Star-Bulletin Sports

Thursday, February 14, 2002



’Bows look for more
from Haim

By Cindy Luis

How happy is the Hawaii basketball team to be back home after a week-long road trip?

Most of the Rainbows were in the Stan Sheriff Center 40 minutes before the start of yesterday's practice.

But when some of the players peeked in on their way to the locker room, the court already had its first occupant.

"Go, Big Daddy," the Hawaii players yelled in encouragement.

Sophomore Haim "Big Daddy" Shimonovich was an hour early, working alone on his post-ups and baby hooks. The Hawaii coaches have made it clear that they need the 6-foot-10 Israeli to become a bigger part of the offense.

"Coach (Riley Wallace) told me he wants to get the ball in more to me," said Shimonovich, who scored just seven points in 33 minutes in Saturday's 61-57 loss at Louisiana Tech. "I just have to be ready and do my job."

Teamwork is the watchword as Hawaii (20-4, 11-2) tries to stay in the Western Athletic Conference title race. However, the Rainbows would find themselves a half-game out of first should host Tulsa (20-4, 11-2) beat SMU tonight.

Hawaii has just one game this week, taking on San Jose State (8-17, 3-10) Saturday. The Rainbows then face the Golden Hurricane next Thursday in what could decide the regular-season championship.

But first the Rainbows have to deal with the team that handed them their first WAC loss back on Jan. 19, 57-53. The Spartans have historically played the Rainbows tough and last month's game in San Jose was no exception, with Hawaii held to a season-low 53 points.

"They match up well with our offense, get you into a half-court game and play good defense," said Wallace. "We were hard on our guys today because some of the little things we're not doing are going to become big after a while. We got to take care of it now."

"The coaches have a good game plan for what they want us to work on this week," said Rainbow junior point guard Mark Campbell. "Our job is to execute it."

Executing the offense is the first order of business this week. The Rainbows, second in the WAC in assists (17 apg) had a season-low seven against the Bulldogs last Saturday.

"We weren't ourselves," said sophomore guard Carl English.

There's no mystery to what it will take to get the Rainbows back on the winning track. They need to score more than 59 points (they are 18-0 when scoring 60 points or more) and they need more than two players to score in double figures. At La-Tech last week, only senior guard Predrag Savovic (22) and English (18) were in double figures.

Hawaii also needs sophomore forward Phil Martin to be more productive, both on offense and defense. He only played eight minutes at SMU last week, with four points and four fouls. He also scored just four points in 23 minutes at LaTech.

Martin has started all 24 games this season, but Wallace nearly started senior Mindaugas Burneika instead last Saturday. Wallace has not ruled out a change this week and rode Martin hard in practice yesterday

"It's a possibility, but I haven't made a decision yet," said Wallace. "Phil's a key and we need him to be there."

"Sometimes things happen for me, sometimes it doesn't," said Martin. "Then Mindaugas will come in and play well, and it's hard for me to get back in the game.

"The loss last week was a reality check for us. We need to get focused as a team. We're back home, where we like to be, and it's where we play our best basketball."


Hawaii has won its last nine home games, and 20 of 21 dating back to last season. The last WAC loss in the Sheriff Center was to UTEP 79-71 on Jan. 11, 2001.

In Honolulu, the Rainbows have defeated the Spartans six straight games. But it hasn't been easy the past two years; both games went to overtime, with Hawaii escaping 84-75 in 2000 and 65-64 last year.

Protecting their home court is a motivation. So is avenging the earlier loss to the Spartans.

"It's a hard matchup with them and it's not going to be an easy game," said Shimonovich. "The whole thing is about getting back to winning. And I think everyone wants to get back at (San Jose State)."

Notes: Savovic missed yesterday's practice due to an afternoon class ... Shimonovich didn't participate in the practice-ending wind sprints. He suffered a contusion on his left knee after falling in practice.

UH Athletics

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