Hawaii, UC Irvine Preview

Just a day before the Big West Conference Tournament is set to begin and everyone is on their toes.

Except for Brandon Spearman. Hopefully he's resting and taking some weight off of that precious ankle of his, having missed the last three games with injury. You see, rumors are that Spearman, who travelled with the team to Anaheim, is day-to-day and might...just MIGHT, make his return to the court in Hawaii's quarterfinal matchup against UC Irvine.

This is absolutely not a moment too soon, as the Warriors struggle to right the ship coming off two straight losses (to Cal Poly on Senior Night and then to Cal State Northridge) took them out of contention for a #2 seed and dropped them to #5.

To anyone who watched the games, it was painfully apparent that without Spearman's relentless energy and athleticism, the team had sputtered somewhat, relying on Isaac Fotu to carry the intangible's load that the freshman, though supremely talented, just wasn't ready for. Hawaii's offense desperately needs a wing player who can create, both for himself off the dribble, and for others off the pass, both of which Spearman excels at. He's also good for 1-2 really athletic hustle plays a game (put-back dunk, incredible rebound, etc.) and that quality is usually contagious amongst his teammates when he's on the floor.

At the end of the day, only two points separate these two teams in the season series (currently 1-1) as the first game was won by Irvine in Irvine 64-68 and the second by Hawaii at Hawaii 78-72. And for those that are worried about Spearman's conditioning, having not practiced for more than a month, take solace in Duke's Ryan Kelly, who despite coming back from a severe foot injury, has maintained the same excellant level of play he'd had before he got hurt.

Finally, for those who are wondering, here are the specifics for tomorrow's game: #5 Hawai'i (17-13, 10-8 Big West) vs. #4 UC Irvine (18-14, 11-7 Big West)

When: Thursday, March 14, 5:30 p.m. (Hawai'i time)

Where: The Honda Center (18,336) – Anaheim, Calif.

Television: Fox Prime Ticket.

Streaming Video: Live video streaming is available on BigWest.tv.

Radio: ESPN 1420 AM will carry the game. Neighbor islands can listen live on KNUI on Maui, KHLO in Hilo, KKON in Kona, and KTOH on Kaua'i.

Audio Webcast: Live audio streaming on espn1420am.com

Live Stats: Live in-game stats are available at HawaiiAthletics.com

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