Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors look to heat up on WAC road

The Hawaii basketball team will have to warm up in a hurry if it wants to start well in the Western Athletic Conference season.

The Warriors were greeted by snow and temperatures in the 20s in Logan, Utah, on Tuesday. Hawaii will open the 2011 WAC season with a road game at Utah State, which is the two-time defending conference champ.

“Our young guys are going to battle,” Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold said. “Our guys are going to go up there and we know it’s a tough place to play. We figure we got nothing to lose. No one expects us to win. So we’re going to go up there and play our hearts out.”

After going 2-1 in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic last week, Hawaii had just one practice day to prepare for the disciplined offense of the Aggies.

“We’ll just keep our principles; we went over a lot of their stuff today,” Arnold said after the Warriors’ practice on Monday. “You’re not going to learn it all in one day, we don’t expect the guys to. But we expect to play hard and battle like we always have.”

Utah State is 11-2 and has four returnees from last season’s team that finished 27-8. The top player is Tai Wesley, a 6-foot-7 forward who is averaging 13.8 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He was a first-team All-WAC selection last season, and has traditionally had solid games against Hawaii.

Last season, Utah State routed Hawaii 98-54 at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum in Logan. Seniors Douglas Kurtz and Hiram Thompson both played in that game last year.

“It’s personal,” Kurtz said. “Last year we got smashed there. I just want to do good, just want to do great and beat them.”

Utah State was predicted to finish first in the Preseason Coaches Poll, while Hawaii was picked last (ninth). But through non-conference games so far, the Aggies and Warriors have the best records among WAC teams.

“We want to prove all the people wrong and that we’re not going to be in ninth place,” junior guard Zane Johnson said. “They’re Utah State and they’ve won it, but we feel like we can win it and play with anybody. We’re not going to back down from them … we’re going to bring it.”

Among the players available for Wednesday’s game, Johnson leads the Warriors with 14.4 points per game. He has also made 36 3-pointers in 12 games, at a .424 percentage from long range. Senior point guard Thompson and sophomore forward Joston Thomas are contributing 12.3 points per game each.

Senior forward Bill Amis is the team’s leading scorer and rebounder, but he will continue to sit out with an injured foot.

After Wednesday’s game, the Warriors will travel to Reno, Nev., for another WAC road game at Nevada on Friday (New Year’s Eve).

Current non-conference records of WAC teams:

Utah State 11-2
Hawaii 9-3
San Jose State 8-3
Louisiana Tech 9-5
Boise State 7-5
Idaho 6-5
New Mexico State 6-8
Fresno State 4-6
Nevada 3-9

1 Comment

  1. What a first game to start off the WAC season. Well, like they say, “da kine happens.” You never know.:) Go Warriors!!

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