A must-win game for UH in Las Cruces

Bobby Curran
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Friday - November 07, 2008
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It can be tiresome to hear beleaguered coaches and overwrought analysts talk about “must-win” games. For the University of Hawaii football team, this Saturday may actually fall into that category, at least as far as achieving one of their primary goals is concerned.

That goal is making (and winning) the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. We need not pretend anymore. UH will be invited if it wins seven games; it will not be invited to any other bowl game, no matter how many wins it has, unless it goes undefeated and earns a BCS invitation.


That means UH must go 3-1 in its final four games. Here’s why the New Mexico State game merits must-win status: Hawaii’s three remaining games are against Idaho, Washington and Cincinnati. Idaho is a poor team and Washington State may be worse: Both games are very winnable at home. Cincinnati is a good team that is 6-2 and playing its best football now. Hawaii has not beaten a team as good as the Bearcats yet this season, and UH would have to be a much better team than it showed last Saturday to be competitive with Cincy.

It would be far more desirable to have the bowl bid in hand by the time the Bearcats arrive in the Islands. And it starts with beating NMSU in Las Cruces on Saturday. The Aggies have lost three in a row and may need a win to save their coach his job. The Aggies employ the run and shoot and have a true gunslinger at QB in senior Chase Holbrook. They also have a porous offensive line bedeviled by injuries that has trouble giving Holbrook sufficient time to throw. Not much of a running game either. Last week’s loss to Boise State by a 49-0 score was proof that the Aggies have issues. Yet they beat Nevada in Reno, so they can put it together. Hawaii needs to jump on the Aggies early and often to take the next giant step toward playing football on Christmas Eve.

At the very least, it’s an “almost must-win.”

The Rainbow Warrior basketball team debuted in an exhibition against UH-Hilo last Sunday and left with a narrow win and more questions than answers. The team was without its best player in 6-foot-7-inch swingman Rod Fleming (on the Mainland because of a death in the family); didn’t have Brandon Adams, who’d originally planned to redshirt; and had point guard Hiram Thompson only on a limited basis because of a combination of illness and injury.

One thing is obvious: This team will be tougher on the inside with a new and improved 6-foot-9-inch Bill Amis and muscular 6-foot-8-inch forward Petras Balocka. They combined for a total of 22 rebounds, and while they didn’t shoot well, both have a nice touch around the basket. Guard play was uneven, but Sasha Parchalava will shoot better, Kareem Nitoto is still settling in at the point, and Leroy Lutu looks like the best walk-on player since Andrew McGuire. This Friday’s exhibition versus Chaminade will be another opportunity to improve, but it also will be played without Rod Flemings, who is expected back early next week.

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