Renewed Spartans
await Rainbows

Any resemblance between the San Jose State basketball team that trudged through Honolulu last month and the one Hawaii faces today may be purely coincidental.

Hawaii at San Jose State

When: Today, noon (Hawaii time)

Where: The Event Center

TV: Live, KFVE (Ch. 5)

Radio: Live, KKEA 1420-AM

Internet: hawaiiathletics.com

The last time the Rainbow Warriors faced the Spartans, they rolled past a road-weary club playing the last of four consecutive road games. When they take the court today, they'll meet an SJSU squad rejuvenated by recent success.

"Now all of a sudden they're winning, they feel good and they'll play harder," UH coach Riley Wallace said. "We'll catch them with a lot of energy."

The Rainbows open a three-game road trip against the Spartans today at noon Hawaii time at The Event Center in San Jose. The game will be televised live locally on KFVE.

Both Hawaii (12-5, 4-5 WAC) and San Jose State (6-12, 3-6) enter the second half of the Western Athletic Conference schedule looking to maintain the momentum of two home wins last week, as both scored victories over Rice and Tulsa.

For San Jose State, the wins represented the program's first back-to-back conference victories since 2002. The Spartans fell behind early in both games before battling back to win.

"In the past when you've seen a San Jose State team get down, you've seen a team that hasn't had enough fight in them to come back," SJSU coach Phil Johnson said. "This group came back and fought."

The Spartans couldn't recover from an early deficit in their 71-45 loss to UH at the Stan Sheriff Center on Jan. 8. The Rainbows sprinted to a 14-2 lead and went up 32-13 at halftime en route to the most lopsided outcome in the 22-game series.

"I thought it was our best game in the conference because we really played hard, rebounded, had good interior passing, and took them out of everything they wanted," Wallace said. "We jumped on them early where they didn't get that lead and they could control the tempo."

But the 'Bows expect to face a different ballclub this time around, as the Spartans are 3-3 since losing to UH and are looking to post three consecutive WAC wins for the first time since 2001.

"Any time a team gets confidence like that, they're going to be a lot tougher, especially at home," UH forward Jeff Blackett said. "They beat two good teams at home and that gives a team a lot of confidence."

The Rainbows practiced at 10 a.m. (Pacific time) yesterday morning to prepare for today's 2 p.m. tipoff. The team won't have its usual pregame shootaround, but will arrive at the arena earlier than usual to get warmed up.

The last time the Rainbows went without a shootaround, they struggled in the first half of a loss at Boise State, which also started at 2 p.m. local time.

But with a week to prepare for today's game, Wallace doesn't think the early start will be as much of a factor this time.

The Rainbows will have to find a way to slow down SJSU forward Marquin Chandler, the reigning WAC Player of the Week.

Chandler is coming off a 33-point outing against Rice and ranks third in the WAC with 20.1 points per game.

"He can score in a lot of different ways -- he scores in the post and he can shoot it," Johnson said. "He's been a good leader. He's tried to take this team by the horns and direct them in the right direction."

UH forward Julian Sensley will be among the Rainbow big men who will take a turn guarding Chandler and is looking to build upon a 21-point performance against Tulsa a week ago in which he took over in the second half.

"I usually let the game come to me and try to ease my way into the game," Sensley said. "I have to learn how to jump on it from the start. I know Coach and my teammates look to me to do that."

Wallace said he'll stick with the starting back court of Jake Sottos and Matt Gibson, with Deonte Tatum and Bobby Nash coming off the bench. Sensley, Blackett and center Chris Botez are slated to start up front, with Matthew Gipson as the first substitute.

E-mail to Sports Desk


© Honolulu Star-Bulletin -- https://archives.starbulletin.com