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UPDATED: Warriors stay atop Big West with win over Fullerton

Valdes3_CSUF

The University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team has better than 20/20 vision — it’s now actually 20/20/20.

The Rainbow Warrors clinched the program’s third straight 20-win season Saturday night with a convincing 76-59 victory over visiting Cal State Fullerton.

A crowd of 7,027 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Stefan Jankovic score 16 points and grab nine rebounds, Aaron Valdes add 15 points and 10 boards and Quincy Smith score 15 points with three assists as Hawai’i improved to 20-3 overall and stayed atop the league standings at 9-1. The Titans fell to 9-15, 2-9, including two losses to Hawai’i.

Roderick Bobbitt finished with 12 points, four assists and four steals, and reserve Sai Tummala contributed 11 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for his first double-double this season.

The three straight 20-victory seasons are the first since 1947-48, 1948-49 and 1949-50; the Rainbows did not play an all-college schedule back then, so the current 20-win trifecta is UH’s first ever against all-collegiate opponents.

Five members of this year’s team — senior Smith and juniors Valdes, Mike Thomas, Stefan Jovanovic and Dyrbe Enos — have been part of all three 20-win seasons, and have done it under three different head coaches.

Jankovic4_CSUF

“Amazing,” said this year’s coach, Eran Ganot. “That’s crazy. And I know all three head coaches are appreciative of those guys, because it starts with the players. And they keep getting better as players.”

The Rainbow Warriors jumped out to a 20-3 lead in the first eight minutes Saturday, including a 7-0 start out of the gates. Smith scored eight of his points during that period, including two 3-pointers.

After not scoring more than 11 points any of the season’s first 12 games, Smith has topped that mark six times in the 11 games since.

“I’m just shooting the ball when I’m open,” Smith said.

Cal State Fullerton finally snapped the run with Tre’ Coggins laying in a high left-handed banker off the glass, igniting a 24-9 run capped by Malcolm Brooks’ 3-pointer which closed it to 29-27 with 4:55 remaining. But the Rainbow Warriors closed the half with an 11-4 surge.

“Credit Fullerton, we came out fast out of the gates, which was good, but they fought back,” Ganot said. “Their fighting back, combined with our lack of execution, that’s what made it close. But one of the biggest things in the game was how we closed out the first half, and I’m glad we were able to finish it in the second half.”

The Titans got as close as 48-41 after Lionheart Leslie’s free throws with 12:48 left, but Tummala answered with a 3-pointer from the left corner to start Hawai’i on an 11-2 run capped by Stefan Jovanovic’s hook shot to make it 59-43 with 8:44 remaining, and Cal State Fullerton could not get closer than 11 points the rest of the way.

The Titans made just 4 of 20 shots from 3-point range and shot only 31.7 percent (19 of 60) from the field overall. They also struggled from the free throw line, making just 17 of 32 (53.1 percent).

But Smith and Ganot said Cal State Fullerton still presented a challenge, as evidenced by taking the visiting Rainbow Warriors into overtime on Jan. 16 before falling, 86-79.

Tummala1_CSUF

“I was telling our guys, that was our closest (victory) in conference, so even though their record is not so good, we still gotta play 40 minutes because they’re gonna fight and come back,” said Smith.

Added Ganot: “It’s hard to win in conference, period. And this is a team that we had trouble with, they took us to overtime so they have a comfort level with us. And tonight they had Brooks, who didn’t play in Game 1. They have dynamic guards.”

Jankovic again credited the victory to tough defense.

“It was a good overall win, we played great defense again,” said Jankovic, who turned an ankle during the game but kept playing and said he should be OK. “That’s four games in a row we’ve shut down the other team.”

And it’s now three years in a row with 20 wins.

“We’re improving every year,” Smith said. “But we can’t settle for that (20 victories), we just gotta keep pushing. Our goal is to make the NCAA Tournament.”

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(Game photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com)

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Saturday’s other Big West results
Long Beach State 57, at UC Davis 48
at UC Irvine 93, CSUN 84
Cal Poly 86, at UC Riverside 78

Screen shot 2016-02-14 at 2.20.06 AM

25 Comments

  1. Excellent game. Excellent site. I wish I had found this site earlier. The UH site is frozen. The Advertiser site is days late. How is a UH BB fan to keep up to date from abroad? WI is all I’ll ever need from now on. Superb writing. Great video editing.

  2. Wes, great quote: “Amazing,” said this year’s coach, Eran Ganot. “That’s crazy. And I know all three head coaches are appreciative of those guys, because it starts with the players. And they keep getting better as players.”

    This says all I want to express. Thank you to ALL the coaches who have brought these kids here, coached them, and continue to teach them, but most of all, thank you to these amazing young men! What they have endured, the commitment they have shown to this program, this community and to each other, the growth they have all shown both mentally and physically on the court…all of this has led to this time of great excitement and expectation. Everything now from the fans must be about them, helping them in anyway we can to reach their goal! Get to the tournament if you CAN! Call everyone you know in LA or up and down the coast to get to the tournament. Buy those band shirts and Cheerleader posters and help them get to the tournament! I forgot to mention after the Cal Poly game when some folks were dissing their fans that those fans show up in BIG numbers at the tournament. I think that helped them two years ago upset everyone and win the whole thing!

    Go Bows! Keep it going!!

  3. I would argue that it wasn’t an excellent game. We were not focused on offense. It’s not that the sets were bad, but we blew a LOT of layups, and the free throws were awful. Thankfully, our defense was there, but we need to have more focus on offense. Glad to get this out of our system.

  4. Not only above article but the other media mentioning third straight 20 win seasons. I would like to give credit to the players and coaches including the 1st one who did that but the COI Decision says,
    “… Further, the institution’s records regarding men’s basketball, as well as the record of the former head coach, will reflect the vacated records and will be recorded in all publications in which men’s basketball records are reported, including, but not limited to, institutional media guides, recruiting material, electronic and digital media plus institutional, conference and NCAA archives. …
    Any public reference to these vacated contests shall be removed from athletics department stationery, banners displayed in public areas and any other forum in which they may appear.”

    Is it okay for the media to still mention the 20 win season of 2013-14 which wins have been vacated ?

  5. The NCAA has no jurisdiction over the Media in my mind. lol, come on now. This does not even go into UH’s record books knowing the wins were vacated a year or two ago.

    The Media is just sensationalizing the situation at hand

  6. I guess we better watch our wording in blogs and forums, huh? NCAA is monitoring.

  7. Pocho, …. where do you think the media got the historical info ? Well anyway, UH removed reference to three 20 win seasons from their story on last night’s game on their website when i emailed them about it and media person J. Barry was good in replying to me.

    Two 20 win seasons is good too, i think only Red Rocha, 1970-1972 and Riley 1996-98. I think Kanoa L mentioned something about those on tv.

  8. And did you know: Hawaii is one of only 6 teams in Division I basketball with 3 losses.

    1. Villanova
    2. Xavier
    3. Dayton
    4. Arkansas Little Rock
    5. SMU
    6. Hawaii

    Granted it’s not a really strong schedule so Ganot knows that every game is a chance to prove themselves to be better and better. They haven’t played their best basketball yet, although that UC Irvine game is pretty close. More chances to take care of business. Good job so far.

  9. islandman5,

    so UH is in hot water again? Ai Sous! They still ain’t go it right there. They gotta clean house @ UH.

  10. Can we blame Matlin and the new Assistant AD?
    or
    does UH just sweep this under the Rug?
    or
    is it a Big Deal at all?

    WE here know more than the media! lol

  11. did Leahy or Artie say they got the info on the 2 20 win seasons from UH’s files? lol, I myself didn’t hear them say that and I’m not an insider knowing either of them personally or where they got the info. hahahahaha, come on Now.

  12. Could Artie and Leahy be that clueless on the NCAA sanctions? OMG! or was it that both of them having a vendetta against UH not pointing the facts out? Or was it just them knowing the 20 wins seasons the last 2 years and trying to hype up the fans? Yikes! hahahahahaha

  13. UH just has to not mention the 2013-14 season wins, which they likely will not do from now on. I think Scott Robbs and crew were acclaiming the three 20 game winning seasons in a row on tv last night which he likely got from UH media info.
    It’s okay to mention the two straight UH 20 game winning seasons for Red Rocha, Riley and now Benjy and Eran.

  14. UH did not mention that, the media did. It’s UH’s AD and underlings not doing it’s job updating their website IMO. And should that surprise us at all?

  15. So is it a fact Don Robbs got it from UH, that UH mentioned the 20 game seasons or is it that UH did not update their website after they were handed the penalties to vacate those wins? I don’t know Don Robbs or anyone in his crew that talked to UH. hahahahaha

  16. Hawaii receiving 7 votes in Coaches Poll, equiv to about No. 38 in the nation.

    http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/rankings/ap

  17. UH receiving 5 pts in AP Poll, up from 3 last week.

  18. Pocho, … the UH website article about the Saturday game initially had the comment about the three straight 20 win seasons, but then they corrected it.

  19. Here is another bracketology which has UH playing Duke in Spokane or something. However, UH has to win the conference tournament to get in.
    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/ncaab/2016/02/14/ncaa-tournament-bracketology-college-basketball-march-madness-bubble-kansas/80374484/

  20. Focus on finishing the conference strong. Focus on the conference tournament.

  21. islandman5,

    kudos to you! You did a great job informing the inept UHAD that the 3 winning 20 games + was incorrect and they having to retract that.

    Somethings wrong @ UH

  22. Chalk up another one where we all can blame The Gibber having UH pulling the plug and retracting the 3 20 win seasons in a row statement! Somebody’s sleeping in the AD department. Yikes!

    Unbelievable but believable UH did that.

  23. Warrior08 is correct. Remember the great regular season UC Davis had last year 14-2, something like 24-5 overall. They won the 1st round big west tournament game vs CSUN but lost to the 5th seeded team, UH, in the semi -final.

  24. A conference is a conference when it comes to college basketball. Take the Pac 12. Everyone beating each other up and yet they got five teams receiving votes. There’re not bad teams but in conference play it’s hard to win anywhere. If any of the Pac 12 teams were in the Big West they would lose too. It’s just because they are more of a household name than relatively unknown teams such as Hawaii. Another example is Duke. They went off the top 25 for losing 3 in a row. Yet they beat a ranked team and they leapfrog everyone into number 20. They are playing musical chairs with the same teams and won’t allow mid-majors in unless you have a feather in your cap like how Dayton beat Iowa early in the year. Don’t beat a high ranking major team and you simply will not be voted in the top 25 even with a great conference record and overall record. I’m hoping that more of the mid-major teams will advance in the Tournament and knock off some big names just to show how wrong they were.

  25. Islandman,

    The case of UC Davis last year was very interesting…statistically, they were the most efficient shooting team in the Big West last year. Why did they do so well against Irvine (swept them), but why did they do so poorly against Hawaii (Hawaii beat them 2 out of 3).

    It’s all about the matchups.

    UC Davis was the best shooting 3-pt shooting team last year. Irvine played predominantly ZONE last year. UC Davis’ offense had no problem shooting over Irvine’s zone. Nonetheless, UC Davis led the Big West in turning the ball over last year. They turned it 13.6 times a game. That played into Hawaii’s hands last year. Remember, Hawaii led the BW in steals and forcing turnovers. It was a great matchup for Hawaii’s defense.

    Teams that had low turnover rates last year, like Santa Barbara and Irvine, did well against Hawaii (swept us). Teams that threw the ball away often, like Davis and Long Beach state both lost 2 times to Hawaii last year.

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