San Jose State @ Hawaii
Revenge one of the factors in Rainbows' favor
By Jack Danilewicz
Friday, Feb. 15, 2002
San Jose State (8-17, 3-10) at Hawaii (20-4, 11-2)
Saturday, February 16, 7:00 p.m.
Stan Sheriff Center
Radio: 1420 KCCN AM
PLAYERS TO WATCH
SAN JOSE STATE
G 10 Brandon Hawkins
(17.2 point per game, 4.5 assists per game)
F 45 Marion Thurmond
(10.4 ppg, 7.6 rebounds per game)
G 32 Phil Calvert
(10.2 ppg, shooting 41.2 percent from three-point range)
F 23 Andre Valentine
(7.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg)
F 15 David Granucci
(career-high 17 points in last meeting between the schools)
G 1 Predrag Savovic
(20.5 points per game, shooting 40 percent from three-point range)
G/F 23 Carl English
(14.3 ppg, shooting 45 percent from the field)
G 15 Mark Campbell
(2nd in the WAC in assist/turnover ratio at +3.0)
F 21 Mindaugas Burneika
(9.2 ppg, 3.3 rebounds per game)
F 2 Phil Martin
(9.1 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
G 3 Mike McIntyre
(9.7 ppg, 43 three-pointers)
C 14 Haim Shimonovich
(7.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
While the revenge factor figures to be a part of Hawaii's motivation against San Jose State, the Rainbow Warriors' greater chore is simply to play well. With three straight home games (against San Jose State, Tulsa and Rice), Hawaii is in a good position not only to win the WAC regular season, but to strengthen its case for an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament as well.
In a year when the Big Ten (among other major conferences) will be hard-pressed to send its usual number of schools to the Big Dance, Hawaii and Tulsa are a good bet should they continue their winning ways.
If anything, the WAC could enjoy a break-through year by getting three teams in should Louisiana Tech or Fresno State get on a roll and win the WAC Tournament. A sweep of its current homestand would put Hawaii at 23-4, making them hard to ignore, regardless of how they fare in their final two road games at Nevada and Fresno State.
Tulsa (21-4, 12-2) currently enjoys a half-game lead over Hawai‘i (20-4, 11-2) in the WAC race. The Golden Hurricane visit the Stan Sheriff Center for a game on February 21st that could very well decide the conference championship. Hawaii has won 14 of its last 16 games and 20 of its last 21 at home, including a conference-best 13 straight in WAC play. The Rainbow Warriors' 11-2 WAC start is also their best ever.
Heading into the San Jose State game, defense continues to be Hawaii's forte. The Rainbow Warriors, whose four losses have come by a total of 13 points, leads the WAC and are 19th nationally in scoring defense (at 62.0 points per game). The Rainbow Warriors have held 10 of their opponents to 60 points or less this year.
Offensively, when the Rainbow Warriors execute their offense, scoring is not a problem, as Hawaii's top seven are all capable of having big nights. Senior Predrag Savovic is playing his best basketball of the season and, aside from Fresno State's Melvin Ely, is the toughest match-up in the WAC because of his combination of size (6-foot-6) and athleticism.
San Jose State doesn't have an answer to him, so it will be important for Hawaii to take the Spartans out of their zone early in order to take advantage of the match-up problems he creates.
For San Jose State, Brandon Hawkins remains the catalyst. In an offense that allows for a lot of improvisation, how well Hawaii defends him could be critical to the Rainbow Warriors' success in this one.
San Jose State, which is just 1-8 on the road this season, was routed 84-55 in its last outings and has lost its last four road games by an average of 22.1 points per game. Scoring has been hard to come by for the Spartans, who have scored less than 70 points in each of their last 12 games.
How will Hawaii fare against San Jose State's 1-2-2 zone? The Rainbow Warriors struggled at times against Louisiana Tech when it played zone, and Syracuse was successful with the zone in their win in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament last March.
Hawaii is the top three-point shooting team in the WAC. Should the Rainbow Warriors have their usual shooting night, they can force San Jose State out of the zone early, which would be a big advantage to a more athletic Hawaii team.
WHAT HAWAII NEEDS TO DO TO WIN
The Rainbow Warriors have to take care of the ball. In three of Hawaii's four losses this year, including the January loss at San Jose State, the Rainbow Warriors had more turnovers than assists. They have also been held under 60 points in all four of those setbacks.
Hawaii will also need to keep Haim Shimonovich out of foul trouble. In the first meeting between the teams, he played a season-low 13 minutes, (scoring only two points) and his post defense was sorely missed, as the Spartans' David Granucci had a career-night, scoring 17 points to go with six offensive rebounds. Hawaii is not the same team, defensively, when Shimonovich is out of the lineup.
WHAT SAN JOSE STATE NEEDS TO DO TO WIN
The Spartans need to be able to defend Hawaii on the perimeter, defensively, and control the tempo on the offensive end. As mentioned earlier, Hawaii failed to score 60 points in all four of its losses, so the Spartans naturally want to keep this game in the 50s as they were able to do on their own home court.
I look for them to be very conscious of the shot clock so they can hold on to the ball until the last possible second. With 161 three-pointers to date already, Hawaii is closing in on the school-record of 177. The Spartans are just seventh in the WAC in defending t