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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Beat up 'Bows hit road

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Hawai'i's Hiram Thompson drove against LaTech's James Loe on Monday. The 'Bows play at Idaho and Boise State this week.

ANDREW SHIMABUKU | The Honolulu Advertiser

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The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team will not have much time to celebrate or heal after its 65-64 victory over Louisiana Tech on Monday.

The Rainbow Warriors departed Honolulu last night for a two-game road trip in the state of Idaho, and three key players boarded the flight with injuries.

Hawai'i, 9-5 overall and 1-1 in the Western Athletic Conference, will play at Idaho tomorrow, then at Boise State on Saturday.

Starting point guard Hiram Thompson (hamstring), reserve shooting guard Lasha Parghalava (back) and reserve center Petras Balocka (groin) are all considered "game-time decisions" for tomorrow's game.

"Any time you have that many injuries, it's a concern," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said. "But we're taking a trainer with us on the road, so the guys can get treatment every day."

The biggest concern might be Thompson. He aggravated a hamstring injury in the second half of the victory over Louisiana Tech. The injury has been nagging him all season.

Nash said Thompson may have to sit out tomorrow's game at Idaho so that he can have a chance to be ready for Saturday's game at Boise State.

"Hiram understands what we like to do on offense, so if he can't go, he can be like a coach for us in practice and on the bench during games," Nash said. "We're hoping he can be ready for Saturday, but I don't know about (tomorrow)."

Thompson, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, has already missed five games this season because of the hamstring injury. But he was just starting to get healthy, and had started the last four games. He averaged 4.5 points, 3.5 assists and 2.8 steals per game in those four starts.

If Thompson is not available, sophomore Kareem Nitoto would be reinserted as the starting point guard. Nitoto started most of the games early in the season, and leads the team with 3.5 assists per game.

Nitoto played a crucial role in the victory over LaTech, draining a 3-pointer with 24.6 seconds remaining to pull the 'Bows within one, then providing the winning assist to Bill Amis with 8.1 seconds left.

"We have confidence in every guy on this team," Nash said. "Hiram went out (against LaTech) and Kareem came in and made a couple of big plays that helped win the game for us."

Parghalava, a 6-2 junior, was not in uniform for the LaTech game. He leads the team with 16 3-pointers.

A long flight to Idaho and temperatures in the teens are probably not going to help his sore back.

"The best thing for him right now is rest," Nash said. "It's one of those things we just have to wait and see how he feels every day."

Balocka, a 6-8 junior, was limited to two minutes in the LaTech game because of his injury. He is second on the team in scoring with 11.4 points per game, and third in rebounding with 6.2 per game.

"Hopefully he'll be able to go," Nash said.

Ready or not, the 'Bows will take on a much-improved Idaho team that is 7-8 (1-1 WAC) and has already caught the attention of the WAC.

The Vandals scored a 78-73 road upset over Nevada on Saturday. Prior to the game, Nevada had a 41-4 record in Reno, Nev., against WAC opponents over the past five years.

"Idaho just showed what a dangerous team they can be," Nash said. "We've won there before, but we'll have to be at our best. We need to build on what we did (against LaTech) and show we can do that on the road."

Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com.