By Brian McInnis
UC Santa Barbara wasted little time in exercising damage control for Thursday's widely replayed and nationally discussed fan incident on the Gauchos' senior night game against Hawaii.
The Gauchos athletic department issued an all-points apology on the matter on Friday:
"On behalf of the UCSB student-athletes and staff we are disappointed and saddened by the singular act of a student during the first half of last night's men's basketball game versus Hawai'i. We have apologized to Hawai'i athletics director Ben Jay and Big West Commissioner Dennis Farrell. Head Coach Bob Williams also apologized to Hawai'i head coach Gib Arnold on behalf of the department.
The safety of all student-athletes, coaches and fans is paramount to us and we are reviewing the night and solidifying event protocol in hopes of preventing any one person from repeating this incident.
This one person's selfish act does not represent the passionate atmosphere our students display. We also note there were no incidents before, during or after the game by the students or anyone else. We have great respect for Hawai'i, its fans and student-athletes. In particular, we appreciate that the UH players and coaching staff handled the situation with class when engaging the student."
That last part is important to note. Things could have gotten much worse had any UH coaches or players acted beyond a simple push-away of the unruly fan. The 'Bows should be credited for showing restraint, especially coming off a heated sequence in which Brandon Spearman and Arnold were both assessed technical fouls.
The game itself was disappointing for UH (19-10, 8-7) when you consider it was their last chance to make some regular-season noise against one of the other upper-tier teams in the conference, against which the 'Bows are now 1-5.
The second unit of Davis Rozitis, Quincy Smith and Aaron Valdes played well, but it wasn't enough to undo subpar nights by Isaac Fotu, Garrett Nevels and Spearman — those three starters shot a combined 4-for-23.
UH is locked into the No. 4 seed and will play either Cal State Northridge (7-9) or Cal Poly (6-9) at the No. 5 spot in the Big West first round. Cal State Fullerton (Saturday's senior night opponent) has a similar record (6-9) but loses out on the tiebreakers even should it beat UH to end the regular season.