The Hawaii men’s basketball team has experienced back-to-back losses, some team turmoil and a shakeup to its starting lineup.
If there was ever a good time for one of Hawaii’s Division II neighbors to play the Rainbow Warriors, this has to be it, right?
Wrong, according to Hawaii Pacific coach Darren Vorderbruegge.
"In my opinion, it’s not a good time to play UH," he surmised. "They just dropped a couple games, so I’m sure they’ve had spirited practices. They’re ready to get back on track, and usually when you’re shaken up and you have some things like (losing two players) going on, the guys you have pull together, and they’re ready to step up to the plate and right the ship."
UH (5-2) hosts HPU (3-4) at 7 p.m. tomorrow.
The Rainbows have indeed had fired-up practices this week, stoked by UH coach Gib Arnold since the team went 0-2 on last week’s road trip against Cal Poly and BYU.
And there was the matter of reserve guards Anthony Salter and Jordan Coleman leaving the team this week, just seven games into the season, because of low playing time. UH will have only nine active players for this game, as senior forward Bill Amis, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, is still recovering from a stress fracture to his right foot.
The Sea Warriors don’t have it easy, either. Their game against UH will be their third in as many days after completing the Hawaii Challenge tournament against two fellow PacWest schools. Vorderbruegge’s team, with a whopping 14 newcomers, is still sorting out roles and rotations, much like UH.
Especially against a potentially fatigued opponent, the Rainbows will look to reverse a trend of slow starts to games. Even during its five-game home winning streak to start the season, UH found itself behind consistently after the opening few minutes.
"We haven’t been starting games well," Arnold said. "We’ve been ending games well, which is probably more important, but it’d be nice if we have a good start. That’s not just (against HPU), it’s against anybody. You’d like to start out the blocks and have a good first 4 minutes. It’s called the 4-minute game, which is until the first media timeout."
It’s tough to predict what starting lineup Arnold will submit against the Sea Warriors, as he’s consistently downplayed the importance of who gets the initial nod. He started three true freshmen — Bobby Miles, Bo Barnes and Trevor Wiseman — against the Cougars on Saturday to go along with sophomores Joston Thomas and Vander Joaquim.
Senior point guard Hiram Thompson came off the bench for the first time this season against the ranked (now No. 18) Cougars and played well with 15 points.
"I’m just going to play hard no matter what, whatever the situation is," said Thompson, UH’s leading scorer among active players at 12.9 points a game. "We just know they’re going to bring everything they have."
HPU’s top scorer before last night’s game against Chaminade was junior guard Nick Frazier with 12.7 ppg.
Senior swingman Jason Jackson scored 19 points and had 13 rebounds in last night’s 74-56 loss to the Silverswords.