Extra effort paying off for Sensley in numbers game
By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer
By Dayton Morinaga
Even with the stretch run of his senior season still ahead, Julian Sensley can already be considered one of the all-time all-around great players for the University of Hawai'i men's basketball team.
By the end of this season, the statistics will bear the proof.
Sensley became the 12th player in UH history to score 1,000 points in a career in the Rainbow Warriors' 72-61 victory over Boise State on Monday at the Stan Sheriff Center.
He is now one of only four players in UH history to have at least 1,000 points and 500 rebounds. The others are Melton Werts, John Penebacker and Phil Martin.
"It feels good to be in that company, but it's not something I'm really concerned about," said Sensley, a 6-foot-9 forward. "I think it'll mean a lot more at the end of the year when I can sit down and look at what I accomplished. Right now, I'm just trying to help this team win games."
Sensley has elevated his play recently after seeking the assistance of Hawai'i associate coach Bob Nash. For the past few weeks, Sensley has been staying an extra 30 minutes after practice to work on shooting and rebounding drills with Nash.
"It's just about bringing it back to fundamentals," Sensley said. "I feel like I see things pretty well on the court, but this is helping me to polish everything."
Nash, a former NBA player, is one of only eight players in UH history with more rebounds than Sensley.
"It's a credit to Julian," Nash said. "He wants to work. He realized that to make this team better, he has to do more. He's not just showing up on game day and relying on his talent alone."
Sensley, who is in his third season at Hawai'i, is averaging a team-best 16.9 points per game, along with 5.4 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game.
Over his last three games, he is averaging 23.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.
"I think the most important thing I've done is come in with a positive attitude every day," Sensley said. "I used to let things bother me off the court. And when coach (Riley Wallace) got on me in the past, I took it personal. I know he's just trying to help me now, so I make sure I listen to what he's saying."
Said Wallace: "He's a much more mature player now than he was two years ago. He used to drop his head a lot and get down before. He doesn't do that now."
Sensley's all-around skills should put him on several top 10 lists by the end of this season.
At his current pace, Sensley should become the only player in Hawai'i history to rank among the program's top 10 in scoring, rebounding and assists. He should also make the top 10 list for steals, blocked shots and 3-pointers.
"That's the way I like to play the game," Sensley said. "I'm not going to try and score 40 every game. I'll do what it takes to help the team win."
Wallace said: "It's one of those things, people will really appreciate how much he brought to the team once he's gone."
Wallace said the critics who describe Sensley as an underachiever should look at the numbers.
"People have always wanted more from Julian," Wallace said. "But I think he's given more than what people realize."
WACKY ROAD AHEAD FOR 'BOWS THIS WEEK
Hawai'i climbed to third place at 4-2 in the Western Athletic Conference after home victories over Fresno State and Boise State.
Louisiana Tech is in first at 5-1, one game ahead of the 'Bows. Utah State is second at 5-2.
"It's pretty clear that anybody can beat anybody in the league this year," Wallace said. "There are no gimmes this year."
When it comes to road games, there are definitely no gimmes for Hawai'i. The 'Bows are 2-18 in their last 20 road games, including 0-4 this season.
They will depart Honolulu tomorrow for a two-game WAC road trip. Hawai'i will play at Nevada Saturday and then at Utah State Monday in an ESPN game.
"That's probably the toughest trip as far as the quality of the teams," Wallace said. "Those are the two teams picked 1-2 in the preseason."
Reach Dayton Morinaga at email@example.com.