Brittany Grice is the WAC's leading shot blocker, but is not in the top 15 in rebounding.

Bolla technique
impacts UH

In the immortal words of "Dodgeball" coach Patches O'Houlihan, "If you can dodge traffic, you can dodge a ball."

Hawaii women's basketball coach Jim Bolla's take is more like this: "If you can get rebounds with me knocking you around a little, you can get them in traffic in a game."

Rainbow Wahine basketball

Tomorrow: At Nevada, 5 p.m.
Saturday: At Fresno State, noon
TV: None
Radio: Both games live on KKEA-1420
Series history: UH leads Nevada 19-4 and is 7-3 in Reno. UH is 24-9 against Fresno State and 11-5 at Fresno

Bolla simulated battling for rebounds in a crowd by bumping sophomore center Brittany Grice and the other Rainbow Wahine post players with a football blocking pad at practice Monday.

"I personally worked with them, and used (the pad) to encourage rebounding in traffic, and put a little pressure on them to control the ball and make a good outlet pass," he said.

It's not a new coaching technique, but it's one Bolla hasn't used very often in his first season at the UH helm.

But he's willing to try anything to get the Wahine -- who have lost three straight -- back on track as they prepare for the end of the Western Athletic Conference regular season with games at Nevada tomorrow and Fresno State on Saturday. Then they go right back to Reno for the start of the WAC tournament, quite possibly against the last-place Wolf Pack again, in a play-in game on Tuesday.

UH (10-13, 6-10 WAC) was creamed 41-27 on the boards in its 70-49 home loss to Rice last Saturday. The 6-foot-4 Grice has started every game and is the league's top shot-blocker. But she averages 4.1 rebounds, and expects more from herself, as does Bolla.

"Rebounding is something you can continually work on to improve at," Grice said during the team's layover in San Francisco yesterday. "You just have to have an attitude, a nose for the ball. It helps to be tall, but you don't have to have any special skills."

Grice might be too nice sometimes, she admits, so she welcomed the toughening-up session with Bolla.

"I'd say so. I have to be consistently aggressive, the mind-set has to be there from the beginning of the game," she said. "It was a good drill, a nice little switch-up from what we usually do."

Junior wing Amy Sanders needs to rebound, too -- in the scoring column. She managed just one point against Rice, and that's not enough from UH's leading scorer.

Bolla said he's not worried, because Sanders is one of the team's hardest workers.

Hawaii pasted Nevada 71-43 at the Stan Sheriff Center on Jan. 1. But Bolla said that means "absolutely nothing."

"That's history, both teams have played a ton of games in between," he said. "We can't take anything from that game. They've been playing better, and they play well at home."

Nevada is 7-19 and last in the WAC at 3-13, and has lost three straight (all on the road) after beating Boise State and UTEP at home. Freshman forward Meghan McGuire leads the Wolf Pack with a per-game average of 13.5 points.

"When we played in Hawaii, they played so physical, they pushed us around. We need to play a lot stronger, that will be key," Wolf Pack coach Kim Gervasoni said. "Hopefully the altitude will help us because I don't think they go very deep."

Bolla has used his bench more recently, with post Amber Lee and wing Brittney Aiwohi getting significant time.

On Saturday, UH plays the team that dealt the Wahine their most lopsided loss of the season. Fresno State beat Hawaii 70-48 in the WAC opener Dec. 30.

Much has happened since to the Bulldogs (17-9, 8-8). Their coach, Stacy Johnson-Klein, was put on administrative leave Feb. 6 amid undisclosed allegations, and athletic director Scott Johnson unexpectedly announced his early retirement last week.

Interim coach Adrian Wiggins said the players have rallied.

"They're a close group and have really stuck together despite everything going on around them," he said. "Obviously it's disheartening, but they've been able to focus their energy on the basketball court. It's the only time they get to forget about everything."

Amy Parrish leads the Bulldogs with 16 points an outing.

UH needs to win both games and San Jose State has to beat Fresno State tomorrow for the Wahine to avoid the WAC tournament play-in bracket.

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