Archive for February, 2012

Picking up the pieces

February 27th, 2012
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Now we find out what the level of resolve of the Hawaii men's basketball team really is.

After getting hammered on their 10-day, three-game road trip to Montana, New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech — showing only fleeting moments of competitiveness in each — the Rainbow Warriors have a chance to make things right at home before the WAC tournament.

UH can finish anywhere from third to sixth after the final two games this week against Idaho and Utah State on Thursday and Saturday. The Vandals (7-5) and Aggies (6-6) are right there with UH (6-6).

Was it just tired legs that killed the 'Bows on that trip, or deeper issues? Prior to it, they were 3-2 on the road in the WAC.

The 'Bows' top three scorers — Zane Johnson, Joston Thomas, and Vander Joaquim — haven't been clicking all at once. Johnson in particular has struggled of late, though he showed signs of snapping out of it with 11 points and a few 3s against the Bulldogs. Thomas barely played in the second half of that game and was ejected/fouled out of the previous two on the trip. Joaquim has been the team's best player, but his temper has also flared up at inconvenient times, particularly during the pivotal LaTech five-point play that killed UH's chances of a comeback.

The team is surely glad to be home and could realistically sweep these games and finish its last WAC run at 8-6. But if recent struggles are not put to rest, those numbers could easily be swapped heading to Las Vegas.

Big game for Wahine

February 16th, 2012
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It's been a while since any thoughts were offered up here about the Hawaii women's basketball team, so perhaps today's pivotal game at New Mexico State is a good time.

UH (8-15, 3-5 Western Athletic Conference) heads into its longest road trip of the season on a four-game losing streak — one that's seen the Rainbow Wahine tumble out of a tie for second to their current position in fifth.

"Second half of WAC gives you a chance to see where you're at, and a road win is much needed for our program," UH coach Dana Takahara-Dias said from Las Cruces, N.M., on Wednesday. "But a win here will also help us move up in the standings heading into the WAC tournament.

"We had three home games in a row, and disappointingly were unable to get a win off of that. But we are optimistic about our road trip. None of us hung our heads and we are excited to get a chance to get on the court again and play. Hopefully reverse our fate (tonight)."

Either way, it's on to Ruston, La., to play Louisiana Tech on Saturday, and that's a tough place to get a win even with the Lady Techsters having a down year by their lofty standards.

Today's tipoff is at 3:30 Hawaii Time.

You can check out the game for yourself on OC 12, which is picking up AggieVision's local call of the game in Las Cruces.

If you're watching, a player to keep your eye on is the Aggies' senior forward, Tabytha Wampler. She torched UH for 24 points and nine boards in UH's 51-48 win in the first half of WAC play.

The Wahine will have to get Kamilah Jackson going early; she struggled last time out in the home loss to San Jose State. It's been a while since the main scoring threats on the team — Jackson, Vicky Tagalicod, Breanna Arbuckle and Alissa Campanero — were all rolling at the same time.

UH picked up a road breakthrough win there last season, and NMSU (5-19, 2-7) is having a rough go of it under first-year coach Mark Trakh. The Wahine already notched a road win at Nevada, so ending the losing streak here is possible.

Rebounding for Fresno

February 11th, 2012
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You'd absolutely expect rebounding to be a point of emphasis for the Rainbow Warriors heading into tonight's contest against the Fresno State Bulldogs, with the way they got blasted on the glass (46-27) in the loss to Nevada on Thursday. It was by far their worst outing on that front this season.

As intense as Gib Arnold's closed practices tend to be (and Friday's was closed to the media) look for UH to come out with a vengeance every time a shot goes up. Vander Joaquim, Joston Thomas, Davis Rozitis and the reinstated Trevor Wiseman will all be counted on to contribute here.

Last time in Fresno, Calif., the 'Bows won that battle 46-35.

UH (13-10, 5-4 WAC) also needs a win tonight to remain firmly among the top half of the league, although Utah State (5-6) fell to New Mexico State today, giving the 'Bows some breathing room from the team most likely to shake them from a top-four spot in the WAC tournament.

Here's what Arnold said on Friday in regard to faded regular-season title hopes and seeding going down the stretch. I didn't get a chance to use this quote in today's advancer story.

"I think it's going to be tough for it to fall all the way to us. But we're continuing on to play our best ball come March and get everybody on the same page and put ourselves in position to get as high a seed as we can in the tournament. And then, obviously, the goal then, like everybody else, we all gotta win three games. That still remains the goal."

Appealing to a Wise man

February 6th, 2012
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It was something of a shocker to be appraised of the situation this evening regarding UH sophomore forward Trevor Wiseman, who is suspended indefinitely from team activities following an embarrassing incident during the UH-San Jose State game on Saturday.

Perhaps not shocking in regard to his role — which had diminished significantly in recent weeks — but in that Wiseman was previously known as the quintessential blue-collar guy, content with whatever job handed to him. No drama.

After hearing some descriptions of the Scottie Pippin-esque incident in the first half of the game (in which Wiseman refused to re-enter, causing a flap on the UH bench) it wouldn't be surprising if this is it for Trevor.

At the same time, we saw Joston Thomas come back from a similar incident last season, one in which he was dissatisfied with his role on the team. He only missed one game, and after a sit-down session with Gib Arnold, was penitent the rest of the way. And look at him now — he earned his first career WAC Player of the Week on Monday.

Arnold said nothing to the effect that Wiseman is done for good. We may have a bit of a standoff at the moment, and the ball appears to be in Wiseman's court.

He had some good games early on this season, yes. He's been at times invaluable with his knack for coming up with a big loose ball or steal, true. If you're a UH fan, you'd want Wiseman to make this right, and pronto. But no one is bigger than the team, and it sure looked on Monday like the 'Bows are ready to move on — with or without him.

Avoid the trap

February 4th, 2012
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It would be easy to look beyond today's game at San Jose State to a much more appealing home matchup next week vs. WAC leader Nevada.

That would be a huge mistake.

We'll find out pretty soon if the Rainbow Warriors get up for this game (tipoff is in about 45 minutes) against the last place team in the league, at a venue that doesn't exactly scream big-time basketball, both in size and usual crowd turnout.

UH dominated the Spartans in their last meeting, with the frontcourt of Joston Thomas and Vander Joaquim doing the bulk of the damage (even if UH allowed a 20-20 game from de facto SJSU center Wil Carter).

The 'Bows will have to keep the backcourt of James Kinney and Keith Shamburger in check at home, which could be an altogether different task than UH's success in doing so at the Stan Sheriff.

If UH can get past this one, it sets up the biggest game of the year vs. the 19-3 Wolf Pack on Thursday. We can think about that game all we want — but it would be a mistake for the team to do the same.