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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, February 5, 2006

UH makes or breaks on the road

By Ferd Lewis
Advertiser Columnist

Stop me if you've heard this one before, but ...

The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team wrapped up another successful homestand and, full of confidence after an 83-68 thumping of San Jose State last night, heads back on the road, again, professing things will be different this time. Promising as much.

Yeah, yeah, the Rainbow Warriors know that refrain is beginning to sound old already, almost as familiar as the six road losses they have absorbed this season.

As tired as the excuses for not winning on the road in a streak that has reached 10 consecutive games over two seasons.

"I know we sound like a broken record, saying this every time we go on the road but ... I think we're going to run the table this time," forward Julian Sensley maintained in a room of skeptical reporters. "I think everybody is motivated. Everybody is ready to go on the road and get some wins."

Give the 'Bows this much: They still believe. After some disappointing losses and some how-in-the-heck setbacks, they still cling to hope.

And, who knows, if the 'Bows, who have been the Western Athletic Conference's worst free-throw shooting team (.667) until recently, can convert 19 of 20 attempts as they did against the Spartans, losing out on a school record only when Chris Botez missed with 1:12 left, maybe there is hope for a now-or-never road turnaround.

Yet, we've been here before. Four times this season already the 'Bows have left home with victories in their pocket, most bigger than these two most recent ones over bottom-of-the-WAC Idaho and San Jose State, only to flounder on the road on each excursion. A trend that started when the season-opening win over Michigan State was followed by a loss at Nevada-Las Vegas.

The 'Bows' 6-0 home success in the still-up-for-grabs WAC has remarkably kept them in the title hunt where they are 6-4 and one game back of tri-leaders Louisiana Tech, Nevada and Utah State.

But that fortuitous standing goes up in smoke real fast if they don't win on this upcoming road trip to Boise State Saturday and Fresno State Feb. 13, two teams they have beaten at the Stan Sheriff Center.

Four of the 'Bows' six remaining WAC games are in hostile, though hardly unwinnable territory, places like San Jose, Idaho, and that is where the tale of this season will be written.

"If you don't win on the road, you don't deserve to be in the championship (running)," said Riley Wallace, UH coach. "We've got to prove we're good enough to win on the road."

In the meantime, maybe it is time for the 'Bows to let their deeds speak for them.

Reach Ferd Lewis at flewis@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8044.