By Jeff Portnoy
After Irvine's comeback Saturday night to beat Davis, UH ends up with the 5th seed and will meet Irvine Thursday night in the last game of round 1. Is this good or bad? Well, if Davis had held on for the win, UH would have been seeded 6th and would have faced Cal Poly, a team they have lost to twice already, so that's good.
On the other hand, Irvine matches up well with Hawaii inside and plays good defense. That's bad. On the other hand, they are not a very strong offensive team, not a great 3 point shooting team, and is pretty poor from the line, so all that is good.
Before the final two games of the season ( those stats are not yet out), Irvine led the Conference in Assists, Blocked Shots, Defensive Rebounds, Field Goal Pct Defense, and Rebounding Offense. They were near the bottom in Free Throw Pct and Steals. Hawaii ranked 2nd ( behind Irvine) in Field Goal Defense , Offense and Defensive Rebounds and is first in Rebounding Margin.
So expect a game in the 60's. Hawaii lost at Irvine by 4 , 68-64, and beat them at home by 6 , 78-72. Irvine has closed the regular season by winning 6 of 7, while Hawaii ended 3-3.
Irvine has very balanced scoring with 6 players averaging 8.6 points or more, Damon Starring is their leading scorer at 13.3 ppg. They have balanced rebounding stats as well. They were undefeated in Conference play at home and won twice on the road.
The All Conference team was announced today. Not surprisingly, Standhardinger made the first team and Fotu was the Co-Freshman of the Year. Vander, disappointingly, only made Honorable Mention, but frankly, that's all he deserved in a league where he dominated in size most of his opponents. Maybe it will spur him on in the tournament to prove the voters wrong.
Team rankings has Irvine and Pacific as the Tournament co-favorites at 22% each, with Cal Poly next at 15% followed by Long Beach at 14%. next up is Fullerton at 8%, UH at 7%, and Davis at 6%. I am surprised by the high % for Irvine and Fullerton and not the modest prediction for Long Beach.
For those of you playing the contest, You now know UH's first round opponent. Remember, the Big West reseeds after each round so our next opponent is unknown, but i think it will be Long Beach.
My prediction? you will have to wait until Weds. I leave tomorrow to broadcast both the men and women's games with Bobby. Jackson and I will have our Conference preview show Weds night after the woman's second round game ( they get a first round bye after finishing third- congratulations to the Wahine for a very good season). Dont forget to get in on the contest. Check last week's blogs for rules