Hawaii tries to avoid rust


POSTED: Thursday, December 17, 2009

Let the rest vs. rust debate commence.

While the Hawaii men's basketball team is in the midst of a nine-day break between games before the inaugural Diamond Head Classic, most of the Rainbow Warriors' competition will play within three days before UH's tournament tips off on Tuesday.

So, are the Rainbows enjoying the lack of game action during finals week, or enduring it?

A fast-paced practice yesterday set the tone decidedly toward the latter; coach Bob Nash didn't want to let his team's level of play slip much from a 83-58 rout of Chicago State last Saturday.

Especially because UH's first-round opponent, College of Charleston of the Southern Conference, is building steam. The Cougars (5-3) won their fourth straight yesterday against Charleston Southern, and play at Clemson on Saturday.

“;Those teams that are coming over here, they're still in a rhythm,”; Nash said. “;We can very easily get out of a rhythm by not having games, with officials, the crowd, the clock, that kind of stuff. So we have to simulate that here in practice, and that's what we tried to do the last couple of days. ... We gotta get our man defense better, gotta work on our zone defense. Gotta work against the press. Things we'll see both in this tournament and in conference. Teams are going to know how to play us, and put in counters to some of the things we want to do.”;

Classic teams Saint Mary's (8-1), Western Michigan (3-4), USC (4-4), and SMU (3-3) play once more before arriving in Honolulu. UNLV (8-1) plays twice. Northeastern (2-5) is the only team besides UH to have such a break, with its last game on Dec. 10.

Hawaii's leading scorer, senior Roderick Flemings (16.4 points per game), went through some difficulties during a four-game losing streak last month and in the first halves of UH's current three-game winning streak. But he came out strong and assertive in the second half of wins over Chaminade and CSU. Now he (and his team) seek to put two halves of good basketball together.

“;I'm feeling good about the team right now,”; Flemings said. “;We're on a winning streak right now, we had some bad times early, but it's turned around. We need to find a way to slow teams down in the first half. Second half we've been coming out with a lot more juice. That's what we're working on in practice, trying to get up and down and play defense.”;

The three-games-in-four-days stretch ending on Christmas would be a good time to do it. Ten of the 12 tourney games are on ESPN networks and UH is guaranteed two national spots.

“;Those recruits who may be sitting on the fence about whether the Hawaii basketball program is something they would consider, this would give them insights into what we're doing out here,”; Nash said.

It'll be a showcase for the current Rainbows, too. Senior center Paul Campbell missed the last game with back spasms, but is back in action at practice. He'll have family and friends watching from his hometown of Toronto.

“;I think it's an honor to get a chance to show people what we can do,”; Campbell said. “;We don't really get a lot of chances to be on television, especially being out here in Hawaii. So getting the whole tournament on ESPN is great for us, it gives us a chance to show them what we're capable of.”;

Amis confirms redshirt

Forward Bill Amis will go through with redshirting this season because of his injured right foot, the senior said yesterday.

“;It's 100 percent sure,”; Amis said. “;I think it's the best thing for me to do.”;

He was given a six- to eight-week timer on the rehab of a torn plantar fascia suffered in a exhibition vs. Brigham Young-Hawaii, but his progress moved closer to the eight-week estimation — not in time for the Diamond Head Classic deadline set by Nash. Nash said last week a redshirt was likely.

“;I'm still gonna try to support the team and use this as a year to get better,”; Amis said. “;I'm going to be trying real hard to add stuff to my game and get stronger in the weight room.”;