Chaminade Hosts BYU-Hawaii Saturday In Long Home Stand

Chaminade head basketball coach Eric Bovaird doesn’t have a say in the creation of the Silver- swords’ PacWest schedule, but he’s not complaining these days. As the team hit the stretch run for the season, not to mention a push to make the NCAA Division II tournament field, six of its final conference games will be on campus at McCabe Gym.

“I wish I was smart enough to do that,” Bovaird mused, “but I know that’s exactly how I’d like it (schedule) to unfold.”

As winning on the road in college basketball is strife with challenges, especially in the long- distance PacWest Conference, Bovaird and Co. hope they can take care of their business at home in the coming days.

For their part, the Silverswords are not far removed from a “season-making” road trip, which saw them win three of four and positioned them nicely for the home stand. “It was a great road trip, and the best part was that in the last three games, we played really, really well,” said Bovaird, whose team upset Big Twelve Conference team Texas at the Maui Invitational last November. “We’ve been playing as well as we have (in his CU tenure). Our game with Dominican (a 90-63 win Jan. 26), was our best all-around game of the year. Offensively, we’re starting to understand what we want, and we’re becoming a good defensive team.”

The Silverswords took a 10-8 mark (7-3 in PacWest) into last weekend and will host BYUH Saturday. The home stand continues this month with games against Point Loma

Nazarene Feb. 13, Cal Baptist Feb. 16 and Azusa Pacific University Feb. 21. The only remaining Pac West road game is Feb. 26 at UH-Hilo.

The Swords’ first priority is to win the PacWest regular season, although an at-large berth also could be a strong possibility. “The kids realize there’s a lot to play for right now,” Bovaird said. “Obviously, you want to get into the national (NCAA) tournament and advance. Right now, we’re competing with five other teams for the conference championship, and we want to be right there, down the stretch.”

Among the catalysts of late has been guard Bennie Murray, a senior from Fairfield, Calif. He’s currently averaging 17.7 points per game. In PacWest games, he’s totaled 29 assists versus just 14 turnovers.

“He led our team in turnovers last year, and we harped and harped on him,” Bovaird said. “He’s been playing really well, and he’s really started to understand what we want from him. He’s playing like a senior should play.”

In addition to Murray, De’ Andre Haskins (17.8), and Lee Bailey (11.4) also are averaging in double figures for Chaminade.