HONOLULU— The Hawai’i men’s basketball team will have an opportunity for redemption after dropping two back-to-back Big West conference games against California State-Bakersfield.
The Warriors (3-3, 1-3) will have a chance to regain traction in the conference standings if they can win back-to-back conference games against the current Big West top team UC Irvine.
The Rainbows will play the Anteaters in a conference twin bill at 1 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu.
Hawai’i’s record doesn’t reflect some of the team’s performances in Big West games.
The Warriors’ two top scorers have created matchup problems for their conference opponents.
The Big Man On Campus
Hawai’i sophomore guard Justin Webster has increased his offensive production exponentially from his freshman campaign.
Webster averages 11.8 points per game, 0.7 assists per game, and two rebounds and two steals per contest.
During Webster’s freshman campaign, he averaged 9.3 points, one assist, 1.9 rebounds and 0.8 steals per contest.
Webster was most productive in last week’s doubleheader against the Roadrunners.
Webster finished the game with a team-high 23 points, six steals and nine of the 23 points came from 3-point shots, where Webster shot 3-of-5 from beyond the perimeter.
Since transferring from the University of San Diego, junior guard James Jean-Marie was the only other Warrior player to score in double figures with 14 points per game.
Hawai’i may have developed Webster and Jean-Marie, but their supporting cast was non-existent in the Jan. 16 loss against CSU-Bakersfield.
Finding a supporting cast
Webster and Jean-Marie were the only two Rainbows players in double figures in the 83-72 loss to the Roadrunners in game two of that series.
Only 24 of the Rainbow Warriors’ points in the second game against the Roadrunners came inside the paint.
Forward Casdon Jardine, Justin Hemsley and Junior Madut combined for a total of 19 points, which wasn’t enough offensive production to defeat CSU-Bakersfield, who had four players score in double digits.
The red-hot Anteaters
Hawai’i’s Big West conference battle doesn’t get any easier as they prepare for a University of California-Irvine team who has won four straight basketball games.
UIC-Irvine (9-4, 5-1) has defeated San Diego 85-53, Santa Barbara 75-56 and 73-69, and UC San Diego 79-65.
The Anteaters have reaped the benefits of playing a larger conference schedule and more games than Hawai’i has been able to get in because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Anteaters have successfully distributed the basketball, and their team’s leading scorer reflects their methodical approach.
Dawson Baker and Collin Welp are the only UC-Irvine players averaging in double figures.
Baker is averaging 12.2 points per game, and Welp is averaging 11.8 points, but the two scoring leaders have players in supporting roles, which helps the Anteaters.
Center Brad Greene and guard DJ Davis aren’t statistical double-takes, but the two together combine for 18 points per game, which is more than enough to create matchup problems on the court.
The Anteaters are also shooting 48.6% from the field in both non-conference and conference games, and that efficiency has contributed to the team’s tallying nine overall victories.
Getting off to a fast start
In both non-conference and conference matchups this season, Hawai’i has struggled to get off to quick starts.
Warriors’ coach Eran Ganot has stressed he felt it is inconsequential his team hasn’t played many conference games because of the travel logistics in the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ganot has offered no excuses for his team getting off to slow starts in the first half and acknowledged it is imperative for his team to be competitive come tournament time in the Big West.
Source: The Garden Island