Warriors packing momentum for road trip
Another week, another road trip. Such is life for the Hawai’i basketball team, which departs Honolulu on Tuesday afternoon for another two-game road trip in the Big West Conference.
The Warriors will play at UC Davis on Thursday, and at Pacific on Saturday. By the end of the trip, Hawai’i will have played six of its last eight games on the road.
The previous road trip – at UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton – resulted in two victories, so the Warriors will follow a similar itinerary on this trip. It includes a 6 a.m. practice on Tuesday morning, followed by academic classes, and then an afternoon flight to California.
“We’re going to tinker it to death, ‘til we figure it out,” head coach Gib Arnold said.
Of all the items the Warriors are packing for the road, confidence may be the most important. Hawai’i is hottest team in the Big West with five consecutive victories, including home wins over first-place Long Beach State and UC Irvine last week. The Warriors are 15-9 overall and in second place in the conference at 9-4.
“We have to continue to play with great heart,” Arnold said. “Play together, play with unity, and give ourselves a chance. Just get it down to the wire and let us finish. We’ve been finishing games pretty well.”
Leading the way has been forward Christian Standhardinger. The 6-foot-8 junior was named Big West Conference Player of the Week for the second consecutive week on Monday. He averaged 20.0 points and 11.0 rebounds in the two wins last week, and is averaging 22.4 points and 11.2 rebounds per game during the five-game win streak.
“He’s been huge,” Arnold said. “He’s been a double-double guy every night and been playing with great energy and passion – just the way we want him to play. And he’s brought everybody else’s level up, too.”
Arnold noted that other teams are starting to take notice of Standhardinger’s recent streak, and that can help the other Warriors.
“For the first time ever, I saw they had a box-and-one on him in the Irvine game,” Arnold said. “I’ve never seen them do that on a power forward before. That shows him a lot of respect. And in doing that, it helps the other guys. It helps Vander (Joaquim) free up – you can’t double-down on him quite as much, and other guys are rising and raising their games as well.”
The Warriors will have added incentive for Thursday’s game, as UC Davis is the only Big West team to win a game in the Stan Sheriff Center this season. The Aggies beat the Warriors, 93-82, on January 19, behind a 40-point performance from Corey Hawkins.
UC Davis is 9-13 overall and tied for sixth place in the conference at 5-6.