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Gary’s Hoops Scoops: March 10

Well, this it. It’s that time of the year. As Artie Wilson used to say to Jim Leahey at the end of a close UH game, “It’s crunch, time Jim.”

That’s where we are this week with our University of Hawaii men’s basketball team. It’s win or go home . That’s part of what makes March Madness so great. You can be so happy with your team’s success,  and in  a matter of a day, or sometimes seconds, the season could be over and careers will end.

Hopefully, our favorite team can hang around this month for a while longer. I am happy with the first-round matchup this Thursday, as Hawaii will play UC Davis. Last week, Hawaii beat the Aggies for the second time this season, 67-65, on a last-second three-pointer by Samuta Avea. UH was down by 13 with 3:45 left, and I wasn’t feeling good about how this game might end. But again, and all season long, this team has no quit in them. I don’t think too many teams could come back on the road in that situation, but this team did, and they should be commended for that.

Equally important was that Avea showed he’s back from his back injury. (Pun intended.) That’s really big for this team. He hit four three-pointers in the game’s final minutes, and topped that on Saturday with a career-high 20 points and 9 rebounds. With Avea whole again, this team hopefully can play like they did in January when they were 5-1 in Big West play. “Steady” Eddie Stansberry had his career high of 31 last week, which makes me really like their chances of beating Davis.

UH has gone “one and done” the last three years of the Big West tournament. It’s been very disappointing to be so close, and like I wrote earlier, in a matter of seconds, the season ended. I hope this year is different. Assuming that the ’Bows will win on Thursday, if there are no upsets that day, the reward is UC Irvine in the semis on Friday. If there is one upset, then it could be any of the other winners from the first round in a semifinal on Friday. I admit, I get real nervous this time of the year. I really want this team to win. The players, coaches and us fans deserve to celebrate a win, if not two or three wins this week. It’s been a while, and hopefully it’s Hawaii’s turn. I know if they lose on Thursday, some fans will tell me, “I told you so” and “Same old story.” I don’t want to hear that this year.

Let the madness begin.

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