Star-Bulletin Sports

Monday, January 28, 2002



’Bows becoming

UH was able to put its loss to
San Jose State aside and
return home a winner

By Cindy Luis

There was a time this season that the Hawaii basketball team could walk through airports unnoticed. Even Rainbow coach Riley Wallace admitted his rag-tag squad was an unimpressive-looking group as they waited for planes with the omnipresent headphones plugged into personal CD players.

Hawaii returned yesterday afternoon, unplugged and very recognizable. Honolulu International was a welcome sight for the leaders of the Western Athletic Conference, who have spent the last 10 days on the road.

The Rainbows (17-3) returned in sole possession of first place, finishing the first round of conference play 8-1. They lost one they shouldn't have (at San Jose State), won one they should have (at Rice) and then won a big one (Tulsa) that few expected they would.

"The trip certainly ended up better than it started," said Wallace. "For sure we're happy to get home and we hope to keep it going.

"The team has to catch up in the class room and we have two important games with two teams we played close (and beat) on the road."

Hawaii hosts Boise State (2-7, 8-11) Thursday and UTEP (3-6, 8-12) Saturday.

The 90-82 victory at Tulsa Saturday made some believers of pollsters. In the latest USA Today/ESPN rankings, the Rainbows had 35 points -- 13 more than last week -- tying them with Texas (14-5) at 30th.

Hawaii disappeared from the AP Top 25 last week but was expected to receive points when the newest poll was released today.

"We ran into people from Hawaii at the San Francisco airport (yesterday)," said Wallace. "They knew we had won.

"People around the league are saying that Hawaii has great fans and it's a great place to play. I hope they come out this week because, and I'll say it again, this is a special team. You can never count them out."

The Rainbows trailed by as many as 13 at Tulsa Saturday but keyed by senior guard Mike McIntyre's explosion of 3-pointers, Hawaii won for the second time in as many visits to the Reynolds Center.

The Golden Hurricane is now 43-7 at home since the arena opened in 1998. Hawaii has two of the visitors' victories.

"Tulsa played a great game against us," said Wallace, "and the arena was rocking. I told the guys this is why you came to college to play basketball. It was a big-time game."

And it was a big-time win for a team that is now 4-1 on the road after having gone 1-7 last year.

As impressed as Wallace is with this year's team, he's even more impressed with tri-captain McIntyre, who was named WACPlayer of the Week today.

The senior went scoreless in the loss at San Jose State but scored a combined 42 points, including 10 3-pointers, in the wins last week at Rice and Tulsa.

"He's grown so much in the four years he's been with us," said Wallace.

"He wanted to have a good senior year and he's having one. It's fun to watch kids like him come all the way through the program and mature so much. We told him at halftime that we needed his shooting and he came through."


WAC games Overall

W L Pct. W L Pct.

Hawaii 8 1 .889 17 3 .850

Tulsa 6 2 .750 15 4 .789

Fresno St 6 3 .667 14 7 .667

La. Tech 6 3 .667 12 6 .667

SMU 6 3 .667 11 8 .579

Nevada 4 5 .444 11 8 .579

UTEP 3 6 .333 8 12 .400

Rice 2 6 .250 7 11 .389

Boise St 2 7 .222 8 11 .421

San Jose St 1 8 .111 6 15 .286

Rice at Tulsa
Alcorn State at UTEP

Louisiana Tech at Centenary

Boise State at Hawaii, 7 p.m.
Fresno State at Tulsa
Nevada at Rice
UTEP at San Jose State

Boise State at San Jose State
Fresno State at Rice
UTEP at Hawaii, 7 p.m.
Louisiana Tech at SMU
Nevada at Tulsa

UH Athletics
Ka Leo O Hawaii

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