The Cal Poly Pomona men’s basketball team polished off
Seattle Pacific Friday night 80-72, then retreated to a Bellingham, Wash. hotel room where several players fired up their laptops to see what was going on in Hawaii. CCAA brethren Cal State Dominguez Hills was playing at Brigham Young Hawaii and the Broncos were awaiting the winner of that game.
Hawaii it will be.
That was just fine for veteran coach Greg Kamansky and his resilient squad.
If the Toros had won the Broncos would have gotten a home game. But players said they preferred to play BYU-Hawaii, not because the exotic location proved more inviting than the confines of Kellogg Gymnasium or because one foe was more beatable than the other.
“We have final exams on Tuesday,” senior standout Larry Gordon said. “If we go back we have to take them. If we don’t it can wait a few days.”
Kamansky was also taking the news in stride.
“We have a group of guys that really enjoy being together and when you have a group like that being on the road can be an even better bonding experience. It has helped our guys grow even closer together.”
Kamansky acknowledged that his most excited player is senior Jimmy Miyasaka, a walk-on from Honolulu who plays sparingly. His parents were in to see him play here on senior night but his grandparents have never seen him play in person.
The Broncos (22-7) drove the 100 miles from Bellingham to Seattle on Sunday and will be flying from Seattle to Hawaii this morning in preparation for Wednesday’s Division II West Regional title game against the Seasiders (27-1) who are ranked third nationally and riding a 24-game win streak.
BYU may be the top seed in the region but the Broncos are playing well too. Cal Poly has won 13 of its last 14 games, the lone loss in that stretch coming to Cal State Monterey Bay in the semifinals of the CCAA Tournament.
Among those wins was a thrilling 83-81 overtime win against local rival Cal State San Bernardino in Friday’s regional quarterfinal at Western Washington University. Gordon has been the driving force in the two regional victories thus far, totaling 56 points, 23 rebounds and seven assists.
In the win over Seattle Pacific it wasn’t just Gordon doing the
damage. The Broncos shot 66.7 percent (30-for-45) as a team with Gordon, Tobias Jahn and Walter combining to go 23-for-26 from the field.
BYU-Hawaii , which advanced to the national semifinal last season, is led by 6-foot-9 Brazilian Lucas Alves (19.7 ppg, 7.6 rpg) whom Kamansky thinks has the potential to play in the NBA.
There are some Southern California connections as the team also includes former Citrus College standout Virgil Buensuceso (10.3 ppg, 6.2 apg), a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award which goes annually to the nation’s top point guard, as well as former College of the Desert standout Nathan Sims (12.5 ppg, 6.3 rpg).
The winner of Wednesday’s game advances to the Elite Eight slated for March 26-29 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield, Mass.