Rainbows continue
tough trip at Fresno

Hawaii is 2-8 at Selland
Arena, where the Bulldogs
are unbeaten this year

By Jason Kaneshiro

The mood of the Hawaii basketball team might be tougher to read than a molecular biology textbook.

Hawaii at Fresno State

When: Tomorrow, 5 p.m.
Where: Selland Arena
Radio: Live, 1420-AM

Despite a disappointing loss at San Jose State on Saturday, the Rainbows have a chance to move into the Western Athletic Conference lead with two pivotal road games this weekend. But if they're starting to feel the heat, they aren't letting on.

"It's hard to tell what they feel," Hawaii coach Riley Wallace said. "They're the same when they're up and when they're not."

The even-keeled Rainbows (11-3, 4-2 WAC) continue their 11-day road trip tomorrow by taking on conference leader Fresno State (13-3, 6-1) at Selland Arena, where the Bulldogs are 10-0 this season. Hawaii's odyssey concludes Saturday at Nevada.

"The next two are going to be very, very tough for us to get in there and win," Wallace said from Fresno. "We haven't won at Nevada. We have won here, but not very many times."

Hawaii has won its last four meetings with Fresno State, including an 88-77 victory 12 days ago at the Stan Sheriff Center. The Rainbows are 2-8 all-time in Fresno, but scored an 82-79 victory last season to clinch the WAC regular-season championship.

Folks in Fresno might soon develop a nervous twitch at the sound of Carl English's name if the UH guard continues his hot shooting against the Bulldogs.

English is coming off a six-point outing in the Rainbows' 79-67 loss to San Jose State on Saturday, but he has saved his biggest games for Fresno State. The junior averages 17.2 points against the Bulldogs, including a 33-point performance at Selland Arena last year and a 30-point outing last week.

"I think he always treats our game as a big game," Fresno State coach Ray Lopes said.

Hawaii spent much of its practice time this week fine-tuning its offense after a rough night against San Jose State.

Fresno State is taller and deeper than San Jose State, but Wallace said the Rainbows actually match up better with the Bulldogs in the paint after watching SJSU's shorter post players give his team fits with their quickness.

"Last year we played almost a perfect game (at Fresno State)," Wallace said. "We really shot the ball well. (Forward) Tony Akpan played really well and (forward Phil) Martin played well. So that's what we've got to have, some other guys picking it up."

Every road trip the Rainbows take is an arduous one, but they'll get no sympathy from Fresno State.

The Bulldogs logged 8,465 miles in a road trip that wound through Honolulu, Dallas and Ruston, La., last week. They returned to California on Sunday with two WAC wins and the top spot in the league standings.

"I've never done anything like that with a basketball team in terms of traveling," Lopes said.

"I'm just proud of the guys that they were able to get through this trip. If you'd have told me we could come away with two wins on that road trip I would have taken that and mailed it in."

After losing to Hawaii on Jan. 13, Fresno State caught a plane to Dallas and pulled out a 75-73 win over Southern Methodist. The Bulldogs completed their trip by rallying in the final seconds to defeat Louisiana Tech 61-60 last Saturday.

Bulldog forward Jonathan Woods scored on a layup and made a free throw with 1.1 seconds left to win the Louisiana Tech game.

"We're lucky," Lopes said. "We're getting some breaks and I've always been a big believer that you have to be healthy, you have to be good, and sometimes, to have really good years, you have to be lucky."

Senior Damon Jackson has stepped forward as the Bulldogs' floor leader of late. Jackson scored 21 points against Hawaii last week and has led Fresno State in scoring each of its last four games.

"Damon is emerging as our best player," Lopes said. "It's nice to finally have someone who seems to be stepping forward who wants to take the big shots and wants to be the best player on his basketball team."

UH Athletics

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