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RAINBOW BASKETBALL


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GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Julian Sensley of Hawaii shot over Jason Ellis of Boise State on Wednesday. Sensley is questionable for tomorrow's game.


’Bows adjust for
late-season run

Coach Wallace asks the players
to be self-motivated

Basketball is often a game of adjustments -- for players and coaches alike.

With that in mind, Hawaii head coach Riley Wallace has loosened his grip on the reins this week to try to coax more energy out of the Rainbow Warriors as they head down the stretch.

UW-Milwaukee vs. Hawaii

When: Tomorrow, 3 p.m.

Where: Stan Sheriff Center

TV: Live, ESPN2

Radio: Live, KKEA 1420-AM

Internet: HawaiiAthletics.com

Tickets: $20 (lower level, single seats only), $15 (upper level, adults); $5 (upper level, students); $3 (upper level, UH students); $5 (Manoa Maniacs/Super Rooter).

Parking: $3.

The 18th-year coach toned down his high-volume style in practice, wiped the slate clean, and declared the competition for playing time open again prior to Wednesday's win over Boise State.

"We put the challenge out to (the players) to self-motivate, because they hadn't been doing that," Wallace said.

"So I told the coaches, 'Let them work and see what they do. We still have to coach, but let's do it with a different approach.' We did that and it seemed to work. That's the way they want it and that's what we're going to give them as long as they continue to respond.

"You're never too old to adjust."

What Wallace won't change is his philosophy of sticking with something that works. So after watching a refreshed UH team score an 81-67 win, he's keeping the kinder, gentler approach as the Rainbows (14-7, 6-7 Western Athletic Conference) prepare for tomorrow's ESPN Bracket Busters game against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

"He said starting today it's open again and just work hard and you'll get the minutes," senior forward Vaidotas Peciukas said.

The Rainbows face UW-Milwaukee in a "Green Out" game that will be televised nationally on ESPN2. Tipoff is set for 3 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center.

After tinkering with the rotation on Wednesday, Wallace may be forced to alter the lineup again tomorrow depending on the status of forward Julian Sensley.

The Rainbows' leading scorer is questionable for the game after suffering a sprained right knee late against Boise State. He hit the floor hard after being upended on a dunk.

Sensley participated in the team's light practice and weightlifting session before heading off for treatment yesterday. Wallace said there wasn't swelling in the knee and Sensley's availability is a wait-and-see situation.

"There's some injury there, but it's up to him as to what he can do," Wallace said. "We're not going to take chances with him or anything like that. It's up to him and the training department, not the coaches."

Sensley has started all 54 games in his two years at UH and is the only Rainbow to start every game this season.

Usually a small forward, Sensley played power forward on Wednesday while Peciukas and Bobby Nash shared time at small forward.

Peciukas, a role player much of his UH career, responded to the coaches' challenge by scoring a career-high 15 points. The senior was a bit more sore after the game after playing a season-high 27 minutes, but he wasn't complaining.

"I have six (regular-season) games here and the postseason and I want to try to make the most of it, my senior year," he said.

Peciukas, who thrives in an up-tempo game, was pleased to hear that UWM plays a running game similar to Boise State's transition attack. Wallace said playing BSU on Wednesday will help the Rainbows prepare for the Panthers.

"Milwaukee has better athletes, but they play the same game," Wallace said. "So that was very good preparation for us. It's a little different offense, but they come down in transition and want the quick 3 and have great athletes. It gave us a feel for what we have to do."

The Panthers (20-5) already captured the Horizon League's regular-season title at 13-2.

Although it's a nonconference game, Wallace said the national exposure can enhance UH's résumé if the Rainbows can put themselves in position for a postseason berth at the end of the season.

"We have to win every game," Wallace said. "The (WAC regular-season) championship is not there for us right now, so we have to win every game we can to increase our RPI and this is important because they have a decent RPI and this would jump us up."

Double play: The Bracket Busters game has been dubbed "Sellout Saturday" and the first 7,000 fans through the gates will receive spirit towels.

The first 100 UH students with a valid UH ID will receive a free upper-level ticket at a special entrance at Gate A an hour before tipoff.

Fans attending tomorrow's basketball game can redeem their ticket stub for a free ticket to the UH baseball game against Pacific at Les Murakami Stadium. It starts at 5:30 p.m.

A special entrance at Murakami Stadium will be designated for fans coming from the basketball game. Tickets are limited and will be issued on a first-come, first-served basis.



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