Make or break time for Rainbows


POSTED: Saturday, February 06, 2010

There are precious few chances for redemption left for the Hawaii men's basketball team.

The fight for 18 wins—the number UH coach Bob Nash needed for a contract extension beyond next year—is essentially out of the question at this point.

But the battle to get to the Western Athletic Conference tournament rages on. The Rainbow Warriors (9-13, 2-7) likely need to pick up two more WAC wins to have a realistic shot at Reno, Nev. Even then, Boise State and Idaho—the teams UH is tied with at the bottom—could stay ahead, as they both host the 'Bows in early March.

The best chance for one of those victories could come today at home against reeling Fresno State (11-12, 4-5), which is missing its top player, forward Paul George. Tip-off is 8:05 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center following Rainbow Wahine basketball.





        Who: Fresno State (11-12, 4-5) at Hawaii (9-13, 2-7)

When: 8:05 p.m. today


Where: Stan Sheriff Center


TV/Radio: KFVE, Ch. 5/KKEA, 1420-AM




With this being one of three remaining WAC home games, the team knows it's imperative to shake off the woes that come with the recent four-game losing streak.

“;Home or away, all of them are important,”; junior guard Jeremy Lay said. “;This one might be the most important game of the year based on the standings. We know we need to win to end this losing streak. It's not do-or-die yet, but at this point we know we need to get the win.”;

While the UH backcourt situation has been a concern all season, things grew more serious with the indefinite suspension of Dwain Williams and point guard Hiram Thompson still recovering from a dislocated shoulder. Thompson went light in practice yesterday, getting reps but avoiding contact.

“;I definitely feel a lot better definitely from a few days ago,”; Thompson said. “;Day by day, I'm getting healthier, getting my rehab and everything, getting stronger. I'm definitely going to try to go (today).”;

If Thompson is able to play, it might be in a limited capacity. Sophomore walk-on Leroy Lutu Jr. played 17 minutes in the last game, a 66-60 loss at Nevada, and could get the call early tonight.

“;We do what we have to do,”; Nash said. “;Our guys are competitive. If Hiram is not available, Dwain's not available, we'll find a way. Our guys got tremendous pride in their abilities, and so the coaches have a lot of faith that we can get things done, and that's the way we're going to play.”;

Lutu is ready to build off his last outing, despite some key missed free throws late.

“;Well, you know, everyone's gotta be patient,”; Lutu said. “;That's part of the game, that's part of sports. I just always believed my time was going to come, and when it does I gotta step up to the opportunity and make stuff happen.”;

Fresno State hounded Hawaii with pressure that led to a 78-64 blowout at the Save Mart Center on Jan. 9—a game that wasn't as close as the final score. UH committed 20 turnovers in that game.

Sixth-place Fresno is dealing with its own issues. The Bulldogs began league play 3-0, but have lost five of six. The Bulldogs are 1-2 without George, who suffered a severe ankle sprain vs. Utah State on Jan. 21.

FSU coach Steve Cleveland ruled out George—with his team-best averages of 17.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game—for today despite the forward's presence in Honolulu. And the coach is wary of UH's tenacity at home; the Rainbows have won five straight over the Bulldogs at the Sheriff Center.

“;I know what they're capable of doing,”; Cleveland said. “;We know, the last couple years we've come here, they've just kind of handed it to us. We want to be much more physical and patient as we come in here. Otherwise, it'll be a long evening.”;

Senior forward Sylvester Seay is the Bulldogs' other top player. He averages 15.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. Roderick Flemings leads UH with 15.1 ppg and 6.0 rpg.