Hawaii tackles
tough road trip

The Rainbows play at
San Jose State, SMU
and Louisiana Tech

Classes at the University of Hawaii don't resume until Monday, but the first-year members of the school's basketball team are about to get an education in life on the road.

The Rainbow Warriors leave on their first mainland trip of the season tonight and will play three Western Athletic Conference games over the next 10 days.

The team opens the trip by playing San Jose State on Saturday. The 'Bows then head to Texas to take on Southern Methodist on Jan. 15 and will take a bus to Ruston, La., to take on Louisiana Tech on Jan. 17.

With a grueling trip ahead of them, the team's newcomers realize that keeping your edge while living out of a suitcase can be a challenge.

"(The returnees) just said it's really long and you have to stay focused; it's really easy to get down and worry about other things," junior forward Jeff Blackett said. "Basically as long as we stay focused we should be all right."

The trip will mark the first time the team has left the state this season. The 'Bows' longest trip to date was a half-hour flight to Lahaina to play in the EA Sports Maui Invitational on Thanksgiving week.

When they board a plane bound for California tonight, the Rainbows (9-3, 1-1 WAC) will take with them the momentum of Monday night's 60-53 win over Nevada along with their uniforms and equipment.

A loss to the preseason conference favorite would have meant an 0-2 start in the WAC.

"Everybody's hungry," forward Julian Sensley said. "We're going on one of our most vicious road trips and we definitely don't want to go on that 0-2."

The UH players did some extra work on their own to prepare for Monday's game, calling a team meeting to review Nevada game tapes. The result was an impressive rebound from a loss to Fresno State on Saturday.

The 'Bows will have another three-game road trip in mid-February when they play at Boise State and UTEP and have an ESPN Bracket Busters game sandwiched in between. They close the regular season with road games at Nevada and Fresno State in early March and will remain in Fresno for the WAC tournament the following week.

With 10 days on the road, keeping the players occupied is part of the task for the coaching staff. In addition to practices and trips to the mall, the team will watch the Rainbow Wahine game in San Jose tomorrow and check out a Dallas Mavericks game next week.

"We just try to keep them busy and hope they don't get hotel-logged," UH coach Riley Wallace said. "We'll see some sights, keep them active and keep this energy level up. Most of them want to see things, different parts of the country."

The Rainbows enter their road trip having lost their last eight regular-season WAC road games and have dropped four of their last five games in San Jose. And it'll be up to the team's veterans to teach the newcomers the secrets to surviving on the road.

"The key is to eating well on the road and getting lots of rest," UH senior Phil Martin said. "With the time change, the amount of traveling we do and sitting in the vans, it can wear on your body.

"To endure this whole trip you have to keep on each other and keep the energy high."


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