Wolf Pack visits old nemesis Hawai’i | NevadaAppeal.com

Wolf Pack visits old nemesis Hawai’i

When: Tonight, 9:05 PDT

Where: Stan Sherif Center, Honolulu (10,300)

TV: KREN-TV

Radio: ESPN Radio 630 AM, pre-game starts at 8:35 p.m.

Coaches: Nevada’s Mark Fox (35-9) is in his 2nd season; Hawai’i’s Riley Wallace (306-245) is in his 19th season

Starters: Nevada – Mo Charlo (13.8), Nick Fazekas (20.2); C Chad Bell (3.0); G Ramon Sessions (3.6), Kyle Shiloh (6.0). Hawai’i – F Matthew Gipson (9.0), Julian Sensley (15.4); C Ahmet Gueye (13.5); G Matt Lojeski (13.6), Deonte Tatum (7.0)

By DARRELL MOODY

Appeal Sports Writer

If there is one Western Athletic Conference team that gives Nevada fits more than any other it’s Hawai’i.

Over the past four seasons, Nevada has enjoyed a 5-3 edge over the Rainbow Warriors, including three straight wins, but the games have been very close. The Pack won both games in 2004, but only 11 points separated the teams in those games. In 2002, only 10 points separated them, as the teams split.

Nevada (10-2) hopes to extend that winning streak to four straight when it visits the Rainbow Warriors (7-4, 1-0) tonight at 9:05 p.m. PDT (KREN-TV) for its conference opener at Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu.

“We’ve only won over here once (last year) since I’ve been here,” Nevada coach Mark Fox said. “It’s a difficult trip. You have to give them credit. They’re a good club and we’ve played close games. I anticipate another one tonight.”

So does Hawai’i coach Riley Wallace.

“We’ve played them pretty tough,” Wallace said. “We still haven’t been able to get it done. They don’t give up a lot of easy baskets. We weren’t getting the job done with jump shots (last year), and we didn’t get to the line enough last year.

“They don’t have (Kevinn) Pinkney this year. I hadn’t seen a player improve as much as he did over four years. The big guy (Chad Bell) is growing up in the middle. They are playing better on the perimeter than they did a year ago.”

Wallace was referring to the outside shooting of Marcelus Kemp (14.8) and Mo Charlo (13.8). Those two trail only Nick Fazekas (20.2) in scoring.

Both teams are coming off losses.

Penn handed Hawai’i a rare home loss, 58-55, back on Dec. 29. The Rainbow Warriors made only 11 of 22 free-throw attempts. Meanwhile, Nevada was bombarded for 55 second-half points and gave up 17 offensive rebounds in its 89-80 loss to Saint Mary’s College on Dec. 31.

“We’re making progress,” Fox said of the practice sessions before leaving for Honolulu late Tuesday morning. “We still have a lot of work to do.”

Hawai’i has been bolstered by the addition of JC transfers Matt Lojeski (13.5) and Ahmet Gueye (13.5), who have really given the team a lift. Combine that with the always dangerous Julian Sensley (15.4) and you have possibly the best scoring trio in the conference.

“They added two impact junior college players,” Fox said. “He (Lojeski) is a good shooter with good size (6-5, 215). He’s very mobile and moves well without the ball. He’s a perfect fit for them.

“Gueye is really good. He’s very active on the glass. He’s a welcome addition to their front line. Sensley has been much more effective offensively. He’s the real key to their team.”

Hawai’i uses a lot of screens in running its offense, something which gave Nevada fits in the 67-56 loss to UCLA at the Wooden Classic.

Wallace said Lojeski is more of a catch-and-shoot type of shooter who doesn’t come off screens.

“He’s a quality player,” Wallace said. “Ahmet is a strong kid and a good jumper. He’s a good shot blocker.”

NOTES: Because of suspensions and injuries, Hawai’i is down to nine scholarship players… Freshman Hiram Thompson from El Dorado Hills, Calif. has played well for Hawai’i. He scored a season-best 15 points in 27 minutes in a win over Northwestern State … Nevada seems to have settled on primarily an eight-man rotation. David Ellis (9.2 minutes) and Denis Ikovlev (8.8 minutes) appear to be the ninth and 10th players, and their participation appears to be more based on matchups than anything else.

n Contact Darrell Moody at dmoody@nevadaappeal.com, or by calling (775) 881-1281