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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, January 31, 2006

ESPN snubs UH in Bracket Buster

 •  UH freezes up on road

By Dayton Morinaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

LOGAN, Utah For the first time in the four-year history of the ESPN Bracket Buster, the University of Hawai'i will not have its game featured on national television.

The Rainbow Warriors are expected to face Santa Clara of the West Coast Conference on Feb. 18 at the Stan Sheriff Center as one of the "other" games.

"We'll worry about that when it comes around," Hawai'i coach Riley Wallace said. "I don't know much about them right now."

The television games for the Bracket Buster were announced yesterday, and Hawai'i was not one of the four Western Athletic Conference teams selected.

Only 13 games are selected to be televised on the ESPN stations. The other games are not considered Bracket Buster games because they are not televised on ESPN.

Hawai'i's three previous Bracket Buster games were televised: at Kent State in 2003, at Southern Illinois in 2004, and a home game against Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2005.

"We had three straight, and they like to rotate it among the other teams, so I can't complain about that," Wallace said. "But the reason why you want to be a part of it is to get the (television) exposure. It was worth it for us the last three years because we got the exposure."

The pairings for the non-television games will be officially announced today, but Wallace said he has been told Hawai'i's opponent will be Santa Clara.

Wallace is concerned about next season's scheduling because of this year's Bracket Buster. As part of the Bracket Buster agreement, teams must play a "return" game with its opponent the following season.

In other words, Hawai'i will have to play a road game at Santa Clara next season. Wallace is concerned because he thinks Hawai'i will also have to travel for the 2007 Bracket Buster game in February.

"The worst part about it is that payback game," Wallace said. "And when you don't get a TV game, it doesn't feel worth it."

The four WAC teams selected for broadcast on ESPN were Utah State (vs. Northwestern State), Fresno State (vs. Creighton), Nevada (vs. Akron) and Louisiana Tech (vs. Southern Illinois).

Tatum plays through pain: Senior point guard Deonte Tatum played 34 minutes in last night's 63-52 loss at Utah State despite a sprained right ankle. He finished with 10 points and five assists.

"You can't think about it once the game starts," said Tatum, who sustained the injury in a loss at Nevada on Saturday. "And it feels a lot better than it did (Sunday)."

Super student section: Around 4,000 of the 9,540 fans at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum last night were Utah State students. They all wore dark blue T-shirts, and stood the entire game.

When the Aggies went ahead by 20 points in the second half, the students chanted, "Up by 20! ... Up by 20!"

When the lights in the arena went out with 39.7 seconds remaining in the game, the students chanted, "We shot the lights out! ... We shot the lights out!"

"They kind of got to us a little bit, too," Hawai'i senior Julian Sensley said. "They're like a sixth man out there."

Morrill gets No. 400: Last night was Utah State head coach Stew Morrill's 400th victory as an NCAA Division I head coach.

He had 97 wins at Montana and 121 at Colorado State, and last night was his 181st at Utah State.

"I'm happy for his 400th," said Wallace, who is a longtime friend of Morrill. "I just didn't want it to be against me."

'Bows coming home today: Hawai'i is scheduled to arrive in Honolulu today to continue its arduous WAC schedule. They will host Idaho on Thursday and San Jose State on Saturday.

Reach Dayton Morinaga at dmorinaga@honoluluadvertiser.com.