UH draws Cal Poly for Feb. 20 game
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
The only bracket the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team wants to bust into right now is the Western Athletic Conference Tournament.
Still, a non-conference game against Cal Poly could provide a break for the Rainbow Warriors ... and another chance at a much-needed win.
Cal Poly, a team from the Big West Conference, was announced as Hawai'i's opponent for the previously open date on Feb. 20 at the Stan Sheriff Center.
"It comes at a time when there's a break in our schedule, and it's another home game for us, so it doesn't hurt to play it," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said. "It can hurt you if you have to travel across the country to play a team, but (ESPN is) trying to match up teams that are closer to each other so that helps."
Technically, the game is not part of the ESPNU BracketBusters — a television showcase for so-called mid-major programs.
Hawai'i and Cal Poly were among the 98 teams in the pool for the ESPNU BracketBusters. However, only 22 teams get selected to play in the 11 nationally televised games.
The Hawai'i-Cal Poly game was not selected as one of the ESPN games, so it is merely identified as a non-conference game.
Hawai'i is currently 9-13 overall and tied for eighth place in the nine-team WAC at 2-7. The 'Bows have three WAC games to play before hosting Cal Poly.
"It's still down the line, so we haven't really looked much into them yet," Nash said. "But I think it should be a good matchup."
The Mustangs are 8-12 overall and currently in third place in the Big West at 5-3.
Earlier this season, Hawai'i lost a road game to UC Irvine, 80-70, and lost a home game to Saint Mary's, 84-75. Cal Poly won at UC Irvine, 95-81, and lost at Saint Mary's, 92-67.
Cal Poly's top player is Lorenzo Keeler, a 6-foot-2 senior guard. He is averaging 14.8 points per game and leads the team with 31 3-pointers.
If anything, the Mustangs are well-traveled. They have already played 12 road games this season, and have a 3-9 record in those games.
What's more, they will play four more road games between now and Feb. 20.
As part of an agreement for teams in the ESPNU BracketBusters pool, the 'Bows will have to play a "return" game at Cal Poly in the future.
According to Nash, teams now have two years to schedule the return game, so he said the 'Bows will likely play at Cal Poly during the 2011-12 season.
The top four teams in the current WAC standings were selected for television games: Louisiana Tech at Northeastern; New Mexico State at Pacific; Nevada at Missouri State; Wichita State at Utah State.
"It's a good deal for the conference," Nash said. "It gets our conference name out there against some good teams and it gets people around the country talking about the WAC."
The last time Hawai'i was selected for one of the BracketBusters television games was in 2005 against Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
FRESNO STATE WEEK
After a two-game road trip last week, the 'Bows will have all of this week to prepare for Saturday's WAC game against Fresno State at the Sheriff Center.
"We can use these first couple of days to focus on ourselves and work on our stuff," Nash said. "And that still gives us time later in the week to put in Fresno's stuff."
Fresno State defeated Hawai'i, 78-64, on Jan. 9 in Fresno, Calif.
Saturday will be a basketball doubleheader — the UH women's team will host Fresno State at 5 p.m., with the men's game to follow at 8 p.m.
Junior guard Dwain Williams is expected to return to the team this week after missing more than two weeks due to the death of his cousin in California.
He has missed the last five games, and also has not practiced since Jan. 15. Williams is second on the team in scoring with 14.0 points per game.
Junior point guard Hiram Thompson was scheduled to have his sore left shoulder examined last night.
He injured the shoulder in the second half of Saturday's 66-60 loss at Nevada. He sat out the final nine minutes.
Nash said Thompson's status will be determined later this week.
"We have the week to see how it is," Nash said. "Hopefully it's one of those deals where he can play with it."