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A rare chance for Hawai’i fans to see a ‘showdown’ game

Celebrate1_LongBeach

It’s not exactly on Halley’s Comet pace, but the University of Hawai’i basketball team playing for a regular-season conference championship is quite rare, and you might want to catch a glimpse of it while you can.

Hawai’i has been affiliated with either the Western Athletic Conference (33 seasons) or the Big West Conference (fourth season) for 37 consecutive seasons. The Warriors have finished atop the regular-season standings just twice in that span.

A prime view of the current run is scheduled for this Thursday, February 11, when the Warriors host UC Irvine in a showdown for sole possession of first place in the Big West Conference. The game is scheduled to start around 8 p.m., following a women’s game between Hawai’i and Long Beach State that starts at 5:30 p.m.

Hawai’i, which is 18-3 overall and 7-1 in the conference, has won 10 of its last 11 games. UCI is 18-6 and 7-1; the Anteaters went 3-0 against the Warriors last year, including a victory in the championship game of the Big West Conference Tournament.

This is only the halfway point of the conference season, and UH and UCI will actually meet again on February 20 in Irvine, Calif., but the victor of this Thursday’s game can claim the “driver’s seat,” at least for now.

Here is a look back at “showdown” games in the two previous years when Hawai’i won a regular-season title:

February 21, 2002

The last time a Hawai’i team hosted a first-place showdown such as this was nearly 14 years ago. The Warriors beat Tulsa, 86-85, before a sellout crowd, and it also happened to be the first “White-Out” game in the Sheriff Center. It also happened to be on a Thursday night.

Hawai’i and Tulsa eventually finished with 15-3 conference records at the end of that season, but the Warriors won the tie-breaker by virtue of their sweep of the home-and-home series.

That Hawai’i team then went on to win the WAC Tournament and advanced to the 2002 NCAA Tournament. It remains the last tango in the Big Dance for this Hawai’i program.

February 27, 1997

The first regular-season conference title for the Warriors came in 1997 — the junior years for Anthony Carter and Alika Smith.

The first-place “showdown” game of that season did not work out quite as well. Hawai’i had a chance to clinch the regular-season title outright with a home win over Fresno State. Instead, the sellout crowd went home disappointed as the Bulldogs prevailed, 98-80. As a side note, that sellout also happened on a Thursday night.

Two nights later, before another sellout home crowd, the Warriors beat San Jose State to earn a tie for the regular-season championship of the WAC’s Pacific Division. Hawai’i and Fresno State both finished with 12-4 records, and Fresno Sate held the tie-breaker advantage.

That 1996-97 Hawai’i team lost in the first round of the WAC Tournament, then played two games in the NIT.

The “Dynamic Duo” of Carter and Smith returned the next season, but finished in fourth place as seniors – yet another reminder of how difficult it has been for Hawai’i teams to be in battles for first place.

HAWAI’I VS. UC IRVINE
When:
Thursday, February 11, 8:00 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Tickets: Lower Level – $26 for all available seats; Upper Level – $18 for adults, $16 for senior citizens (ages 65-older), $5 for students (ages 4-18). Parking is $6.
Doubleheader: Women’s game featuring Hawai’i vs. Long Beach State starts at 5:30 p.m. Fans with tickets to the men’s game can enter early to watch the women’s game.
TV: Live on OCSports (channels 16 and 1016 in Hawai’i)
Internet video: Live on www.bigwest.tv
Radio: Live on ESPN 1420 AM
Internet audio: Live on www.espn1420am.com
Live stats: www.hawaiiathletics.com
Promotions: Oceanic Time Warner Cable will distribute 500 rally towels prior to the game.
Wear black shirts: Thursday is a “Blackout Night” and all fans are encouraged to wear black shirts.

Screen shot 2016-02-09 at 11.18.29 PM

Wednesday’s Big West Games
Cal State Fullerton at CSUN

Thursday’s Big West Games
Cal Poly at Long Beach State
UC Santa Barbara at UC Davis
UC Irvine at Hawai’i, 8:00 p.m.

Saturday’s Big West Games
Long Beach State at UC Davis
CSUN at UC Irvine
Cal Poly at UC Riverside
Cal State Fullerton at Hawai’i, 7:00 p.m.

16 Comments

  1. Hi, kinda new here but what a game this should be!

    I remember the showdown with Irvine when Shamburger hit that 3 to force OT on the road, and how we pulled that win out. And also the heatbreaker from last year’s conference final..

    I was wondering about Serbollywood productions from the most recent road trip, just cause find them thoroughly entertaining thats why. Its a cool glimpse bts of this record breaking season and funny to see the Cali guys showing the team around.

    Go Bows!

  2. Seriously? Only two championships? I am surprised by that! I remember the Tulsa game but does not seem like it was that long time ago. In the AC-Alika years, Fresno was our true rival. Time to get another one!

  3. It’s a bit of a showdown for the Wahine as well for second place right now! A nice warm up before the Men’s game, I hope folks come early to catch it and don’t just hang out by the beer and food but come INTO the STANDS and watch! The Wahine are playing a bit better as of late. Starting to get their groove back, fewer unforced turnovers (though still too many).

    Go Bows!!

  4. Game for first. Should be great game! Go Bows!!

    Our family ready to rock!

  5. From UCI perspective,
    ” UCI, 18-6 overall, is off to the program’s best start since the 2000-01 team had a 21-3 record after 24 games. The 7-1 conference start is the best since the 2005-06 team opened league play 8-0.
    As of Tuesday morning, UCI ranks seventh in the nation (of 351 teams) in field-goal percentage defense (.378), 22nd in scoring defense (63.9) and 24th in blocked shots per game (5.4).

    As of Tuesday morning, Young ranks eighth in the nation in assist/turnover ratio at 4.0, which leads the Big West. He has nine games this season with NO turnovers.
    Junior center Mamadou Ndiaye has 192 career blocked shots to rank fifth in Big West Conference history. As of Tuesday morning, he ranks 11th in the nation with 61 total blocks this season and 17th in blocked shots per game (2.54), which leads the Big West.
    Junior guard Luke Nelson became the 26th player in UCI history to reach 1,000 points after scoring 21 in last week’s win at Cal Poly. He has 1,018 career points and is averaging 16.1 points in Big West games. Nelson is 49 of 53 (.925) from the free-throw line in all games this season.
    Senior forward Mike Best has averaged 11.2 points and 6.6 rebounds in the last five games, including 20 points in the 61-52 win at UC Santa Barbara Jan. 16.”
    http://ucirvinesports.com/sports/m-baskbl/2015-16/releases/20160209oy995j

  6. Looks like Hawaii has been pegged as a potential “Giant-killer” by ESPN’s Jordan Brenner:

    “Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (GK Rating: 20.9): Trying to lock down its first ticket to Big Dance since 2002, Hawaii is playing on borrowed time: In December, the NCAA slapped a batch of sanctions on the Rainbow Warriors for offenses committed under ex-coach Gib Arnold, including a postseason ban next year. But Eran Ganot, a former assistant at St. Mary’s, inherited a talented squad and has tightened it up on offense and defense. In particular, Hawaii has leaped from 314th in the nation all the way to 27th in defensive rebounding percentage while actually improving its perimeter defense. The Rainbow Warriors, currently pegged by Lunardi as a 14-seed, are a legit top-75 team, stronger than any other 14 — and better than most projected 13s and 12s.

    Even better for our purposes, all the turmoil and a new coach and system haven’t dampened Hawaii’s key Giant-Killing spark: the disruptive play of their guards. The ability to force turnovers is crucial for taking down Giants and, historically, steals are the most important type of turnovers. And after Roderick Bobbitt recorded 100 steals last season, the most in the NCAA, he’s back to his old tricks, filching 3.6 percent of opponent possessions, the 49th-best rate in the country. Quincy Smith (4.0 percent) is an even more outrageous thief, and Isaac Fleming (3.1 percent) isn’t far behind. This is a crew capable of hijacking the rock — and your bracket — in March.”

  7. KelleyO, I was curious about your interest in basketball since we don’t have a lot of female posters. Do you find the men’s or women’s game more interesting and why?

    I always watch the men’s team but will only watch the women’s team occasionally and more so if they’re having a good season. Their game is different so I watch it in that context but the men’s game is so much more athletic and quicker that it just seems more interesting.

    I was wondering whether if was just my male bias that my interest is more in the men’s team although I do want to see the women’s team do well especially with a good coach like Beeman.

  8. Dayton,

    Same IPs for comments above?

    Since this site is built on WordPress, the Warrior Insider team can block comments from specific IPs. Documentation is here: http://codex.wordpress.org/Combating_Comment_Spam#Comment_Blacklist

  9. BigFan, I had an older brother who played on two Hawaii State Basketball Championship teams and we played ball together since little kid days. I played in HS too but softball was my main sport and I was recruited to play Division I at UCLA but I won’t tell you long story…I ended up at another school and stopped playing competitive ball. Have always loved all sports, coached girl’s softball and my boys in baseball but just watched them play basketball. Not knowledgable enough in the game to coach, but still love to watch. I would have to agree, the men’s game is very different than the women’s game in basketball and I prefer the men’s game as well. Similarly, the women’s volleyball game is much different than the men’s, and most prefer women’s volleyball. However, coaching is HUGE and since Hawaii has gotten Laura Beeman as a coach I find the Wahine games much more palatable because they actually know what they are doing, make plays, have a strategy, and play as a team. Their skill level is 20 times better under her, it’s like night and day. And so, once you get to know the players and care about them, it can be very fun to watch. Some of the ladies are quite skilled and have some great moves to the basket. Watching Kuehu last year with her long arms block shots was crazy! Connie Morris is smooth and natural and Megan Huff is just an athlete. Kalei Adolpho has improved dramatically this year. So yeah, I think for me it’s about relating to and caring about the players. Before Beeman, I couldn’t watch, honestly I could have coached better I thought. But now, they’re fun to watch. But I still like the men more. Like you said, the pace and athleticism and power is just faster, higher, harder! Thanks for asking. (Through HS I could still beat my brother in HORSE…1 out of 5 times)

  10. No word on the Serbolllywood productions yet? 🙁 haha

  11. Brian McInnis ‏@Brian_McInnis 39 minutes ago

    Fleming (right ankle) looks 100 percent operating with the second unit, or as close to it as you could hope for.

  12. “The first 515 students are guaranteed admission, however, the Athletics Department will make every effort to accommodate as many students who wish to attend the doubleheader. More than 750 students attended the last women’s-men’s basketball doubleheader (Jan. 30), which drew a sellout crowd.”
    http://hawaiiathletics.com/news/2016/2/10/MBB_0210163237.aspx?path=mbball

  13. Brian McInnis ‏@Brian_McInnis 24m ago

    After practice, Isaac Fleming describes himself as “day by day” and “most likely not going to play” vs. UCI. Still experiencing some pain

  14. Kaimukian, welcome to the site.

    Due to technical difficulties, there will be no Serbollywood episodes from the last road trip. We hope to bring you new episodes from the next trip.

  15. TAVS and others, the WarriorInsider staff is aware of potential alias addresses, and I will leave it at that without drawing any more attention to this matter.

    Thank you.

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