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Warriors’ road strategy: win and run

The University of Hawai’i basketball team has a strategy for its current road trip: win and get outta town.

The Warriors will play at second-place UC Santa Barbara on Thursday, and in a scheduling quirk, will have to return home for the regular-season finale against Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.

The game is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. (Hawai’i time) at The Thunderdome in Santa Barbara, Calif. It will be televised nationally on ESPNU (Oceanic channel 219).

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“We haven’t really talked about the travel situation,” UH assistant coach Scott Fisher said. “We’re going to go in there, we’re going to play Santa Barbara, hopefully come out with a win, get straight on the bus, go to the airport in L.A., sleep there overnight, wake up in the morning, get our flight and get out.”

Since scoring an upset win at first-place UC Irvine on January 25, the Warriors have gone 0-4 against the top three teams in the Big West, including a 75-64 home loss to UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 6. All of that could be forgotten if the Warriors are able to pull off an upset of the Gauchos and gain some much needed momentum heading into next week’s Big West Conference Tournament.

Hawai’i is 19-9 overall and in fourth place in the conference at 8-6; UCSB is 19-8 and 10-4. A victory by the Warriors would keep them in contention for the No. 3 seed for the tournament – and eliminate the Gauchos from having any shot at the No. 1 seed.

“They got us here in a pretty tight contest most of the game,” UH assistant coach Scott Fisher said. “This one’s personal. We gotta get this one.”

To do so, the Warriors will have to contain the Big West’s top player in UCSB junior Alan Williams. The 6-foot-8, 280-pound center is averaging league-bests of 21.6 points and 11.6 rebounds per game. He had 20 points and 17 rebounds in the win at Hawai’i in January.

“He’s a fantastic player, one of the best centers in the West Coast, so we need to limit his touches, we have to make it difficult for him to get close to the paint,” Fisher said. “The closer he is to the paint, obviously the more deadly he is, so we need to keep him out of his comfort zone and really make him work.”

While Williams deservedly gets most of the attention, the Gauchos also have formidable backcourt players in Michael Bryson (11.1 points per game, 45 3-pointers), Kyle Boswell (10.3 points per game, 67 3-pointers), and Zalmico Harmon (8.0 points, 5.1 assists per game).

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The Warriors shot just 36.8 percent from the field in the loss to the Gauchos, including 15.8 percent (3 for 19) from 3-point range.

“I thought we took some bad shots early in the possessions last time we played them,” Fisher said. “They’re going to be sitting back in a zone, we have to do a better job of stretching that zone out from one side of the court to the other side of the court.”

The Warriors’ inside duo of Christian Standhardinger (15 points, nine rebounds) and Isaac Fotu (17 points, eight rebounds) held their own in the last meeting with the Gauchos, but the backcourt trio of Keith Shamburger, Garrett Nevels and Brandon Spearman combined for 20 points on 8-of-31 shooting.

While the Warriors will have to make the quick trip home to play their “Senior Night” game on Saturday, the Gauchos will honor their seniors on Thursday.

“It’s a nice arena, the last game of the season, so they’re likely to have 4,000 or 5,000 people there, so it should be good,” Fisher said.

Fisher, who played at UCSB from 1982-86, ranks among the Gauchos’ all-time top 10 for both scoring and rebounding. The Thunderdome was known as the Event Center when he was in college.

“I can’t tell you of any dead spots or anything on that floor,” he said. “I do know that I lost more games there than I won, but as a coach, I’ve been doing pretty good there, so hopefully we can get back in there and get another win.”

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

Saturday’s schedule
Cal State Fullerton at Hawai’i
UC Riverside at Long Beach State
UC Davis at UC Irvine
UC Santa Barbara at Cal Poly

— — —

Game 29 Tipoff Notes
Who:
Hawai’i at UC Santa Barbara
When: Thursday, March 6, 4:00 p.m. Hawai’i time
Where: The Thunderdome (6,000) – Santa Barbara, Calif.
Television: ESPNU (Oceanic channel 219 or HD 1219)
Streaming Video: WatchESPN.com
Radio: 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 UCSBGauchos.com

6 Comments

  1. As a lot of fans have stated, UH, ALL 5 starters have to be on their game. reserves provide the relief. And Shamburger has to keep emotions, and game in check, same with Standhardinger, as those guys go, UH can get big win.

    Guys, run, d up, shoot well, and have to close out, a possible close low scoring game!

    Go Get the Gauchos, come back 1-0 and looking forward to Senior nite, Win!

  2. Go ʻBows!

    Meet / Exceed ALL Your Team & Individual Goals / Objectives
    Surprise UCSB AND The Inter-/National TV Audience with a Strong, even Dominating Performance

    WIN ʻBOWS!

  3. Last time against UC Santa Barbara, UH played well but shots were off. Nevels shadowed their 3-point threat (Boswell, ended up only 0-2 in 28 minutes — but smartly did not try to force up shots on an off night, shows good coaching). Fotu fronted Williams well, and in fact Williams didn’t shoot good. But Fotu gave up once Williams did get the ball, which meant that even if Williams missed a shot he could easily clean the offensive glass and get 2nd- and 3rd-opportunities.
    The tough matchup for UH is Taran Brown, who is a 6’8″ high jumper that has a nice shot. Brown is what UH fans are hoping Aaron Valdes can be, but taller and better range.

  4. UH unless totally drop their heads, and give up, which I have never heard or seen them do, live at SSC or on video/TV broadcasts, will be in game to win it. Key, the play of Keith Shamburger, He steadies as winbows says, keep his head in the game mentally emotionally as well as Christian, the guys will follow, Fotu cannot have a mediocre game, even if they double down, make the smart passes, or consistently hit his 15-18 foot jumper, rebound on O and D glass, get some charges and block shots, he can affect winnig. Basically as was said here, All Five starters plus, Enos, Smith , Rozitis, Valdes, Jovanovich, whomever, plays 100% effort, stay together. Get win whether by 21 or 1. It would be a great win coming home. if not, play and get the Senior nite win!
    I look for UH to play really well, they have shown what they could do on national broadcasts against NMSU, Mizzou, Boise, Oregon St., St Mary’s, Irvine on the road, and now against a good UCSB team on ESPNU.
    Go Bows! GET THE W and come on home to the 808!!
    😀

  5. Hawaii can beat these guys.they need to
    Push the tempo.take control of the game
    Early.take the crowd out of the game .play
    Good d,crash boards,dive for loose balls.
    Lets go warriors!beat the gauchos!get
    20 wins tonight

  6. Nice Bench Play….
    Maybe it Will Pay Off in The Next Week Or So…!

    Win Saturday!
    HONOR THE SENIORS…

    Then WIN Some More!

    Go ‘Bows

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