Rainbows clear up
WAC slate

After a bit of maneuvering, it looks like the Hawaii basketball team finally has its schedule for the 2003-04 season set.

A conflict with ESPN's Bracket Buster Saturday and the Rainbow Warriors' Western Athletic Conference game at UTEP, both of which were originally set for Feb. 21, forced UH to shuffle its schedule.

The Rainbows will play their Bracket Busters game on Feb. 21 and play at UTEP on Monday Feb. 23. They'll then close out the home schedule later that week with an unusual Friday-Sunday swing with games against Tulsa (Feb. 27) and Rice (Feb. 29).

"The WAC helped us out," UH coach Riley Wallace said. "The WAC (told the schools involved) if there's any costs incurred for the change, they'll pick it up."

A preliminary plan rejected by the UH coaches called for the Rainbows to play UTEP on a Monday, return to Hawaii the next day and have one day to prepare for a Thursday game with Tulsa. After trading proposals for a while, the school and the conference finally agreed to push the Tulsa and Rice games back a day.

This is the second year that Bracket Buster Saturday caused the Rainbows to rearrange their schedule. Last year a home game with Fresno State was moved to accommodate the ESPN sponsored event.

Like last year, the Rainbows will play their Bracket Buster game on the road. The other four WAC teams committed to the event (Fresno State, Nevada, Rice and Tulsa) are scheduled for home games.

In return for going on the road last year (UH won at Kent State 79-78) the Rainbows got a home game against UC Santa Barbara this season. Wallace said he's expecting similar compensation next year for playing on the road again.

The Rainbows begin the season with an exhibition game against Brigham Young-Hawaii on Nov. 17 and open the regular season against UCSB on Nov. 21. They then play in the Maui Invitational Nov. 24-26 and face Santa Clara in the first round.

UH plays Oregon State on Dec. 15 and hosts the Adidas Festival (Texas Southern, Idaho State, New Orleans) Dec. 19-20.

The 'Bows close the nonconference schedule with the 40th Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic (Lamar, East Tennessee State, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Fairfield, Bowling Green, Pepperdine and American) Dec. 27-30.

Despite the lack of marquee names, Wallace believes the early season slate will prepare the team for the WAC season.

"It's good enough if things play out the way they're supposed to," Wallace said. "There's enough tests early, because the WAC, once we start traveling, is tough enough."

The Rainbows host Fresno State on Jan. 3 to open the WAC season. The won't leave the state until they embark on a three-game road trip starting Jan. 10 at San Jose State.

On the trail: Wallace and associate coach Jackson Wheeler leave Monday to begin recruiting for next year's class.

The emphasis will be on quality over quantity as the UH coaches have just three scholarships to offer. NCAA regulations allow a school to sign eight recruits over a two-year span and no more than five in a year. The Rainbows signed five players in the last recruiting season.


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