Warriors want to ride momentum on road
The “Senior Night” game last week may have been a joyous celebration, but the Hawaii basketball team is far from done this season.
The Warriors still have two crucial Western Athletic Conference road games this week before heading to Las Vegas for the WAC Tournament. They are scheduled to be on the road for at least two weeks. First up is a conference game at San Jose State on Thursday (5:30 p.m. Hawaii time).
“Yeah, no time to celebrate,” senior forward Bill Amis said. “We know the season’s not done yet and we have to keep working hard if we want to keep this thing going.”
This week’s outcomes – Thursday at San Jose State and Saturday at Fresno State – will determine Hawaii’s seeding for the eight-team WAC Tournament.
The Warriors have won four consecutive games and are 17-10 overall and tied for fifth place in the WAC at 7-7. Hawaii is hoping to hop into the No. 4 seed, which would come with a first-round bye. The 5, 6, 7 and 8 seeds must play in the first round, and would have to win four games in as many days to clinch the WAC Tournament title.
“I’m expecting us to ride the momentum we have into some wins,” junior guard Zane Johnson said. “And then pull off a nice run in the WAC Tournament and get us into the NCAA Tournament this year.”
Interestingly enough, Hawaii and San Jose State are two of the hottest teams in the WAC, even though neither is currently among the top four.
The Spartans have also won four games in a row and are 15-12 overall and in seventh place in the WAC at 5-9.
The Warriors defeated the Spartans, 67-61, on Jan. 22 in the Stan Sheriff Center. This time, the game will be played at The Event Center, where San Jose State is 9-5.
“They’re a different team,” Amis said. “It’s going to be a tough game to win. They got two really good players. It’s going to be fun.”
San Jose State’s top player is guard Adrian Oliver, who also happens to be one of the top scorers in the country. He leads the WAC and is third in the nation with 24.3 points per game. He scored just 10 in the loss at Hawaii, but that was his first game back after a concussion.
“We guarded them well, took their main guys out,” Johnson said. “We’re going to do the same this time, make the other guys beat us.”
San Jose State’s other top player is point guard Justin Graham. He is averaging 15.3 points and 4.5 assists per game, and scored 20 in the loss at Hawaii.
Johnson leads the Warriors with 15.2 points per game, and leads the WAC with 84 3-pointers. Amis is averaging 14.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game, and leads the team with 34 blocked shots.
Joston Thomas had 14 points and 14 rebounds in the win over San Jose State in January, but his playing time has diminished in recent weeks. He is expected to resume a key role again at San Jose State.
The Spartans lead the WAC in scoring with 73.8 points per game, but also allow the most points per game at 73.2. The Warriors are averaging 68.3 points per game, while allowing 65.9.