Rainbows looking for any positive


POSTED: Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Hawaii win would be treasured at this point, no matter the source.

That happens when your bracket's been busted since the fall and your team weathers a morale-sapping seven-game losing streak.

Besting Cal Poly tonight in an ESPNU BracketBusters game at 8 at the Stan Sheriff Center won't assist the Rainbow Warriors (9-16) in the Western Athletic Conference standings, where UH desperately needs another victory to qualify for the WAC tournament next month. But some nonconference success would sure help the Rainbows' spirits before the final four league games on the slate.

UH endured a season-ending injury to forward Bill Amis in the preseason and has seen its backcourt slashed to the bone over the last month with the losses of Jeremy Lay (hernia) and Dwain Williams (suspension). Point guard Hiram Thompson has gamely shouldered the play-making load on a bum left shoulder.

As UH coach Bob Nash regularly points out, opponents don't harbor much sympathy. Another 'Bows loss means the program's first single-season eight-game skid since 1987-88.

“;It's been probably the most frustrating season I've ever been through, personally,”; senior forward Brandon Adams said. “;Getting back and trying to get these wins, it's tough. The only thing you think about is what happened, what you could have done, what you should have done.

“;You have to move on, you have to get over it. ... Everybody goes through it. Nobody's perfect. I take it as a life lesson to never give up. Keep on working hard, 'cause I mean, it'll get better in the long run.”;

Success has been rare lately for both teams in this lower-tier BracketBusters matchup. Poly (9-16) of the Big West Conference has dropped seven of its last eight, but first-year coach Joe Callero is pleased with his team's play over its last four games.





        » What: Cal Poly (9-16) at Hawaii (9-16)

» When: 8 p.m. today


» Where: Stan Sheriff Center


» TV: KFVE, Ch. 5


» Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM


“;We decided not to put too much focus on winning and losing, as a new coach (with a) new program,”; Callero said. “;Learning how to compete every night, having momentum, executing a game plan. For us, it's can we continue to play well? ... We just want to continue that so we don't take any steps backward.”;

It's the final regular-season road game in an odyssey of a season for the team from San Luis Obispo, Calif. The Mustangs played their first five away from home, losing all, but have shown some travel spunk in rallying to 4-12 on the road, including 3-5 in Big West play.

Senior guard Lorenzo Keeler leads the smallish Mustangs with 15.5 points per game.

“;They're very active. They shoot a lot of 3s, they put pressure on you,”; Nash said. “;But I think their strength is they have a good halfcourt defense. If they're knocking down 3s, they can be awful tough to guard.”;

UH, meanwhile, hasn't enjoyed its usual homecourt success, dropping its last three at the Sheriff for a 9-9 mark in Honolulu.

Could the Mustangs provide the remedy? If the Rainbows' ball movement is effective against their favored zone defense, UH could exploit a huge size advantage; Poly's tallest active player is 6-foot-8.

UH could turn to reserve 6-10 forward Ji Xiang, who went for career highs of nine points and seven rebounds in UH's last outing, a blowout loss at New Mexico State.

“;You gotta go in and show yourself to people in 1 minute. It's a great present for me,”; Ji said. “;You never know, just get in, and do your best. It's like a microwave, just turn it, and on.”;

Hawaii is 3-4 in BracketBusters games, including 1-2 at home. Poly is UH's fourth straight Big West opponent in BracketBusters — following Long Beach State, UC Riverside, and UC Irvine — against whom the Rainbows are also 1-2.