'Bows put in work at charity stripe
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Maybe practice does make perfect.
At the end of every practice for the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team, the players have to complete a free-throw shooting drill.
"You have to concentrate just as hard at the end of a practice as you do at the start," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said. "That's why we shoot so many free throws at the end of practice. When you're tired, when you're not feeling well, that's when you shoot ... then you translate that into a game."
It worked for junior point guard Hiram Thompson. Despite not feeling well, he calmly sank the game-winning free throws with 2.1 seconds remaining to lead the Rainbow Warriors to a 68-67 win over San Jose State on Sunday.
"Shooting all those free throws in practice definitely helps," Thompson said. "I felt confident in that situation."
Thompson got to attempt the free throws after he was fouled and fell hard. He knocked his head on the court, and needed a few minutes to recover.
"It was weird because when I was on the line, I was still out of it, and so I couldn't even think enough to feel nervous," he said. "I was trying so hard to focus and make the free throws."
Thompson needed medical attention after the game for a possible concussion, but was cleared to practice yesterday.
In any case, it allowed the 'Bows to complete a much-needed conference victory. Hawai'i is now 9-9 overall and 2-3 in the Western Athletic Conference. The 'Bows are currently tied for sixth place in the nine-team WAC.
"That was a huge win for us," Thompson said. "It gave us confidence as a team. If we didn't pull it out, it would have hurt real bad."
Hawai'i will host the top two teams in the WAC standings this week — second-place New Mexico State (11-7 overall, 4-1 WAC) tomorrow, then first-place Louisiana Tech (17-2, 5-0) on Saturday.
"They're great teams, and we'll have to bring our A game if we want to win," Thompson said. "But if we can get these wins, we're right there near the top."
ADAMS STEPPING UP
Senior forward Brandon Adams has emerged as Hawai'i's top post player in the WAC season.
In five conference games, the 6-foot-7 Adams is averaging 9.8 points and 7.2 rebounds per game with a .581 field-goal percentage. The highlight was a career-best game of 19 points and nine rebounds in the win over San Jose State on Sunday.
"I'm just working hard, like I have been from the start," he said. "If I get two minutes or 40 minutes, I just have to go in and play hard."
Adams was slowed by an ankle injury early in the season, but slowly worked his way back into the rotation. He has started the last two games at power forward in place of injured Petras Balocka.
Against San Jose State, Adams shot 7 of 11 from the field, including a highlight-reel dunk, and several jump shots from the baseline.
"I'm not saying I don't have a good shot, it's just that I have to take the shots that I feel comfortable with," he said. "Right inside that 15-foot range, that's my shot right there."
Two players in Sunday's game had free throw streaks snapped.
Hawai'i guard Jeremy Lay went 2-for-3 from the line, ending a string of 25 consecutive made free throws. The UH record for most consecutive free throws is 28 set by Reggie Carter in the 1975-76 season.
San Jose State's Adrian Oliver had a streak of 30 consecutive free throws end in Sunday's game. Most notable, Oliver missed a free throw with 8.2 seconds remaining, giving Hawai'i the opportunity to win the game in the closing seconds.
WILLIAMS STILL OUT
Hawai'i guard Dwain Williams has not practiced since the death of his cousin on Saturday.
He is expected to attend the funeral in California this weekend, and will miss the Louisiana Tech game on Saturday. His status for tomorrow's game is questionable.
Williams, a 6-foot junior, is second on the team in scoring at 14.0 points per game, and leads the team with 31 3-pointers.