Spoiler alert


POSTED: Tuesday, March 10, 2009

RENO, Nev. » If there's one thing Hawaii's basketball teams should feel today, it's relaxed.

Both the men's and women's squads find themselves in play-in games to open their Western Athletic Conference tournaments today at the Lawlor Events Center.





        Men: Hawaii (13-16, 5-11 WAC) vs. Fresno State (12-20, 3-13), today at Nevada, 4:30 p.m. Hawaii time, KKEA 1420-AM

        Women: Hawaii (7-22, 4-12 WAC) vs. San Jose State (2-27, 1-15), today at Nevada, 2 p.m. Hawaii time, KKEA 1420-AM

As much of a struggle the season has been for both, they enter this week with the same opportunity every other team in the tournament faces.

“;All the failures that you've had don't matter now,”; Rainbows coach Bob Nash said. “;All you need to do, in our case, is win four games to get where we need to be and that's our mind-set at this point.”;

Hawaii made things tougher after losing its final three conference games to drop to eighth place in the WAC. A win in Saturday's home finale against New Mexico State would have kept the Rainbows out of the play-in game, but instead they find themselves needing four wins in five days to keep their season going.

No team has ever gone on to win the tournament after appearing in the play-in game, leaving the Rainbows free to play spoilers for as long as they can.

“;I'm pretty sure it's going to be tough trying to win four games,”; said junior Roderick Flemings, who was named to the All-WAC second team on Sunday. “;We got nothing to lose so we're going in to try to make it tough for a lot of other teams.”;

Flemings was held to single-digit scoring in a WAC game for the first time against the Aggies. He finished with nine points on 2-for-6 shooting as New Mexico State's combination of double teams and zone made things difficult on UH's leading scorer.

“;He could have been a little more aggressive offensively, but he's a good teammate,”; Nash said. “;If you're not making shots, it doesn't matter if you pass out of the double team. If you're not making shots, you're not making shots.”;

The Rainbows (13-16, 5-11 WAC) open against Fresno State (12-30, 3-13), which they beat twice this season. Senior Dwight O'Neil didn't play in either game, and brings a potent scoring punch to go alongside Sylvester Seay, who had 22 against the 'Bows in a four-point loss three weeks ago.

“;The dynamics have changed and some of the things that may have worked against them might not now,”; Nash said. “;We have to play them for who they are now. We'll do the same thing we've always done. If it's good enough it'll work, if not we'll pack it up and go home.”;

The eighth-seeded Rainbow Wahine (7-22, 4-12) find themselves in a similar situation against San Jose State (2-27, 1-15).

A rough season, headlined by head coach Jim Bolla's leave of absence after accusations of kicking a player during practice, has made things difficult.

But this week's tournament brings with it a clean slate, leaving Hawaii free to go out and play pressure-free and see what happens.

“;We have the potential to beat anyone,”; leading scorer Megan Tinnin said. “;Records don't matter now. It's just a matter of going out and doing it.”;

Hawaii scored a big win over Boise State in its home finale and played Nevada tough for a half before losing the regular-season finale to the Wolf Pack on Saturday.

The Rainbow Wahine have been in Reno since Thursday and have had plenty of time to adjust to the environment and time change.

Now it's just a matter of doing the things on the court that make them successful.

“;When we play good defense, we're a completely different team,”; acting head coach Pat Charity said. “;They don't want to be one-and-done again and I expect them to come out very prepared.”;