Star-Bulletin Sports

David West, who was named a second-team All-American by the Associated Press on Tuesday, is Xavier's top player.


UH defeataphobia

The Rainbows are in Dallas,
working to beat Xavier and avoid
a fourth straight NCAA loss

By Cindy Luis

DALLAS >> In the New Rainbow Dictionary, the unabridged version, the term is "Defeataphobia."

There are several meanings listed on Page 2002:

1. The fear of defeat, of having a season come to an end.

2. The refuse-to-lose attitude of the Hawaii basketball team.

As in "Defeataphobia. Don't even think about it."

The NCAA Tournament is the original reality-based Fear Factor program. Win and stay in. One (loss) and done.

The reality is that the season comes to an end for 16 teams today, and another 16 tomorrow. No. 25 Hawaii (27-5) doesn't believe it will be voted off this island yet, and will survive at least until Sunday's second round.

"We don't want it to be the last game and we're trying not to think about that it could be," said senior reserve forward Mindaugas Burneika. "We want to win this one. We will try to find a way to keep winning."

No. 22 Xavier (25-5), a near image of Hawaii, has the same feeling. The Musketeers, too, are looking for the respect that winning tomorrow's first-round game would bring.

"This is an opportunity for us," Xavier junior guard Lionel Chalmers told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "Nationally, we don't get the recognition. This is about letting people know we're taking a bigger step up, and we're becoming one of the elite teams in the country."

The spotlight is shining on this game, a make-or-break contest for both teams that could lead to better exposure next year and a preseason ranking. A victory tomorrow would be a breakthrough for both as well; Hawaii is 0-3 in the NCAA Tournament and Xavier hasn't won a game since 1997.

A win tomorrow might help with more national exposure next season. Being able to showcase pro potential is likely to help the NBA draft stock of Xavier's David West and Hawaii's Predrag Savovic.

Rainbow coach Riley Wallace knows what being on ESPN2 last Saturday against Tulsa did for the team's image.

"We've gotten calls from all over, people telling us, 'Wow, you played really tough defense,' " said Wallace, whose team is one of the top defensive squads nationally, yielding 62.8 points a game. "We're probably getting more attention now because the (national) media didn't do a damn thing on us during the year and they're trying to catch up. It was out of sight, out of mind, because we had no TV exposure.

"Plus, we're better than they thought we'd be. Their thinking probably was, 'Oh, another Hawaii team that's not going to win on the road, only wins at home.' Well, we proved that wrong. We're 4-1 on neutral sites, 7-3 in road games. That's 11-4 away from the house."

The Musketeers have been successful on the road as well, going 4-1 on a neutral court and 9-3 on the road. But Xavier's longest trip was to San Francisco, and its longest road trip was eight days.

Today marks Day 17 for Hawaii's mainland stay.

"The worst thing now is that we've had this long wait," said Wallace. "We haven't played since last Saturday. The good thing is we changed hotels (yesterday) and that was good because now we have to get used to a new place.

"This team travels well. They're more mature than other teams we've had, and the players back from last year have matured. You don't see the cheerleading and jumping up and down this time. It's more business, not the 'We're happy to be here.' It's, 'We've still got more work to do.' "

Not only are the Rainbows mature -- the average age of the top seven players is 22 -- they have a world of international playing experience.

As Hawaii associate head coach Bob Nash said yesterday, "They aren't blinded by the lights."

"We've all been in big tournaments," said Burneika, a member of the Lithuanian World University Games team last summer in China. "In Beijing, every day, there was TV camera. It was weird because every day you could see yourself on TV.

"It's different but it's the same now, too. Last summer, I was playing for my country. Here, we're playing for the national title and for the state of Hawaii."

For a school-record 28th time, the Rainbows will be thumbing through that dictionary, looking for the Ws.

Breaking it down

Point guards: Hawaii has one of the best team assist-to-turnover ratios (4-to-1) in the country. The Rainbows rotate several players at the point, but it all starts with Mark Campbell. The 6-foot-4 junior college transfer has 157 assists to 57 turnovers. Although he prefers to pass rather than score, Campbell showed that he can shoot. He scored a career-high 17 points in the WAC tournament quarterfinal win over San Jose State last week. Although he wasn't recognized by the WAC on the all-defensive team, Campbell is deceptively quick and has nearly 25 percent of the team's 223 steals (53).

Xavier features 6-foot junior guard Lionel Chalmers, a third-team all-Atlantic 10 selection. He's been a liability at times for the Musketeers, but has improved his ballhandling in the past few games (2.63-to-1.00 assist-to-turnover ratio). He leads Xavier with 126 assists and is third on the team in scoring at 12.1 ppg. Chalmers has 41 of the team's 203 steals.

Advantage: Hawaii.

Shooting guards: UH has three of the best outside shooters in the country in senior Predrag Savovic, sophomore Carl English and reserve senior Mike McIntyre. Savovic (174) is already the school's all-time leader in 3-pointers and McIntyre (156) needs six more treys to move past Alika Smith into second place. English has 74 3-pointers so far in two seasons.

Sophomore Romain Sato is Xavier's leading 3-point shooter with 75 of the team's 186 treys, compared to Hawaii's 233. He's very aggressive and is second in rebounds. Also very capable from long distance is Chalmers (47) and junior Dave Young (21). Young has missed the past two games with a fractured (non-shooting) wrist but was cleared to play tomorrow.

Advantage: Hawaii.

In the post: Hawaii has two solid starters in sophomores Phil Martin and Haim Shimonovich. In a guard-oriented offense, Martin has often disappeared, but he had big numbers in the WAC postseason, earning all-tourney honors. Shimonovich clogs up the middle and the stats don't always show his value. He leads the team in blocked shots (58) and rebounds (212), but has spent chunks of game time on the bench with foul trouble.

Junior David West is the man for Xavier, a second-team All-American who could vie for national player of the year honors if he stays in school next season. He is the two-time A-10 player of the year as well as its defensive player of the year. He leads the team in rebounds (294) and blocked shots (74). Senior forward Kevin Free is third in rebounds (172).

Advantage: Xavier.

Bench: Neither team goes much beyond the first seven. Besides McIntyre, Hawaii brings in senior forward Mindaugas Burneika, who can hit from inside and out. If the Rainbows get into foul trouble inside, coach Riley Wallace can use either freshman Tony Akpan, who played very well against Melvin Ely at Fresno State, or junior Paul Jesinskis. Walk-on Ryne Holliday has proved valuable at defensive guard at the end of the first half if the Rainbows have Savovic, McIntyre and English in foul trouble.

Xavier coach Thad Matta had gone with the same starting lineup for 28 games until Young got hurt. Senior Alvin Brown started at guard the past two games, but hasn't scored much. The top two subs are freshman swingman Keith Jackson, who has seen action in every game, and freshman guard Jaison Williams.

Advantage: None.

Keys to the game: Hawaii will need to stay out of foul trouble, get hot from the outside, be more aggressive on the boards and slow down All-American David West.

Xavier will need to take care of the ball better, hope Young's return is not a hindrance, get West his all-world numbers and push Hawaii's 3-point shooters beyond their range.


When: Tomorrow, 10 a.m. Hawaii time

Where: American Airlines Center (19,951), Dallas

TV: Live, KGMB-TV (Channel 9)

Radio: Live, 1420-AM


The matchup

Hawaii Xavier

Points per game 72.2 72.7

Rebounds per game 33.4 37.0

Assists per game 16.8 12.7

Steals per game 7.0 6.7

Blocks per game 3.4 4.4

Turnovers per game 12.2 13.5

Field goal percentage .453 .451

Free throw percentage .685 .718

3-point percentage .382 .358

3-pointers per game 7.3 6.2

Scoring margin 9.3 10.5

Probable starters

No. 25 Hawaii (27-5)

Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast.

G Predrag Savovic (Sr.) 6-6 20.0 4.9 4.5

G Carl English (So.) 6-5 15.7 5.0 3.6

G Mark Campbell (Jr.) 6-4 3.8 2.7 4.9

F Phil Martin (So.) 6-8 8.9 4.8 0.8

C H.Shimonovich (So.) 6-10 7.4 6.6 2.9

No. 22 Xavier (25-5)

Ht. Pts. Reb. Ast.

G Lionel Chalmers (Jr.) 6-0 11.9 3.3 4.1

G Romain Sato (So.) 6-5 15.8 5.4 1.8

F Dave Young (Jr.) 6-5 8.4 3.6 1.3

F David West (Jr.) 6-9 18.6. 9.8 1.5

F Kevin Frey (Sr.) 6-8 8.6 5.8 1.3

Notes: This is the first meeting between the two schools. The teams have one common opponent in Wisconsin. Hawaii defeated the Badgers for third in the Big Island Invitational, 60-57, on Nov. 25. Xavier won 57-48 at the Cintas Center on Dec. 10. ... This is the fourth NCAA Tournament appearance for the Rainbows. They have yet to win a first-round game. Last year, the Rainbows lost to Syracuse 79-69. ... Hawaii coach Riley Wallace is in his 15th season (243-203) ... Senior guard Mike McIntyre needs six 3-pointers to pass Alika Smith (161) for second place in UH's all-time record books. Savovic is the career leader (174). Savovic needs 28 points to pass Smith (1,415) for No. 3 on the all-time scoring list. ... Xavier coach Thad Matta is in his first season (25-5). He led Butler to the NCAA Tournament last year ... The Musketeers won the Atlantic 10 tournament Saturday 73-60 over Richmond in Philadelphia. Junior David West was named the most outstanding player ... Xavier is 6-13 in 13 NCAA Tournament appearances. Last year, the Musketeers lost to Notre Dame 83-71. Xavier has not won a tournament game since 1997. Xavier's best showing in an NCAA Tournament was a run to the Sweet 16 in 1990. That year, Xavier beat Kansas State and Georgetown in Indianapolis before falling to Texas in Dallas.

UH Athletics

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