UH Basketball: Rainbows even score with Spartans

Sometimes, a singular challenge is all an athlete needs for heightened inspiration. Phil Martin learned that Saturday night against San Jose State.

Martin's mission sparks Rainbows

 

Hawaii avenges loss by pulverizing San Jose State, 71-46

 

By Jack Danilewicz

RSN Writer

Saturday, Feb. 16, 2002

 

HONOLULU – In the days leading up to Saturday night's game with San Jose State, Hawaii coach Riley Wallace challenged Phil Martin to play better defense.

And after Martin fueled the Rainbow Warriors' defensive effort in their 71-46 dissection of the Spartans, even a tough grader like Wallace had to consider the mission accomplished.

"Coach gave me a mission," said Martin. "He (Granucci) is one of the main people in their offense - he helps them get it going - so we had to shut him down. Last game, I was in foul trouble early on and I wasn't in there. I wanted to deny (him the ball) a lot and get up close and get the body into him a little to get a feel for where he was going."

Said Wallace: "Phil's defense was excellent. His defense probably led everybody else to play good defense because was in the middle of the offense where he likes to catch it and he denied that. We can win big and he can be so-so in those other areas if you play good defense and rebound. You have to give him an A-plus." 

A crowd of 7,676 saw the Rainbow Warriors win for the 21
st time in their last 22 home games, including their 14th in a row (at home) in the WAC. Above all, the win helped Hawaii (21-4, 12-2) remain a half-game behind Tulsa (22-4, 13-2) in the WAC race. The Golden Hurricane visit the Stan Sheriff Center on Thursday night in what figures to be the Rainbow Warriors' most important game to date.

But whereas Hawaii won at Tulsa last month, it could not win at San Jose State, which made Saturday's rematch all the more important to the Rainbow Warriors. Enter Martin, who drew San Jose State's David Granucci, defensively.

With both Martin and Haim Shimonovich in foul trouble for much of the first meeting (a 57-53 San Jose State victory), Granucci had enjoyed a career-night, scoring 17 points and grabbing seven offensive rebounds in a game-high 39 minutes. It was a different story on Saturday night as Martin tightened up, defensively, to hold Granucci to just two points and three rebounds in 31 minutes.

"All week coach was getting on Phil about his defense," Carl English said. "He (Phil) did it all week in practice, and he came out and did it tonight."

San Jose State point guard Brandon Hawkins, who came into the game as the Spartans' leading scorer, did not start, but came off the bench to play 21 minutes. With Hawaii point guard Mark Campbell tracking his every movement, he was a non-factor, however, and scored only six points.

How tough were the Rainbow Warriors on the defensive end?  San Jose State shot just 27.8 percent from the field for the first half and had a season-low 17 points at intermission.
Already trailing 19-10 early-on, the Spartans went the last 9:51 of the first half without a field goal and were outscored 16-7 by Hawaii during what was to be the game's decisive run. For the night, San Jose State (8-18, 3-11) committed 19 turnovers, while totaling just seven assists.  Eleven of San Jose State's turnovers came in the first half as Hawaii's defense created its offense.

The Rainbow Warriors shot 51 percent (14 of 27) from the field (5 of 13 from behind the arc) in the opening half en route to a 35-17 lead at the break. After the half, the Spartans went another 2:55 without a field goal before Marion Thurmond ended the drought with a tip-in. Hawaii would go on to lead by as many as 30 (at 59-29 with 7:56 remaining) in the second half.

"They (the kids) came out and did what we wanted them to do," Wallace said. "They picked up the intensity on defense, but yet stayed out of foul trouble early.

"Defense was the key," he continued. "The guys played hard and they played together, and I thought our shot selection was better. The defensive effort and the rebounding effort were there, and those are the two areas we work on."

Added Mike McIntyre: "At their house, we played them kind of lackadaisical. We took it as a personal thing and we were going to pressure them this time. We also had a lot of guys in foul trouble (in the first meeting between the schools). If we can keep it up for 40 minutes on Thursday (against Tulsa), it will be a good ball game."

Hawaii was led in scoring by English, who made 9 of 13 shots (he was 3 of 5 from three-point range) en route to a season-high 23 points.

"He was on his game," said Wallace. "He made his shots, and he made some drives."

McIntyre came off the bench to score 17 points for the Rainbow Warriors, while Predrag Savovic tallied 14 points and grabbed five rebounds.

San Jose State, which fell to 1-9 in road games this season, was led by Thurmond, who scored 12 points and grabbed six rebounds. Phil Calvert added nine points.

Afterward, the Rainbow Warriors couldn't help but look ahead to Thursday's all-important meeting with Tulsa.

"When we're clicking on all cylinders, we're tough to stop, and tonight we were in a zone," said English. "Every game now means the NCAA (Tournament). We just have to go out there and play our team game." 


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