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Healthy Warriors poised for tournament run

Nevels4_Flores

It’s been a tale of two teams with the University of Hawai’i and Long Beach State. In Long Beach on Jan. 31, the 49ers were good and the Warriors not so much. In Honolulu on Feb. 26, the Warriors were good and the 49ers not so much.

It makes for an intriguing part III when the teams meet in the quarterfinals of the Big West Conference Tournament on Thursday afternoon.

The game is scheduled to start around 11:30 a.m. (Hawai’i time) at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. It will be televised live on Fox Sports Prime Ticket (Oceanic channels 228 and 1228).

“It’s going to be a tough game,” head coach Benjy Taylor said. “They’re an experienced team, and they had some success at the (Big West) tournament in the past, so we’re going to have to be on top of our game.”

In the first meeting, Hawai’i had its worst offensive showing of the season in a 65-50 loss at the Walter Pyramid. A month later, the Warriors’ 78-59 win over Long Beach State at the Stan Sheriff Center represented the largest margin of defeat in the Big West regular season for the 49ers.

“We’re peaking at the right time,” Taylor said. “We went through some injuries and got through it. We had some guys sick and got through it. Now we got everybody back and we’re ready to roll. We haven’t had this kind of depth the whole conference season.”

Specifically, a primary rotation of nine players will be available, and all nine are considered capable contributors.

Junior point guard Roderick Bobbitt was named the Big West Conference Defensive Player of the Year on Monday, and the two games against Long Beach State were examples of his value. In two games against the 49ers, Bobbitt averaged 10.5 points, 5.0 assists and 5.5 steals per game.

More important, he was primarily responsible for limiting Long Beach State guard Mike Caffey to 8.0 points on 6-for-28 shooting, including 1 for 11 from 3-point range. Caffey, a three-time All-Big West Conference first team selection, averages 15.9 points per game.

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“He’s their guy, he’s a senior, he knows what this time of year is about,” Taylor said of Caffey. “We did a pretty good job on him the last two games, but we gotta be on top of it again.”

Sophomore wing Aaron Valdes leads the Warriors in both scoring (13.6) and rebounding (5.3), followed by sophomore forward Stefan Jankovic at 11.2 points and 5.1 rebounds. They both received honorable mention on the All-Big West team, while Bobbitt was named to the second team.

But with everyone healthy, the Warriors have more options. Senior guard Garrett Nevels is averaging 10.7 points and 4.5 rebounds per game; freshman guard Isaac Fleming is averaging 9.4 points; Bobbitt is contributing 8.9 points and a Big West-best 5.4 assists and 3.0 steals per game; sophomore wing Negus Webster-Chan is averaging 8.8 points per game and leads the team with 61 3-pointers and a .421 percentage from 3-point range, and scored a season-high 20 in the last meeting with Long Beach State; sophomore forward Mike Thomas is averaging 7.5 points and 3.7 rebounds per game; sophomore center Stefan Jovanovic is averaging 6.0 points and 3.8 rebounds per game; junior guard Quincy Smith is contributing 4.5 points per game.

“We got everybody healthy now and we’re going to need everybody,” Taylor said.

The 49ers were a streaky team during the Big West regular season. They had a six-game winning streak early, followed by a five-game losing streak. They closed with a three-game winning streak to secure the No. 4 seed.

Besides Caffey, key players for Long Beach State include 6-7 senior forward David Samuels (10.5 points, 7.3 rebounds per game), 6-5 senior guard Tyler Lamb (8.3 points per game), and 6-1 sophomore guard Branford Jones (7.1 points per game).

Thursday’s Quarterfinal Games
UC Davis (1) vs. CSUN (8), 9 a.m.
Long Beach State (4) vs. Hawai’i (5), 11:30 a.m.
UC Irvine (3) vs. UC Riverside (6), 3 p.m.
UC Santa Barbara (2) vs. Cal Poly (7), 5:30 p.m.

Game Information
Who:
No. 5 Hawai‘i (20-12 overall, 8-8 Big West) vs. No. 4 Long Beach State (16-16 overall, 10-6 Big West)
When: Thursday, March 12, 2:30 p.m. PT (11:30 a.m. HT)
Where: Honda Center (18,366) – Anaheim, Calif.
Television: Fox Sports Prime Ticket – Oceanic Cable Ch. 1228 (HD), Ch. 228 (SD).
Streaming Video: Available at www.foxsports.com/foxsportsgo
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: ESPN1420am.com
Live Stats: HawaiiAthletics.com

22 Comments

  1. Win …great….lose…Great Season stilll..very proud of team!!
    new AD Matlin or McNamara hire Benjy so
    he can recruit jc big and shooter!!

    Mahalo Benjy and the Bows!!
    🙂

  2. The college game and especially in tournament time, the key is always the guard play. They handle the ball the large percentage of the time and they make all the important decisions on what happens. That means Bobbitt, Fleming, Smith, and Nevels. If these 4 guys as a group play pretty well then I think UH will have a very good chance to come out on top. You are taking about performance in shooting the ball, handling the ball, assists vs turnovers, decision-making. It reminds me of last year where UCONN won the NCAA title in part because of guards Napier and Boatright. They made the key shots and was the steadying force. Let’s pray!!!!

  3. ADD Negus and Aaron to the Wings-Guard Mix…
    RE-Capture Valde’s Pre-Season shooting stroke and
    This Guard Six-Pack can Shut-Down-Harass and shoot-out with almost any BWC Backcourt

    The Emerging Sophomore Wunderkind Front-Line CAN Surprise…
    Although One or Two Athletic-Physical Bigs would probably Tip-Scales Most Nights Towards UH
    For now, That Same Back-Court Supplements, able to harass To The Rim

    FOR THREE DAYS-Plus
    THIS Nine-Deep Will Need to be Enough…
    Show Us And The BWC Even More
    GO ‘BOWS!
    Play ALL 40-50 Smart, Effective, And
    FINISH STRONG

  4. Go Bows !
    Go Team !

  5. Do or die time. Hope we bring the A game.

  6. Yeah!its tournament time.
    I hope hawaii comes out
    Hungry.ready to play.they
    Can beat anybody in this
    Conference.it all depends
    Which teams shows up.
    Hawaii is very athletic.put
    Pressure on the ball.create
    A lot of turnovers.lets go
    Warriors.win 3 in a row.
    Make it to the big dance.
    NCAA’S

  7. Anybody got any tips on how to secretly watch the game online while at work? Lol.

  8. 1st round lost and bengy gone for good

  9. Long Beach now favored by 3 pts. by some.

  10. islandman…

    . call the field even… csun up on top seed davis at the half.. csun, nothing to lose, looks like they can pull off that win, another possible 8th seed defeating a Number 1 seed.

    As We all know, from 7th seed, and losing BWC regular season record of last year Cal Poly, and a couple of low mid majors with only single digit wins, won their conference tournaments and made it to ncaa’s

    Hey, for me, this Old.. old… UH MBB fan.. season has been a success , Matlin or McNamara if they are new AD next week… strongly consider, 20 win season by Benjy and the Bows.. and that 14 guys held together after Gib firing.

    And give Benjy and staff, a shot at producing 2 more 20 win, And possible Conference, or most total wins in a season for MBB for next several years, by signing him to One, Two or Three year deal.. He wants a guaranteed One year, with possible extension after that One year contract.. that is prudent..

  11. RunBows, you beat me to it – CSUN leading Davis 36-28, at halftime.

  12. I believe Benjy is gone for anything short of winning the conference tourney

  13. From here on out, it’s survive and advance. Islandman, take the points! Gotta make shots, gotta make stops. Simple, but hard to do. Let’s watch to see how Taylor pulls the strings on his rotation and his decisions. Will he be out coached or will he out coach the other guy?

  14. Close but no cigar for. CSUN. Davis by 4. Bows need 40 min with no 5-6 min drought. Fleming could be key.

  15. Not sure what to make of this, but, according to BMac, Taylor opted to let the team rest rather than do a 30-minute shoot around this morning. In other words, the team won’t see the court until 30 minutes before tipoff. Interesting …

  16. Someone explain to me why there wasn’t a technical called on that dunk? Is it because time ran out on the play? Hmmmm.

  17. 79 – 72 Bows !
    Heal. Rest. Get ready for the next game.
    Oh wait. The interviews. Then get ready !
    Go Bows !

  18. Fantastic team victory !

  19. WOOOOOO!!!

  20. See…uhadmin…bot Foxsports west commentators. ..including corey magette
    does benjy desverve head coaching uh mbb job
    YES…he proved it!!
    Great win 21 wins is fantastic

    Something benjy and basically a new team
    did something gib did not do..lead uh mbb to bwc open round game win!!

    Dang!!
    Shheee..
    cheehooooo !!
    🙂

  21. Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

  22. Great job warriors!2 more
    Wins and warriors make
    It to the ncaa’s.hawaii will
    Be hungry again.they will
    Advance again.make it
    To championship game.
    Lets go warriors.

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