'Bows try to snap out of cold spell
Logan, Utah, is not exactly the best place to get warmed up, but that's what the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team will try to do.
Less than 24 hours after a disappointing loss at Fresno State, the Rainbow Warriors were in 20-degree weather in Logan. The 'Bows will face Utah State in another Western Athletic Conference road game today.
It is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. (Hawai'i time) and will be broadcast via radio on ESPN 1420 AM.
"It's not an ideal situation, but this is what you have to do on the road in this league," Hawai'i head coach Bob Nash said. "We didn't get much sleep (Saturday) night because we had an early flight. But we got here fine, no delays or anything."
In effect, the 'Bows had to travel from Fresno, Calif., to Logan yesterday, and then get ready for a Utah State team renowned for its seemingly infinite number of plays on offense.
"There's no way you can get everything done in one day's time to prepare for a team like Utah State," Nash said. "What we're trying to do is just put in the key components of what they do. But before we can worry about their stuff, we have to clean up our stuff first to give ourselves a chance."
The 'Bows committed 20 costly turnovers in the 78-64 loss at Fresno State on Saturday.
Hawai'i is 8-8 overall and 1-2 in the WAC. Yet, surprisingly, the 'Bows are currently ahead of Utah State in the standings.
The Aggies, who won the WAC last season and were the preseason pick to win it again this season, are 10-6 overall and 0-2 in the conference.
"We can't worry about 0-2; we are 0-2," Utah State head coach Stew Morrill said. "Let's worry about Hawai'i."
Unlike the 'Bows, the Aggies had ample time to prepare for today's game.
Utah State's last game came last Monday, when it lost, 82-60, at Louisiana Tech. However, the Aggies will make up for it this week by playing three games in six days (including a road game).
"We've been mostly concerned about ourselves after the way we played at Louisiana Tech," Morrill said. "Granted, LaTech is really good, but we didn't even come close to playing basketball down there."
It will also help the Aggies to be back home. Utah State has won 42 of its last 43 games in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum.
"It's certainly a challenge for any team that comes in," Nash said. "They get great support from their students, their fans. It's a great environment for college basketball."
The 'Bows did not get to practice in the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum yesterday because it was only available for a night session. Nash opted for an afternoon practice at a local high school.
"It was a travel day, so the guys are obviously going to be a little tired," Nash said. "I wanted to get an earlier practice time to give the guys a chance to get their rest ... the arena wasn't available to us in the afternoon, so we went to the high school and had a good workout there."
The 'Bows will get a one-hour "shootaround" in the Smith Spectrum this morning.
Senior forward Petras Balocka was able to do some shooting at yesterday's practice, but he remains a game-time decision due to a shoulder injury. He suffered the injury early in the second half of the loss at Fresno State
"It was still sore, but we didn't do a lot of running and contact stuff," Nash said. "He put some shots up, so we'll see how he feels (today)."
With or without Balocka, the 'Bows will have to be at their best against a Utah State team that has the stingiest defense in the WAC. The Aggies are allowing just 61.2 points per game, while limiting opponents to a .413 field goal percentage.
Utah State relies on a balanced attack, with the five starters averaging between 7.2 and 13.4 points per game.
The top players are 6-foot-7 forward Tai Wesley and 6-1 point guard Jared Quayle. Wesley is averaging 13.4 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Qualye is contributing 11.7 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game.
"The stuff they run is similar to ours in that any of the five guys on the court can score at any time," Nash said. "They are very efficient and patient with their sets, so you have to guard them the whole time."
Hawai'i is averaging 72.1 points per game, but ranks last in the WAC with a team field goal percentage of .438. The 'Bows are also committing an average of 14.9 turnovers per game.
"They're a little bit like us right now — a little bit up and down," Morrill said of the 'Bows. "When you face a team like that, you hope to catch them on a down note rather than an up note."
The 'Bows are led by 6-7 senior Roderick Flemings, who averages 14.9 points and 5.9 rebounds per game. He was hampered by foul problems in the loss at Fresno State, and finished with 13 points — all in the second half.
Hawai'i's most consistent player of late has been senior center Paul Campbell. In his last four games, he is averaging 12.5 points and 8.3 rebounds per game, and has a .821 field goal percentage (23 of 28).