Over the past few months, the Hawaii men’s basketball team has found success in new beginnings. It only seems fitting to ring in the new year with one more.
UH could use a change of fortunes today in Reno, Nev., where the Rainbows are winless against Nevada in 13 games. UH (9-4, 0-1 Western Athletic Conference) tips off against the Wolf Pack (3-10, 0-0) in a nationally televised game at Lawlor Events Center (3 p.m. Hawaii time).
How’s this for a resolution? Rebound from a narrow loss at WAC favorite Utah State, get the program’s first win at Nevada and return to Honolulu 1-1 in the WAC.
Arnold could toast that.
» Hawaii (9-4, 0-1 WAC) at Nevada (3-10, 0-0)
» At Lawlor Events Center
» Today, 3 p.m. HST
» TV: ESPNU
» Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM.
"It’d be great. Anytime you want to have a program in the upper half of the conference, you need to learn how to win on the road," he said in a phone interview from Reno. "If you can split on the road and sweep at home, you’re probably one of the better teams in the conference. … This gives us a chance to split on a really tough road trip."
The Rainbows arrived safely in Reno yesterday, though not without a little trouble. They left snowed-in Logan, Utah, the morning after their narrow 74-66 loss to the Aggies, bused 2 hours through the snow to Salt Lake City — overcoming a half-hour delay from a tire’s busted snow chain — and flew directly to Reno.
"It definitely wasn’t like driving in Hawaii. It was kind of dangerous," Arnold said.
UH is running out of chances for a breakthrough in Reno. After the 2011-12 season, Nevada leaves for the Mountain West Conference and Hawaii departs for the Big West Conference in basketball.
But this could be UH’s best chance yet. The Pack, usually a WAC title contender, is somewhat down under second-year coach David Carter. Nevada has had seven straight 20-win seasons, but this year went on a seven-straight streak of a different kind — losses.
The big reasons for the struggles: eight games away from Lawlor combined with the loss of Luke Babbitt and Armon Johnson to the NBA Draft. But forward Dario Hunt has emerged as the Pack’s top player with 13.1 points per game and 10.2 rebounds per game, the only WAC player averaging a double-double.
Against USU, UH couldn’t quite overcome a 32-13 rebounding deficiency — an alarming statistic for a team used to outrebounding its foes by 6.2 per game. It was a point of emphasis during the team’s practice at Lawlor yesterday, especially against an inside force like Hunt, who Arnold said "really does damage around the rim."
"We needed to do a better job that game, but I don’t think that’s going to be an issue," Arnold said. "We definitely adjusted and I think we’re going to have a good rebounding game (tonight)."
UH’s top scorer, junior guard Zane Johnson, is up to 15.2 points per game this season after tying his career high of 24 at USU.
The Rainbows are 2-1 this season in nationally televised games.