Silverswords Counting On Home Games To Bolster Record

Chaminade’s two-year post-season run has been defined by the team’s ability to maintain its relentless, fast-scoring pace.

That hasn’t changed. Even after playing four Division I opponents to date, the Silverswords are averaging 79.4 points per outing.

All the talk at practice last week was about the defensive end, however, according to third-year head coach Eric Bovaird.

“One of our major focuses right now is our defense,” he said. “Even though we’re scoring 79 a game, we’re giving up 81. We need to get better.”

Chaminade returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Thursday when it hosts Fresno Pacific University at McCabe Gym in the finale of a three-game home stand. Chaminade was to play Point Loma last Saturday and Dixie State on Tuesday.

The school entered last weekend’s action 4-5 overall and 1-2 in the PacWest. (Three of its five losses were to DI schools Pittsburgh, BYU and Missouri.) Although early in the league race, Bovaird talked of the importance of taking care of business at home.

“The home games are really important if you’re going to make a championship run, and then you have to hope you can sneak a few (wins) on the road,”

he said. “This is a big home stand for us to get back on track. This year also is the most competitive I’ve seen the league. You have to bring it every single night or you’re going to get beat.”

Azusa Pacific and Cal-Baptist sat atop the PacWest standings at 5-0 and 4-0, respectively. Cal-Baptist’s fast start is hardly a surprise. The Lancers were the top-seeded team for last year’s PacWest tournament before being upset by the ‘Swords. Chaminade will play Cal-Baptist twice this season: at McCabe Jan. 29, and in Riverside Feb. 14. Its only meeting with Azusa Pacific is two days later in Azusa.

As in past years, offensive balance has been a strength. Chaminade currently has four players averaging in double-figures, including Lee Bailey (14.3), Kiran Shastri (12.6), Kuany Kuany (12.3) and Kevin Hu (12.2). James Harper (8.9) and Frankie Eteuati (7.0) also have been big contributors. Eteuati had been slowed by an injury that sidelined him for two games, but the holiday break allowed him to get healthy, according to Bovaird.

The ‘Swords entered last weekend’s game with Point Loma, having come off an 11-day layoff that began following their exhibition loss Dec. 19 to University of Hawaii at Blaisdell Arena.

Not only was Chaminade idle from game action, but it took nine days off altogether from practice. “In DII, the NCAA has us all take a mandatory seven-day break,” Bovaird explained. “I added two days onto it to give the kids more time to travel (home). Including conditioning, they’ve been hard at it since the beginning of September. The boys needed a break.”

Chaminade has been to the PacWest conference championship game each of the past two seasons, winning last year’s title game to earn the program back-to-back NCAA DII tournament appearances for the first time in school history.

“The past couple of years we’ve gotten better and better and played our best basketball in our last game. We have to do enough at this time of the year and worry about peaking later. Once we get in (the PacWest tourney) we’ve done well, but we have to get there first. These upcoming games will be very important.”