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Warriors prepared for a big test from UCSB and Williams

Another week, another big game. Such is life for the handful of contenders in the Big West Conference, and the University of Hawai’i is among them.

“There’s still a lot of basketball left to be played,” UH head coach Gib Arnold said. “But if you want to be there at the end, you have to win your home games. We’ve got one of the top teams in the league coming in here (Thursday), and we already let one (at home) get away, so we really have to be ready.”

Fotu1_Montana

The Warriors will host UC Santa Barbara on Thursday in the Stan Sheriff Center in a matchup of two of the top four teams in the current standings. Hawai’i is 15-6 overall and 4-3 in the Big West; UCSB is 14-6 and 5-2.

The other top two teams in the Big West are playing each other on Thursday (UC Irvine at Long Beach State), so a victory by the Warriors will put them into a tie for second place.

It will be a big challenge, as the Gauchos feature the Big West’s most dominating player so far this season in forward Alan Williams. The 6-foot-7, 275-pound junior is averaging 23.3 points and 11.1 rebounds per game. He leads the Big West in both categories by a large margin, and is the only player in the country to rank in the top 10 nationally for both scoring and rebounding.

“They got him listed at 6-7, 275 pounds,” UH assistant coach Scott Fisher said. “He could be more than 275 pounds. He’s certainly not less than that … his hands, his arm length, makes him 6-10. So he’s really a 6-10, 275-pound player with nimble feet and a very soft touch around the basket.”

Williams has already won the Big West Player of the Week award four times this season, including last week, when he averaged 26.5 points and 15.0 rebounds per game as the Gauchos scored convincing wins over UC Irvine and UC Davis.

The Warriors will likely double-team Williams when he catches the ball in the low-post. It thus creates an intriguing battle, as Hawai’i forward Isaac Fotu will also likely see double-teams when he gets the ball near the basket.

“He’s a great player, really strong near the basket,” Fotu said of Williams. “It’s an honor to go against guys like that … it’s going to take a team effort for us.”

Fotu has been impressive as well. Against Big West opponents, Fotu is averaging 18.7 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, and is shooting 67.9 percent from the field and 96.2 percent on free throws.

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Both teams, however, have numerous other weapons.

The Gauchos have one of the top sharpshooters in the conference in 6-2 senior Kyle Boswell. He is averaging 11.8 points per game and ranks second in the Big West for total 3-pointers (57) and 3-point percentage (.463). He scored 27 in a 70-66 UCSB loss to Hawaii in the Sheriff Center last year.

Michael Bryson, a 6-4 sophomore, is contributing 10.4 points and 4.4 rebounds per game; 6-1 junior guard Zalmico Harmon leads the Big West in assists at 5.2 per game.

Hawai’i senior forward Christian Standhardinger is averaging 17.6 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. His six double-doubles this season are just three behind Williams. Standhardinger has been slowed by a sore knee and illness this week, but he is expected to be ready to go on Thursday.

Junior guard Garrett Nevels is averaging 14.6 points per game, and leads the Warriors with 44 3-pointers and a .454 percentage from 3-point range. Senior wing Brandon Spearman is contributing 11.8 points and 4.8 rebounds per game, and has scored double-figure points in each of the last six games.

Junior point guard Keith Shamburger is averaging 9.2 points and 5.1 assists per game, and appears to be back in the mix following his benching for the first half of Saturday’s victory over Cal State Northridge.

UCSB’s two Big West losses were against Cal Poly (72-64) and at Cal State Fullerton (74-72). The Gauchos are the highest-rated Big West team in the latest RPI numbers, thanks in large part to early-season victories over UNLV and Cal (yes, the same Cal team that just knocked off No. 1 Arizona). See video below for highlights from UCSB’s victory over UC Irvine last week.

Game 22 Tipoff Notes
Who:
Hawai’i (15-6, 4-3 Big West) vs. UC Santa Barbara (14-6, 5-2 Big West)
When: Thursday, Feb. 6, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300) – Honolulu
Television: Live on OCSports – Channels 16 (SD) and 1016 (HD).
Streaming Video: BigWest.tv
Radio: Live on ESPN 1420 AM. 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 HawaiiAthletics.com
Ticket Information: $26 (lower); $18 (upper-adult); $16 (upper-sr. citizen); $5 (upper-youth, ages 4-HS); UH Manoa students free with validated ID. Parking $6.
Promotions: Pepsi is the sponsor on Thursday and will award an iPad during halftime. UH season-ticket holders in all UH sports and members of the military receive 50% off adult tickets. The California Hotel & Casino is the sponsor of Saturday’s contest and will award a Vacations Hawaii trip to Las Vegas at halftime. There will be an autograph session with the men’s basketball team in the arena concourse near Gate B following the game. UH Alumni Association paid members and members of the military receive 50% off adult tickets. UH Student Promotions: Thursday’s game is “Retro Aloha Shirt Night” and the student with the craziest, ugliest, or most colorful aloha shirt will win a special prize. Saturday’s game is “Superhero Night” and the student with the best costume will win a special prize.

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Thursday’s games
Cal State Fullerton at UC Riverside
Cal STate Northridge at UC Davis
Long Beach State at UC Irvine
UC Santa Barbara at Hawai’i

7 Comments

  1. That guy Boswell, is a great 3 point shooter. Think that UH has to keep him and the other guys on their team from getting their points. Williams will be a load, much improved from even last year. A wide body, who scores inside and out, blocks shots, rebounds with the best. UH bigs have to keep him off the glass.

    Pretty certain, UH has to play great Defense , the key to winning games and to remaining in top 3 in BWC race.

    Should be a great game, hope there is a crowd of 6000, school nite, however, the ones that do come out, Aloha shirt retro nite, have a blast.

  2. Yes, winbow, Defense. As Coach Fisher says, pay attention to the scout on UCSB. UH play with desperation. Never think that you can just step on the court and win. Have to give more than 100% effort on D and O for 40 minutes to get the W.
    If UH, the top 7 guys get their averages, and can shutdown, the Gauchos, get 4 or 5 consecutive stops, in second half, and increase lead, UH will win.

    Have to , at this point, UH MBB team has to play all out, if they are contenders, or pretenders. Nuff with the jawing, and posturing, just go out and win one for UH the state and the fans worldwide. One Ohana, One Hundred per cent effort!

    Go Rainbow Warriors!
    Get the W.
    Listen to Coaches.
    Go Bows!

  3. Pack the Stanley tonight ,pivotal game! must win Warriors! game of the season so far!! Students show up in mass, we gotta be loud!

  4. Very interesting to note that tonight’s spread is Hawaii favored by 4.5pts. I’m actually surprised UH is favored by that much. I would have thought the line would have no more than 2 or 3, maybe even pickem.

    I think the total 148 is low.

    In any case, HUGE game tonight. I hope the fans make their way to SSC tonight and Saturday. I find last week’s 6200 and 6900 a big disappointment.

    Hard to believe the mediocre talent, snails pace Riley Wallace teams drew 7,300 average (YES, AVERAGED!!!) home attendance from 2004-2007, and this year’s way more talented, way more exciting team can’t get 7,000.

  5. Santa Barbara is a good experienced team. The team has to show up and be ready to work hard. Like Fisher said we should be able to beat them with our conditioning and talent. We also can’t forget our bench guys too. These guys have to step up more and be more consistent. Fanz we need to show up and show support. I’m tired of seeing empty seats at the SSC.

  6. We have to get Williams fouled out early by just charging the basket. Put in Jovanovic and Davis to get this done.

  7. In the Big West you never know which team will give you a run for the money. No one thought Long Beach State would come in here and blow by Hawaii. It’s all about match ups I guess. Santa Barbara got one bona fide star in Williams. But I think overall Hawaii got them beat in the other positions. And we will see if Isaac can rise to the occasion and neutralize Williams with his offensive and defensive game. Anyone remember Bob Nash as a player? He could have been called Mr. Neutralizer because that’s what he did whenever some swag hotshot came into town. And in one game against Arizona State Nash pulled down 30 rebounds. Talk about intensity. He mostly created that UH Basketball frenzy with his relentless style. Isaac will be there one day too. The frenzy could start tonight.

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