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Scouting the Matadors

By Lance Tominaga, ESPN Honolulu Web Editor.

The University of Hawaii men’s basketball team returns to the road this week with two Big West Conference games against CSUN. ESPN Honolulu (92.7 FM/1420 AM) will bring you both games from “The Matadome” in Northridge, California, with Josh Pacheco calling the action. Both contests are scheduled to tip off at approximately 2:00 p.m. Hawaii Time. Here’s a quick scouting report on the Matadors:

♦ CSUN is 3-5 in Big West Conference play (currently eighth in the BW standings) and 7-8 overall. They are 3-4 at home. The Matadors’ season has been severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, as the first six games on their conference schedule were canceled over COVID concerns.

♦ The Matadors are 7-15 against Hawaii in their overall series. The Rainbow Warriors have won nine of the last 12 meetings, including five of the last six at CSUN. In their most recent meeting, however – the 2019-20 regular-season finale – the Matadors beat UH, 86-82, when Lamine Diane and Terrell Gomez combined for 58 points. (Thankfully for Hawaii, the two players have moved on from CSUN. Diane, a two-time BW Player of the Year, declared for the NBA Draft and is now with the Philadelphia 76ers’ G-League team. Gomez transferred out and is now at San Diego State.)

♦ The Matadors are led by the Big West’s leading scorer, TJ Starks. The 6-2 guard, who transferred from Texas A&M, is averaging 21.5 points per game in conference play, as well as 3.5 rebounds and 3.8 assists. His backcourt mate, Darius Brown II, averages 10.5 points, 4.6 rebounds and 5 assists. He is currently fourth in the country in assists-to-turnover ratio (4.7).

♦ The team is coming off a two-game split against UC Davis. The Matadors won an 80-77 thriller over the Aggies on Feb. 5, but fell the next night, 75-63.

♦ Like Hawaii, the Matadors are still working to develop team cohesiveness. Ten Matador players made their debuts in the program this season.

♦ Mark Gottfried is in his third season as CSUN’s head coach. He is currently 35-46 with the Matadors. Prior to joining CSUN, Gottfried coached North Carolina State for six seasons, leading the school to four NCAA Tournament berths, including Sweet 16 appearances in 2012 and 2015. Prior to that, he was the head coach at Alabama, where he led the Crimson Tide to five consecutive NCAA Tournaments, including an Elite 8 appearance in 2004.

♦ Assistant coach Jim Harrick is a former NCAA Coach of the Year. As a head coach, he guided four different schools – UCLA, Pepperdine, Rhode Island and Georgia – to the NCAA Tournament.

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