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Rainbows renew rivalry tonight


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POSTED: Friday, November 20, 2009

The last time Hawaii played BYU in men's basketball, Beau Albrechtson and Rykin Enos were in elementary school.

So it's understandable that the Rainbow Warriors' two local products are a little fuzzy on the history between UH and its former Western Athletic Conference nemesis.

It's a good time to brush up—the Rainbows (2-1) and Cougars (2-0) meet for the first time in 10 years at the Stan Sheriff Center today at 7:05 p.m.

“;I heard there's a huge rivalry with BYU from way back in the day,”; said Albrechtson, a Kaimuki grad. “;Coach (Bob) Nash said this is one of our biggest games, and I can't wait to see how the crowd reacts when we actually play against them.”;

               

     

 

BRIGHAM YOUNG (2-0) AT HAWAII (2-1)

        When: Today, 7:05 p.m.
       

Where: Stan Sheriff Center

       

TV: KFVE, Ch. 5

       

Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM

       

 

       

BYU bolted the WAC to help create the Mountain West Conference in 1999, putting the series on hiatus with a 31-14 advantage over UH. The Cougars haven't missed a beat lately with three straight NCAA Tournament appearances and four starters returning from last year's 25-8 postseason team. They're just outside of an AP Top 25 rank.

“;It's been a while. We just gotta bring it,”; said Enos, a Kamehameha alum. “;You gotta be prepared, 'cause Coach Nash said it's like a rivalry. I think that'd be huge if the crowd gets behind us.”;

Nash was there as a UH assistant for some of the memorable moments against the Cougars—including buzzer-beating 3-pointers from Trevor Ruffin in 1994 and Tes Whitlock in 1995 to send BYU packing from Honolulu with losses. But outwardly, at least, he downplayed the significance of rekindling the rivalry.

“;We don't put a premium on that kind of stuff,”; Nash said. “;We put a premium on trying to get better as a team. Obviously we want to win every game we play, and they're a team on our schedule. We're going to go out and give our best effort—we're not going to put any special attention simply because of the initials on their jerseys. We're going to play to win because that's what we are. ... We're trying to become winners.”;

The Rainbows refocused on running their offensive sets smoothly after multiple breakdowns in an 81-75 loss to Northern Colorado in the Rainbow Classic championship early Tuesday morning. Through three games, transfer guard Dwain Williams leads UH in scoring at 17.7 points per game (albeit on 33.3 percent shooting from the field). Forward Roderick Flemings (16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds per game) and guard Jeremy Lay (13.3 points off the bench) have been the Rainbows' other primary sources of offense.

BYU, a preseason pick to win the Mountain West Conference, is potentially the best team UH faces this season. To counter the Cougars' effective inside-outside game, the Rainbows want to take away a facet of their former rival's offense.

“;I think it's all going to start off on defense,”; Williams said. “;They got a lot of good sets they run for their guards, a lot of isolation stuff to get you keyed on one thing, (when) they'll really be trying to do another. Like Coach said, just sticking together, running our stuff, and getting good shots (is our goal).”;

The deciding clash could come on the glass; both UH and BYU have outrebounded each opponent this season. No one player is a dominant rebounder for BYU, but its whole lineup crashes the offensive boards for 14.5 per game. UH is still short-handed without bigs Bill Amis (foot injury, out indefinitely) and Douglas Kurtz (ineligible for three more games).

“;Our bigs are gonna have to go to work inside so we're not playing behind,”; said assistant Larry Farmer, who scouted the Cougars. “;If we can kind of negate a lot of the stuff they get on the inside, and force them to become more of a perimeter team, then I think we have a chance to be successful.”;

BYU does its perimeter damage through strong play from All-MWC guard Jimmer Fredette. The 6-foot-2 junior averaged 23.5 points on 48.1 percent shooting from the field and 85.7 percent on free throws in home wins over Bradley and Idaho State. The Cougars want senior forward Jonathan Tavernari (7-for-30 shooting from the field, 23.3 percent) to step up after averaging 15.7 points last year.

“;Offensively, I think we're still a little bit impatient,”; said fifth-year Cougars coach Dave Rose, who is one victory away from his 100th win at BYU. “;But I like our group, and I think we got a chance to be good. Jimmer's been really consistent, ... but what we need to go is get everybody playing well at the same time.”;