Familiarity breeds … a chance for redemption. That’s how Chaminade is looking at today’s NCAA II men’s basketball tournament regional quarterfinal at Ellensburg, Wash.
For the second time in 10 days, the Silverswords (20-8) will face Dixie State (20-6). The Red Storm prevailed 72-69 on March 2 at McCabe Gym, an outcome that led to the two sharing the Pacific West Conference title.
NCAA II MEN’S BASKETBALL TOURNAMENT
Because Dixie State had the tiebreaker on Chaminade, having also beaten the Silverswords on Jan. 29 in Utah, the Red Storm got the higher seed in the regional hosted by Central Washington.
None of it matters now, Chaminade coach Matt Mahar said.
"Seeing Dixie State so soon is a good thing," said Mahar, his team in the postseason for the first time since 2008. "We know their personnel, we know their defense. They did beat us twice, but our guys are excited about the chance to redeem themselves.
"It is tough to beat a team three times in a row, but we got BYUH three times. Dixie can certainly beat us again if we’re not ready."
The Red Storm needed a school-record performance from the free-throw line last week to beat the Silverswords, hitting 19 of 20. Conversely, Chaminade was 19-for-28 against Dixie State and, three days later, was 23-for-34 when holding off BYU-Hawaii 84-82.
"But I don’t want to touch on the free throws, want to keep it out of their minds," Mahar said. "I don’t think our energy was good last week. I don’t think it will be a problem this week."
Mahar said he preferred his opponent to that Brigham Young-Hawaii will see, saying Cal State Dominguez Hills was "big, strong and deep, which is very scary," Mahar said.
BYUH already knows that. The seventh-seeded Seasiders (17-8) opened the season at CSUDH, coming away with what would be their worst loss of the year 81-54.
"I felt at the time we played them, that they were one of the best teams in the country," BYUH coach Ken Wagner said. "Our biggest concern is that we’re not very big and that they’re really big and physical. We have to play smart because there’s no room for error.
"We have improved a lot since we saw them and I think if we do what we do well, we’ll be fine."
The Seasiders are making their seventh consecutive postseason appearance. Wagner said his team is healthier than it has been in a few weeks and, of course, he does have the PacWest’s Player of the Year in senior guard Marques Whippy.
Whippy, listed at 6-foot-5, led the country in rebounding, averaging 12.0 rpg, "and it’s impressive, because he’s really closer to 6-3, 6-4, and he’s going up against guys 8 inches taller," Wagner said. "He plays bigger than he is."
Chaminade and BYU-Hawaii are in opposite brackets and would not meet until Monday’s regional championship.