Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Bring on the Big West

The University of Hawai’i basketball team might not be able to take its 11-2 non-conference record into Big West play, but the Warriors certainly can ride the momentum into this week’s opening games.

Hawai’i will host Cal Poly in the Big West season opener on Wednesday at the Stan Sheriff Center, then UC Santa Barbara on Saturday. Both the Mustangs and Gauchos managed to earn wins over the Warriors last season in Honolulu.


The last time a Hawai’i team started a season 11-2 was the 2002-03 team that eventually played in the NIT.

Cal Poly is 6-7, but it is a somewhat deceiving record. Five of their losses came on the road against traditional powers: UCLA, UNLV, Saint Mary’s, USC and Texas A&M.

The Mustangs traditionally rely on a group effort on both ends of the court, and this year appears to be no exception. David Nwaba, a 6-foot-4 senior guard, leads the team in the key categories of scoring (11.5), rebounding (5.6) and assists (4.7). He struggled in two games against Hawai’i last season, scoring a total of 12 points on 4-for-25 shooting.

Cal Poly’s balanced attack features several other options, including 6-7 senior forward Joel Awich (10.9 points, 5.2 rebounds), 6-9 sophomore forward Luke Meikle (10.0 points, 3.4 rebounds), 6-2 senior guard Reese Morgan (9.8 points, 31 3-pointers, 48 percent from 3-point range), and 6-3 sophomore guard Taylor Sutlive (8.6 points, 28 3-pointers, 48 percent from 3-point range). There’s also Brian Bennett, who had 20 points and eight rebounds in Cal Poly’s win in the Sheriff Center last season.

Hawai’i has its own share of weapons, and has developed a solid rotation of eight players.

Junior forward Aaron Valdes, coming off a historic triple-double performance against Howard, is averaging 15.5 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. Senior point guard Roderick Bobbitt, who is averaging 24.5 points per game over his last four games, is averaging 14.0 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game. Junior center Stefan Jankovic is averaging 14.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game and is shooting 55 percent from the field.

Isaac Fleming (9.8 points), Mike Thomas (7.3 points, 3.8 rebounds), Sai Tummala (6.7 points, 3.5 rebounds), Quincy Smith (6.7 points, 4.2 rebounds) and Stefan Jovanovic (6.0 points, 4.1 rebounds) are the other key contributors.


Cal Poly played at a deliberate pace in past years, but is playing faster this season. In fact, Hawai’i (81.0) and Cal Poly (75.9) are the two highest-scoring teams in the Big West entering league play.

A key statistic to watch could be turnovers. The Mustangs are the most careful team in the Big West, committing just 10.8 turnovers per game. However, the Warriors force the most turnovers by opponents in the Big West at 16.6 per game.

Here is a capsule look at the other eight teams in the Big West:

Cal Poly 6-7
Head coach: Joe Callero (7th season)
Significant victories: 77-65 vs. Fresno State; 88-73 at Texas-San Antonio.
Notable losses: 74-72 at UNLV; 88-83 at UCLA; 93-63 at Saint Mary’s; 82-63 at Texas A&M.
Players to watch: David Nwaba (6-4, Sr., G) is averaging 11.5 points, 5.6 rebounds, 4.7 assists and 1.7 steals per game; Joel Awich (6-7, Sr., F) is averaging 10.9 points and 5.2 rebounds per game; Luke Meikle (6-9, So., F) is averaging 10.0 points and 3.4 rebounds per game; Reese Morgan (6-2, Sr., G) is averaging 9.8 points per game and leads the team with 31 3-pointers and a .477 percentage from 3-point range.
Notes: The Mustangs played just two home games in the month of December, and the last one was on Dec. 5. They still have several key players remaining from the team that won a game in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, including Nwaba, Awich, Morgan, Brian Bennett, and Ridge Shipley.

Cal State Fullerton 7-6
Head coach: Dedrique Taylor (3rd season)
Significant victories: 75-66 vs. Nevada.
Notable losses: 87-69 at Washington; 82-69 vs. Oregon State.
Players to watch: Tre’ Coggins (6-2, Jr., G) is averaging 16.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, and ranks second in the Big West with 40 3-pointers; Malcolm Brooks (6-5, Sr., G) is averaging 14.2 points per game; Khalil Ahmad (6-4, Fr., G) is averaging 12.8 points and 4.3 rebounds per game; Lanerryly Johnson (6-1, Sr., G) is averaging 9.5 points per game.
Notes: The Titans won just nine games all of last season. The two leading scorers this season are transfers from NCAA-I programs – Coggins from Air Force and Brooks from Pepperdine. The Titans had a six-game winning streak earlier in the season, but it was followed immediately by a five-game losing streak.

CSUN 5-9
Head coach: Reggie Theus (3rd season)
Significant victories: 77-71 at Portland State.
Notable losses: 96-61 at USC; 77-45 at UCLA.
Players to watch: Kendall Smith (6-3, Jr., G) is averaging 17.0 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game; Micheal Warren (6-5, So., G) is averaging 15.0 points and 4.9 rebounds per game; Tavrion Dawson (6-8, So., F) is averaging 12.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game; Tre Hale-Edmerson (6-9, Sr., F) is averaging 8.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game.
Notes: Two key players became eligible in December for the Matadors: Kendall Smith (who is the younger brother of UH’s Quincy Smith) and Jerron Wilbut (6-3, Fr., G, 12.3 points per game). CSUN leads the Big West in free throws made and attempted (243-335) and free throw percentage (.725).

Long Beach State 6-9
Head coach: Dan Monson (9th season)
Significant victories: 66-65 vs. BYU; 80-77 vs. Seton Hall; 67-53 vs. New Mexico State.
Notable losses: 87-52 vs. Virginia; 83-76 at UCLA; 85-70 at Arizona; 103-81 at Duke.
Players to watch: Nick Faust (6-6, Sr., G) is averaging 15.7 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game, and leads the team with 38 3-pointers; Travis Hammonds (6-6, Jr., F) is averaging 10.7 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, but was recently suspended indefinitely; A.J. Spencer (6-3, Sr., G) is averaging 9.6 points per game and is shooting 50.4 percent from the field; Justin Bibbins (5-8, So., G) is averaging 9.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 5.8 assists per game.
Notes: The 49ers have the No. 1 ranked Strength of Schedule in the nation, according to ESPN.com. Long Beach State ranks first in the Big West with 134 3-pointers (8.9 per game) and a .396 percentage from 3-point range, and five different players have made 19 or more 3s this season. The 49ers rank last in the Big West in rebounding (34.5 per game) and are also last in points allowed (77.0 per game).

UC Davis 4-8
Head coach: Jim Les (5th season)
Significant victories: 79-66 vs. Portland.
Notable losses: 81-67 at Saint Mary’s; 64-56 at Boise State.
Players to watch: Josh Fox (6-6, Sr., F) is averaging 12.6 points and 6.6 rebounds per game, and leads the team with a .574 field goal percentage; Brynton Lemar (6-4, Jr., G) is averaging 10.6 points and 3.9 rebounds per game and leads the team with 18 3-pointers; Siler Schneider (6-3, Fr., G) is averaging 10.5 points per game; Neal Monson (6-10, Jr., C) is averaging 9.2 points and 8.8 rebounds per game.
Notes: The Aggies finished 25-7 last season, including 14-0 at home. This season, they are 3-3 at home and will take a six-game losing streak into Big West play. UC Davis led the nation last season with a .447 percentage from 3-point range, but is at just .372 this season. The Aggies are also averaging a league-worst 15.4 turnovers per game.

UC Irvine 11-5
Head coach: Russell Turner (6th season)
Significant victories: 80-67 vs. Boston College; 73-63 at Utah State; 54-52 vs. New Mexico State.
Notable losses: 70-60 at Saint Mary’s; 78-63 at Oregon; 78-53 at Kansas.
Players to watch: Mamadou Ndiaye (7-6, Jr., C) is averaging 12.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocked shots per game; Luke Nelson (6-3, Jr., G) is averaging 11.5 points, 4.1 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game; Alex Young (6-2, Sr., G) is averaging 9.1 points, 4.7 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game; Mike Best (6-10, Sr., F) is averaging 8.0 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.
Notes: The Anteaters are 5-0 at home, the only Big West team that has an undefeated home record. They were picked to finish first in the Preseason Poll. UCI leads the Big West in several key defensive categories, including point allowed (64.6), opponent field goal percentage (.388) and blocked shots (81).

UC Riverside 9-7
Head coach: Dennis Cutts (2nd season)
Significant victories: 77-63 vs. Santa Clara; 77-66 vs. Northern Colorado.
Notable losses: 73-62 vs. UNLV; 67-48 vs. CSU Bakersfield.
Players to watch: Jaylen Bland (6-3, Sr., G) is averaging 16.3 points per game and ranks fourth in the nation with 56 3-pointers; Taylor Johns (6-7, Sr., F) is averaging 14.5 points and 8.2 rebounds per game and leads the team with 21 blocked shots; Secean Johnson (6-5, Jr., F) is averaging 11.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game; Malik Thames (6-2, Jr., G) is averaging 6.1 points and 3.1 assists per game.
Notes: The Highlanders are aiming for their first overall winning record since the 2008-09 season, when they finished 17-13. That is the only year that UC Riverside has finished above .500 since it became a NCAA-I program in 2001. Opponents are shooting just 28.7 percent from 3-point range against the Highlanders. UC Riverside has scored as many as 100 points in a game, and as few as 48.

UC Santa Barbara 6-7
Head coach: Bob Williams (18th season)
Significant victories: 80-76 vs. Iona; 83-78 at Washington.
Notable losses: 85-67 at Cal; 75-63 vs. USC.
Players to watch: Michael Bryson (6-4, Sr., G) leads the Big West in scoring at 19.8 points per game, and is also averaging 6.0 rebounds per game; Gabe Vincent (6-3, So., G) is averaging 12.3 points and 3.2 rebounds per game; John Green (6-5, Sr., G) is averaging 11.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game; Eric Childress (6-0, Jr., G) is averaging 4.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game.
Notes: The Gauchos lost seven of eight games during an early stretch of the season, but they enter Big West play on a four-game winning streak. They have played just four home games so far, and are 2-2 in those games. Bob Williams has a career record of 275-217, and is at No. 15 among NCAA-I head coaches for longest tenure at their current school.

— — — — — — — — —

When: Wednesday, January 6, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Tickets: Lower Level – $26; Upper Level – $18 for adults, $16 for senior citizens (65-older), $5 for students (ages 4-18). Parking is $6.
TV: Live on OCSports (channels 16 and 1016)
Internet video: Live on bigwest.tv
Radio: Live on ESPN1420 AM
Internet audio: Live on espn1420am.com
Live stats: hawaiiathletics.com
Promotions: Hawaii Pacific Health is the game sponsor and will distribute 1,000 gym towels to fans.

Big West Conference Upcoming Games
Wednesday, January 6

Long Beach State at CSUN
Cal Poly at Hawai’i

Thursday, January 7
UC Davis at UC Irvine
CS Fullerton at UC Riverside

Saturday, January 9
UC Davis at Long Beach State
CSUN at CS Fullerton
UC Riverside at UC Irvine
UC Santa Barbara at Hawai’i

— — — — — — — — — —

Here is a nice feature by Hawaii News Now on the Hawaii 5O bench crew:

Hawaii News Now – KGMB and KHNL


  1. The following is an excerpt from an article posted today on http://www.sanluisobispo.com

    “Regular starters Joel Awich, Brian Bennett and Ridge Shipley missed time in practice this week, Callero said, and it was unclear how limited each player would be against Hawaii.

    Awich rolled his ankle against Texas A&M last week and has been in a walking boot since.

    A nagging shoulder injury has slowed Bennett since the Dec. 17 game at USC.

    Shipley broke his nose in practice and will require surgery on Friday. The junior point guard will likely have to wear a protective mask the remainder of the season.”

  2. Cal Poly great coach.. you know even with injuries they wil be ready..key slow it down .. take care of ball shoot excellent fron free throw line..play smart as team..Cal Poly can win against UH.., take inside get UH MBB bigs and guards pick up fouls and frustrated..

  3. If Awich and Shipley don’t play and Bennet is playing with an injury then UH should win by around 16. If they they do play then UH should win by…15.

  4. Cal Poly huge upset on SSC road game..
    Mustangs slow it down, disciplined , knock off UH..
    Like last year..why?
    Big west officiating

  5. Uhfanzonly1,

    Cal Poly doesn’t play inside, they don’t go to the free throw often, they have a similar free throws made percentage to Hawaii, and I read somewhere that they’re offense is more fast tempo than past years.

  6. St. Mary beat’em by 30.

    Half as good as your mentor – Warriors won by 78-63!

  7. TAVS, I like how you think. I also see UH controlling this game but think it will be little bit closer than what you say. I will call UH win 73-64.

  8. Great job this year by Ganot. Building excitement all around the island for Warrior basketball. Team should just shut out the naysayers who say they only win because of officiating.

    Team has had everything working against them this year. NCAA sanctions for a coach who isn’t even here any more and his assistant who is selling used cars. Administration giving them a schedule that is much lacking. But coaches instilled in team that regardless of who the opponent is, we have to keep perfecting our process. FT shooting will come around. In spite of everything being against the Warriors, led by Ganot they have kept winning. Wish we could have had him last year, but that’s UH for you. A few years late and a few millions short. Amazing turnaround by Ganot and this year’s team.

  9. According to today’s newspaper, UH will appeal some of the NCAA sanctions. I know there was comments on this yesterday but I just have to say again … OMG!!!

    This appeal is what is needed but it is only about 14 days too late! UHs own AD Matlin got interviewed by ESPN at the Diamond Head Classic and he talked about feeling disappointed that the NCAA announced the sanctions on the day of the Diamond Head opening and how it was taking away from the team and the tournament. He could of announced an intent to appeal right there and get the backing of his own fans in front of national audience. In sad and typical UH fashion, he waits it out and now he goes and announces the appeal on the day of the Big West opening.

    There’s a famous quote from Forrest Gump that fits here but I won’t repeat it. If you know the movie you know what I mean. If you don’t know the quote, Google it for a laugh.

  10. I agree with UH to appeal. Let’s pray.

  11. I think the trump card for NCAA? What did UH admin and AD do with Amanda Paterson, her HUGE role in ncaa mess, not overseeing her office, and being compliant to help mitigate problems with former coach and staff. She did that years ago.. all this post season ban, and sanctions, firings and hirings would never have happened.. I am positive of it.
    Now Matlin. kind of too late,.. just satisfy the masses and families.

    I hope NCAA does allow UH to play for NIT or NCAA next year. or AT LEAST CIT OR CBI. and Big West championship..

  12. UH has just announced that it will appeal the 2016-17 postseason ban. Not sure what its chances are of overturning the ban, but at least the school has decided to fight for its basketball program.

    The concern I have is that the NCAA is likely using UH as an example to punish a program under its revised set of rules. If that’s the case, the NCAA might be hard to nudge off the sanctions it handed down.

    But, what the heck, it’s worth appealing. It shows the players and coaches that they’re worth fighting for.

  13. Really what is worse. Alter the story a little about these minor violations. Or confess to the truth about fabricated classes and grades, about parties with prostitutes, about paying student athletes.

    The big schools like North Carolina and Louisville will get away with a slap on the hand. Look how the NCAA handled Syracuse.

  14. The mid majors need to go and create their own athletic organization. Cut their ties completely with the NCAA. Will be a little tough at the beginning but in the long run they could create a viable organization that will be managed with rightfulness and dignity.

    Create new rules to the games in respect to scoring, make a playoff system that is right and just,
    allow student athletes to compete for a 5th year for their school if they graduate in 4 years. (not able to play for another school) Many more things that can give the 50 to 70 mid majors a greener playing field.

    The football postseason is starting to wane in fans attending games. A matter of time before people will not watch all this postseason games and it will have a greater affect financially on these big 5 schools, especially if the mid majors start their own organization sooner than later.

    The mid majors should not play at all with the big 5 schools. Don’t let them have a comparison on the playing field. In time maybe 10 years or so they could hold a super bowl against the NCAA schools. Doing so they will garner their rightful finances from the networks and fans.

  15. By the way the bench’s performance is garnering them a lot of attention. Smart guys because they are getting exposure that they would not be having. Keep up the antics and support of your teammates.

  16. Politcal grandstanding.. for AD and admin sake.. win or lose, they say oh well WE TRIED..
    hurt a lot of good people.. past and present..
    UH get it right, or do away with UH athletics. .maybe, with the landscape changing and UH not able to foot their own budget for DI sports..
    I tell you, with local and military talent to support D2 sports. UH would dominate..
    Hope not. but that is the possible and probable future for UH sports.

    Still support the team, Even Benjy is cheering on the Bows ! that is great !

  17. So Cal Poly has some injuries? I can’t empathize. They’re due for some big time payback by UH from last year, no only winning at the SSC but killing our NCAA bid! Can we crush them by 30 tonight? Pretty please?? We can do it! Let’s GO BOWS!

  18. some how past few years, Cal Poly, they don’t match UH athleticism. however great coach.. great system, role guys. and they win at SSC and at home in Poly.
    Love League play.. UH going to go 16-0, very hard to do.. Poly could get blown out, unless they take care of ball, and very patient with their offense.. make it a game in the 50’s, the mustangs have a chance to get upset. that coach of Poly is what a rookie coach like Ganot aspires to be.

    Would like to see Ganot, if he is still here coaching MBB. what his recruits will look like.. he inherited some good Gib / Benjy recruits..

  19. UH their spacing and ball movement is great.. creates a lot of open looks and guys not cluttered in one place, .. created open lanes to drive, even from the wings.. good system, credit to guys and Eran..I love how Artie Wilson and Kanoa Leahy. FINALLY they are Always commenting on how Benjy got the guys into the great effort, D mindset, and transition ball, and Ganot just fine tuning. it.

    Go Bows.. win by 30 or lose by 3 with Grace, with class, win or lose.

  20. Wow I did not know that UH is favorite by 10.5 points against Poly. That is a big spread especially for a conference game against known tough team like Poly. Must be some of the Poly guys with injuries not playing? The Vegas wiseguys know a lot more than us, so I feel a lot better of UH getting a big win after seeing this info.

  21. Yes! On the fighting the NCAA violations, I’d like to think the petition with over a thousand signatures we submitted along with the letter written helped…not that they’ve ever listened to us before.

    Just super excited about the game tonight. I hope they can continue the trend in BWC where they start really strong. Energy, defense, let’s go bows!

  22. iThink IRVINE Crushed The NCAA Tourney “Bid” by Beating US in he BWC TOURNEY CHAMPIONSHIP Game…

    BUT They also ELEVATED The Big West by Almost Beating RICK PITINO & Louisville in NCAA Tourney Game (55-57)
    Irvine Ranked in Mid-Major Top 25 with Hawai’i…

    BUT Yes, CPOLY One of THREE BWC Teams to Beat UH @ SSC Last Season…

    ___ CAL POLY (Tonite!)

    ___ SANTA BARBARA (Saturday!)

    ___ IRVINE (Thursday 2/11!)

    GO, GO, GO, ‘BOWS!

    How ‘Bout OUR “Triple-Double-Duo” BOTH Hang 30 on ’em
    Serve NOTICE …

    Just WIN ‘Bows!


  23. eagle:

    Go get 8000 in their tonite in house attendance…sad to see 5000 plus in half filled SSC .. it is a shame, UH MBB should be drawing close to or over 9000 in house every home game
    Cal Poly.. tough opponent..

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