When the Maryland men's basketball team last played at the Spokane Arena, in the second round of the 2010 NCAA tournament, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo and the Spartans — particularly last-second hero Korie Lucious — stood in the way.
On Sunday, with the Terps' first Sweet 16 berth since 2003 at stake, Hawaii coach Eran Ganot and the Rainbow Warriors — particularly star center Stefan Jankovic as well as first-round heroes Roderick Bobbitt and Quincy Smith — will be trying to block the route to Louisville's South Regional semifinals.
Making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament since 2002, the year the Terps won the national championship, 13th-seeded Hawaii took advantage of a California team that was missing its starting backcourt Friday to advance with a 77-66 victory.
Asked what it meant to win an NCAA tournament for the first time in five tries, the 33-year old Ganot said, "It's special. I said when I got hired [last year] that this was an honor to represent a program I had been to before [as an assistant] and had studied the history of the program.
"When I first got the job, these guys will tell you our first meeting was talking about the history of the program. Because to build for the future, you've got to honor the past and to honor your past you've got to know your past. So they got a history lesson and now they know it as well as anybody."
With a large contingent of Hawaii's fans in attendance spending the first half yelling at the officials for an abundance of foul calls and the second half alternating between chants of "Rain" and "Bows," Ganot's team proved to be tougher and smarter than the talented but suddenly average Bears.
Ganot, who was an assistant at both Hawaii and St. Mary's, credited the rowdy fans for helping the team to its most significant win in program history.
"I've been at Hawaii before; it's a special fan base, special people there," said Ganot, who started his career as the team's director of operations in 2006 before being promoted to assistant coach for three years. "Hawaii's as good as it gets. Don't forget, they're traveling a long way."
So are the players.
Led mostly in the first half by Jankovic — the 6-foot-11 junior forward from Canada who scored 10 of his 16 points before getting into some foul trouble — Hawaii built a 36-30 lead by halftime.
Led mostly in the second half by Bobbitt and Smith — a couple of Northern California guards who combined for 17 of the Rainbow Warriors' 36 first-half points — Hawaii broke the game open in the final five minutes.
Smith, who finished with a team-high 19 points, said that Jankovic's foul trouble "probably just made us to be a little more aggressive. We knew he was going back in eventually. It was really my fault he got that fourth foul. But so I tried to make it up to him by getting a couple of buckets for him."
The Bears unraveled playing without senior point guard Tyrone Wallace, who broke his hand at practice Wednesday, and junior Jabari Byrd, who sat out the game with back spasms.
Freshman forward Ivan Rabb finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds, and star freshman guard Jaylen Brown was in constant foul trouble, finishing with just four points and seven turnovers in 17 minutes.
Cal coach Cuonzo Martin refused to blame his team's defeat on the absence of his guards or the tumultuous week his team went through with the dismissal of assistant coach Yann Huffnagel after violating the school's sexual harassment policy.
"I don't think it was frustrating at all," Martin said. "We all kind of moved past that as the week went on, and we were solely focused on the game. And so we didn't let it distract us and unfortunately we couldn't come out with the win."
Martin added that it was a "really good win for Hawaii. I felt they played well as a team. Their guard did a great job controlling the tempo. They played with passion. They played with energy. It was fun to watch them play. So congratulations to those guys."
The victory by Hawaii, and Maryland's subsequent 79-74 win over No. 12 seed South Dakota State, sets up an interesting matchup between President Obama's home state school and the NCAA tournament school closest to his current residence.
Obama, who has been called a Baracketololgist, picked both the Terps and Rainbow Warriors to win their respective openers. He also picked Maryland to advance to the Sweet 16.
"I think Obama's bracket is still intact," Jankovic said. "For the next round it won't be because I think we're going to be in upset city. I remember a couple of years back watching Florida Gulf Coast and 'Dunk City,' and it's just the whole world watches. Just to be part of that is something special."