It’s conference basketball season! And for both the Rainbow Warriors and the Rainbow Wahine, it’ll be year 9 of playing in the Big West Conference. In this edition of “Around the Arc,” we look at five of the biggest storylines around Hawai`i and the rest of the conference, either from the previous week or heading into week four of conference play. Gary Dickman looks at the men’s side, while Tiff Wells features the women’s side.
By Gary Dickman:
Well, not too bad for our UH Rainbow Warriors. A split on the road is never bad, it’s just that they were 1:15 away from sweeping UC Riverside. And like the coaches, I too learned a lot about this team.
- I was impressed with the new players on this team for many reasons. First conference game, first game against a D-1 opponent, first road game. We can’t forget they hadn’t played in 20 days…and won. That says a lot about this team, even though it’s only one game. I can see they can handle adversity and deal with whatever is thrown at them.
- This might seem like it’s not a big deal to some, but to me it was. Right before halftime of Friday’s game at UC Riverside, Junior Madut drove to the basket while being tightly guarded and he did something that doesn’t happen too often over the years with UH. He attacked the rim. Again, it might be considered a basic play, but that is a skill set that has been rarely been seen by a player in a Hawai`i jersey. There are guys that can go around a screen, get space and take a jumper. There are times you’ll see guys in a 2-on-1 break. But to see a player attack the rim with a defender on him, that really impressed me. I hope to see more of that. Madut is starting in Samuta Avea’s spot. Maybe Avea left because he knew Madut might take his spot. I’ve actually heard that from a reliable source.
- In Friday’s win, both Junior Madut (21 points) and James Jean-Marie (first career start), led the way. Jean-Marie had 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting and hit three three-pointers as well. Mate Colina also added a three-pointer in both games. When you have your bigs shooting from outside like that, it draws the defense out too. UC Riverside did outrebound Hawai’i by 12 on Friday. It could have been more of a disparity, but Hawai’i showed their big guys can shoot from outside and keep the defense honest.
- Coaches are never completely satisfied, at least not publicly. But I know Eran Ganot had to be very pleased with the number of turnovers in his teams’ first Big West game. They had just one in the first half and only seven for the game. That helped make up for being out rebounded by 12. And with so many new players, I guess I should expect an Eran Ganot team to play smart, disciplined basketball.
- Now as I wrote earlier, UH was close to sweeping UC Riverside. They were up by four with a little over a minute left. They let up two 3-pointers and then an inside hook shot with two seconds left decided the game. Not only do they have to learn how to defend better in those situations, they also need to learn to take a higher percentage shot than the three-pointer Justin Webster attempted in a tie game with less than five seconds left. I would hope that the next time they’re in a similar situation, they’ll learn from last Saturday and have a better outcome. So hopefully, it’s a learning lesson for this team. All in all, I am more confident about this team now than I was a week ago. Let’s bring on CSU Bakersfield this week and hope for two wins.
For any video/live stats/radio links for the men’s games, click here.
By Tiff Wells:
- After cancelling their January 8th-9th home series against UC Riverside due to a positive COVID-19 test within UH’s program on January 2nd, the Rainbow Wahine finally get to play their first Big West Conference series. On Wednesday, the Rainbow Wahine flew to the continent for the first time this season ahead of this weekend’s series at CSU Bakersfield. From January 2nd through the 11th, UH had basketball activities paused. During quarantine, the players did cardio and plyometric workouts in their place of residence. They will have had just three practices ahead of Friday’s game, which tips off at 4:00 p.m. local time (2:00 p.m. Hawaii time). What will Friday’s game look like? How are their basketball legs? How’s their conditioning? Does the rotation get larger for this game?…this weekend? Will they play more zone defense to conserve energy? Friday’s game makes it 26 days since the last time the Rainbow Wahine played a game (Dec. 20 versus UH Hilo). First-year Big West Conference member CSU Bakersfield is 2-4 on the season, 0-2 in conference play. They were swept at home by Long Beach State (61-57 on Jan. 1, 68-59 on Jan. 2). They won their last game this past Sunday at Fresno State (81-69) and also have a win at Cal (November 29th, won 60-52). To watch a preview of the weekend’s series, watch KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello’s piece:
Rainbow Wahine return this week 26 days since last game to open Big West Conference play on the road at CSU Bakersfield, expecting season debut of Olivia Davies // For series preview 👉🏽 https://t.co/glR22XE6zT @LauraBeeman @HawaiiWBB #GoBows // https://t.co/9oZimTcj6b 🤙🏽 pic.twitter.com/Tli8AK9d8U
— Rob DeMello (@RobDeMelloKHON) January 14, 2021
- Not only will it be the first set of back-to-back games for UH this season, but the Bows expect to have the services of 5’9” redshirt freshman forward Olivia Davies for the first time this season. Last season for Davies was cut short as she tore her ACL in the exhibition against Hawai`i Pacific on October 29th, 2019. I was at that game and felt heartbroken for Davies when she went down after just four minutes of action. Fist hitting the hardwood, knowing it was a bad injury, you just felt for the young woman. Not only did she take the rehab process seriously, she was very active on the bench during the games, engaged in the action and cheering her teammates on. I’m excited to see her on that blue floor this weekend and for the rest of the season. The way she can score, she almost reminds you of two-time first-team All-Big West selection and scoring machine, Sarah Toeaina.
- Picked to finish 6th in the preseason coaches poll and 7th in the media poll, Long Beach State has been red hot here in 2021. Since losing 71-65 at USC on December 23rd, The Beach has won all six of their Big West Conference games. At 7-1 overall and 6-0 in conference play, LBSU is off to its best league start since 2005-06. They defended home court last week with a pair of wins over Cal State Fullerton (69-50 on night 1, 66-64 on the second night). This week is interesting for Long Beach State because of their schedule (Long Beach had an open weekend after CSUN opted out of the season). UC Irvine was on a bye this weekend. So rather than wait until March 5th and 6th to play their regularly scheduled conference series, these two teams announced on January 13th (Wednesday) they would play their conference series at UC Irvine this weekend. That series in March, if played, will be at Long Beach State and considered non-conference contests.
- It’s been conference only play for Big West teams since December 27th. The last non-conference game was December 23rd (UCR hosted Santa Clara and Long Beach State was at USC). After Cal Poly cancelled their game with CSU Bakersfield on January 6th due to COVID-19 health protocols, the Roadrunners on January 9th added a previously scheduled game back to its non-conference schedule as they headed to Fresno to play the Bulldogs on January 10th. This game was originally scheduled to be played on December 17th in Fresno, but was cancelled the day before by CSUB out of an abundance of caution. CSU Bakersfield won 81-69. On Wednesday, UC Riverside was scheduled to play at Loyola Marymount but was cancelled by LMU the morning of gameday out of an abundance of caution.
- For the four-time defending regular season conference champions, it’s been a rough go around here in 2020-21 for UC Davis. Their first game of the season was on November 25th, an 82-75 win over San Francisco. That’s been it. Five non-conference games cancelled. Their first four Big West Conference series cancelled as well, for a total of eight conference games lost and 13 games all together…so far. To remain compliant with current Yolo County health orders, UC Davis is monitoring the Public Health Order on a week-by-week basis and are scheduled to play next Friday and Saturday against UC San Diego.
For any video/live stats/radio links for the women’s games, click here.