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Further Review | Sports

Rainbows get it done with hustle and intensity

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Yes, you’re trying to forget. But remember how bad things were last year — it will make you appreciate even more what the University of Hawaii basketball team did last night and over the past three games.

A year ago, the highlights would usually come from halftime contests, or during a timeout when some kid from J Hall would win a neighbor island trip by making seemingly more shots than all of the Rainbows did.

Last night’s 67-61 win was the kind of game the ‘Bows of old would’ve kicked away. So was the win against Fresno State on Thursday. On the road, at LaTech? Forget about it.

Now with three victories in a row, they’re in seventh in the WAC and, as forward Joston Thomas said, "Our eyes are straight ahead. You can’t move forward looking behind."

The difference between now and less than two weeks ago, when UH was 0-5 in the WAC, including two listless losses at home? Big parts of it are forward Bill Amis and guard Miah Ostrowski, coach Gib Arnold said after the game.

"If Bill two weeks ago goes 9-for-11 with nine (rebounds) … Miah Ostrowski’s helped us. He allows us to rest Hiram."

With his foot injury bothering him less, Amis projects a tougher profile on the court. Arnold likes that he’s a nice guy — "except on Thursday and Saturday nights. I want him to be a little nasty. … They call you a power forward for a reason."

The mercurial Thomas isn’t trying to do too much, and that translates into producing a lot. Last night it was 14 points and 14 rebounds, which Arnold said added up to his best game as a collegian. "This week he played with passion and controlled his emotions. If he continues to do that, he’s a great player."

Hawaii "found each other in the right spots," as Amis said, and consistently displayed more desire than the Spartans.

They have each other’s backs in tough spots. Thompson misses a front end, Thomas gets the rebound and Zane Johnson makes a baseline 12-footer.

Vander Joaquim makes a huge block with the score 38-36 at 14:20, and Johnson takes advantage by hitting a 3.

Later, Joaquim goes to the floor to knock an errant ball to a teammate.

Trevor Wiseman does the same, ending up in the corridor halfway to the locker room. But he gets back to the court in time to score on a putback, plus the foul.

"That’s just regular basketball for us," Thomas said. "That’s how we play."

And defensive intensity, from start to finish. Yes, this was San Jose State, and the Spartans aren’t very good. But UH shut down the nation’s third-leading scorer.

They did it with live legs, as lively as Alan Hackbarth’s, the fabled "Rubberband Man" who led the halftime contest. And 58-year-old Glenn Okihiro, who won it, which was very cool.

But on this night, halftime dancing wasn’t the main attraction. Because after the break, the Rainbows continued to do the hustle.

Reach Star-Advertiser sports columnist Dave Reardon at dreardon@staradvertiser.com, his "Quick Reads" blog at staradvertiser.com and twitter.com/davereardon.

 

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