UH tees it up with Santa Clara
Golf pals Wallace and Davey try to outcoach each other in a Bracket Busters game tonight
Riley Wallace and Dick Davey enjoy meeting up on the golf course.
On the basketball court, not so much.
Hawaii vs. Santa Clara
When: Today, 7 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: Live, KFVE (Ch. 5)
Radio: Live, KKEA 1420-AM
Tickets: $25 (lower level-single seats only), $20 (upper level-adult), $5 (upper-students), $3 (upper-UH students), $5 (Super Rooter/Manoa Maniacs)
The longtime Hawaii and Santa Clara coaches developed a close friendship over the course of lengthy careers at their respective schools and Davey annually invites Wallace to an offseason golf outing in California.
But the clubs are still a couple of months from coming out of storage, and when Wallace and Davey meet tonight at the Stan Sheriff Center, the competition will be a bit more serious than out on the links.
"It's the same old thing where we like being friends and everything but somebody has to lose and that's the shame of it," Wallace said. "But our friendship will always be there."
The Rainbow Warriors (13-9) and Broncos (9-14) of the West Coast Conference take a break from their respective league seasons for tonight's game set for 7 at the Sheriff Center.
The game resulted from the teams' participation in the 100-team BracketBusters pool, but the matchup wasn't selected for ESPN's official lineup for the two-day event highlighting mid-major programs.
Wallace is 2-0 against Davey and the schools last met in 2003 in the first round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational. UH rallied from a 12-0 deficit to win 56-43 at the Lahaina Civic Center.
"(Wallace is) a good friend, I have a lot of respect for him, and obviously don't necessarily enjoy playing against him, last time we did they got us pretty good," said Davey, who is in his 14th year as Santa Clara's coach. "But I have a lot of respect from his program and what he's done here."
Although tonight's game won't impact UH's fortunes in the Western Athletic Conference race, the game isn't without significance for the Rainbows.
With five games left in the regular season, the Rainbows are working to build momentum heading into the WAC tournament and position themselves for a postseason berth.
"It all means a lot," Wallace said. "We're at the point now where we're still in the hunt, we're still competing, and we've still got a chance to make something of the postseason."
"We're just going to think of it like its another conference game," UH center Chris Botez said. "They're coming to our house and we'll be ready."
The Rainbows returned to Honolulu on Tuesday after splitting a WAC road trip last week and will depart tomorrow for two more road games next week.
In between transpacific flights, the Rainbows are enjoying some time back home while preparing for the Broncos.
"It's a little weird," guard Matt Lojeski said of playing a non-league game in the middle of the WAC season, "but it's kind of fun to play someone you haven't played before."
After a solid start against a tough nonconference lineup, Santa Clara struggled with injuries and has lost nine of its last 10 to fall into last place in the WCC.
The Broncos scored wins over Pacific and Bucknell, which entered the national rankings this week, early in the season and dropped road games at Mississippi State, Oregon and North Carolina.
But things haven't gone well for the Broncos since early January. Losses to No. 5 Gonzaga were bookends to a seven-game skid and the Broncos are coming off back-to-back losses to Saint Mary's, the latest a 76-69 setback in overtime on Monday.
"We're trying to re-establish ourselves," Davey said. "We had a pretty good start, we've gone into a little bit of a drought and we're trying to get it back."
Senior forward Travis Niesen is the only Santa Clara player averaging double figures in scoring at 18.8 points per game.
While UH coaches likened Niesen's game to that of Utah State's Nate Harris, Davey compared him to Iolani graduates Brad and Cord Anderson, who played their college ball for the Broncos and visited the Broncos' practices this week.
"We just haven't shot the ball well and he's been able to score inside," Davey said. "He's highly competitive, kind of like the Anderson twins when they played for us. So you know you're going to get a good effort out of him."