Illini bank on advice from rival
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The Illinois basketball team is scheduled to arrive in town today in advance of Friday's game with Hawaii looking to avoid the logistical issues Michigan State encountered on its trip here two years ago.
Illinois coach Bruce Weber said he received some advice in preparing for the trip from Michigan State's Tom Izzo, whose Spartans were upset by the Rainbow Warriors in 2005 on its way to the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
The 8:05 p.m. tip off for the game will also force some UH fans to decide whether to attend the game or watch the nationally ranked Warrior football team play Nevada on ESPN2. The football game is scheduled for 6 p.m. Hawaii time.
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Illinois coach Bruce Weber sought the advice of a conference rival as he crafted his team's itinerary for its trip to Hawaii.
Weber's Illini team is scheduled to arrive in Honolulu today in advance of Friday's game against the Rainbow Warriors at the Stan Sheriff Center, a schedule based partly on the counsel of Michigan State coach Tom Izzo.
Two years ago, Izzo brought the Spartans to Honolulu to face UH before playing in the EA Sports Maui Invitational and suffered a season-opening upset. The Spartans flew in the day before the game -- during which several players were hampered by muscle cramps -- then had one day to gear up for their Maui opener.
Like Michigan State, Illinois is playing UH on its way to Maui, and Weber has the benefit of learning from the Spartans' experience.
"One, make sure you leave with enough time so you can get your body clocks adjusted," Weber said in his press conference yesterday. "The hydration part is really important, keeping the kids drinking during the flight and after the flight.
"The other thing he talked about was just really being careful with practices. ... (Izzo) felt maybe they went too hard and took a lot out of them and they just weren't able to perform in the game against Hawaii."
Illinois requested to play the game on Friday, giving them two days to gear up for its Maui Invitational opener against Arizona State.
The timing will create some stiff competition for the Rainbows, both on the court and on the tube.
The game is scheduled to tip off at 8:05 p.m., about 2 hours after kickoff of the football game between No. 13 UH and Nevada, which will air on ESPN2.
The confluence figures to create a dilemma for some UH fans in choosing between heading to the arena, or staying home to see if the football Warriors can remain undefeated.
"We had hoped the football team would be in this position where they're still contending for a BCS bowl," UH coach Bob Nash said. "We support that effort, but we've got a game to play and that's the only time we could play it.
"We looked at some options with talking to Illinois about possibly moving the game. We looked at some options with changing the times, but there's just so many things going on that week. So we're just going to play it when it's scheduled and I understand if people have to make a choice."
The basketball game will be televised live locally on KFVE.
Friday's game is part of a home-and-home arrangement between UH and Illinois. The Rainbows will travel to Champaign next year.
UH guard/forward Bobby Nash participated in the team's practice yesterday. Nash, who led the Rainbows with 22 points in last Friday's loss to San Diego, sat out the second half of Monday's workout after being hit in his left shoulder.
"He was real sore but he's one of the captains, he wanted to be out here for his team," Bob Nash said. "The medical staff would not let him be out here if they felt it was something that was a detriment to his health."
Point guard Matt Gibson has not practiced since spraining his knee last Wednesday.
One of the last players to join the UH roster was among the first five to take the floor last week.
Sophomore forward Bill Amis signed with UH in August and started the opener against San Diego when the lineup was shuffled due to Gibson's injury.
"It was cool. I'd never played in front of that many people, so that was fun," Amis said. "I wish we could have gotten the win though."
Amis played 20 minutes and finished with six points and six rebounds in the 73-72 loss.
Freshman point guard Kareem Nitoto is another newcomer with an expanded role in Gibson's absence. He played 24 minutes off the bench, finishing with three points and three assists.
"Kareem did a good job against a very good San Diego team with a top point guard," Nash said. "If we have to go with him against Illinois, I have no problem with that either.
"You have to grow up fast in this business. You never know when an opportunity is going to present itself, you always have to be prepared to take advantage of it."
Not many freshman walk-ons are the subjects of feature stories on the Today Show. But when your father is arguably the greatest player in basketball history, that tends to brighten the spotlight.
Illinois freshman Jeff Jordan -- yes, the son of THAT Jordan -- began his college career on Sunday by scoring three points in a win over Northeastern. Jeff and dad Michael were featured on the Today Show last week.