By Jeff Portnoy
Uh's win Saturday night against Irvine was maybe the most important victory in Gib's tenure at UH. The team fought back from a ten point second half deficit against the league leader on its home court before a sold out arena . Yes, you need to have a little luck and a coaching error by Irvine ( I will discuss in a minute), but the victory positions UH to challange for the league lead after Santa Barbara and Cal Poly lost games they should have won and Hawaii now has four straight home games.
First, they may not be the Fabulous Five, but they are becomming the Iron Men five. This road trip had all five starters play almost all of the minutes, and in Saturday's game, score all of the points. The bench may provide a minute or two of relief, but hopefully the starters wont wear our or foul out. The starting five's conditioning to date has been something to admire.
After a rough first few league games, Keith Shamburger has really come on. In fact, he was just named the Big West Player of the Week. Well deserved. And coming on the heels of his Aunt's death and funeral, you would have to think a higher force directed that last second three point shot off the glass and into the basket.
Stardhardinger may have made the seond most important play when he fouled out Irvine's 7 footer. And Fotu was unconscious from the field. All in all a great win.
But i would be remiss if i didnt bring up the play that probably cost Irvine the win. No, not the missed end of a two point foul shot opportunity that would have Irvine up 4 with 5 seconds to play. I am talking about the failure to foul UH on the inbounds play from the sideline that led to Shamburger's three. It is pretty clear that the necessary play with 5 seconds to play, up three, is to foul and make the shooter go to the line, where evn if he makes both, you still lead by one. Then, assuming you can inbound the basketball, your team goes to the line with less than 4 seconds to play at the other end of the court. make the free throws, the game is over. miss, and your opponent still has to go the length of the court in less than 4 seconds and make a three ( if you dont foul again). Instead, Irvine made the cardinal error and allowed Uh to get off a shot after taking the ball in in its offensive zone. Yes i know, UH might have made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second hoping for the rebound. But how often does that happen at the end of a game.
I would like to hear from you folks on whether you agree or not. That's the fun of being a fan. Yes, it worked out great for the hometeam and for that, we are all grateful. and i want to make this clear. UH played great, and even if they had lost, it would have taken nothing away from its effort and performance. You know, somtimes being lucky as well as good makes for a championship. Its the good that comes first.