Gameday: at UC Irvine

by Brian McInnis on January 7, 2017

Mike Thomas went up against Mamadou Ndiaye in last year's meeting at UC Irvine. / Photo by Darrell Miho, Special to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser

Mike Thomas went up against Mamadou Ndiaye in last year’s meeting at UC Irvine. / Photo by Darrell Miho, Special to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser

No Mamadou, no problem?

Not quite.

UC Irvine (8-9, 1-0 Big West) is still a formidable opponent in the BWC ranks. Hawaii (6-8, 0-1) is up for a challenge tonight at the Bren Events Center as the Rainbow Warriors seek their first road and league win of the season.

Tipoff is 5:30 p.m. HST and will be televised on Fox Sports Prime Ticket. With a cable subscription, you can watch it streaming here.

UH has started off Big West Conference play 0-2 only once — in 2013-14, when the ‘Bows rebounded to go 9-7 in league play. Of course, all UH victories that season were retroactively vacated by the NCAA.

Irvine, which beat Long Beach State by 15 on Wednesday, is favored by 9.5 points. BWC first-teamer Luke Nelson is back from a hamstring injury and Jaron Martin, a former bench player, is his new backcourt mate as the new Alex Young.

UCI center Ioannis Dimakopoulos may not be the rim-protecting presence Mamadou Ndiaye was, but he is still very large — 7 feet 2 — and is very capable of burning teams from beyond the arc, where he shoots 50 percent.

Will this be the game Noah Allen busts out of his funk? The senior has missed his last 16 field-goal attempts, so perhaps he’s due.

Leland Green in particular has been assertive of late, making up for some — but certainly not all — of what the team is missing with Allen struggling. Green is coming off a season-high 12-point effort in Thursday’s 67-64 loss at Cal State Fullerton.

UCI is the best defensive team in the league. Hawaii’s had some well-chronicled struggles scoring the ball. On paper, it’s not a recipe for success. But you never know — UH has stunned the ‘Eaters on their home court twice, in 2013 and 2016.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Ehyou January 8, 2017 at 10:25 am

It’s going to be a long season. Appreciate the effort by all the Bows last night but the lack of leadership and play makers on the team has definitely contributed to their losses. I think the main issue is the problem with shooting. It’s abysmal and there is no way they can compete with another team that is averaging over 50% like UC Irvine did last night. I’m also concerned about Noah Allen’s recent “funk”. Being the lone senior on the team, he was expected to be Hawaii’s leading scorer but has only seen his playing time diminish from starter to a non-factor. Hopefully the 5-game home stand will be enough for the Bows to regain their traction and footing in Big West conference play.

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