UNR its seventh straight win in the series.

“;We have a lot of respect for each other,”; Nitoto said. “;He told me he'd see me at the WAC tournament and all that. I told him that I'm not going to let him beat me anymore.”;


Balocka questionable

Forward Petras Balocka left the game against the Wolf Pack in the first half when he aggravated a groin injury while going for a rebound off a free throw. In 9 minutes, Balocka had six points and three rebounds.

He sat out the team practice yesterday.

“;Right when I pulled it, it was such a sharp pain and I had to walk off the court. It was that bad,”; Balocka said. “;And I don't walk off the court unless Coach makes me.

“;I'm still pretty much in bad pain and all. I can walk, but I can't laterally move or anything, can't run or any kind of activity like that. So, trying to get better, trying to get treatment every day. I'm definitely optimistic, see how I feel, day-to-day type of thing.”;