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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 10, 2006

Wallace wants UH to turn up the heat

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

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It wasn't snowing yesterday in Boise, Idaho, but the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team still wants to start a snowball effect.

The Rainbow Warriors arrived in Boise yesterday in search of their first road victory of the season.

Hawai'i will play Boise State in an afternoon game (2 p.m. Mountain time, 11 a.m. Hawai'i time tomorrow) at the Taco Bell Arena. The 'Bows are 12-8 overall and 6-4 in the Western Athletic Conference. The Broncos are 12-10 and 5-6.

Hawai'i is 0-6 on the road this season, including 0-4 in the WAC.

"All we need is that first one to get it rolling," senior forward Matthew Gipson said. "Once we get that one, it'll be like a snowball effect. We'll keep it going the rest of the way."

Hawai'i head coach Riley Wallace said he has been frustrated with the team's road woes this season, mainly because the players are preparing properly for the games.

"This team works better than other teams we've had in the past as far as improving themselves on the court, and the attitude is always positive," Wallace said. "But this team has its own personality, and unfortunately, it's a passive one."

The last Hawai'i team to find success on the road was the 2001-02 squad led by Predrag Savovic and Carl English. That team went 11-5 away from home.

"Savo and those guys were aggressive," Wallace said. "They didn't care where we were. They liked going on the road because the crowds and stuff got them mad. This team doesn't have that kind of fire."

Before leaving for Boise, Wallace challenged his players the seniors especially to "be leaders."

"We have only seven games left in the regular season, and we can't keep looking forward only to the home games," Wallace said. "This team needs to win on the road if it wants to get recognized."

Gipson said: "Coach is right. We need to accept the responsibility down the stretch. It's like I don't care what city we go to anymore. I just want to win a road game anywhere."

The 'Bows had to spend Wednesday night in Seattle instead of Boise because of a canceled flight, but Wallace said it should not affect any plans.

As senior co-captain Deonte Tatum put it: "The travel, the weather, all of that has nothing to do with it. Everybody has their own opinion about the road. But it all comes down to basketball. I think the most important thing is for us to play basketball on the road the way we do at home, that's all."

Easier said than done.

In Hawai'i's six road losses, it is averaging 61.0 points per game and shooting 44.4 percent from the field, including a dismal 18.3 percent from 3-point range.

In its 14 home games, Hawai'i is 12-2 and averaging 73.1 points per game. The 'Bows are shooting 46.9 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from 3-point range at home.

"It really is like two different teams," Wallace said. "But I've been telling them all week, the road games we have left are all winnable games, so let's go out and get them."

BOTEZ WILL GET HIS FIRST SENIOR GAME TOMORROW

About a dozen family members and friends of senior center Chris Botez are expected to attend tomorrow's game.

Botez's family is from Portland, Ore. He chose Hawai'i after a close recruiting battle with Boise State in 2004.

"I feel like I have family in both places because I've met so many good people in Hawai'i," Botez said. "But I've been thinking about this game because it could be one of the last times I get to play in front of my family back home."

Botez, a 7-foot reserve, had his best game of the season against Boise State last month at the Stan Sheriff Center. He had season-highs of 12 points and eight rebounds in Hawai'i's 72-61 victory.

"I'm just going to have to stay focused and do what I did at the game (in Honolulu)," he said. "But I'm pretty sure all the Boise big men are going to be after me because of the last time."

Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com.