RAINBOW WARRIOR BASKETBALL
Vandals try to freeze 'Bows
Hawaii wants to make a late charge in the WAC and can't afford a loss
It took a while for the Hawaii basketball team to get warmed up for practice yesterday.
But the Rainbow Warriors could hardly be blamed since Idaho's Memorial Gym -- where UH faces the host Vandals tomorrow -- wasn't heated for the team's workout.
UH AT IDAHO
When: Tomorrow, 5 p.m. Hawaii time
Where: Memorial Gym
Radio: Live, KKEA 1420-AM
Internet: Audio, Sportsradio1420.com; video, WACSports.com
"You could see your breath," UH coach Riley Wallace said via telephone from Moscow, Idaho, where the temperature topped out at 37 degrees yesterday.
The Rainbows open their final road trip of the regular season by taking on Idaho before traveling south for Saturday's game at San Jose State.
Tomorrow's Western Athletic Conference game was moved to Memorial Gym (capacity 1,500) because Cowan Spectrum, the Vandals' normal home site, was booked for a jazz festival.
The Rainbows practiced in Memorial Gym yesterday morning and planned to go back for an evening shootaround. But they called it off when they learned the heat would still be off.
Despite the chilly conditions, Wallace was pleased with the Rainbows' effort during yesterday's practice.
"The guys didn't complain at all," he said. "They had a good practice. It just takes a while to get warmed up. ... They made no complaints, they worked and got it done.
"It was worse standing around and coaching than it was for the players, because they were moving
and staying warm."
The heat is expected to be on for tomorrow's game, set to tip off at 5 p.m. Hawaii time.
UH's hottest shooting night of the season sparked the Rainbows to a lopsided win over Idaho in Honolulu earlier this month, and they'll try for the season sweep tomorrow.
UH (14-9, 7-5 WAC) enters the game in fifth place in the WAC, a half-game behind New Mexico State, which edged San Jose State 66-61 last night. With four games left, the Rainbows are looking to make a late move up the standings, but must avoid stumbling on the road against the WAC's bottom two teams this week.
Tomorrow's game is the final appearance at home this season for the Vandals (4-20, 1-11), who will try to ride the emotion of senior night against the Rainbows.
"I was listening to the radio about how their players love to play in here and it's senior night, their last home game of the year, so they've got a lot going for them. So we've got to be ready to play," Wallace said.
"You don't want to go in there lightly, it's a good home-court advantage. It's one of those old fieldhouses."
The Rainbows shot 63 percent from the field -- 76 percent in the first half -- and cruised to an 81-61 win over the Vandals at the Stan Sheriff Center on Feb. 2. Forward Julian Sensley (22 points) and guard Matt Lojeski (21 points) shot a combined 18-for-26 to lead the Rainbows to the win.
Lojeski made five 3-pointers in the first meeting, and UH went 10-for-16 from beyond the arc as a team, but Wallace pointed to UH's inside game as a key against the smaller Vandals. UH controlled the boards, grabbing 31 rebounds against Idaho. Sensley and Matthew Gipson had nine rebounds each, and forward Ahmet Gueye blocked four shots.
Idaho has struggled in its first season in the WAC and has lost 13 of its last 14 games. The Vandals' latest setback came yesterday afternoon, a 74-68 loss to No. 25 Nevada at Cowan Spectrum.
Senior guard Tanoris Shepard scored 18 points yesterday, and he leads the Vandals with 15.8 points per game. He also had 18 points on 7-for-11 shooting in the first meeting against UH.
The Vandals stunned Fresno State on Feb. 6 for their lone WAC win of the season.
Early honor for Sensley: Sensley has been named to the NABC All-District 13 second team and is now eligible for the NABC All-America teams to be announced later this season.
The 6-foot-9 senior from Kailua leads UH with 17.7 points per game to rank fifth in the WAC, and he averages 5.6 rebounds. He scored at least 22 points in four of the last five games and is coming off a 25-point outing against Santa Clara last Saturday.
Nevada forward Nick Fazekas was named to the all-district first team. Boise State guard Coby Karl joined Sensley on the second team.