No rest for depleted roster
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
There is no such thing as a break in the schedule for the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team.
The Rainbow Warriors — who are on a seven-game losing streak — will host Cal Poly on Saturday. Although it is a nonconference game, the 'Bows are describing it as a must win.
"Any win would be big right now," point guard and team captain Hiram Thompson said. "We need this one to get our confidence back and take it into the rest of the season."
Hawai'i is 9-16 overall and 2-10 in the Western Athletic Conference. The 'Bows are tied with Boise State at the bottom of the current WAC standings.
The last-place team at the end of the regular season will not qualify for the WAC Tournament at Reno, Nev.
Saturday's game will have no bearing on the WAC race, but Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash has ruled out resting any of the battered 'Bows.
Thompson, for example, has clearly been hampered in recent games with an injured left shoulder but will remain in the starting lineup.
"We have to treat this like any other game," Nash said. "We can't afford to rest anyone, let alone our only point guard. We want to give him breaks during the game, but at this point, we're trying to win as many games as we can and we need every available man ready to go."
Due to various injuries and a suspension, the 'Bows have just 11 active players, including three walk-ons.
Thompson is the only scholarship guard available right now.
"We don't have the numbers for me to take breaks, so I just have to play through it and hope it gets better," Thompson said. "I'm pretty sore, but I can play."
The 'Bows returned to Honolulu on Tuesday following a two-game road trip that resulted in losses at Louisiana Tech and New Mexico State.
"This team still has a lot of fight," Nash said. "Our goal is to make it to the WAC Tournament and we still can do that. Our fate is in our own hands, but we need to get out of this tailspin first. Hopefully we can do that this week."
Leading scorer Roderick Flemings did not practice yesterday because he was not feeling well, but is expected to be ready for Saturday's game.
WILLIAMS STILL OUT
Junior guard Dwain Williams did not practice with the team yesterday because he is still serving an indefinite suspension for violating team rules.
Williams was suspended on Feb. 4, and has not practiced since.
Nash did not want to speculate on Williams' return, saying only: "It's still an indefinite suspension."
The 'Bows have just five regular-season games remaining. Williams, who was a starter early in the season, is averaging 14.0 points per game.
SHOOTING WOES CONTINUE
Hawai'i has struggled from the lines — both 3-point and free-throw — during its seven game losing streak.
The 'Bows are 18 of 92 (19.6 percent) from 3-point range in their past seven games.
"Teams are daring us to shoot from the outside and we're not hitting right now," Nash said.
What upsets Nash even more is the free-throw woes. The 'Bows are 78 of 141 (55.3 percent) from the free-throw line in their last seven games.
"For some reason, it's gone south on us," Nash said. "We work on it every day, but it just hasn't translated during the games of late."
WOMEN WILL PLAY FIRST
Saturday will be a doubleheader for UH basketball fans, and tickets will be honored for both games.
The UH women's team will host Louisiana Tech at 5 p.m. The UH men will then host Cal Poly at 8 p.m.
Fans with tickets to the women's game can stay for the men's game, but will be asked to move to an unoccupied seat in the upper level.
Fans with tickets to the men's game can arrive early to watch the women's game.