sorry for no posts the last two weeks, but I have been out of town ( Cuba).
While I was gone, the team posted a 1-2 record to open conference play. Frankly, a poor start. The home overtime loss to Cal Poly and the road loss to Riverside exposed some weaknesses that we have been talking about all year. A struggle to score in the half court and some undisciplined play down the stretch ( poor shot selection, bad clock management, etc).
But last night, the Rainbow Warriors played inspired basketball in a must win game against UC Davis. When UH combines its excellent pressure defense with a 50% field goal percentage, they will be very hard to beat. In my opinion, the team played its best 25 minutes of basketball last night in a game they had to win to remain competitive in the league. 18 steals led to 36 points off of turnovers, and UH exposed Davis' lack of athleticism in a dominating performance. Add 10 made threes to the mix, and it makes for an outstanding effort.
Was it perfect. No. Hawaii was badly outrebounded by a mediocre rebounding team, and a 26 point lead with under 8 minutes to play ended in an 8 point victory. Once again, Hawaii made some poor decisions down the stretch, but this time, their lead was so large it didn't really hurt. But some of the freshman need to grow up quickly before those mistakes cost the team a win or two.
Now Irvine comes to town. They were the preseason favorites to win the league, but until recently they have struggled a little bit. But they have played some tough road games, a three point loss at St. Mary's and a 2 point loss at Oregon, and they opened league play with a 3-1 record. They still have some injury issues, and it is not clear whether 7'6" Center Mamadou Ndiaye will play. I doubt he will. Without him, Irvine still has some solid players like Luke Nelson and Will Davis, but the Anteaters need the big man in the paint to thwart Hawaii's penetration . Without him, Hawaii's guards should be able to get to the hoop.. Irvine does come off a thirty plus point destruction of Northridge on the road last night.
Hawaii needs this game tomorrow. The " easy part" of UH's schedule was the first five games. Some thought they would go 5-0. A 2-3 record with two home losses will make it very difficult to compete for the top two or three spots. After tomorrow, UH goes on the road for four games, and against some of the stronger teams in the league( Long Beach and Santa Barbara and a rematch with Cal Poly). So its not too early to say tomorrow is a must win game. If they play like they did last night, they will win. If they play like they did against Cal Poly and Riverside, it wont be close.