Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Confident Warriors look to defend home court again


The University of Hawai’i basketball team beat the first place team in the Big West Conference on Thursday, and now the Warriors get a shot at the second place team.

The Warriors will host UC Irvine on Saturday night at the Stan Sheriff Center. Hawai’i is 14-6 overall and 2-2 in the conference; UC Irvine, which won the Big West regular-season championship last season, is 10-8 and 3-1.

The teams played two epic overtime games last season, with each team winning on the other’s home court, but much has changed since then. Only one Hawai’i player – senior guard Garrett Nevels – played significant minutes in last season’s two contests against the Anteaters.

“I just know they sit back in that two-three zone the whole game, so I think it’s important that we just play inside-out – get some good looks inside first and then let the 3s come later,” Nevels said. “I think their guards, they’re alright but the pressure we put on them, that’s going to affect them as the game goes on.”

The Warriors are a new team with new schemes. In particular, they have emerged as one of the nation’s most dangerous teams in terms of defensive pressure. Hawai’i currently ranks fourth in the country with 10.3 steals per game.

Junior point guard Roderick Bobbitt ranks third in the nation with 2.8 steals per game, and the Warriors are averaging 14.2 steals per game over their last six games, including 18 in an 84-78 win over first place UC Davis on Thursday.

“(Thursday) night I feel like our defense was just on point,” Nevels said. “We paid attention to the scout. We were just ready for everything they came at us with. (Saturday) we’re going to keep that pressure on them.”

The defensive pressure has allowed the Warriors to play at a fast pace, and they lead the Big West in scoring at 73.5 points per game. They have been doing it with a relatively balanced attack, led by sophomore Aaron Valdes’ 15.8 points per game.


Nevels is averaging 11.2 points per game, followed closely by Isaac Fleming (9.5), Stefan Jankovic (9.4), Bobbitt (8.8), Mike Thomas (8.5) and Negus Webster-Chan (8.4).

“We’re a deep team, I think we showed that (Thursday),” said Jankovic, who averaged 15.0 points per game in the last three games.

UC Irvine has four starters back from last season, but a couple of them have been battling injuries. Most notable, 7-foot-6 sophomore center Mamadou Ndiaye has been limited to just seven games this season due to a foot injury. He sat out the last two games, and is not expected to play against Hawai’i.

Luke Nelson, last season’s Big West Freshman of the Year, recently returned from a facial injury and is expected to start.

Like the Warriors, UC Irvine relies on a balanced team attack. Junior guard Alex Young and senior forward Will Davis II lead the Anteaters in scoring with 11.1 points per game each. Nelson is next at 11.0 points per game.

Travis Souza, a 6-5 senior, is the Anteaters’ 3-point specialist. He is averaging 8.4 points per game and leads the team with 39 3-pointers and a .494 percentage from 3-point range.

Even without Ndiaye, the Anteaters can go big. John Ryan, a 6-10, 262-pound senior, has been starting at center recently in place of Ndiaye. UC Irvine also has been using 7-2 Ioannis Dimakopoulos and 6-10 Mike Best as regular reserves.

The Anteaters rank second in the Big West in scoring defense, allowing just 62.6 points per game. They are coming off an impressive 80-49 road win at CSUN on Thursday.

In any case, the Warriors are hoping to get the backing of a large home crowd on Saturday night.

“Since I’ve been here the last two years, the last two years, the record has been really good at home and you attribute that to the fans,” Jankovic said. “Once we get a couple of steals, Aaron (Valdes) gets a dunk, this place erupts; the whole bench is going crazy. It’s a big confidence booster.”

(WarriorInsider.com file photos courtesy Brandon Flores)

Saturday’s Games
Cal State Fullerton at UC Santa Barbara
Long Beach State at Cal State Northridge
UC Riverside at Cal Poly
UC Irvine at Hawai’i, 7 p.m.

Game Information
Hawai’i (14-6, 2-2 Big West) vs. UC Irvine (10-8, 3-1 Big West)
When: Saturday, Jan. 24, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center – Honolulu, O‘ahu
Tickets: Lower level – $26; upper level – $18 for adults, $16 for senior citizens, $5 for students (high school and younger). Parking is $6.
Television: Live on OCSports – Channels 16 (SD) and 1016 (HD).
Streaming Video: www.bigwest.org
Radio: Live on ESPN 1420. 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 HawaiiAthlectics.com

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  1. Go Bows !! Go Warriors… might be one of toughest games of season.. have to be that much tougher !

  2. Let’s Go Bows! Let’s Go Bows! Let’s Go Bows!


    Bobbitt ranks 3rd in the Nation in Steals…2.9pg

    UH ranks 4th in the Nation in Steals…10.25pg

    UH ranks 54th in the Nation in Scoring…73.9pg

    UH Opponents average 17.9 TO’s pg Overall

    UH Opponents average 21 TO’s pg in Conference

    UH averages 13.6 TO’s pg Overall

    UH Opponents out Rebound UH Overall

    UH Opponents average only 15 TO’s in our 6 Losses


  4. Backbeat; Another stat- Turnover margin per game ( opponent TO’s minus TO avg. per game) Kentucky,ranked10th at 4.3; UH 16th at 3.7 ( excludes Jan 22 games).

    Regarding defense in the post, coach Laura said in Friday’s paper, “We came in knowing what we needed to do because (the Aggies) “love to shoot the 3. We paid the price in the paint, but better to give up 2’s than 3’s .”

    If all things being equal, but depends on how many 2’s being given up and how many 3’s, the strategy would change. Same for the men’s pressure defense on the perimeter vs. inside.

  5. Defense, whether defense in half court concentrate on 3 point shooters, or stop the 2 point shots in the paint, either way, if Irvine balanced, they would shoot well from inside and out. That is why the not necessarily turnover Irvine 20x, and get 18 steals against them.. slow them down, disrupt their half court flow.. would not matter too much, if UH could not score well in their half court sets, inside out, or outside in.
    Beeman, playing Irvine, on the road, that is a team that has lost 13 games overall and is 0-4 in conference, stranger things have happened, however, I figure, Megan Huff , Shawna, Destiny, Morgan, Ashley, should win on their home court..
    Hope it is a clean sweep.. Just know.. UH has to bring on O and D, their “A” game, in order to finish top 4 in BWC conference.. effort, will be there.. just have to shoot ball well. their offense.. Peak in March.. and that final 8 game stretch to finish BWC regular season, key.. that is when want to play the absolute best ball, however, maybe not.. Poly.. Poly.. Poly.. losing BWC regular season record and they go to DANCE.. Parity, and whomever is hot..

    Think in house attendance will top 7500, I hope so… however you know , how it goes.. if has 5800 , they will make noise of 15,800… either way, those that can go, or will go.. Have fun and MAKE NOISE.. help UH MBB team WIN !!

  6. That was a laugher for the Wahine over Irvine, 10 for 20 Three Pt. FG’s. 85-20 final. 22 assists to 12 turnovers.

  7. 53 rebounds for Wahine to Irvine’s 32 .

  8. i know it’s late in the day, but does anyone know if mamadou made the trip to hawaii?

  9. Yes, he made the trip, per his coach.

  10. Warrior time. Let’s all show up. Our team needs to play hard start to finish. No lipping off tonight guys just play the game hard. No mercy.

  11. Be like Q no open mout…play hard listen..produce..sit down,,cheer on team..and watch team win..no pout..
    benjy..tell team you,,pick up technicals not the team..
    coaching staff pull em away
    moth off to refs, fans, each other, opponent..sit em down
    discipline and class
    better the wins will be !!

  12. Think Coach told some players to ease of the talking. There’s a lot of emotions playing tough D like they do. You gotta buy into that and they all put their heart into that. Hard to blame em as their emotions are running high but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do, Coach!

    Maybe it’ll take a player getting the technical fouls that causes the loss for the team for it to sink in though. Cause all I see are players stating their cases with the refs and/or coach thinking they are right. They gotta learn the Refs rule and there’s no sense fighting it and just learn from it.

  13. Student section is bare. Why?

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