UH's Flemings may miss Saint Mary's game


POSTED: Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas won't be merry for everyone today at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Hawaii and Saint Mary's look to rebound from disappointing outings and finish strong in the ESPN2-televised third-place game of the inaugural Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic at 2:30 p.m.

The Classic championship between UNLV and USC follows at around 5 p.m. The Runnin' Rebels and Trojans each did an effective job of dismantling the offenses of the Rainbow Warriors and Gaels in Wednesday's semifinals, 77-53 and 60-49, respectively.

Both UH (6-5) and SMC (10-2) were held to season lows in points and field-goal percentage. One will finish the tournament 1-2 after winning its opening-round game.

“;We got another good team coming in, a very potent offensive team in Saint Mary's,”; UH coach Bob Nash said. “;We get another chance to play a quality team, and so we just gotta be ready to play, hit (shots), gotta learn from last night's experience.”;

The Rainbows might not be fully stocked against the West Coast Conference Gaels. Roderick Flemings, Hawaii's top scorer (15.0 points per game), is a question mark; he went out late in the loss to the Rebels with what he said was a sprained knee while trying to take a charge. He couldn't walk around much after the loss and didn't practice yesterday. Nash said Flemings is “;a game-time decision.”;





        Today, Stan Sheriff Center

» Third place: Hawaii vs. Saint Mary's, 2:30 p.m. (ESPN2; KKEA, 1420-AM)


» Championship: UNLV vs. USC, following UH game (ESPN2)


» Fifth place: Western Michigan vs. College of Charleston, 11:30 a.m.


» Seventh place: Northeastern vs. SMU, 9 a.m.


“;If I had to play today, right now, it wouldn't be looking too good,”; Flemings said yesterday. “;But tomorrow you never know, I might be feeling a whole lot better. But right now I couldn't play.”;

At least UH probably doesn't have to worry about another fervent press like the one that flummoxed the Rainbows out of their offense in the semis. Saint Mary's is more of an inside-outside finesse team — and one usually very good at what it does. The Gaels came into the tourney averaging better than 85 points per game and 40 percent on 3-pointers, but like the Rainbows, they were physically punished out of their comfort zone on Wednesday.

UH point guard Hiram Thompson felt like his team was “;bullied”; by the Rebels, who made it tough to catch and deliver passes from UH's customary spots in the halfcourt.

“;It's going to be a different game, definitely,”; Thompson said. “;We just feel like if we stick to our stuff, we can beat anybody. Last night we didn't stick to our stuff, and that's why we didn't win.”;

Saint Mary's star center, 6-foot-11 senior Omar Samhan, averages 20.8 points and 11.5 rebounds per game. He hasn't had a monster outing yet in the tournament, and keeping him from a breakout performance will be priority one for the Rainbows.

“;It's going to be a difficult cover. Omar's a double-double guy, and they got guys around him who if you double-team down on him, they knock down shots from the outside,”; Nash said. “;And he's so big and strong on the inside that if you try to play him 1-on-1, you gotta pick your poison.”;

Connections abound between UH and SMC. UH assistant Eran Ganot worked on the Saint Mary's staff for three years as an administrative assistant, while former Rainbows point guard Mark Campbell is in his first year as a Gaels assistant, and second with Saint Mary's overall.