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Warriors take on 49ers in battle for first

LONG BEACH, Calif. – If there is such a thing as an early-season showdown in the Big West Conference, this is it. The Hawai’i basketball team will play at Long Beach State on Saturday afternoon, with first place in the conference at stake.

The Warriors and 49ers are scheduled to play at 2 p.m. (Hawai’i time) in The Walter Pyramid on the Long Beach State campus. The teams are tied (along with Cal Poly) atop the Big West with 3-1 records. Hawai’i is 9-6 overall; Long Beach State is 7-8, although four of those losses came against teams that were ranked in the top 10 at the time (North Carolina, Arizona, Syracuse and Ohio State).

Long Beach State is the two-time defending regular-season champion of the Big West, and the 49ers were picked in virtually every preseason poll to win it again this year.

“They had a rough preseason, but they added two new starters at semester break,” Hawaii assistant coach Scott Fisher said. “Keala King and Tony Freeland are quality players, so since then, they’re much better. Offensively, they’re one of the top shooting teams in the conference in terms of percentage.”

Pyramid2

King is a 6-foot-5 junior guard who transferred from Arizona State; Freeland is a 6-7 junior forward who transferred from DePaul. They both became eligible prior to the start of the Big West season in late December. King is averaging 9.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, and Freeland is averaging 10.0 points and 5.8 points per game.

But the 49ers’ top player is James Ennis, a 6-6 senior wing who leads the team in both scoring (17.0) and rebounding (6.9).

The other starters are 6-foot point guard Mike Caffey (12.0 points, 4.1 assists) and 6-9 center Dan Jennings (10.3 points, 6.3 rebounds).

“They’re not tall in terms of feet and inches, but they’re tall in terms of how high they can jump and how long their arms are,” Fisher said. “They’re a very athletic team. They cause a lot of deflections and they run very well.”

The 49ers will also have the advantage of playing in The Pyramid. They have a streak of 19 consecutive home victories over Big West opponents – a streak dating to 2010.

The Warriors went through a spirited two-hour practice in The Pyramid on Friday afternoon. Junior guard Garrett Jefferson, who grew up a five-minute drive away from the Long Beach State campus, described the court as “bouncy.”

“It’s a good floor – it’s like a bouncy floor so it helps you jump a little bit,” he said.

Fotu2_UCR

The Warriors will again try to take advantage of their size in the post. The “big three” of 6-10 senior Vander Joaquim, 6-8 junior Christian Standhardinger and 6-8 freshman Isaac Fotu continue to lead the team in scoring and rebounding.

Joaquim is averaging 14.4 points and 8.7 rebounds per game; Standhardinger is at 15.5 points and 8.0 rebounds, and Fotu is contributing 10.8 points and 7.1 rebounds per game.

The Warriors’ main concern is controlling their turnovers. In a 68-64 loss at UC Irvine on Wednesday, Hawai’i committed 17 turnovers, including several in the crucial closing minutes.

“It’s something we’ve emphasized since the Irvine game, is really take care of the ball,” Fisher said. “Their defense creates their offense and we can’t have 18, 19 turnovers against a team like Long Beach and expect to win. We need to take much better care of the ball, and then we have to cause some turnovers. They turn it over a bit as well.”

The 49ers average around 4,000 fans per home game, but the Warriors are expected to have a small cheering section of their own. Jefferson said he was expecting about 50 of his friends and family members to attend.

GAME INFORMATION:Hawai’i at Long Beach State
When: Saturday, Jan. 12, 2 p.m. (Hawai’i time)
Where: The Pyramid (4,200) – Long Beach, Calif.
Television: None.
Streaming Video: Live video streaming on BigWest.tv.
Radio: ESPN 1420 AM will carry the game live. Neighbor islands can listen live on KNUI on Maui, KHLO in Hilo, KKON in Kona, and KTOH on Kaua’i.
Audio Webcast: Live audio streaming on espn1420am.com
Live Stats: Live in-game stats are available at longbeachstate.com

16 Comments

  1. Go Warriors!!!!

  2. As coach Fisher points out, the 49ers are very athletic. Ennis is a 6-11 high jumper. Not sure who gets the defensive assignment on him.

    Dayton gets to see Deng Deng again. I remember the video interview from last year; didn’t Gib recruit hard? I think Deng had a career-high 18 the other night, and he’s not a starter.

    Local angle that’s been reported before: Keala King’s younger sister is the Wahine’s Destiny King.

    Long Beach’s best days might still be ahead; hopefully, the Warriors can catch them while they’re still working on team chemistry with the two new starters. A split on the road would be nice.

    Thanks to WI sponsors for sending Dayton on the trip. Looking forward to his story and video.

  3. UH going in as underdog. Probably, majority of Hawaii fans know it will be tough. With that said, maybe UH plays game of the year and wins. Now, is the time No Fear. Just have fun and play ball like they did when they were younger, youth, AAU, HS, JC , national teams. What they got to lose? Hawaii , just go for it.

  4. Well, some fans are jumping off,(most pulling for you guys though) this is time , no one expects anything from Head on down to personal secretary, trainer., so UH team, go out, and pull off a good win. Could be a big first road W.

    Once again, UH, relax, play hard and have fun, whatever happens, still have 13 games and bracket buster after this one, a lot of season left.(and currently, you , UH are in 3 way tie for first)

  5. No one in this league to me is supposed to beat UH. Our boys are beating themselves by careless mistakes.Other teams may have more athletic guards and may he able to jump higher or whatever but we have a solid team. Vander is the best center in the Big West, Standhardinger has the motor and hustle, Fotu just needs to stay aggressive cause he has the tools to be freshman of the year in this league. If the guards can take care of the rock and contribute this team can win comfortably every game. Everyone knows our bigs are getting the ball but still our bigs for the most part dominate. Would like to see our Senior leadership like Jace and Hauns rebound from their slumps and get going. The freshmen are proving their worth but we need these two Seniors to buckle down and play with confidence and leadership. Davis Rozitis has been very good so far this year but I’d like to see him more involved offensively near the basket. He’s got a nice touch for a big dude and I think he could contribute more to spell Vander and not have much of a scoring drop off.

  6. Interesting statement by one of our coaches, it’s hard to translate but perfect sense statements can be found in translation

    Players are now tactically, literally horror. Actions zero, keeping the ball a couple of point guards, whereas others are standing and waiting for make playmaker surplus space, or some simplest block. If the pick does not pass already the problems are. I remember the players once, let’s look at their actions. How many intersections, movement without the ball, so just after passing and crossing somewhere must be found free space. One Kukoc never allowed himself the luxury of too much dribbling to death. Today, everyone would be playing Jordan and 1 to 5. Even Kukoc said that the emergence of Jordan slightly derailed long term NBA. No more collective basketball, passing, jokes. It all boils down to characters like Kobe (which is excellent and which is understood). Throughout the story, the question is how to develop players, which set up the weight. It seems to me that we started too raw power between slave ring, and use very little head. It is necessary first of all the players in the head needed implant sports culture. 5 of them in the field, one has to know who’s doing what, and today it is the biggest problem.

    Our guys are selfless and just because they do not have the above problem strongly believe in their success

    I know that some guys are already getting a bit sick by hope you are now better and I wish you a great victory

  7. Betting update:

    UH is still (+7); Total is 147 or 148 if you shop it out.
    Moneyline: LBSU (-330); UH (+270)

    The line has not changed at all the LVH (formerly the Hilton).

    This 7 pt spread is much more legit than the Irvine 7 pts. It’s a much tougher call for today’s game. Everything depends on Tavita and Roop’s play and controlling the turnovers. LBSU is much more athletic than the other Big West teams UH has played so far, and they will surely be pressuring the PG and the passing lanes.

    I don’t think UH will shoot as poorly as they did vs Irvine, plus with the extra day between road games and a short bus ride between locations should limit UH’s traditional away disadvantage.

    LBSU is a below-average shooting team, but they are aggressive to the paint and generate a ton of free throws. Vander will need to play smart because LBSU will attack the hoop.

    As usual, UH should have a considerable rebounding edge. Rebounding is LBSU’s biggest weakness. LBSU has been out rebounded in 3 of 4 BW games. LBSU giving up a ton of offensive rebounds in vs BW teams, so UH will need to capitalize on 2nd chance points, there will be plenty of chances.

    KEYS TO UH WIN:

    UH must keep turnovers under 15
    — Points off turnover margin must be better than (-7).
    — 15 TOs is not a good number, but that seems to be the threshold for UH.

    Vander must stay out of foul trouble.

    IF UH does well on the first two keys, then all they need to do is shoot average to win.

  8. Attendance was pretty soft at the Pyramid during the Wed game vs Northridge. Only 2,484 (59% capacity).

    The Pyramid, like most BW gyms, is small (4,200 capacity). I would anticipate over 3,200 so crowd should be loud, but not overly intimidating.

    UH just needs to play big boy ball in the paint and continue with the improved ball movement as shown vs Irvine.

  9. As a former UH athletes say, the gym in the picture does not look scary matches our young team, and Jefferson described the court as “bouncy.” Which is great

    I wish best of luck to you in the game

  10. Got off the phone with some of the boys awhile ago. They sound ready to go.

    Let’s go Warriors! I’m still all in with tonights game!

  11. Kimo, I like your confidence, all in. Even with getting +7, I’m still nervous. Last night I had a bad dream that the halftime for tomorrow’s game was LBSU 41, Hawaii 24. I remember that in my head and kept seeing that number over and over again. When I got up, thankfully, we haven’t played the game yet. Hopefully, expecting the worst, maybe things can look up compared to expecting the best and then getting a letdown. I think best to not expect too much and hope the team can play relaxed. Go to the terminator, the Tonganato in crunch time. We need another hero like Jefferson, a buzzer beater. Maybe, Pavlovic, maybe Jawato, maybe Clair, maybe Spearman, maybe, maybe the forgotten man, Haus Brereton. Drain a 3 pointer from the top of the key, ala beating Xavier last year. Hope for dejavu all over again!

    Still, I like the +7, but I wish had more. Don’t worry about the turnovers. The Beach makes turnovers too. Just think about making shots and making stops. The bottom line.

  12. BETTING UPDATE 10 min prior to tip off… UH still (+7), total went down to 146.

    Yeah… 7 points seems like a good line. I don’t think I’ll bet this one.

    LBSU (-330) is way too pricy for a moneyline bet. UH is (+270). The value just isn’t there for a ML bet.

  13. No Clair. What happened. Pavlovic 0-5. Let’s get going.

  14. Bruddah on LBSU free throws is ugly.

  15. Like I said UH just giving away these games like candy…terrible terrible terrible…

  16. What a frustrating game.

    Home town refs:

    Long Beach State free throw attempts: 29

    Hawaii free throw attempts: 15

    3 technicals???!!!!!!!!!

    And even through all that still had a chance to win at the end, but why did coach tell them to pull back and stall with a tie game???

    Still should’ve won. Frustrating watching the refs.

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