Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Taylor wins mid-season award; a quick look at the Big West

Major work by Benjy Taylor was recognized with a mid-season, mid-major award on Monday.

Taylor, who was named the acting head coach of the University of Hawai’i basketball team just two weeks before the season opener, was named the Hugh Durham Award Mid-Season Coach of the Year. The award was created in 2005 to honor the nation’s top mid-major coach.


The Warriors are 12-4, which is a program record for most wins before the start of the conference regular season. Among Hawai’i’s victories this season are upsets of Pittsburgh, Nebraska and Colorado. The Warriors also took then-No. 11 ranked Wichita State to overtime before losing by a single point (80-79).

“It validates all the hard work that we put in this year,” Taylor said. “It’s certainly a team award … now we just have to continue to move forward and see if we can parlay that into a good Big West season.”

The award is announced through www.collegeinsider.com, and is named in honor of Hugh Durham, who coached two different programs to Final Four appearances (Florida State in 1972 and Georgia in 1983). Taylor is originally from North Carolina, and said he recalls watching the 1983 Georgia team.

“Me being from North Carolina, I’ve been a huge Dominique Wilkins fan and he played for Coach Durham over at Georgia,” Taylor said. “It’s a great award. It’s a staff award, a team award.”

Last year’s winner was Tony Jasick of IPFW. Previous winners include Gregg Marshall (now at Wichita State, but was with Winthrop when he won it in 2007), and Bob Thomason of Pacific.

Taylor said he hopes the recognition can help with recruiting, especially because many prospects have unanswered questions about the pending NCAA investigation.

“We need help with (recruiting); it’s getting late and guys are making decisions,” Taylor said. “We’ll use it to our advantage … it’s a heck of an award, and it’s a tribute to everyone here – the administration, the players, from top to bottom.”

— — — — — — — —

The Big West Conference regular season gets underway with two games on Wednesday, including Hawai’i hosting Cal Poly at the Stan Sheriff Center.


The pre-conference schedule produced a mixed bag of results for Big West teams, with many playing a blend of national powers and lower-level opponents. The good news was that several Big West teams were recognized for playing strong schedules, including Long Beach State (No. 1 in strength of schedule according to the Pomeroy Ratings), Cal Poly (No. 23) and UC Santa Barbara (No. 27).

The not-so-good news is that the Big West went 0-12 against teams that were ranked in the Top 25 polls at the time of those games.

Still, seven of the nine Big West teams will take records of .500 or better into conference play, including 12-4 Hawai’i. What’s also impressive is that the Big West teams combined to post a 45-10 record in home games.

Bottom line, there is no clear-cut favorite, and all nine teams can claim to have a shot at the title … at least for now. Here is a quick look at the other eight teams:

Head coach: Joe Callero
Significant wins: at San Francisco (78-71), at Santa Clara (69-58)
Notable losses: at Cal (72-52), at Saint Mary’s (82-56), vs. Gonzaga (63-50)
Top players: David Nwaba (6-4, Jr., F) 14.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg; Brian Bennett (6-9, Jr., F) 11.5 ppg, 6.0 rpg, .550 FG pct.; Reese Morgan (6-2, Jr., G) 9.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg.
Notes: The Mustangs won the Big West Conference Tournament as a No. 7 seed last season, and three starters return from that team. Cal Poly leads the NCAA in fewest turnovers per game (8.5).

Head coach: Dedrique Taylor
Significant wins: at Nevada (65-55)
Notable losses: at New Mexico (67-59); at USC (53-49); at UCLA (73-45)
Top players: Alex Harris (6-1, Sr., G) 15.5 ppg, six games with 20+ points this season; Lanerryl Johnson (6-1, Jr., G) 11.7 ppg, .418 3-point pct.; Moses Morgan (6-6, Sr., F) 11.1 ppg, 31 3-pointers.
Notes: The Titans have won their last five games, which is the team’s longest winning streak in three years. Fullerton finished 11-20 overall last season, including 6-10 in the Big West.

Head coach: Reggie Theus
Significant wins: none
Notable losses: at San Diego State (79-58); at Arizona (86-68); at Louisville (80-55)
Top players: Stephan Hicks (Sr., G) 17.8 ppg, 5.3 rpg, .571 FG pct.; Stephen Maxwell (Sr., F) 15.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, .841 FT pct.
Notes: The Matadors’ .765 team free throw percentage ranks seventh in the country. Stephan Hicks is the program’s all-time leading scorer with 1,715 points; Stephen Maxwell is the program’s all-time leading rebounder with 829.

Head coach: Dan Monson
Significant wins: Kansas State (69-60); vs. Xavier (73-70)
Notable losses: at San Diego State (60-59); at Texas (78-68); at Syracuse (85-67); at Louisville (63-48)
Top players: Mike Caffey (6-0, Sr., G) 16.4 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.6 apg, 34 3-pointers, .451 3-point pct.; Tyler Lamb (6-6, Sr., G) 9.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg.
Notes: The 49ers’ pre-conference scheduled has been ranked as the strongest in the nation by several publications. They lead the Big West with 119 3-pointers made. Long Beach has finished no lower than third place in the Big West in each of the past five seasons.

Head coach: Jim Les
Significant wins: Utah State (77-70); at Air Force (81-75)
Notable losses: at Idaho (79-71); at Washington State (90-83)
Top players: Corey Hawkins (6-3, Sr., G) 20.3 ppg, 35 3-pointers, .486 3-point pct., six games with 20+ points this season; Josh Ritchart (6-9, Sr., F) 13.0 ppg, 4.6 rpg; Josh Fox (6-6, Jr., F) 9.4 ppg, .645 FG pct.
Notes: The Aggies have already surpassed last season’s win total, as they finished 9-22 overall last season, including 4-12 in the Big West. UC Davis ranks first in the NCAA for team 3-point field goal percentage at .432.

Head coach: Russell Turner
Significant wins: vs. Green Bay (72-70); Pacific (68-50)
Notable losses: at Arizona (71-54); at Saint Mary’s (72-69); at Oregon (69-67)
Top players: Alex Young (6-1, Jr., G) 10.9 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 3.9 apg; Will Davis II (6-8, Sr., F) 10.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg; Mamadou Ndiaye (7-6, So., C) 12.0 ppg, 4.2 rpg, .694 FG pct.; Luke Nelson (6-3, So., G) 11.1 ppg, 3.6 apg.
Notes: The Anteaters won the Big West regular-season title last season, and four starters return. Starting center Mamadou Ndiaye has missed nine games this season with a foot injury; starting guard Luke Nelson has missed the last two games with a facial injury.

Head coach: Dennis Cutts
Significant wins: none
Notable losses: at Utah (88-42); at UCLA (77-66); at San Diego State (61-33)
Top players: Taylor Johns (6-7, Jr., F) 16.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg, .509 FG pct., 30 blocked shots; Jaylen Bland (6-3, Jr., G) 14.9 ppg, leads Big West with 44 3-pointers.
Notes: The Highlanders have a combined record of 54-99 in the previous five seasons, including 10-21 last season. Four of the team’s seven losses this season have been by five points or less.

Head coach: Bob Williams
Significant wins: vs. Washington State (71-43); Florida Gulf Coast (63-50)
Notable losses: at Kansas (69-59); at SMU (80-73 OT); Florida Gulf Coast (63-50)
Top players: Alan Williams (6-8, Sr., C) 18.6 ppg, 11.9 rpg, leads Big West in rebounding and blocked shots (34), 11 double-doubles this season; Michael Bryson (6-4, Jr., G) 13.9 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 30 3-pointers; second in NCAA with .947 free throw percentage; John Green (6-5, Jr., G) 11.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg.
Notes: Alan Williams led the nation in rebounding last season, and currently ranks second this season. The Gauchos lead the Big West in assists with 16.0 per game. UCSB has already played four overtime games this season, with a 1-3 record in those games.


  1. Go Bows!! Warrior time…
    that’s the spirit , Benjy, award for MBB team and Hawaii faithful fans !!
    Benjy Ball
    one ohana !!
    Finish strong..

  2. Eagle — thanks for explaining about the Florida St forfeit. That’s a reason why Hugh took his team off the court, he was losing 30-10 . Thanks to BackBeat and RunBows for your recollections too.

    Dayton–Thanks for your report above. What i can’t figure out is that UH has a 304 strength of schedule, apparently, on the Pomeroy ratings. Njacinto explained it is because seven of UH wins were against some teams with not too good records, i think. I guess UCSB had more wins against higher rated teams ?

  3. islandman…. yeah, those were the days..

    islandman… does Jackson W… go….ha, ha, ha., nahhhh ?
    Benjy and team, the guys stuck it out, yes, people around the country, recognize the situation and applaud what staff and guys have done. Great award, first time for a Hawaii MBB coach, I think.. others, have had, I believe, maybe Riley ? coach of the year for old WAC.. that would be another good one.. ONE GAME AT A TIME..

    Cal Poly first, Benjy and Team, just concentrate on Poly, and trying to win that game,.. I think Poly will slow , slowwww , the game down, and make UH play halfcourt defense, however. UH has proven they can play full, 3/4, and half court defense.. great team defense when it matters…Should be fun..

    And a lot of New Guys to heavy minutes, and new to BWC wars.. should be exciting.. as Benjy says, wants guys to have fun, do what they have been doing, then, close out games.. I think most BWC games will go down to last few minutes..maybe.. or Hawaii just runs, runs, and runs.. I don’t know, however. The team is playing well, and wants to get better.. that is the good thing. they are coachable..

    Agree with Benjy, his team has bought into TEAM, no “I” in TEAM.. get the win, instead of stats, or personal stuff.. as Quincy says, whatever minutes, play your role, contribute , and all the team, the 12 guys plus supportive 2 RS’s want to do is win.
    Can they win 10 games? 11 ? .. I think they can.. just have to keep getting better.

    Jackson.. Stefan Jovanovich. playing well?..hmmmm.. ha, ha, haaaa !
    He Good Center.. very good one..

  4. Jackson…. just joking ! Team, is doing well, wish them the best in the Big West conference season.

    Go Rainbow Warriors !!

  5. Kekaula or Otherwise…

    Lassner and Bley-Vroman Need to Quit the Imitate-Frazier thing,
    Get This Staff a One or Two Year Contract Executed NOW (Subject to NCAA Contingencies)
    You Can FIRE Now, You Better Be Willing to HIRE Now….
    AND Support Recruit Signing(s)…

    Congratulations Benjy & Staff AND TEAM .. YOUR Award
    [ASSIST: Gib & Staff for Hiring Benjy & Senque, Importing Playas…]

    Award should Be “Coach and Staff of The Year / Mid-Season”

    NOW … Counting Big West WINS
    GO ‘BOWS!

  6. Got to disagree. One or two years is not enough. Much longer please!
    We have got a really great staff of Coaches here.
    Congrats to the coaching staff. We know they are not going to rest on this.

  7. Longer IS Better …

    AND Probably Proper, The Right Thing To Do…

    BUT These Guys Chastised/Fired The Previous Chancellor & A.D.
    ? for “Recommending Extending” The (Winning) Coach with The NCAA Guillotine Still Suspended Overhead…
    They probably CAN’T Stomach Much More than One or Two
    Until NCAA Resolved…Then Three to Five…

    Then We CAN Learn…
    As Andy Katz Noted…
    WHO/What Can They Recruit?

  8. Big time congrats to Coach Taylor, his staff, as well as the team. Very well deserved, just glad to see some national recognition.

    Dayton, great research on the conference teams. I have to say that it looks like it’s going to be another highly competitive conference season. There doesn’t appear to be any “far and away” favorite. I do believe Hawaii can finish at least 9 – 7 in conference and compete for 3rd or 4th place. So much talent this year.

    In lieu of the start of conference play, I want to make my conference projections:
    1. Long Beach St., 11 – 5
    2. UC Davis, 10 – 5
    3. Hawaii, 9 – 7
    4. UC Santa Barbara, 9 – 7
    5. Cal Poly, 8 – 8
    6. UC Irvine, 8 – 8
    7. UC Riverside, 7 – 9
    8. Cal St Fullerton, 6 – 10
    9. Cal St Northridge, 4 – 12

    Thinking Hawaii will go 6 – 2 at home and 3 – 5 on the road. Big West teams are playing very well at home this year but I think Hawaii will still manage to steal a few. I can see this team finishing as good as 12 – 4 and compete for first, but I just don’t know the rest of the conference well enough. In any case I’ll be watching and cheering the entire way. Let’s GO BOWS!!

  9. Much respect to Benjy and his staff! This is some nice recognition to get word out to the rest of the nation about the unreal job he has been doing under very difficult conditions set by his own school.

    As he says now time to parlay into the Big West season. I agree with IsaacM above and others who say that the conference does not have a “team to beat” this year so UH has as good a chance as anybody. This might be the year to sneak in! UC Irvine was the early pick for that but If Big Mamadou stays hurt that brings them way back to the rest of the pack. If he comes back healthy then have to watch out for them.

    Also have to say that there is no “easy” teams this year so every game will be a tough one because Riverside, Fullerton and Northridge look like they all improved a lot. If Northridge is looking like the last place team then that’s a good last place team. They got Maxwell who is a beast on the boards for his size and Hicks who likes to drive hard to the rack.

  10. What you think of playing each time two times at home per opponent’s visit, like UH used to do ? The games were played two days in a row or some times there was a day or two between them. This made sense with the distance and costs involved. In the Red Rocha days, they even used to play teams on the road sometimes two times per trip ( see Hawaii Athletics/History/all-time results).

    But this was stopped looks like in the Larry Little era around 1981-82. I thought it was in the Riley era. I think this was stopped because UH was often losing the 2nd game after winning the 1st. We didn’t know how to adjust for the next game as well as our opponent.

    The men’s volleyball team still plays its opponents two times, per visit. Not the women’s VB team, but they used to do that too .

    Good luck charm Portnoy not going to be in town for the Wednesday game, if i heard correctly on Bobby C show today.

  11. It’s January 6… still no NCAA report, findings, accusations, or timeline for UH response and hearing dates.


    …Or in UH Manoa terms…RECIRCULATED! How does a person get to be in charge who does not even understand Athletics? There is a certain fluidity that is a basic need to keep each program competitive and able to thrive or in this case survive. Without that knowledge and action taken, you are either sabotaging the athletic program purposely or by your own ineptitude. Either way you are creating more burden. These steps should have been taken care of back in October before making your idiotic move on the basketball program as well as having knowledge that you were trying to force out our AD.

    If Captain Bley is not recirculated, then one must believe that these decisions are coming from above…Lassner!

    I am so glad that the nation’s eyes are now watching our program due to this award to our “interim Coach”! Bley…you have taken one step too far on your Peter Principle!

    BTW…did I miss seeing anything about Benjy’s National Award in SA?


  13. I think brief mention…Review of Bigwest by BM..would think lead story?
    Hawaii kine?
    Hope team just concentrate on beating poly..

  14. Fire them all!!! Prez, chancellor, regents! Make Gib president, Brandyn chancellor, and give Benjy 10 year contract!!! Then no Capt Bly. Just Capt Lie.

  15. RunBows –The Big West season is the lead story in today’s print edition, sports section – Big headlines, ” Best in the Big West is Anyone’s Guess” and write ups of each team, a little different from Dayton’s in the synopsis.

  16. islandman: yeah, I saw it this morning.. I guess Backbeat was alluding to, That is such a historic and well deserved award for whole MBB program and coaches at this time.. maybe he felt, The Headline of article, would be.. “Benjy Taylor awarded Prestigious Mid Major Coach of year award”

    Notice, that Ferd, Dave R., BM, even the Hawaii News Now, the TV media, local, they are quite amazed at start for UH MBB with Benjy at the helm as acting or interim, or whatever…A lot of local UH MBB fans,,we did not know what to expect.. Would they even field a Team? Ben Jay call to retain Benjy as interim, Acting Head Coach, so far..and with the team saying They Wanted Benjy for this year, the remainder.. proving to be wise move.

    Was I dreaming or did I hear and see correctly? Yes I watched Robert Kekaula’s Two Sports newscasts last nite, and it sounds good, at least proactive.. He reports, UH, is in preliminary talks with Benjy about extension to his contract.. which it smart..

    I just hope team focuses.. and does not get lost in the media and fan locally and nationally attention.. focus on beating Cal Poly.. Benjy said from beginning , the guys that would not cause distraction, All On board, represent Hawaii the University, their families and the BB progam, they are a tough, resilient bunch,, and the guys are proving to be.
    Sure, ones on 4 forums, think I have been beating the drum, too much, about how Benjy and staff, and Mamma Valdes, and families, good fans.. have done great job holding team together..

    Well, with ESPN Andy Katz shout out and National recognition, just validates the point.. Benjy, the staff, admin..for retaining Benjy and Team.. great job.. ! Awesome
    Now, go out and win 9, 10, 11 games in conference, One Win, One Game, One Scout at a time.
    I hope UH can get that great 6’7″ SF/ PF scoring defending athlete and that 6’10” rim protector, or that 6’5″ 210 athletic, defending shooting guard.. I think , if UH gets good start in conference, and they know some stability, no matter what comes down.. Would be fantastic.. Would be curious to know who those 2 or 3 guys are, sitting on the fence, which I could not blame them for..

    Benjy and Team, just Concentrate One Game and One Win at a time, try not to lose back to back games,.. just win as many as possible..
    Awesome job UH MBB team.. and there ARE STILL the naysayers.. all UH MBB and coaches can do.. win ball games, and Fight,.. Finish Strong.. IMUA !!

  17. RunBows — i get it now, Benji’s award mentioned in one paragraph in today’s story in the newspaper.

    Fleming named as starter, per McInnis blog, Valdes has a wrapped right wrist .

  18. Cal Poly has had six straight road games and UH will its seventh. On Dec. 30 they played IPFW in Indiana. So are they a bit tired ? Maybe not, since they had a week since.

  19. Yep. All they need is 6’7 sthletic scoring sf, 6’5 athletic scoring and defending guard and 6’10 rim protected (also athletic). UH and every other D1 school. Very insightful!

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