Warriors host New Orleans on Valentine’s Day
On Valentine’s Day, the Hawai’i basketball team will play the equivalent of a blind date.
The Warriors will host New Orleans in a non-conference game at the Stan Sheriff Center on Tuesday night. Little is known about the Privateers, and even their status as a NCAA Division I program is confusing.
For the record, New Orleans is currently classified as a “NCAA Division I Independent Transitioning to NCAA Division II.” The Privateers have a 15-11 record, although that schedule has included just seven other NCAA Division I opponents (they are 1-6 against previous NCAA-I opponents this season).
The Warriors are 14-10, and have won three of their last four games.
“We were going to go a full week without playing and we wanted to keep the momentum going, so we decided to try to fit another game in there,” Hawai’i head coach Gib Arnold said. “Most of the WAC teams doing the same thing this week.”
Because the Warriors have been focused on their Western Athletic Conference opponents, they had only one day to prepare for New Orleans.
“They are hard to scout – they’ve played seven Division I teams and they’re 1-6 against Division I teams; they’ve played nine NAIA teams and they’re 6-3 against the NAIA teams,” said Hawai’i assistant coach Scott Fisher, who scouted the Privateers. “Twelve different players have been starters in a game, and they’re all about the same size … so it’s going to be a challenge in some ways.”
This much is known – the Warriors will be the bigger team. Much bigger.
The Privateers normally start three guards – all 6 feet 2 or shorter – alongside 6-7 forward Antonio Wertz and 6-6 forward Lovell Cook. Every other New Orleans player is 6-6 or shorter.
In contrast, the Warriors normally start four players 6-6 and taller (Zane Johnson, Hauns Brereton, Joston Thomas and Vander Joaquim). They also have 7-foot Davis Rozitis and 6-7 Trevor Wiseman available in reserve.
“We need to keep going inside – inside, inside, inside,” Fisher said. “This team is so small that we can really hurt them on the inside.”
Cook leads New Orleans in scoring with 14.3 points per game, while Wertz is contributing 11.0 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. However, the key player for the Privateers is 6-foot point guard Brandon Knight, who is averaging 5.4 points and 4.8 assists per game. Knight has amassed 125 assists this season while committing just 34 turnovers.
By comparison, Hawai’i point guard Miah Ostrowski has 108 assists against 41 turnovers.
“I think he’s the best assist-to-turnover ratio in the nation, so it’s going to be a good one,” Ostrowski said.
The Warriors have three players averaging double-figure points: Johnson at 14.9, Joaquim at 14.7, and Thomas at 14.0. Brereton is averaging 13.8 points per game over his last five games, and is not up to 7.8 per game for the season.
HAWAI’I VS. NEW ORLEANS
When: Tuesday, February 14, 7:05 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu
Tickets: $26 lower level, $18 upper level adults, $16 upper level senior citizens, $5 upper level students. Parking is $6.
TV: Live on OCSports (channel 12 or 1012)
Radio: Live on ESPN 1420 AM
Internet: Live streaming video available at www.ocsports.tv
500 carnations: The first 500 female fans to enter the arena will receive a Valentine’s Day carnation from Watanabe Floral. Also, Bud Light will award a two-night stay in Waikiki at halftime of the game.
(WarriorInsider.com photos by Brandon Flores)