RAINBOW WARRIOR BASKETBALL
Julian Sensley is savoring his final season as a Rainbow Warrior
EVERY minute matters to Julian Sensley.
With the clock swiftly tumbling toward double-zeros on his college career, savoring the moments he has left on the Stan Sheriff Center court has become a priority for the Hawaii senior.
HAWAII VS. NEW MEXICO STATE
When: Today, 7:05 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: Live, KFVE (Ch. 5)
Radio: Live, KKEA 1420-AM
Internet: Audio, Sportsradio1420.com; video, hawaiiantelmedia.com
Tickets: $22 (lower level-single seats only), $18 (upper level-adult), $5 (upper-students), $3 (upper-UH students), $5 (Super Rooter/ Manoa Maniacs)
"I remember in high school looking at this arena and thinking, 'This is the big time,' " Sensley said as he prepared for UH's final homestand. "For me to experience something like this and now for it to be over, it's kinda hard."
The end will come soon enough, as the Rainbow Warriors face New Mexico State tonight then close the regular season against Louisiana Tech on Saturday before departing for the Western Athletic Conference tournament.
The LaTech game will be followed by the traditional senior-night ceremony, when Sensley, center Chris Botez, forward Matthew Gipson and guard Deonte Tatum will be honored.
"It's going to be hard to walk away," the Kailua resident said. "It'll probably be an emotional night."
Though finding his niche in the UH scheme hasn't always been easy, Sensley will end his career as one of the program's top all-around players.
Sensley has missed just one game in three seasons -- averaging more than 35 minutes of playing time -- and is the only player to rank in the school's top 10 in points, rebounds and assists.
He's saved some of his best performances for last.
After scoring 12.2 points per game in his first two seasons, Sensley leads UH and ranks sixth in the WAC at 17.5 as a senior.
HE IS 'ALL-AROUND'
Sensley is in UH's all-time top 10 in almost every category
* Sensley has at least three games remaining
||Phil Martin, 1,231
||Predrag Savovic, 456
||Tes Whitlock, 109
||Tony Maroney, 602
||Chris Gaines, 332
||Erin Galloway, 74
||Mark Campbell, 106
He poured in a career-high 32 points in UH's last meeting with New Mexico State, and averaged 20.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists during UH's 6-1 run in February.
He shot 54 percent from the field in that stretch, including 59 percent (22-for-37) from 3-point range, as UH positioned itself for a strong finish in the WAC and a possible postseason berth.
"I don't want to be wishing years from now or months from now that I would have done things different," he said. "I want to walk away feeling I left everything on the floor.
"It's go time for me. I've never been to the Big Dance, and I want to get there as well as everybody else."
Along with several mentions in the records section of the UH media guide, Sensley will leave behind memories of numerous big-time moments as a Rainbow. Among them:
» A last-second 3-pointer to beat Fairfield as a sophomore in the 2003 Rainbow Classic championship game.
» A 20-point second-half explosion against Santa Clara last month, when he scored 16 straight UH points in a pivotal stretch.
» Last Saturday's clutch trey with 2.2 seconds left to lift the 'Bows to a 61-60 win at San Jose State.
"He's matured as a player," UH head coach Riley Wallace said. "He has worked hard with (associate coach) Bob (Nash) with a lot of extra stuff to try to improve his scoring output. He's called on to defend a smaller, quicker guy most of the time, too. Some nights he got hurt with it, but most of the time he's been good."
A 6-foot-9 small forward, Sensley combines the size of a post player with the game of a perimeter gunner. His preference for shooting from outside or slashing from the wing rather than posting up has sometimes made him a target for critics.
He's heard the grumbles, but is used to having his game critiqued since his days as a prep standout at Kalaheo.
"There's been a lot of criticism about me and how I haven't stepped up to the plate and stuff like that," he said. "But I think I've dealt with it well and that's just part of the territory.
"Some people you can please and other people you can't, but I've enjoyed myself and that's the most important thing."
Said Wallace: "They'll see his value when he's gone."
SB FILE / FEBRUARY 1999
Hawaii forward Julian Sensley has come a long way since his days at Kalaheo, when he looked at the Stan Sheriff Center as "the big time."
Dealing with lofty expectations was inevitable for Sensley when he arrived on the UH campus following a heralded high-school career at Kalaheo and St. Thomas More School in Connecticut.
Sensley's history at the Sheriff Center dates back to his junior year at Kalaheo. He scored 28 points in a state-tournament semifinal game against Saint Louis in 1999, but the Mustangs fell to Punahou in overtime in the final in his last prep game in Hawaii.
He graduated as one of the nation's top prospects, but drifted for more than a year after not meeting entrance requirements at California.
He eventually enrolled at Los Angeles City College and decided to return to Hawaii for his Division I shot.
"That showed maturity on his part," Wallace said. "Because he was tired of people telling him what to do and he made his own choice to come here."
Sensley said his search heightened his appreciation for his three years in Manoa.
"People say, 'Do you sometimes regret coming to Hawaii?' I think in the beginning I kind of did, because things weren't going the way I had pictured," he said. "But I thought about it and was like, it took me a year and a half to get to the Division I level. And to be able to play in front of my friends and my mom and my brother was a huge deal to me."
Sensley appeared destined for the NBA coming out of high school, and toyed with the idea of entering the draft early.
He withdrew his name in time to remain eligible for college, and with his UH stint nearing an end the prospect of playing professional ball remains enticing.
But that's a concern for another time.
"That's obviously a lifetime goal, a dream," he said. "But right now I'm trying to get to the Dance. ... That's something I'll worry about when the season's over."