By Jeff Portnoy
After Uh's two road victories last week, excietment about the prospects for this year's team is at an all-time ( at least for this year) high. The win against Irvine brought the Rainbow Warriors to withn a game of the Conference lead, and with four home games coming up, many think that come mid-February, the Bows will lead the Conference.
Not so fast however. First Long Beach, tied with UH for third, comes into town, followed by Northridge. Then its Santa Barbara and Cal Poly. Uh has already lost to Northridge and Cal Poly, but they should defeat Northridge pretty easily at home. Cal Poly has had Hawaii's number for the past two years, but they are playing poorly away from home. Santa Barbara is considered by some to the best team in the league and Long Beach is now at full strength with the addtion of UCLA transfer Tyler Lamb and Travis Hammonds. The 49ers also have Mike Caffey and Dan Jennings and after a brutal pre-conference schedule, are coming into form. They just beat Cal Poly there, something which is not easy to do and have wins over USC and Nevada out of Conference.
But it is beginning to look like this maybe Hawaii's year. After three up and down years, and three down years before that, this year's team seems to be putting it all together. They are averaging almost 83 points per game and lead the Conference ( all games) in scoring offense, scoring margin, rebounding margin, and turnover margin. You wont lose too many with those stats. Fotu leads the Conference in field goal Pct, Standhardinger is tied for second in scoring ; Nevels is second in three-point FG Pct; and Shamburger is second in assists.
I expect big crowds for this weekend's game. There is palpable excitment in the community about this year's team and with Irvine at Santa Barbara on Thursday, Long Beach at Hawaii Thursday, Long Beach at Irvine next week, and Irvine at Cal Poly this S, expect the leader board in the Conference to be shaken up by the end of next week.
Every team but Hawaii has lost at least one home game in Conference and only Irvine is perfect on the road. You have to hold court at home and at least split on the road to finish in the top three. Hawaii right now is on its way, but there are many games left to play.
As always, the blog refects my personal views, not those of any other Regent.