Big West Tournament celebration leftovers
Some things are just so good, you can’t get enough of it, even a few days later. Such is the case with the University of Hawai’i basketball team’s epic Big West Conference Tournament championship game last Saturday.
In what is now on the list of most exhilarating and meaningful victories in program history, the Warriors beat Long Beach State, 64-60, in the title game at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif.
The victory earned the Warriors a spot in the NCAA Tournament for just the fifth time in program history, and the first since 2002. This is also just the fourth conference tournament championship for the Warriors in 37 years of conference affiliation.
Hawai’i, which is a No. 13 seed in the South Region, will play No. 4 seed Cal on Friday at the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena in Spokane, Wash. Friday’s game is scheduled to start at 8:00 a.m. (Hawai’i time), and will be televised nationally on TBS (Oceanic channels 551 and 1551 in Hawai’i).
Before looking ahead to the matchup with Cal, the above video is a look back at the unforgettable post-game celebration that took place on the Honda Center court.
Here are also some key points that made the Big West title victory all the more significant:
• Senior starting guard Quincy Smith sat out the second half of the semifinal game on Friday night with a hip injury. His status was officially in question up until game time. Behind closed doors, Smith wasn’t going to let anyone – or the hip injury – prevent him from playing in the championship game.
“It was zero percent chance I wasn’t going to play,” said Smith, who finished with five points, four rebounds and four assists in the championship game. “This is the last game of the season for me, and this was to get to the Tournament, something I’ve been wanting to do since I got here. For me, I was playing the whole time.”
• Sophomore reserve guard Niko Filipovich was thrust into the spotlight when starting point guard Roderick Bobbitt was assessed his second foul of the first half with 12:34 remaining. Filipovich responded with four points, including a momentum-building layup just before the halftime horn sounded. He also defended Long Beach State point guard Justin Bibbins, who is a second-team All-Big West selection. Filipovich and Bibbins were teammates at Bishop Montgomery High School in California.
“Me and JB go way back – playing against him every day in practice (in high school),” Filipovich said. “Credit to him, he’s a really good ball player. He’s quick, it’s hard to stay in front of him, but I think we did a really good job of giving him less space to work with.”
• Freshman guard/forward Sheriff Drammeh scored a season-high six points – on 2-for-2 shooting from 3-point range – while playing 21 crucial reserve minutes in the title game. His play essentially allowed Smith to receive moments of rest throughout the game.
• Junior center Stefan Jovanovic had nine points and six rebounds in the championship game, capping a solid three-game tournament for the 6-11 reserve. He finished with 21 points on 8-for-14 shooting (57.1 percent) and grabbed 14 rebounds while providing valuable relief for Big West Player of the Year Stefan Jankovic.
• Aaron Valdes scored 51 points on 18-of-29 (62.1 percent) shooting from the field, and added 21 rebounds and 14 assists in the three games of the tournament to earn Most Valuable Player honors. He is the fourth UH player to earn a MVP award for a conference tournament, joining past WAC Tournament MVPs Trevor Ruffin (1994), Carl English (2001) and Predrag Savovic (2002).
• Hawai’i men’s basketball teams are now 6-0 when playing as the No. 1 seed in a conference tournament. Prior to this year, the only previous time that UH was a No. 1 seed was during the 2002 WAC Tournament. The Warriors went 3-0 in that tournament, which was played at Tulsa, Oklahoma.
• This is only the second time in UH basketball history that both the Hawai’i men’s and women’s teams are participating in the NCAA Tournament in the same season. In 1994, the UH men won the WAC Tournament to earn an automatic bid, while the UH women received an at-large bid. This is the first time that the UH men and women won the conference tournament title in the same season.
• The victory was Hawai’i’s 27th of this season, tying the school record set by the 2001-02 team. The 27-5 overall record also matches the mark that the 2001-02 team had entering the NCAA Tournament.
(Photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com)
HAWAI’I VS. NO. 23 CAL
What: NCAA Tournament First Round
Where: Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena, Spokane, Washington
When: Friday, March 18, 8:00 a.m. (Hawai’i time)
TV: Live on TBS (Oceanic channels 551 and 1551 in Hawai’i)
Internet video: Live streaming on www.ncaa.com/march-madness-live/watch
Radio: Live on ESPN 1420 AM
Internet audio:Live on www.espn1420am.com
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TICKET INFORMATION FOR HAWAI’I’S GAMES AT SPOKANE
The NCAA has provided approximately 200 tickets for the University of Hawai`i Athletic Department to sell in sections 105, 106 & 206.
We will be going on sale with a limited amount of tickets for the Men’s Basketball NCAA tickets starting on Monday, March 14. Below is an outline of the process:
Monday, March 14 @ 11:00 a.m. – H-Club Members (National Champion, All-American, All-Conference, Captain). Four (4) ticket limit to be enforced.
If tickets remain past Monday, the following dates will take effect with a Two (2) ticket limit:
Tuesday, March 15 @ 9:00 a.m. – H-Club Members (Starter, Varsity, Fan)/UH Corporate Partners
Tuesday, March 15 @ 11:00 a.m. – Men’s Basketball Season-Ticket Holders (Non H-Club Members)
Tuesday, March 15 @ 1:00 p.m. – Non Season Ticket Holders/General Public
UH Corporate Partner inquiries, please contact Chandra Kinilau at (808) 956-5289.
If our Rainbow Warriors are victorious in the First Round, customers that purchased tickets will automatically be charged and receive tickets for the Second Round game on Sunday, March 20th.
Tickets can be picked up on game day at the Hawai`i will call at the Spokane Veteran’s Memorial Arena on game day one hour prior to tip-off.
The UH allotment is located in sections 105, 106 & 206 in the Spokane Arena.
Other possible avenues to purchase tickets are as follows and are not affiliated with tickets being sold by the UH Athletic Department:
NCAA Ticket Exchange
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