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'Bows looking to clean up sloppy play


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POSTED: Monday, December 28, 2009

Some flaws of the Hawaii men's basketball team were exposed for the world to see over the past week.

The Rainbow Warriors retreated to the privacy of a rare closed practice yesterday to correct some of them.

UH (6-6) closed the inaugural Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic with consecutive losses to quality teams UNLV and Saint Mary's on ESPN2. Though the Rainbows' effort was fairly competitive vs. the Gaels in an 84-75 defeat on Christmas Day—underscored by a 36-point performance by Dwain Williams—coach Bob Nash decided some higher-decibel instructions were in order before UH's contest against Northwestern State (5-5) at 7:05 tonight at the Stan Sheriff Center.

               

     

 

NORTHWESTERN STATE (5-5) AT HAWAII (6-6)

        When: 7:05, tonight
       

Where: Stan Sheriff Center

       

TV: KFVE, Ch. 5

       

Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM

       

 

       

It's the team's final nonconference game before the start of Western Athletic Conference play.

“;We pushed them hard. We got on them in terms of making mistakes and that kind of stuff,”; Nash said. “;We didn't want to put them in a situation where we were embarrassing them by screaming and yelling at them in front of other people, so we wanted to have it to ourselves today.

“;We drove home the point that taking care of the basketball has got to be paramount for us, and doing the little things like screening on offense, boxing out on defense ... those kind of things, we have to do that on a nightly basis, can't do that just randomly and gotta do it for 40 minutes each night out.”;

UH's three outings in the DHC went like this: 21 turnovers in a win over College of Charleston; six assists to 19 turnovers in a lopsided loss to UNLV; and 16 costly giveaways in the otherwise winnable contest vs. Saint Mary's. For the season, UH's turnover count (175, 14.6 per game) eclipses the assist count (174).

The Rainbows were without top scorer Roderick Flemings on Christmas, and will likely be shorthanded again. Nash said Flemings (sprained knee) didn't practice in the closed session and was “;doubtful”; for today's game.

Point guard Hiram Thompson took a shot to the head in the second half vs. the Gaels and didn't return, but he felt fine during some non-contact drills yesterday, the coach added.

Nash used the opportunity to get Williams and backup point guard Jeremy Lay more reps running the flex offense; today is the last chance for the Rainbows to improve in a game setting before WAC play begins on Saturday vs. Idaho.

“;If we can make some headway in conference, it could all start (tonight) against a very good Northwestern State team,”; Nash said. “;Obviously we could have had two or three more wins in our nonconference, but that didn't happen. You have to make it happen, and that didn't happen for us. You just have to look at what's in front of us.”;

Familiar foe

Though the NSU Demons hail from distant Natchitoches, La., the Southland Conference team makes its fourth trip to Honolulu in nine seasons. The Rainbows are 3-0 against the Demons, with the last meeting in 2006.

Three of NSU's five victories have come against non-Division I competition.

NSU coach Mike McConathy sometimes uses a platoon system of substitution, bringing four or five fresh players in at a time.

“;I just think we have to take care of the ball and do the little things,”; McConathy said. “;(UH is) very skilled, they run the flex and they do a good job. And they're bigger than we are. We just gotta try to take care of the ball and when we get opportunities, take advantage of them.”;

NSU's second-leading scorer, Devon Baker, is questionable with an injured hamstring he's battled all season. Guard Damon Jones leads NSU with 14.9 points per game.

The coach has two sons on the team. Michael McConathy was a freshman reserve the last time the Demons appeared in Honolulu. Now the senior is a key component, having started all 10 games and averaging 7.1 points per game. He also leads an efficient group of perimeter marksmen at 53.8 percent shooting on 3-pointers (NSU is 37.5 percent as a team).

Logan McConathy is a junior reserve averaging 1.9 ppg.