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UH's Balocka pushes on after 20-20 night


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POSTED: Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Most of the time the saying goes, “;just shut up and play.”; In the case of Petras Balocka, it's closer to, “;play, then shut up.”;

The Hawaii senior forward posted an impressive 20-point, 20-rebound game Sunday night against Lamar. But after team practice yesterday, the 6-foot-8, 250-pound Lithuanian was more concerned about the Rainbow Warriors' next opponent, Division II Chaminade tomorrow at 7 p.m., than any memories of his 20-20 night.

“;I'm feeling a little sore and tired, but I gotta forget about it and move on,”; said Balocka, whose career night put him closest to the UH 30-rebound record of Rainbows coach Bob Nash since Nash's big night against Arizona State in 1971. “;I mean, what did I do? It's one game. I did good, and (tomorrow) is a new game, so everybody will have forgotten about it. You gotta move on. You can't sleep on it, you know what I mean? That's the first thing for failures.”;

Balocka, in his second and final season with UH since arriving from Pensacola (Fla.) Junior College, is still the most demonstrative UH player during practices and games. To the casual eye, he's the same emotional guy who throws up his hands at a breakdown in the team's offense, or keenly shows his displeasure at a questionable call.

Yet his demeanor is much improved over his first season in Manoa, when he was often one look or comment away from a technical foul. Through seven games for 3-4 Hawaii, he hasn't been T'd up yet, and is the primary force in the post with senior Bill Amis still out with a right foot injury.

There were a couple of exasperated looks on Sunday, but Balocka settled down and proceeded to punish the Cardinals with his signature bursts under the basket for reverse layups. He grabbed more than half of UH's 39 boards against a Lamar team used to outrebounding its foes.

“;(Petras and I) had a lot of heart-to-heart talks about him, how he should approach this year from the emotion aspect, not so much the physical or the basketball part, but the mental part,”; Nash said. “;This game is a mental game, and you have to be able to control that. So we talked a lot this summer about controlling those emotions, and being a good teammate. I think he's shown some leadership skills so far this year. He's come in here, he's never taken a day off from practice.”;

Balocka averaged 8.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game as a junior. He's up to 9.9 points and 10.7 rebounds this year.

He's not interested in talking up his own game.

“;This year I want to have a clear head, come in to work every day and kind of forget (everything),”; Balocka said. “;Coach Nash or somebody comes over and tells me to relax, it makes me take a step back, take a deep breath, relax and think 'maybe he's right.' “;