'Bows found a fire in frigid Nevada
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Bob Nash did his cooling off late Saturday night in Reno, Nev.
Now he wants the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team to heat up at home.
In the aftermath of the Rainbow Warriors' frustrating 66-60 road loss at Nevada on Saturday, Nash sent the rest of the team back to the hotel without him.
The third-year Hawai'i head coach then walked by himself from the Lawlor Events Center to the team hotel. The walk was a little more than one mile, and temperatures were in the 20s that night.
"I was bundled up," he said. "But I didn't realize it was going to be that cold."
Nash said he needed time to "cool down and think to myself about things."
What he discovered was that the 'Bows are not going to quit, despite being in what has become a race to stay out of last place for the remainder of the regular season.
"It was the first time this year on the road that we fought together and stayed in the system all the way to the end," Nash said. "I think the guys saw how much progress we can make when we do that. If we stick to playing that way the rest of the year, we'll win our share."
The 'Bows returned to Honolulu last night from a road trip that produced two losses. Hawai'i is now 9-13 overall and tied for eighth place in the nine-team Western Athletic Conference at 2-7.
Boise State is also 2-7; Idaho is 2-6.
The ninth-place team at the end of the regular-season will not qualify for the WAC Tournament in Reno.
"All we can do is worry about ourselves and try to win as many games as we can," Nash said. "At the end of the day, we didn't get the win and we can't be satisfied. But at the same time, we came away knowing we can play with anybody in this league."
Prior to the Nevada game, that was in doubt. San Jose State routed the 'Bows, 83-60, on Thursday.
"We talked about that San Jose game and how we're a better team than that," Nash said. "We talked about how every guy has to be willing to accept their roles in each game to make us a better team. To their credit, the guys did that against Nevada."
In particular, the 'Bows broke from their traditional man-to-man defense and stayed with a zone for the entire game at Nevada. As a result, Hawai'i became the first WAC team this season to hold the Wolf Pack below 70 points.
Hawai'i also used a rotation of 10 players, and reserves Leroy Lutu Jr. and Ji Xiang played key relief roles.
"Our bench did their part," Nash said.
The bugaboo, of course, was free-throw shooting. The 'Bows went 8 of 17 from the line, including 4 of 8 in the crucial final two minutes.
In the two road losses, Hawai'i went 17 of 38 (44.7 percent) on free throws.
"We shoot and shoot and shoot in practice," Nash said. "But you have to make it in crunch time of games, not just in practice."
The 'Bows will now have a full week to prepare for their next game. They will host Fresno State in a WAC game on Saturday.
THOMPSON'S SHOULDER HURTING
Starting point guard Hiram Thompson sat out the final nine minutes of Saturday's loss with a shoulder injury.
He will have the shoulder examined by a doctor today.
"He said he felt it pop, so we couldn't take the chance of putting him back in," Nash said. "We'll see how he feels during the week."
WILLIAMS COULD RETURN THIS WEEK
Junior guard Dwain Williams has missed the last five games following the death of his cousin.
He did not accompany the team on last week's road trip, but is expected to return to practice this week. His status for Saturday's game is still in question, as he has not practiced with the team since mid-January.
"We'll meet with Dwain when we get back and see where we go from there," Nash said.
Williams is second on the team in scoring with 14.0 points per game, and leads the team with 31 3-pointers.
BRACKETBUSTERS SHOW ON ESPNU
The matchups for the ESPNU BracketBusters will be announced on ESPNU (Oceanic digital channel 250) today at 1:30 p.m.
Hawai'i is one of 98 teams in the field, but only 22 will be selected for the nationally televised games.
Whether on television or not, Hawai'i will host a non-conference opponent on either Feb. 19 or 20.