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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, March 22, 2004

Nebraska, UH ready to go

 •  Ferd Lewis: Garden party two wins away

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

It's go time.


• Who: Hawai'i (20-11) vs. Nebraska (18-12)

• Where: Stan Sheriff Center

• When: 6 p.m. today

• Tickets: Sold out

• Parking: $3

• TV/Radio: Live on OC-16 (Oceanic channel 16) and KKEA radio (1420 AM)

Whether it be Let's Go 'Bows or Go Big Red will be determined tonight in the most anticipated game of the season for the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team.

The Rainbow Warriors will host Nebraska in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament tonight at the Stan Sheriff Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 6:05 (one hour earlier than usual for a UH home game).

Tickets for the game have been sold out since Saturday morning.

"Everybody's talking about it," Hawai'i head coach Riley Wallace said. "It's exactly the kind of atmosphere you want."

The game will feature two teams that have become resurgent in the NIT.

Hawai'i, which was fifth in the Western Athletic Conference, is 20-11 after its road upset of No. 25-ranked Utah State in the first round of the NIT last week.

"It's like that game gave our whole team a shot of energy and the fans feel it, too," said senior co-captain Phil Martin.

Nebraska, which went 6-10 and tied for ninth in the Big 12 Conference regular season, has already won two games in the NIT, and is 18-12 overall.

"I think the Big 12 is a great league, and the strength of teams up and down certainly helped prepare us for a tournament like this," Nebraska head coach Barry Collier said.

Still, the teams know very little about each other. The 'Bows and Huskers have not met since the 1997 Rainbow Classic.

What is known is that both teams are big and like to shoot 3-pointers and play aggressive defense.

When Hawai'i has the ball

Michael Kuebler has already established a Hawai'i record with 91 3-pointers this season, and the 'Bows are 13-2 when he scores 20 points or more.

"Hawai'i's strength is balance," Collier said. "But Kuebler is a concern because he's such an excellent shooter."

The Huskers rank among the national leaders in defense, allowing opponents to score just 62.2 points per game while shooting for a 39.4 percentage.

Hawai'i associate coach Bob Nash, who is in charge of scouting opponents, said Nebraska can employ a variety of defenses.

"They like to use a 2-3 zone, but they also go man-to-man, even some full-court pressure," Nash said. "The main thing they do is get up in your face. No matter what defense they're in, they're pressuring the ball."

If Nebraska goes man-to-man, 6-foot-9 forward Julian Sensley could play a vital role. Because the Huskers start three guards, 6-4 Jake Muhleisen may have to defend Sensley.

When Nebraska has the ball

The Huskers run what Nash describes as "kind of a Princeton spread offense."

Nine different Huskers normally see game action, and all nine contribute. Nate Johnson, a 6-1 senior, leads the team with 13.2 points per game. Seven others average between 4.7 and 11.0 points per game.

"We base our game on what the opponent gives us," Collier said. "So it could be a different leading scorer every game."

Brian Conklin, a 6-11 forward, has low-post size and 3-point skills. He leads Nebraska with 60 3-pointers, and ranks first in NCAA Division I with a 56.6 percentage from 3-point range.

The 'Bows like to stay in a man-to-man defense, with the versatile 6-8 Martin able to cover any opposing player.

Both teams have six players 6-8 or taller.


Nebraska experienced travel problems and will have been in Honolulu for less than 24 hours by tip-off tonight. Hawai'i has been home since Thursday.

The capacity crowd has been urged to wear white tops to tonight's game, and Hawai'i is 3-0 in "White-Out" games.

"It's our last home game and we want to go out with a fantastic finish," Martin said.

Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com or 535-8101.

• • •

Today's lineups

NEBRASKA (18-12 overall, 6-10 Big 12)

G—Marcus Neal Jr. 6-0 175 Jr. 5.0 1.7
G—Nate Johnson 6-1 195 Sr. 13.2 4.6
G—Jake Muhleisen 6-4 200 Jr. 7.7 3.3
F—Brian Conklin 6-11 230 Sr. 7.5 3.8
F—John Turek 6-9 240 Jr. 9.8 5.9
Head coach—Barry Collier (56-62, fourth season at NU)
Notes: The Huskers are coming off a 78-70 home victory over Niagara in the first round of the NIT Friday.
Nebraska is making its 13th appearance in the NIT. The Huskers won the NIT championship in 1996, and have an all-time NIT record of 22-11.
Nate Johnson has scored in double figures in 22 games this season.
Eleven different Huskers have started at least one game this season. Jake Muhleisen is the only player to start all 30 games this season.
Brian Conklin set a Big 12 record this season by making 62.7 percent of his 3-point field goals in conference games.
Andrew Drevo, a 6-8 senior forward, is averaging 11.0 points and 4.4 rebounds per game. He has been alternating with John Turek in the starting lineup. Turek is averaging 13.0 points and 7.2 rebounds per game in his last six games.
Charles Richardson Jr., a 5-8 freshman, leads the team with 2.2 assists per game.
Seven of the 15 players on the Nebraska roster are from Nebraska.
The Huskers are 3-9 away from home this season.

HAWAI'I (20-11 overall, 11-7 WAC)

G—Jason Carter 5-10 160 Sr. 4.2 1.1
G—Michael Kuebler 6-4 190 Sr. 18.3 3.4
F—Julian Sensley 6-9 235 So. 12.2 7.5
F—Phil Martin 6-8 220 Sr. 9.7 4.5
C—Haim Shimonovich 6-10 275 Sr. 7.0 6.7
Head coach—Riley Wallace (282-227, 17th season at UH)
Notes: The Rainbow Warriors are coming off an 85-74 victory at No. 25-ranked Utah State in the first round of the NIT Wednesday. It was the first time that a Hawai'i team beat a nationally ranked opponent on the road.
The 'Bows are 9-7 all-time in NIT games, including 5-1 in Honolulu.
Michael Kuebler has already set a UH record with 91 3-pointers this season. In three career postseason games, he has 13 3-pointers, which is also a Hawai'i record.
Julian Sensley is averaging 16.7 points and 9.0 rebounds per game in the last three games.
Jason Carter is averaging 8.2 points and 3.2 assists per game in his last six games.
Logan Lee, who splits time at point guard with Carter, leads the team with 3.6 assists per game.
Jeff Blackett, a 6-8 junior forward, is the top reserve with averages of 7.5 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.
Hawai'i is 44-5 in the Stan Sheriff Center over the last three seasons, including 13-3 this season.
Hawai'i leads the all-time series with Nebraska, 4-2. The ’Bows won the last meeting, 87-62, in 1997.