'Bows keep it loose on road
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Dayton Morinaga
SAN JOSE, Calif. — The University of Hawai'i men's basketball team has found a way to motivate itself on the road.
But it has nothing to do with the opponents and everything to do with one another.
In keeping with recent road tradition, the Rainbow Warriors held an intrasquad shooting contest last night at The Event Center. The 'Bows will play a Western Athletic Conference game there against San Jose State today at 1 p.m. (Hawai'i time). It will be televised live on KFVE (Ch. 5).
"It keeps the guys loose," Hawai'i head coach Riley Wallace said of the shooting contests. "But at the same time, it's competitive and so they're all concentrating."
The 'Bows will need to concentrate today if they want to stay in the upper half of the WAC. Hawai'i is 15-9 overall and 8-5 in the conference. A victory today could put the 'Bows into a tie for second place, depending on the outcome of several other conference games.
San Jose State is 6-20 overall and 2-10 in the WAC. The Spartans have lost five consecutive games, including an 87-80 home loss to Fresno State on Thursday.
Hawai'i defeated San Jose State, 83-68, on Feb. 4 at the Stan Sheriff Center, and the 'Bows will once again have a distinct height advantage. The Spartans usually like to keep four players 6 feet 6 and shorter on the court; the 'Bows usually like to go with four players 6-6 and taller.
But as Wallace cautioned: "Things are always different on the road. That's why we try to find things to keep the guys positive and get their energy level up."
On the last two road trips, the 'Bows have been conducting two practices a day. The morning session is the regular practice; the evening session has turned into the shooting contest.
"I think it's a benefit for us to get in a gym twice a day and get shots up," senior forward Julian Sensley said.
During the shooting contest, the team is split into two groups — guards vs. bigs — at opposite baskets. The first team to make 90 shots from designated spots on the floor wins. Each player takes one shot then moves to the back of the line.
There are only 10 players on the travel roster, so the guards are Matt Lojeski, Jack Miller, Deonte Tatum, Hiram Thompson, Dominic Waters and John Wilder. The bigs are Sensley, Chris Botez, Matthew Gipson and Ahmet Gueye.
The guards won last night, 3-1, and are leading the season series, 11-7. The winners get nothing but bragging rights, with the emphasis on bragging.
"Did you see how their heads were down?" Waters said after the guards' victory last night.
"Just like little puppies," Wilder said with a laugh.
The contests started on a whim two weeks ago in Boise, Idaho, and the 'Bows went on to beat Boise State for their first road victory of the season.
Sensley said: "We're competitive about it, but we're still one team. It's like for bragging rights in the family."
And both sides said the competition is helping the team physically and mentally.
"We're putting up a lot of shots, so it's helping all of us," Wilder said.
Sensley added: "Everyone's having fun with it and it's like we look forward to practicing because of it, so that makes it easier for us to get ready for the game."
W L W L
NEVADA 10 3 21 5
UTAH STATE 9 4 19 6
LOUISIANA TECH 9 5 17 11
NEW MEXICO STATE 9 5 14 12
HAWAI'I 8 5 15 9
FRESNO STATE 7 6 14 11
BOISE STATE 5 9 13 13
SAN JOSE STATE 2 11 6 21
IDAHO 1 12 4 21
NEW MEXICO ST. 64, LOUISIANA TECH 60
UTAH STATE 64, BOISE STATE 62
FRESNO ST. 87, SAN JOSE ST. 80
Reach Dayton Morinaga at email@example.com.