The Hawaii men’s basketball team left baggage on the road in more ways than one.
A 17-hour travel marathon from Ruston, La., to Honolulu became a minor inconvenience for the Rainbow Warriors, who smiled all the way home from their breakthrough 56-48 win at Louisiana Tech on Saturday night.
After all, what’s dealing with a couple of delayed flights compared with squelching a 15-game road losing streak and getting a first Western Athletic Conference victory?
The uplifted Rainbows did a shootaround yesterday, minus their practice jerseys, which were among their delayed luggage that was handed out afterward.
"It was really good to get a road win. It made the trip a little bit easier," said UH senior forward Bill Amis, who had his first double-double of the season — 22 points and 12 rebounds — against LaTech.
The Rainbows (10-8, 1-5 WAC) moved past the Bulldogs for eighth place in the WAC. LaTech (9-10, 0-5) was held scoreless for the final 2:31 of the game and slid to last nearing the midpoint of the league schedule. It was huge because the last-place team after 16 games fails to qualify for the WAC tournament.
The Sunday travel-a-thon that followed went like this: UH bused from Ruston to Shreveport, La., where its flight to Dallas was canceled for mechanical and weather reasons. A 3-hour wait yielded another flight to Dallas, and fortuitously, the Rainbows got a direct flight from there home — minus their luggage, which went another route. UH arrived at 9 that night.
"It was an epic journey," sophomore forward Joston Thomas said. "I think that should be a classic."
Those airline seats felt a whole lot more spacious and the airport terminals much more welcoming after the rare road success.
"We just laughed it all off," said the team’s director of basketball operations, Scott Fisher, who is in charge of travel arrangements.
UH can better its position significantly during a three-game homestand, which starts Thursday against Fresno State (7-9, 3-3). With the team still recovering from the extensive travel and coach Gib Arnold on the mainland an extra two days for recruiting purposes, the Rainbows focused on weightlifting and shooting.
The team’s luggage was delivered yesterday morning. Associate coach Walter Roese, who ran the practice, had the players do round-robin shooting contests in teams of two. He joked that the players were competing to get their bags back.
Amis was teamed with freshman point guard Bobby Miles.
"I don’t think I won one," Amis said. "But I don’t know, I kind of want a recount. A Florida recount. Some of these guys were boosting scores."
Sophomore center Vander Joaquim and freshman forward Trevor Wiseman were among the winners.
"We did pretty good," Wiseman said with a laugh. "They thought we were cheating, but we weren’t cheating."
No one really cared. For the first time in a while, the Rainbows could call themselves winners.