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Warriors looking to bust Montana’s win streak

Missoula, Montana, is not exactly the greatest tourist destination at this time of the year, but the Hawai’i basketball team is still there in search of a priceless souvenir it can bring back home – a win.

The Warriors will play a non-conference road game at Montana on Saturday (4 p.m. Hawai’i time) at the Dahlberg Arena in Missoula.

“Obviously not the greatest situation in terms of travel and being in the middle of (Western Athletic Conference),” Hawai’i head coach Gib Arnold said. “But it’s a game, it’s on our schedule, and we want to go out and win it. Any win you can get is big, and this one is on the road against a very, very good team in Montana.”

Indeed, the Grizzlies are one of the leading candidates to represent the Big Sky Conference in the NCAA Tournament, as they are 19-6 overall and a half-game out of first place in the Big Sky at 12-1. They are on an eight-game winning streak (all against Big Sky opponents), and have won 14 of their last 15.

“As good a team as we’ve played all year,” Arnold said of the Grizzlies. “They’re sitting 12-1 and going to probably win that Big Sky Conference and everybody is saying going to be a NCAA Tournament team.”

Hawai’i is 15-10 overall, including 4-4 in road games. Like Arnold, Montana head coach Wayne Tinkle does not like the timing of the game.

“It’s different – we’re in the middle of a conference championship race and here we are jumping out of conference,” Tinkle said. “Obviously we want to play well we want to keep the momentum going … it’s a home game, it’s a game on our schedule and obviously we want to win it.”

In addition to playing at home, the Grizzlies have also had the advantage of rest. The Warriors won a home game against New Orleans on Tuesday, then departed for Missoula on Thursday night. Meanwhile, the Grizzlies’ last game was on Saturday, so they have had a week at home to prepare for the Warriors.

“I know they’re big, they’re really good on the front line and they have some shooters,” Tinkle said of Hawai’i. “I think they’re an offensive-minded team and we’re a defensive-minded team.”

Like the Warriors, the Grizzlies have decent size and balanced scoring. Montana’s top scorer is Will Cherry, a 6-foot-1 junior guard who is averaging 15.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. However, he is not the only threat.

Kareem Jamar, a 6-5 sophomore, is averaging 13.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists per game. In the post, the Grizzlies have two options – 7-foot senior Derek Selvig is averaging 9.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, and 6-7 junior Mathias Ward is contributing 10.0 points and 3.9 rebounds per game.

“We know that they got some athletic guards and they have a (center) who can pick-and-pop and shoot 3s,” Hawai’i point guard Miah Ostrowski said. “Our help D has to be there … we have to be real vocal. Defensively, if we handle our business, we’ll be fine.”

Hawai’i junior center Vander Joaquim recently took over the scoring lead for the Warriors. He is now averaging team-highs of 14.8 points and 9.9 rebounds per game.

Senior guard Zane Johnson is averaging 14.6 points per game and leads the team with 71 3-pointers. Junior forward Joston Thomas is contributing 14.1 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. Junior Hauns Brereton is averaging 13.0 points over his last six games. Ostrowski is averaging 6.6 assists per game.

The Grizzlies are 10-2 at home this season, and are drawing an average of 3,091 fans per home game. WAC leader Nevada defeated the Grizzlies in Montana, 70-64, on December 10.

HAWAI’I VS. MONTANA
When:
Saturday, February 18, 4 p.m. (Hawaii time)
Where: Dahlberg Arena, Missoula, Montana
TV: None
Radio: Live on ESPN 1420 AM
Internet: Live video streaming available at www.gogriz.com (pay per view)

(WarriorInsider.com photos by Brandon Flores)

1 Comment

  1. I believe Gib was looking at Kareem Jamar out of high school. Jamar was on a super talented team that included Dwayne Polee, Reggie Murphy & that guard Corey something. They all went to Westchester. He would have been a nice get for us, oh well.

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