Defenses won't rest when Rainbows visit Mustangs today
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
DALLAS In this city affectionately known as "Big D," the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team is hoping to adopt a similar theme tonight.
In the seemingly endless series of weekly tests known as the Western Athletic Conference season, the Rainbow Warriors will play at Southern Methodist tonight. Tip-off is scheduled for 8 p.m. at Moody Coliseum.
"We have the target on our backs," UH point guard Mark Campbell said. "So we have to come out with our intensity for every game. For us, that starts with defense."
The 'Bows have relied primarily on their stingy man-to-man defense and some timely 3-point shooting in their rise to the top of the WAC standings. Hawai'i is having its best season in 30 years at 19-3 overall and 10-1 in the conference.
SMU started the WAC season 4-0, but has since gone 2-4, including an 83-74 loss to the 'Bows in Honolulu last month. The Mustangs are 11-9 overall and in fourth place in the WAC at 6-4.
"They're still one of the most dangerous teams in the league," UH head coach Riley Wallace said. "Because they've got a couple of guys who will get their points every night."
In particular, SMU features Damon Hancock, a 6-foot-4 senior guard who leads all WAC players with 21.4 points per game. Quinton Ross, a 6-6 junior guard, is fourth in the WAC with 16.2 points per game, and he and Hancock account for more than 51 percent of SMU's scoring.
"Hancock is going to get his points and Ross is going to get his," Wallace said. "We just can't let the other guys hurt us."
Wallace put the 'Bows through a grueling 2 1/2-hour practice at Moody Coliseum last night, with the emphasis on aggressive defense.
"Hancock is the key guy," said Campbell, who will draw the early defensive assignment against Hancock tonight. "We have to try to keep the ball out of his hands first. But if he does get the ball, you just want to make him work for every shot and hope he throws up some bad ones."
Hancock scored 24 in the loss at Hawai'i, but many of those points came while the Mustangs were in catch-up mode.