UH out of whack as losses keep mounting
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Aim for three.
That's what the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team has to do over the final weeks of this season.
As in three Western Athletic Conference wins.
The Rainbow Warriors have been stuck on two WAC victories for nearly a month, with their last win on Jan. 17.
Their latest loss — the fifth in a row — came in the form of a 61-51 setback against Fresno State on Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center.
"It gets frustrating," senior forward Brandon Adams said. "But all we can do is keep working hard. We still have games to play and we just have to play harder."
In truth, the 'Bows are running out of chances to win games and qualify for the WAC Tournament.
Hawai'i is 9-14 overall and 2-8 in the WAC.
Fortunately for the 'Bows, Boise State has been equally unimpressive. The Broncos are also 2-8 in the conference, and tied with Hawai'i at the bottom of the standings.
In effect, the 'Bows and Broncos are in a slow-paced race to get to that elusive third conference victory — and avoid the ignominy of being the only WAC team not to join the others at the WAC Tournament.
Hawai'i is scheduled to play at Boise State on March 4.
Before that, Hawai'i has four WAC games against the top four teams in the standings.
The 'Bows are scheduled to depart Honolulu on Thursday for a long two-game road trip. They will play at Louisiana Tech on Saturday, then at New Mexico State on Feb. 15.
If the 'Bows are to get their third WAC win, they'll have to adjust the scope on their 3-point shooting. During the five-game losing streak, Hawai'i is 11 for 63 (17.5 percent) from 3-point range.
In any case, the 'Bows will likely have to play the stretch run of the season weary and wounded, especially in the backcourt.
As Fresno State head coach Steve Cleveland noted of Hawai'i after Saturday's game: "They're undermanned. I told coach (Bob Nash) that. You got Hiram (Thompson) who can barely walk up and down the floor. They're basically playing without any real guards on the floor."
Junior guard Dwain Williams has already missed the last six games and is currently serving an indefinite suspension for violating team rules. He is the team's top shooter, and is averaging 14.0 points per game.
However, he has basically missed more than a month of practice time, so even if he is reinstated, it could take him a while to work back into the playing rotation.
Thompson, a junior point guard, has an injured left shoulder that could hamper him the rest of the season. It showed in the loss against Fresno State, as he went scoreless for the first time this season.
"We need him on the floor to have a chance," Nash said. "Certainly it was not because he didn't try. He's just banged up."
Ironically, Hawai'i's worst stretch of this season has coincided with the best stretch by its best player. Senior forward Roderick Flemings averaged 19.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game during the team's five-game losing streak.
Flemings now ranks eighth in the WAC in scoring with 15.4 points per game.