Thursday, February 8, 2001
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Posted on: Thursday, February 8, 2001

Airline delays keep UH men's basketball team in L.A.

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

RENO, Nev. — The Hawaii men’s basketball team learned that not all gambles pay off in this town.

Taking a what-do-we-have-to-lose chance on a new travel plan this week, the Rainbows lost a full day to airline delays yesterday. After a forced stay in Los Angeles last night, the team was scheduled to arrive in Reno today at 8:30 a.m., less than 12 hours before the 7:05 p.m. tip-off (5:05 HST).

Hawaii coach Riley Wallace said the team’s first leg of the trip out of Honolulu was delayed three hours, thus pushing back a connecting flight from Los Angeles to Reno. By the time the team got to Los Angeles around 8:30 last night, no flights to Reno were available.

Wallace, however, is hoping the adjusted itinerary is a blessing in disguise.

"I actually don’t think there’ll be any problems," Wallace said. "The guys will get a good night’s rest and there are no casinos to keep them up."

Wallace said he will treat the rest of today like a normal game day. The team’s originally scheduled 11 a.m. "shoot around" at the Lawlor Events Center will still take place.

"Nothing’s changed," Wallace said. "We’re just spending the night in L.A."

Unlike its previous road trips, Hawaii had already planned a commando-raid on Reno. The team was originally scheduled to arrive here late last night, just in time for a light meal and lights-out.

"I’ve tried everything," said Wallace, who normally likes to arrive in a visiting city at least one full day prior to the game. "I thought I might as well try this."

The planned itinerary — complete with a 6:30 a.m. practice yesterday before the delayed flights — is similar to the one Vince Goo’s Wahine basketball team has had success with this season. To be sure, Wallace has challenged his players in practice this week with remarks like "the (Hawaii) women can win on the road because they’re tough. I guess you guys aren’t that tough yet."

"I’m just trying to motivate them," Wallace said. "But you can’t argue with it. The women go up (on the road) and win all their games."

In contrast, the Rainbows are 0-5 on the road this season, including 0-4 in the WAC. During the last three regular seasons, Hawaii is 1-17 on the road against WAC opponents.

"We all want to win on the road to prove that we’ve gone up a notch," Wallace said. "If we don’t win on the road, then it’s the same old thing — good at home and can’t win on the road."

This may be as good a chance as any.

For starters, the Rainbows defeated the Wolf Pack just five days ago, 76-69, at the Stan Sheriff Center. Although Nevada cut a 14-point second-half deficit to three in the final minute, Hawaii controlled most of the game.

"I think it’s good to play them back-to-back, especially because we won," Hawaii senior forward Nerijus Puida said. "I think we know what they do, and we can be even more ready for them."

However, Nevada is entering today’s game with a similar outlook. The Wolf Pack is 7-3 at home this season.

"I think we play a lot better at home," Nevada’s leading scorer Terrance Green said. "Hawaii is a long ways away, and it was a tough trip for us to make. Now, they have to take that long trip to play us."

Puida, whose wife Dainora played a starring role in the Wahine’s victory at Nevada last week, said the Rainbows are willing to try anything to get that breakthrough victory on the road.

"We need one bad," he said. "Otherwise, everybody will keep talking about it."

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