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Warriors wary of Fullerton

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The University of Hawai’i basketball team is in no position to be overconfident, not even against a Cal State Fullerton team that is in last place in the Big West Conference.

The Warriors will host the Titans on Saturday night at the Stan Sheriff Center. Tip-off is set for 7 p.m., following an Alumni vs. Alumni game at 4:30 p.m.

Nothing has come easy this season for the Warriors, and this game will be no exception. Hawai’i is 17-9 overall and in fifth place in the Big West at 5-5. The Warriors have alternated wins and losses the entire conference season – they have neither won nor lost two conference games in a row.

“You just have to step up every single night,” sophomore center Stefan Jovanovic said. “This season is catching up with our legs and everything, but I think we just have to stay focused and I think we can break that pattern (of alternating wins and losses), honestly.”

Cal State Fullerton is 9-15 overall and 1-8 in the conference, and would seem to be the perfect opponent to start a winning streak.

However, the Warriors could be without leading scorer and rebounder Aaron Valdes. The sophomore wing suffered a sprained left ankle in the second half of a 73-52 victory over UC Riverside on Thursday. He was walking in a protective boot on Friday, and his status will be a game-time decision.

If anything, the win over UC Riverside on Thursday showed the Warriors that they don’t have to rely on any one player to be successful.

Valdes, who is averaging 14.2 points and 5.3 rebounds per game, went just 1 for 1 from the field (an alley-oop dunk to open the game) and scored five points in the win over UCR.

“Somebody else is going to have to step up,” senior captain Garrett Nevels said of the possibility of playing without Valdes. “We still expect to win, we still expect to play the right way. We still have to take care of business.”

The Warriors certainly can’t overlook the Titans, who have lost three overtime games in conference action this season and are coming off a 75-69 loss at first-place UC Davis on Thursday.

The Titans are playing for their post-season hopes. Fullerton and CSUN (2-9) appear to be the two teams battling for eighth/ninth place in the conference. The team that finishes in ninth at the end of the regular-season will not quality for the Big West Conference Tournament.

“This is a conference where everyone can beat everyone,” Jovanovic said. “There’s not really a rule that the last place team can not beat the first place team.”

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Alex Harris, a 6-1 senior guard, leads Fullerton with 16.1 points and 3.3 assists per game, and is also contributing 3.9 rebounds per game. Lanerryl Johnson, a 6-1 junior guard, is averaging 11.7 points per game and leads the Titans with 43 3-pointers and a .417 percentage from 3-point range. Their top inside player is Steve McClellan, a 6-7, 250-pound senior who is averaging 6.9 points and 8.5 rebounds per game.

With or without Valdes, the Warriors would like to depend on a balanced attack similar to the one that produced the convincing win over UC Riverside.

“I think it’s really important,” Nevels said. “Everybody has a role to play and they need to fill that every night so that we have a better chance to win. I think as we go along, people are learning that and just continue to get better.”

Nevels is averaging 10.6 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, and is followed closely in scoring by: Isaac Fleming (9.8), Stefan Jankovic (9.5), Mike Thomas (8.4), Roderick Bobbitt (8.4), Negus Webster-Chan (7.7), and Jovanovic (5.5).

Bobbitt continues to lead the nation with 85 steals, and also leads the Big West in assists at 5.7 per game. Hawai’i leads the Big West and ranks third in the country with 10.4 steals per game.

Saturday’s game will be the first meeting this season between the teams. They will play again in the regular-season finale on March 7.

(WarriorInsider.com file photos courtesy Brandon Flores)

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ALUMNI VS. ALUMNI

The UH Men’s Basketball Alumni Game is set for 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center. It is considered part of a doubleheader, with the UH game against Cal State Fullerton to follow at 7 p.m.

Here is the latest list of alumni attendees:

Eric Ambrozich, Jason “JC” Carter, Dennis Chai, Al Davis, Rykin Enos, Jerome Freeman, Ed Gayagas, Kawika Hallums, Dwight Holiday, Ryne Holliday, Phil Martin, Kalia McGee, Pii Minns, Woodrow Moore, Miah Ostrowski, John Penebacker, Geremy Robinson, Tim Shepherd, Kelii Silva, Justice Sueing, Lance Takaki, Johnny White, and Artie Wilson.

The alumni players will be split into two squads and play against each other in a 30-minute game (two 15-minute halves). The alumni players will also be recognized at halftime of the Hawai’i vs. Fullerton game.

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SUPERHERO NIGHT

Saturday’s theme for the student section is “Superhero Night,” and fans are encouraged to wear costumes of superheroes.

For those planning ahead, the final two home games of the regular-season will also have themes. The Feb. 26 game against Long Beach State will be “Harry Potter Night,” and the March 7 season finale will be “White-Out Night.”

Saturday’s Game Information
Who:
Hawai’i (17-9, 5-5 Big West) vs. Cal State Fullerton (9-15, 1-8 Big West)
When: Saturday, Feb. 14, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center – Honolulu, O’ahu
Tickets: Lower level – $26 per seat; upper level – $18 for adults, $16 for senior citizens, $5 for students (age 4 through high school). Parking is $6.
Television: Live on OCSports – Channels 16 (SD) and 1016 (HD).
Streaming Video: www.bigwest.org
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

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5 Comments

  1. Benjy and The Bows !!

    Just start a good winning streak tonite at 700pm against Fullerton.
    They are hungry,..for their 2nd win in BWC, so You guys have to be MORE HUNGRY.. ready to grind

    Go Bows !!
    We Backing Benjy and The RainBOW Warriors !!
    🙂

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

  3. This might be the only “guarantee” game left on the schedule, so the guys really need to go out and take this one! The rest of the games going be tough even the last game at Fullerton because that would be there senior night. If UH can win big this game, then ride the momentum the rest of the way.

    Great message from Q in the video! Fans need to show up for these games!

  4. WARNING: Trap door game…same officiating crew.

    Bring it Bowz…should have a great crowd behind you tonight.

    GO BOWZ

  5. Dude Benjy has no control over this team. Nevels with a double tech and is kicked out. We must lead the nation in technicals. I know the officiating is bad but you have to be more composed.

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