Star-Bulletin Sports

Saturday, February 16, 2002



Spartans look for
‘best game of season’

San Jose tries for its first
season sweep of Hawaii tonight

By Cindy Luis

It's a serious road trip for San Jose State. The Spartans have just one game this week -- tonight against Hawaii at the Stan Sheriff Center -- but the light schedule means a heavier practice load.

San Jose State (8-17, 3-10) worked out twice yesterday, late morning and early evening. Spartans coach Steve Barnes hopes the extra work will pay off with a first season sweep of the Rainbows.

"We're going to need a little luck because it's going to be a different game than it was at our place," said Barnes, whose team surprised Hawaii 57-53 last month in San Jose. "Hawaii is one of the top two teams in the league and they're gearing up for a title-run stretch.

"Every matchup concerns me because they have outstanding players, especially (Predrag) Savovic. We'll need our best game of the season to stay with them."

A key may be getting senior David Granucci to have another career night. The 6-foot-9 forward hit 7 of 9 field goals for a career-high 17 points in the first meeting.

"That's really not my role, to be the leading scorer," said Granucci. "My role is to play defense and rebound.

"It's not just getting a win at Hawaii. We need a win right now. It went to overtime last year here, just a one-point game, and two years ago, it also went to overtime."

Granucci, who is averaging 4.9 points a game, scored three points in the 65-64 overtime loss last year. The Rainbows went scoreless in the final 5:22 of regulation while the Spartans used a 10-0 run to send it into overtime.

The odds favor Hawaii tonight. Not only have the Rainbows won their last nine games at home -- and 20 of 21 dating back to last season -- they have never been swept by the Spartans in the previous five WAC seasons.

San Jose State is 0-6 on the road in conferen,ce play, with its WAC road losing streak at seven, dating back to last February. Overall, the Spartans are 1-8 on the road, with their only away victory coming in the season opener against Fairleigh Dickinson at the BCA Tournament in Raleigh, N.C., Nov. 14.

"Their road record is not a factor when they play us," said Hawaii coach Riley Wallace. "They've always matched up well with us, they're well-coached and their players play hard against us. They've taken us to overtime the last two times here.

"We'll have to come in here and take care of business, play a good basketball game to beat them. Obviously, they get ready for us."

And Hawaii (20-4, 11-2) is ready for San Jose State, in a game that is all about revenge and respect. The Rainbows, uncharacteristically successful on the road this season, boast a 5-2 mark in WAC road games; the past three years, they were a combined 1-21 in regular-season road games.

The first road bump came at San Jose State, the second last Saturday when the Rainbows couldn't hold onto a second-half lead in falling at Louisiana Tech 61-57. All four of Hawaii's losses this season have come after having a double-digit lead in the second half.

"We're in our house and we've got to get our winning streak going," said guard Mike McIntyre, one of three Hawaii seniors playing in their final home games. "Everything is riding on these last five games. We need to get it going again.

"I'm not even thinking about it being my last home games. I'm taking it one game at a time and don't want to lose any of them."

After leading or sharing first place in the WAC all season, Hawaii now finds itself chasing Tulsa. The Golden Hurricane (21-4, 12-2) took a half-game lead after winning for the fifth straight time Thursday, 87-69 against SMU.

Tulsa hosts the WAC's hottest team, Louisiana Tech, tonight. The Bulldogs won their seventh straight WAC game 72-61 at Rice on Thursday.

The Rainbows and the Golden Hurricane meet next Thursday in a contest that likely will decide the WAC championship.

But today the focus is on San Jose State. It's the first of five "must wins."

"There's not any that we don't need," said Wallace. "We have to make sure that everyone stays healthy, mentally and physically.

"San Jose gets you into a halfcourt game and they've dictated that we play their game instead of ours. We need to play our game to be successful."

At the Special Events Center in San Jose last month, the Rainbows' long-distance game never materialized. Hawaii -- with three of the WAC's top 3-point shooters in Savovic, Carl English and McIntyre -- was 3 of 20 from 3-point range in seeing its nine-game winning streak snapped.

In the first game with the Spartans, the Rainbows scored the game's first nine points and led 27-24 at halftime. But Hawaii couldn't hang on and, with Barnes ejected in the second half, San Jose State pulled away in the seesaw game on free throws.

"We have to find a way to put teams away," said redshirt junior Josh Stanhiser. "We need a killer instinct."

Note: Junior point guard Mark Campbell was back at practice yesterday after missing Thursday's session with a high fever. He was diagnosed with an inner-ear infection


When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
TV: Live, KFVE-TV (Channel 5)
Radio:Live, 1420-AM
Lower level $14
Adults (upper) $10
UH students $7
Super rooter $8
Parking $3

WAC standings

Conference Overall

W L Pct. W L Pct.

Tulsa 12 2 .857 21 4 .840

Hawaii 11 2 .846 20 4 .833

LaTech 10 3 .769 16 7 .696

Fresno St. 7 6 .538 16 10 .615

Nevada 7 6 .538 14 9 .609

SMU 7 6 .538 12 11 .522

Rice 4 10 .286 9 15 .375

San Jose St. 3 10 .231 8 17 .320

Boise St. 3 11 .214 9 15 .375

UTEP 3 11 .214 9 17 .346

Probable starting lineups

Hawaii (20-4, 11-2)

Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast.

G Predrag Savovic (Sr.) 6-6 20.5 4.5 2.1

G Carl English (So.) 6-5 14.3 4.8 2.6

G Mark Campbell (Jr.) 6-4 3.8 2.8 4.9

F Phil Martin (So.) 6-8 9.1 4.8 0.7

C H. Shimonovich(So.) 6-10 7.8 6.6 2.8

San Jose State (8-17, 3-10)

Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast.

G Moises Alvarez (Jr.) 6-2 8.2 1.9 1.1

G Brandon Hawkins (Jr.) 6-3 15.4 3.9 4.5

F Andre Valentine (Jr.) 6-4 7.0 4.8 1.8

F David Granucci (Sr.) 6-9 4.9 4.5 0.9

C M. Thurmond (Sr.) 6-8 11.0 7.5 0.8

Notes: Hawaii leads the series 9-6 overall and 6-1 in Honolulu. San Jose State's lone win in the islands came in 1952. The Rainbows have won six straight at home since then, including the last two meetings at the Stan Sheriff Center in overtime. ... Hawaii coach Riley Wallace is in his 15th season (236-202). UH's 11-2 start in the WAC is its best in school history. The 1996-97 team finished 12-4 and shared the regular-season title. ... The Rainbows are on pace to surpass their season record for 3-pointers set last year. Hawaii has 161 treys, 16 off the record. In 11 WAC wins, the Rainbows have hit at least seven 3-pointers. ... Savovic (1,256 points) is 35 points away from passing Phil Lott for fifth place on the all-time scoring list. Savovic is also eight 3-pointers away from passing Alika Smith (161) for the career record. Mike McIntyre has 139 treys and ranks third.

UH Athletics

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