Rainbows look to position for March’s Big West Tournament

MANOA — The University of Hawai‘i men’s basketball team has a golden opportunity to move up in the Big West standings with a clean sweep of Long Beach State at 7 p.m. today and 5 p.m. Saturday at the SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The ‘Bows, who are currently in sixth place in the Big West, could move up as high as two places if they can defeat the Elbee in two consecutive games.

Hawai‘i is playing for a higher seed in the Big West Conference Tournament, to be held at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas March 9 to 13.

A higher seed would give Hawai’i a better chance of qualifying for the NCAA Division I basketball tournament, as the winner of the tournament will receive an automatic bid to the tournament.

The ‘Bows (8-8, 6-8) most likely won’t have a good enough record to qualify for the NCAA Tournament without winning the BWC tourney.

Hawai’i’s offense is operating with four players who are scoring points in double-digits.

Casdon Jardine is leading the ‘Bows with 12.3 points per game, James Jean-Marie is scoring 12.1 points per game, Justin Webster is scoring 12 points per game and Junior Madut had 11.4 points per game.

The players are averaging 47 points per game between the four starters.

The Elbee’s (4-4, 5-7) momentum is predicated around the play of their guards.

Elbee guard Isaiah Washington is leading the team in points per game, 15.5, while Chance Hunter is rebounding an average of 5.2 boards per game.

The team’s momentum is built around Washington, who is also leading the team in assists with 4.3 assists per game.

If the ‘Bows are going to have a chance to win, they will have to contain Washington and distribute the basketball to their impact players.

Hawai‘i will have one conference series left before the tournament after this weekend, so these next four conference games could significantly impact the team’s playoff chances as they move closer to the BWC Tournament.

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Jason Blasco, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or jblasco@thegardenisland.com.

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