RAINBOW WARRIOR BASKETBALL
Rainbows look to end losing streak
A win over the Spartans will get UH out of the cellar
There's been little consolation in being close for both the Hawaii and San Jose State basketball teams during the Western Athletic Conference season.
A few tight games over the last two weeks have gone against the Rainbow Warriors and Spartans, sending them to the bottom of the league standings. But there's nothing like a win to calm those bubbling frustrations.
HAWAII VS. SAN JOSE STATE
When: Tomorrow, 7 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: KFVE, CH. 5
Radio: KKEA, 1420-AM
Tickets: $26 (lower level, single seats only), $22 (upper level, adults), $5 (upper level, students), $3 (upper, UH students), $5 (Super Rooter/Manoa Maniacs).
"It's just a point where we just need one win to get us back on track," Hawaii senior Matt Lojeski said, "to get the confidence back, to get the team chemistry back."
Hawaii (10-9) and San Jose State (2-16) will try to break out of the conference cellar when they meet tomorrow at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Both teams enter the game at 1-5 in the league. They are tied with Idaho, which plays at New Mexico State today, at the bottom of the WAC.
Illnesses kept Hawaii head coach Riley Wallace and starting forward Bobby Nash out of yesterday's practice at the Sheriff Center.
With associate coach Bob Nash overseeing practice, the Rainbows focused on some of issues that were exposed during the team's struggles in WAC play, particularly on defense.
"The guys are committed to trying to win games, it's not like where they've just given up," Nash said.
"We have to play our way out of this. Nobody's going to feel sorry for us and give us anything. We have to get out of this mind-set, and I think our guys will be OK."
Hawaii will try to end a losing streak by extending a seven-game winning streak against San Jose State, which is 0-11 on the road this season.
With a few breaks here or a defensive stop there over the past few games, the Rainbows' situation could be vastly different.
Hawaii's current three-game skid included an overtime loss at home to Nevada and a one-point defeat last week at Idaho. The Rainbows stayed close with Boise State most of the game last Saturday before falling by 11 points.
"We're not focused well enough or executing well enough down the stretch when we really need it and we're not getting the big stops," Lojeski said. "The last 5 minutes of the game the other team's getting whatever they want. That's what we worked on today."
With the team's struggles, the role of the Rainbows' leaders becomes magnified as they look to keep the team united heading toward the second half of the WAC schedule.
"You can tell it's getting tense, it's getting a little rocky," said Lojeski, a co-captain along with forward Ahmet Gueye. "When you're losing there's going to be problems that don't occur when you're winning. So we just need to do a good job of handling it as leaders and coaches and keeping everybody looking forward and on the right page."
San Jose State, under second-year coach George Nessman, has struggled throughout the season, but has given opponents fits lately.
Following a nine-point loss to Nevada on Jan. 11, SJSU knocked off Fresno State 64-61 for its lone WAC win. The Spartans followed the win with a one-point loss to Utah State and a three-point defeat at Fresno State on Monday.
Guard Carlton Spencer has averaged 15.6 points since becoming eligible last month. Center Menelik Barbary is second in scoring at 12.5 points per game and first in rebounding with 6.4. Barbary led SJSU with 16 points and 12 boards in Monday's 67-64 loss.
"They are an improved team," Nash said. "When you've only won two games it's very easy for your team to fall apart, but (Nessman's) kept them together and they're fighting."