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Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, March 2, 2000

R A I N B O W _ B A S K E T B A L L

One last stop:


By Pat Bigold


Prior to leaving this morning on their last road trip of the season, the University of Hawaii men's basketball team chugged through a wilting three-hour-plus practice yesterday in Gym II.

It was the struggling Rainbows' final home practice of the season, and they found out that aloha not only means goodbye, but also tongue lashings and sweat.

No one, not even walk-on players, escaped head coach Riley Wallace's wrath.

Wallace had earlier said that his players were leg-weary after 26 games and gave them two days off. But he changed his mind about his assessment of his players' overall strength level yesterday, saying the Rainbows' problem was more mental than physical.

"They're not leg-tired," said Wallace. "I noticed the last two days that it's more mental with them. That's why I've had them running. They miss baskets and they just drop their heads."

Yesterday, Wallace finished up the session by making the Rainbows run continuous two-man fast breaks until they were able to make 10 baskets in a row.

The Rainbows (16-10, 5-8 Western Athletic Conference) have lost five of their last six games, and are coming off the most ineffective performance of the season, a 67-50 loss at San Jose State five days ago.

They're given little or no chance of securing a National Invitation Tournament berth because they've lost all but one of their games on the road and will finish with a losing conference mark.

Hawaii will finish out the rest of the season at Fresno's Selland Arena. On Saturday, the sixth-place Rainbows will meet the Bulldogs (20-9, 10-3 WAC), who climbed from third into second place by defeating the Spartans at home, 77-74, last night. On March 9, Hawaii plays in the WAC tournament, most likely as the seventh seed in the eight-team field.

When Hawaii lost an 85-77 heartbreaker to Fresno State on Feb. 5 at the Stan Sheriff Center, sophomore guard Predrag Savovic was taken to school by the Bulldogs' stellar guard, Courtney Alexander. Alexander scored 30 points, 18 in the second half.

Wallace wasn't sure if he would again assign Savovic to guard the NCAA's leading scorer. He might use junior forward Nerijus Puida on Alexander.

But Savovic said he's ready to go against Alexander.

Savovic said Alexander's quickness should make him a top five NBA pick.

"His first step is unbelievable," Savovic said. "I have total respect for him.

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UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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