Saturday, February 9, 2002
There is no love lost between Riley Wallace and Ruston, La. Not that he has anything against the city that touts its "quality of life" as being superior to other Bayou State communities.
Bows after Bayou win
By Cindy Luis
It's just that the Hawaii basketball coach doesn't like making the trip to Ruston to play at Louisiana Tech. He and the Rainbows flew into Shreveport, La., from Dallas yesterday, chatting with the Wahine basketball team at the airport before the women headed out for their game at SMU.
After lunch and a drive-by tour of Centenary, Wallace's alma mater, the Rainbows drove for an hour before reaching their final stop of this two-game road trip.
"We're in the middle of nowhere and I hated it when I played here, hated it when I coached here," said Wallace, who made three trips to Ruston as a player at Centenary, four as the Gents' assistant and two as head coach. "It's a very tough place to play. Even when they didn't have great teams, they were able to win at home."
Wallace only won once in Ruston as a player, as the Gents' junior center and captain, 58-45.
This season, he can claim a 2-0 mark against LaTech -- not only did his Rainbows rout the Bulldogs 81-61 in Honolulu last month, but Centenary beat LaTech 84-71 10 days ago.
The 20-point loss to Hawaii was LaTech's worst of the season. On Thursday, the Bulldogs (14-7, 8-3) rolled over visiting San Jose State 77-53, for their largest margin of victory this year.
It was the fifth consecutive conference win for the Western Athletic Conference newcomers, who are 7-2 in the Thomas Assembly Center this year, 4-2 in WAC contests. The Bulldogs are 12-0 when holding their opponent to fewer than 70 points.
Hawaii (20-3, 11-1), coming off an 85-76 victory at SMU on Thursday, has also won five in a row. The key concerns for the Rainbows will be keeping the Bulldogs off the boards and maintaining their hot outside shooting.
LaTech leads the WAC in rebounding margin at plus-9.1, fifth-best nationally. In the loss last month in Honolulu, the Bulldogs grabbed a couple of boards late in the game to win the rebound battle 36-32.
The Rainbows were outrebounded by the Mustangs on Thursday 47-32. What kept Hawaii in the game -- again -- was 3-point shooting.
When: Noon, today
Where: Thomas Assembly Center (8,000), Ruston, La.
Radio: Live, 1420-AM
Led by Predrag Savovic's career-high six 3-pointers, the Rainbows hit 12 of 25 long-distance shots. Savovic is just 11 treys away from passing Alika Smith (161) as the school's career leader.
"Louisiana Tech is very athletic and they shot the lights out against San Jose Thursday," said Wallace. "They're playing good right now and they'll be ready for us.
"We'll need a Tulsa-like performance to win here, in what they call 'The House that Karl Malone Built.'"
The Bulldogs hit 12 of their first 14 shots against the Spartans on Thursday, finishing 29 of 50 from the floor. They were 5 of 9 from 3-point range.
LaTech's 3-point defense is tops in the WAC, with conference foes hitting just .284. Hawaii is shooting 3-pointers at a .423 clip in WAC play.
"We've got seven guys who hit an open shot," said Wallace. "We just have to keep shooting and making them."
Notes: ESPN.com's Andy Katz has Wallace on his short list for Coach of the Year. The Web site also has Hawaii as a 'lock' to make the NCAA Tournament. ... Wallace is one of the featured essayists on CollegeInsider.com. He writes at length about why he feels the Rainbows deserve a ranking. This week's issue of Sports Illustrated also questions Hawaii's lack of ranking. ... Fresno State assistant coach Danny Tarkanian has confirmed that former Kalaheo High standout Julian Sensley has enrolled in school. Sensley, who finished his high school career at St. Thomas More (Conn.) prep school, enrolled at Iona this semester, but left the New York school last Saturday. Should he not declare for the NBA draft, Sensley would be eligible to play for the Bulldogs in 2003.
Conference Overall W L Pct. GB W L Hawaii 11 1 .917 -- 20 3 Tulsa 10 2 .833 1 19 4 La Tech 8 3 .727 212 14 7 SMU 6 5 .545 412 11 10 Nevada 6 6 .500 5 13 9 Fresno St. 6 6 .500 5 14 10 Rice 4 8 .333 7 9 13 UTEP 3 9 .250 8 9 15 San Jose 3 9 .250 8 8 16 Boise St. 2 10 .167 9 8 14
Today (All times HST)
Hawaii at Louisiana Tech, noon
Tulsa at UTEP, 3 p.m.
San Jose State at SMU, 3:35 p.m.
Rice at Boise State, 4:30 p.m.
Oklahoma State at Fresno State, 10:30 a.m.
HAWAII (20-3, 11-1)
PROBABLE STARTING LINEUPS
Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast. G Predrag Savovic (Sr.) 6-6 20.4 4.4 2.2 G Carl English (So.) 6-5 14.1 4.8 3.8 G Mark Campbell (Jr.) 6-4 3.9 2.8 4.6 F Phil Martin (So.) 6-8 9.3 4.8 0.7 C H. Shimonovich (So.) 6-10 7.8 6.6 2.9
LOUISIANA TECH (14-7, 8-3)
Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast. G G.Henderson (Sr.) 6-4 14.2 5.0 3.4 G Marco Cole (Sr.) 6-5 12.0 4.8 0.8 G Darrian Brown (Jr.) 6-5 11.0 6.7 0.8 G Lavelle Felton (Jr.) 6-4 6.7 4.0 4.1 F Antonio Meeking (Jr.) 6-8 11.1 6.7 1.3
Notes: The series is tied 1-1. Hawaii won last month at the Stan Sheriff Center, 81-61, in LaTech's first WAC game in Honolulu. The Bulldogs won the 1983 nonconference contest at Blaisdell Arena 76-63. ... This is Hawaii's first trip to Louisiana since 1978, when the Rainbows lost to a Riley Wallace-coached Centenary team 102-85. ... Hawaii coach Riley Wallace is in his 15th season (256-201). Thursday's win at SMU gave Wallace his fourth 20-win season, first since 1997-98. It was also the fastest to 20 wins for a Hawaii team; the 1971-72 squad won its 20th on Feb. 12, 1972, against U.S International University. ... The 20-3 start is the best since the 1971-72 team opened 20-2, and finished 24-3.. ... Hawaii has hit 154 3-pointers this season and is on pace to easily break last year's school record of 177. ... Louisiana Tech coach Keith Richard is in his fourth season (71-36).