'Bows throw small ball at foes


POSTED: Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hiram Thompson at small forward? Roderick Flemings at center?

It could happen again.

Those were two of the unusual position assignments for the Hawaii men's basketball team during parts of Friday night's 65-48 win against Southern Utah to tip off both the 2009-10 season and the 46th Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic.

Against a smaller, quicker opponent in McNeese State on Day 2 of the round-robin tourney today at 5:05 p.m., the Rainbow Warriors may have no choice but to go small again. The Cowboys were blown out 101-73 by Northern Colorado in their opener on Day 1, but displayed a propensity to press that gave the taller Bears trouble in the first half.

UH used the one-day gap in tourney games yesterday to study up on their new foe from the Southland Conference. Breaking the Cowboys' press and working through their zone defense were major points of emphasis after a film session.





        When: Southern Utah vs. Northern Colorado, 2:30 p.m.; McNeese State at Hawaii, 5:05 p.m. today

Where: Stan Sheriff Center




Radio: KKEA 1420-AM




One lineup the Rainbows trotted out against the Thunderbirds was a three-guard alignment of Jeremy Lay, Dwain Williams and Thompson, with Flemings and Paul Campbell or Petras Balocka in the post.

Expect to see that group together again, in part because of the opponent and because of missing frontcourt pieces Bill Amis (foot injury) and Douglas Kurtz (ineligibility).

“;It's fun playing with three little jets out there,”; said Williams, who scored 16 points at shooting guard in his UH debut. “;I think that's going to be key tomorrow, is our guard play. We gotta set the tempo, just because they're going to try to speed us up a little bit.”;

The guards relish the opportunity to run with McNeese—whose tallest player is 6-foot-9—if they pick their spots.

“;We can play both styles,”; Lay said. “;We like to run, and it should be fun, but at the same time, we don't want to get out of control. Because I don't think they can play the way we play (halfcourt). If we slow it down, and run when we should, and set up our offense when we should, we'll be fine.”;

Thompson, a point guard, is comfortable playing both up-and-down and at the 3 in the halfcourt.

“;I love playing that kind of basketball. We just have to take care of the ball,”; the 6-2 team captain said.

UH did that against SUU, committing only 12 turnovers. Replicating that effort would go a long way toward the first UH 2-0 start since 2004.

The backcourt players feel their 3-for-16 shooting on 3-pointers in the opener isn't indicative of their true marksmanship. Many of their attempts were NBA-range with the shot clock winding down.

“;We feel confident we can shoot it, but we just gotta have a better shot selection,”; Lay said. “;Some were shots we probably shouldn't have taken.”;

The Cowboys might not have anyone as dangerous as their famous alum, Joe Dumars, but the team from Lake Charles, La., does return last year's leading scorer, guard Diego Kapelan. McNeese also got a big lift from 5-11 guard Stephan Martin, who went for 23 points vs. Northern Colorado.

Both coaches are wary of what their counterpart wants to implement.

“;They got good size to bang with,”; McNeese coach Dave Simmons said. “;We think our guards are our strength. ... We can't just afford to let (UH) play halfcourt with us. They'll pound it on us inside.”;

“;We want to stay within our offensive system to be successful,”; Hawaii coach Bob Nash said. “;But they'll have something to say about that with the tremendous amount of pressure they put on you. They want to be in attack mode the whole night.”;

The Rainbows close out the Classic tomorrow with an 11 p.m. ESPN-televised contest against the UNC Bears as part of the network's College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon. UH students get in free, and the fan who has the best sign making use of the ESPN acronym wins a trip for two to Las Vegas.