Rainbows look to rebound against LaTech


POSTED: Saturday, January 23, 2010

There wasn't really the option to dwell on it yesterday, even had Hawaii wanted to.

The Rainbow Warriors could ill afford a hangover from the events of the previous night—a strong start vs. New Mexico State undone by poor decisions and ultimately guard Jahmar Young's game-winning basket in a 71-69 heartbreaker. It set UH back to 9-10 overall and 2-4 in the Western Athletic Conference, good for seventh place nearing the midpoint of the league slate.

“;Like I told the guys in the locker room after the game, as hard as a loss for us to have to take, there's another train coming down the track in Louisiana Tech,”; Rainbows conductor Bob Nash said. “;So we gotta let this one go and start thinking about the next one. We can't hang our heads too far.”;

UH meets the league-leading Bulldogs (17-3, 5-1) today at 7:05 p.m. to conclude a three-game homestand at the Stan Sheriff Center. Then the 'Bows take to the road, where they're 0-3 this season, for four of the next five.




LOUISIANA TECH (17-3, 5-1 WAC) AT HAWAII (9-10, 2-4)

        » When: 7:05 tonight

» Where: Stan Sheriff Center


» TV/Radio: KFVE, Ch. 5/KKEA, 1420-AM




Despite mostly rough outings in six league games, there are signs of hope. UH is still on pace to make the WAC tournament (Boise State is last at 0-7; the ninth-place team doesn't qualify this season) and the 'Bows played one of the league's best teams in NMSU tough at home.

However, it'll take a colossal effort to deal LaTech back-to-back losses for the first time this season. After its previous two L's—at New Mexico and at Arizona—Tech went on five- and 10-game winning streaks. It's the best Tech team of recent vintage, as all five starters average double figures.

Behind WAC player of the year candidate guard Kyle Gibson (21.7 points per game) and a strong supporting cast, the Bulldogs moved to the cusp of a Top 25 ranking before an 87-76 loss at hot-shooting San Jose State on Thursday. Tech is second in the conference in scoring at 79.9 points per game and second in rebounding margin at plus-5.0 per game. Gibson, a senior guard, led the WAC in scoring until Adrian Oliver's 39-point explosion in the SJSU win.

“;You know, we're trying to get back and grind it out,”; third-year Bulldogs coach Kerry Rupp said. “;Like every game in the WAC, it's a tough game and you gotta come ready to play. (UH) does a great job of getting the ball to their scorers and they do a great job of getting at you on the offensive boards.”;

Hawaii swept the home-and-home series from Tech last season with two one-point victories. Bill Amis hit a game-winning jumper in Honolulu, while Petras Balocka tipped in the winning basket at the buzzer in Ruston, La. UH has won four of the last five in the series.

But Nash said the Bulldogs are an entirely different team with freshman point guard DeAndre Brown. It's given Gibson the freedom to roam and score instead of being saddled with playmaking duties. Sophomore swingman Olu Ashaolu has made big strides as well, averaging near a double-double.

LaTech arrived early yesterday and got in a practice at a military base, while UH went back to work in a closed session at the Sheriff.

“;We let one get away from us yesterday, so everybody came out today ready to practice,”; said UH forward Roderick Flemings, who played well off the bench on his 23rd birthday with 23 points and 10 rebounds—as well as a memorable alley-oop jam. “;I feel like we'll be ready for this next game coming up. It'll be a lot like the last game, lot of athletic guys out there. They play a lot more stronger than (NMSU), I feel, physically, so we just gotta cut down on the turnovers and we'll have a game.”;

There's still a heavy load on UH guards Hiram Thompson and Jeremy Lay, who've played almost exclusively as the backcourt in the last two games. Dwain Williams will miss his third straight game following his cousin's death as he goes to a mainland funeral this weekend.