Streaking Rainbows
are in control

Wallace credits UH’s mental
preparation for its ability to
build early leads in games

Fast starts have been a trademark of one of Hawaii's most-successful openings to the Western Athletic Conference basketball season.

Boise State at Hawaii

When: Today, 7 p.m.

Where: Stan Sheriff Center


Radio: Live, 1420-AM


Tickets: Lower Level, $15 (single seats only); Upper Level (adult) $11; Upper Level (student, UH) $5; Super Rooter $8.

Parking: $3

The Rainbow Warriors enter tonight's conference game with Boise State tied for first place in the WAC and on a five-game winning streak in which they've consistently established control in the opening moments of the game.

During the streak, Hawaii (13-3, 5-1 WAC) has shot 48 percent from the field in the first half while holding its opponents to 35 percent and has led by an average of nine points at halftime in those contests.

"Mentally they're ready when they hit the floor and there haven't been any lulls," UH coach Riley Wallace said.

The 'Bows took command of Thursday's game against UTEP in the opening minutes en route to an 85-63 win. Guard Michael Kuebler hit a 3-pointer 15 seconds into the game to spark UH to a 57 percent shooting performance in the first half. The Rainbows eventually built a 25-point advantage and weren't challenged the rest of the night.

"I think we utilize the offense Coach gives us and get the best shot possible out of every possession," said center Haim Shimonovich, who hit five of his six shots and posted 10 points and eight rebounds against the Miners.

"Coach (Bob) Nash does a good job preparing us and we know exactly where the screen's going to be and what to do."

At 13-3, UH is tied for the second-best start in Wallace's 17-year tenure. Hawaii has started 5-1 in the WAC three previous times in its 25 years of membership in the league. Only the 2001-02 team's 6-0 start was better at this point in the schedule. And the team's current roll has a familiar feel for those who were around that season.

"It does feel like the same kind of atmosphere on the team and we hope we can keep it going," said Shimonovich, a sophomore on the 2001-02 squad.

UH will put its streak on the line against a Boise State squad that is 6-2 on the road and is looking to sweep its road trip after beating San Jose State 70-54 on Thursday.

Second-year BSU coach Greg Graham has the Broncos (11-5, 3-3) playing an up-tempo game that yielded a 98-94 win at UTEP to open the WAC season.

"Boise will get up and down and they'll probably mix things up a little bit," Wallace said.

The Rainbows were able to slow UTEP's transition game for much of Thursday's game and will have to do the same tonight. With the pace turned up, Graham frequently shuttles players in and out of the game to keep fresh legs on the floor. Nine Broncos average at least 10 minutes per game; none play more than 30 minutes.

"Hopefully, when you don't have to play as many minutes you're more rested and ready to go and maybe that helps us on the road trips since we play more guys," Graham said.

Boise State returned all five starters off last year's team, but junior college transfer Jermaine Blackburn has worked his way into the lineup and leads the Broncos in scoring with 15.2 points per game.

Forward Aaron Haynes, a second-team preseason All-WAC pick, has made 20 of 25 shots from the field in BSU's last three games.

BSU ranks second in the league in scoring offense (77.5 ppg), but is also last in scoring defense (72.4). BSU shoots more 3-pointers than any team in the WAC and has made a league-high 111 shots beyond the arc. The Broncos made 11 of 20 3-pointers in their win at San Jose State.

With UH tied for first place in the WAC, the Rainbows hope their recent success translates into a boost at the gate for tonight's game. UH is drawing 4,770 fans through the turnstiles per date and has broken the 6,000 mark twice in 10 games.

"Some of these guys don't know what it's like to have the place packed and have everyone screaming," Kuebler said. "It would be awesome if we could have the crowd come out."

Probable starters

G Bryan Defares (Sr.) 6-4 11.3 4.8 3.2
G Joe Skiffer (Sr.) 6-3 3.6 2.2 2.9
F Aaron Haynes (Sr.) 6-7 13.5 5.9 1.7
F Jermaine Blackburn (Jr.) 6-6 15.2 4.1 1.5
F Jason Ellis (Jr.) 6-7 8.4 9.6 1.3
HAWAII (13-3, 5-1 WAC) HT. PTS. REB. AST.
G Logan Lee (So.) 6-1 3.9 1.6 4.4
G Michael Kuebler (Sr.) 6-4 19.4 3.3 1.9
F Julian Sensley (So.) 6-9 10.4 7.2 3.7
F Phil Martin (Sr.) 6-8 11.6 5.3 1.0
C Haim Shimonovich (Sr.) 6-11 7.0 7.1 1.8

Notes: Hawaii guard Jason Carter sat out some of the drills in practice yesterday to rest a bruised hip, but UH coach Riley Wallace said the senior should be ready to go tonight. ... The Rainbows leave for Houston tomorrow night and face WAC co-leader Rice on Wednesday and Tulsa on Saturday. ... UH has posted at least 16 assists in 10 of 16 games. ... BSU freshman Coby Karl (10.1 ppg) is the son of former NBA coach George Karl. ... UH leads the series 3-1. Three meetings have been decided by three points or less. ... The first 100 UH students with a valid ID receive free admission in the upper level.

WAC men's standings

Conference All games

W L Pct. W L Pct.
Hawaii 5 1 .833 13 3 .813
Rice 5 1 .833 13 4 .765
Fresno St. 5 2 .714 9 7 .563
Nevada 4 3 .571 10 6 .625
UTEP 3 3 .500 12 4 .750
Boise St. 3 3 .500 11 5 .688
Louisiana Tech 2 4 .333 8 8 .500
SMU 2 4 .333 8 8 .500
Tulsa 2 4 .333 6 9 .400
San Jose St. 0 6 .000 5 11 .313

Tuesday's game
Rice 80, SMU 40
Thursday's games
Boise State 70, San Jose State 54
Rice 65, Fresno State 63
Nevada 80, Tulsa 71
Hawaii 85, UTEP 63
Today's games
Louisiana Tech at SMU, 10 a.m.
UTEP at San Jose State, noon
Tulsa at Fresno State, 5 p.m.
Rice at Nevada, 5:05 p.m.
Boise State at Hawaii, 7:05 p.m.


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