HONOLULU — The University of Hawai‘i at Manoa hasn’t played as many Big West Conference games as their California-based foes but remained competitive in their conference road opener against UC-Riverside.
Hawai‘i struggled in the two non-conference wins against NCAA Division II opponents Hawai‘i Pacific and the University of Hawai‘i-Hilo.
Now the Rainbows have an opportunity to move up in the Big West standings if they can win back-to-back games against a red-hot CSU-Bakersfield team, which has a current conference record of 3-1.
The Rainbow Warriors (3-1, 1-1) will enter their next Big West doubleheader when they host the California State University-Bakersfield Roadrunners at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday night at SimpliFi Arena in Stan Sheriff Center.
The Roadrunners (7-4, 3-1), which became a full member of NCAA Division I during the 2010-11 school year after being an NCAA Division II program, will meet Hawai‘i for the first time in the history of the program in conference play.
The only other time these two met in non-conference action, Hawai‘i won the game, 72-65, in the Rainbow Classic in Maui.
The home-court advantage
Traditionally, having the home-court advantage has worked in the Rainbow Warriors’ favor.
Hawai‘i is 7-1 all time with their first Big West home game of the year under Coach Eran Ganot.
Ganot has a proven track record of getting his team psychologically prepared for the amplified intensity level of conference play.
Ganot, who has had a limited time with this group because of COVID-19 travel restrictions, has made the most of his team’s time.
Hawai‘i is young, but the roster rotation that Ganot has admitted in every press conference continues to evolve and has showcased firepower in the four-game schedule.
The Warriors have four players currently scoring in double digits, led by James Jean-Marie, who is averaging 15.8 points per game.
Jardine Casdon is another leading scorer who averages 14.8 points and 6.8 rebounds per contest.
Other players contributing to the offensive surge include Justin Webster, who is averaging 11 points per contest, and Junior Madet averages 10.8 points per game.
The Rainbow Warriors are averaging 82 points through their first four games, tops in the Big West and 28th nationally.
In the first conference road game against UC Riverside, the Rainbow Warriors manufactured a total of 88 points.
Before the game against Hawai‘i, UC-Riverside was among the nation’s leaders in scoring defense by allowing 55.3 points per game and holding their opponents to a .359 field goal percentage.
The University of Hawai‘i Rainbows won’t face a high-powered offense in their upcoming game with the Roadrunners, but it’s methodical and has allowed them to win three of their first four conference outings.
Taze Moore is the team’s leading scorer, and he averages 10.1 points per game, with a supporting cast of four other players averaging nine points each.
If Hawai‘i can successfully execute a sweep of the Roadrunners and shut down a methodical offense, they can position themselves to be one of the top teams in the Big West Conference with a 3-1 conference record.
After playing CSU-Bakersfield, they will travel again to California, pending COVID-19 travel restrictions, with back-to-back games against Cal State Fullerton on Jan. 22 and 23.
Jason Blasco, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: The Garden Island