Hoops Preview: HAWAII HAS LEFT THE ISLANDS!

The background: believe it or not, for just the third time this season, the UH basketball team has taken a road trip. On December 2, the Rainbow Warriors tripped to Orange County to face UC Irvine and headed right back at game's conclusion. It was February 13 when Coach Bob Nash's team played Louisiana Tech in Ruston and two days later faced Utah State in Logan.

That's been it.

Every other Hawaii game has been in the familiar confines of the Stan Sheriff Center.

So will that play any sort of factor Thursday night at Walt McPherson Court?

Let's check in on what took place during the matchup of these two teams on January 17:

A last-second shot attempt determined the final outcome as UH backcourter Hiram Thompson was fouled on his dribble-drive to the basket with but 2.1 seconds remaining. He went to the line with his team down by one, 67-66. Thompson buried the first to tie the game. His second attempt was also accurate and proved to be the gamewinner as Hawaii came out on top 68-67.

Here's what led up to Thompson heroics:

A Brandon Adams basket at the 4:05 mark put UH up 63-58.

Adrian Oliver countered with a basket to cut the deficit to three.

After a Rainbow Warrior miss, Chris Oakes rebounded the ball and tossed a long outlet pass to Justin Graham. San Jose State's junior guard was intentionally fouled by Jeremy Lay. Graham nailed both his free throws to reduce the point differential to 63-62 and the Spartans also retained possession of the ball.

Robert Owens then nailed a trey to put SJSU ahead at 65-63.

Lay came down and put down his own three-pointer to boost Hawaii ahead by one, 66-65.

At the 1:14 mark, Chris Oakes traveled making a move to the basket.

With regaining possession, Lay came down and went long range again, missing his trey attempt, but Roderick Flemings rebounded with 45 seconds left.

But Graham nabbed a steal and fed the ball to Oakes who dunked to make it 67-66 San Jose State with 19 seconds on the clock.

Graham again stole the ball when Hawaii came down the court and he passed to Adrian Oliver, who was fouled.

With a one-and-one at the line, Oliver missed and UH rebounded.

That's when Thompson's heroics came into play and proved to be the difference.

Oliver earned a double-double of 20/10 as did Oakes with 14/11. Graham was particularly effective going to the hoop and led the Spartans with 21 points.

UH shot just 41% for the game after a quick start but did succeed on nine of 24 three-point attempts. SJSU was 4-20 from long distance. Both teams made 11 free throws -- in 13 attempts for Hawaii and 19 for San Jose State.

At the half, it was 42-39 in Hawaii's favor in a back and forth contest. Graham scored 13 points and Oliver contributed 11 in the initial 20 minutes. UH was an unconscious 55% on field goal attempts including 6-13 on three-pointers at that point. SJSU wasn't far behind at 52%.


The UH WAC Schedule To Date

1/2/2010 Idaho L 52-59
1/4/2010 Boise State W 76-68
1/9/2010 @ Fresno State L 64-78
1/11/2010 @ Utah State L 54-98
1/17/2010 San Jose State W 68-67
1/21/2010 New Mexico State L 69-71
1/23/2010 Louisiana Tech L 60-65

The UH Starting Five

Who knows which quintet Nash will send out as he has been switching around? Our best guess is:

6-foot-10 Paul Campbell - scoring is not his forte as he is much more competent at shotblocking and rebounding, is shooting 19-38 from the foul line so it may be better to foul than let him score a chippie.

6-foot-6 Brandon Adams - the best athlete on the team, his offensive skills are limited but he has made the most of them lately, including 19 points on 7-11 shooting against SJSU earlier this month and just notched 22 versus Louisiana Tech plus 14 against New Mexico State -- he is also grabbing close to 10 boards a game since being inserted in the starting lineup.

6-foot-7 Roderick Flemings - he's the top talent on the team but has been hit by a number of nagging injuries this season -- Nash has brought him off the bench of late so who knows -- he put up 23 points and 10 rebounds versus New Mexico State plus 17 points and six boards against LA Tech.

6-foot-1 Jeremy Lay - a junior college transfer with a rep as a shooter/ballhandler, he has shot 27% overall and from three-point range so far this season, along with a 46/37 assist-to-turnover ratio but made 6-13 shots (5-11 from three-point range) for 19 points in the earlier matchup against the Spartans.

6-foot-2 Hiram Thompson - He's finally healthy after last year's multitude of injuries and now scoring 9.2 ppg. while having 80 assists to 44 turnovers -- Thompson is shooting 42% overall and 42% from long distance.

The Cavalry

6-foot-7 Adhar Mayen - he does have 13 starts this season but wasn't a factor in the earlier game in Honolulu.

6-foot-8 Petras Balocka - the top rebounder at 8.4 a contest, he is primarily an in-the-paint shooter.

6-foot-0 Dwain Williams - he is not on the road trip and, in his absence, the team has actually performed better and more cohesively (he has missed the last four games due to a death in his family).

7-foot-0 Douglas Kurtz - playing just less than six minutes a game, his contributions have been negligible to date.

The Hawaii Roster, by position

Petras Balocka C 6-8 250 Sr
. Paul Campbell C 6-10 215 Sr.
Douglas Kurtz C 7-0 265 Jr.

Note the home countries respectively of these three: Lithuania, Canada and Brazil respectively.

Adhar Mayen F 6-8 195 Sr.
Ji Xiang F 6-10 240 So.(China)
Brandon Adams F 6-7 220 Sr.
(redshirting) Aleksandar Milovic F 6-7 220 So. (Montenegro)

Hiram Thompson G 6-2 175 Jr.
Dwain Williams G 6-0 175 Jr.
Rykin Enos G 5-11 190 So.
Beau Albrechtson G 6-4 205 So.
Jeremy Lay G 6-0 185 Jr.
Leroy Lutu G 6-3 200 So.
Roderick Flemings G 6-7 210 Sr.

(redshirting) Zane Johnson G 6-6 210 Jr.

What To Expect

- SJSU shot 4-20 from three-point range and 11-19 at the foul line in the January 17 game -- a repeat of that seems unlikely.

- San Jose State was very effective in the paint, outscoring UH 40-18 earlier -- why not again?

- There will definitely be a bunch of Hawaii fans in attendance Thursday night so this MUST be countered -- that is your marching order. Let's not leave the noise-making to the band and the students. Here's a cut-n-paste from the recent article in one of the Honolulu newspapers:

Friends and family expected on road

Hawai'i is expected to have dozens of fans in attendance at Thursday's game in San Jose. Junior guard Hiram Thompson and senior forward Brandon Adams have already received numerous requests for tickets from family and friends in the area. "Maybe 30 to 40," said Thompson, who grew up in El Dorado Hills, Calif. "It's nice to see so many familiar faces like that when you're on the road." Adams attended high school and junior college in California, and he is expecting to have 20 to 30 friends and family members in attendance. "Everybody's calling me already," he said. "I even know some of the guys on the (San Jose State) team, so it should be a fun game."


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Kevin McCarthy is the Basketball Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Kevin with any questions, comments, or tips at kevin@insidesparta.com

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