'Bows know if they win, they're in
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
Forget the Charles Barkley $5 box.
The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team will be looking for a deal on a victory when it visits the Taco Bell Arena in Boise, Idaho, this week.
The Rainbow Warriors will play at Boise State on Thursday in what amounts to their most important game of an otherwise disappointing season.
If Hawai'i wins, the scenario is simple — it will qualify for the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.
"We wanted to be in this situation, so we go into Boise where it means something now," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said. "It really means that if we want to get to the (WAC) Tournament, we have to play well against Boise and Idaho."
The 'Bows have two regular season games remaining — closing with Idaho on Saturday. They are scheduled to depart Honolulu for the crucial road trip tomorrow night.
If Hawai'i loses to Boise State, the scenario gets a little more complicated. The 'Bows could still qualify for the WAC Tournament with a win over Idaho, although the final records of Boise State and Idaho would come into play.
"We're greedy, we want both," Nash said.
The 'Bows got back into tournament contention with a 74-63 upset of third-place Nevada on Saturday.
UH, which snapped a nine-game losing streak, is 10-18 overall and 3-11 in the WAC. Boise State is 13-16 and 3-11; Idaho is 12-15 and 4-10.
Hawai'i could finish as high as seventh in the nine-team WAC.
On the other hand, if the 'Bows lose at both Boise State and Idaho, they will not qualify for the WAC Tournament.
"All we want is a shot to get to the (WAC) Tournament," senior forward Roderick Flemings said. "Once you get there, anything can happen. We just have to take care of business at Boise now."
It would help if the 'Bows could pack their shooting from Saturday night and take it with them.
Hawai'i shot 53.2 percent from the field, and 61.5 percent from 3-point range (8 of 13). It was only the third time this season that the 'Bows shot better than 50 percent from the field.
"When you get that kind of production, it's just one of those things where it becomes contagious," Nash said. "Hopefully, it can continue and we'll go into Boise and get a win there, too."
Roderick Flemings had 20 points and 12 rebounds in the victory over Nevada. He now has 929 points in his Hawai'i career, which ranks No. 18 on UH's all-time list. Only five other two-year players have scored more points in a Hawai'i uniform — Tom Henderson (1,082), Anthony Carter (1,070), Reggie Cross (1,013), Michael Kuebler (977) and Trevor Ruffin (967).