'Bows' Williams to miss trip
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team will try to find its way — and its shooting touch — in San Jose.
The Rainbow Warriors will have to do it again without junior guard Dwain Williams.
The 'Bows are scheduled to depart Honolulu this morning for San Jose, Calif. They will play at San Jose State on Thursday, then at Nevada on Saturday.
Williams, who is considered the team's top 3-point shooter, will not be available for both games.
He is currently in California because of the recent death of his cousin. However, Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said Williams will not practice with the 'Bows until next week, when they return to Honolulu from this road trip.
"We'll just let him be with his family right now," Nash said. "He's missed a lot of time already, and it would be a difficult situation to bring him back while we're on the road. We'll see Dwain when we come back home."
Williams, who is second on the team in scoring with 14.0 points per game, has already missed the last three games while mourning the death of his cousin.
Without Williams, the 'Bows have struggled with their outside shooting. Hawai'i is 15 for 56 (.268 percentage) from 3-point range in the last three games.
The 'Bows went 1-2 on their recently completed three-game homestand. Hawai'i is 9-11 overall and in seventh place in the Western Athletic Conference at 2-5.
San Jose State is 11-8 overall and tied for fourth place at 4-3. The Spartans lost at Hawai'i, 68-67, on Jan. 17, but then scored back-to-back upsets of New Mexico State and Louisiana Tech last week.
"We've had success against them, and a lot of what they do is fresh in our minds," Nash said. "But it's always tougher going to their place, especially when you're short-handed."
Despite playing in just 14 of the team's 20 games so far this season, Williams still leads the 'Bows with 31 3-pointers, and has a .344 percentage from 3-point range.
What's more, junior guards Jeremy Lay and Hiram Thompson have had to play extended minutes. Lay is averaging 39.0 minutes (out of 40) per game in the last three games; Thompson is averaging 38.0 minutes per game.
"I've been wanting to get more minutes, and I've been getting it, so I can't really complain," Lay said. "But at the same time, it's going to be tougher to try and play those kind of minutes on the road."
Nash said sophomore Leroy Lutu Jr. will be counted on to provide relief in the backcourt. Freshman walk-on guard Rykin Enos will even make his first road trip of this season as an emergency back-up.
Nash said several of the team's forwards may also have to slide to the backcourt to provide help, including Roderick Flemings, Adhar Mayen, and even Petras Balocka.
"We are what we are, so we have to find ways to get it done," Nash said. "We can't wear our guards out. It's tougher to play on the road, with altitude, so substitutions will be key."
The 'Bows are 0-3 on the road this season.
"We just need one (win), and hopefully that will start a chain reaction," Lay said.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY EXPECTED ON ROAD
Hawai'i is expected to have dozens of fans in attendance at Thursday's game in San Jose.
Junior guard Hiram Thompson and senior forward Brandon Adams have already received numerous requests for tickets from family and friends in the area.
"Maybe 30 to 40," said Thompson, who grew up in El Dorado Hills, Calif. "It's nice to see so many familiar faces like that when you're on the road."
Adams attended high school and junior college in California, and he is expecting to have 20 to 30 friends and family members in attendance.
"Everybody's calling me already," he said. "I even know some of the guys on the (San Jose State) team, so it should be a fun game."
Adams is looking to continue his recent run of consistency. Since being inserted as the starting power forward four games ago, Adams is averaging 15.8 points and 8.8 rebounds per game, and has a .615 field goal percentage.
"My confidence is high right now, but I'm trying to stay mellow and keep doing what I'm doing," he said. "I just want to help the team get more wins, that's the main thing."