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Warriors need to focus on dangerous CSUN team

Smith3_LongBeach

Two teams with different agendas for the remainder of this season will meet on Thursday, when the University of Hawai’i basketball team visits CSUN.

The game is scheduled to start at 5:00 p.m. (Hawai’i time) at The Matadome in Northridge, Calif., and will be available for viewing through an online broadcast at www.espn3.com.

Hawai’i is 20-3 overall and in first place in the Big West Conference at 9-1. Another victory on Thursday keeps the Warriors on pace to earn the top seed for next month’s Big West Conference Tournament at Anaheim, Calif.

The Matadors are 9-16 overall and 4-7 in the Big West. On January 7 of this year, CSUN officials announced that it was self-imposing a postseason ban for the 2015-16 season due to “serious rules violations” (various media sources have identified it as an academics issue). In essence, the Matadors current positioning in the Big West standings does not mean anything because they will not participate in the Big West Conference Tournament.

That only makes them the league spoiler for the next three weeks. All things considered, the Matadors have posted a respectable 4-6 record since the school announced the postseason ban.

This is the first meeting this season for the teams, with a second game to follow in Honolulu on February 27.

Much of the attention for this game will focus on the sibling match-up of Hawai’i senior guard Quincy Smith and CSUN junior guard Kendall Smith.

Quincy is averaging 7.9 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game for the Warriors, and is considered one of the team’s elite defenders. Kendall transferred to CSUN from UNLV in 2014, and became eligible on December 17, 2015. Since then, he has emerged as the Matadors’ top player, leading the team in scoring at 16.4 points per game, and assists with 3.2 per game.

Pending the game flow and other match-ups, the Smith brothers could defend each other at various times. But there are numerous other talents surrounding the siblings on both teams.

Hawai’i junior center Stefan Jankovic leads the team in scoring (14.8) and rebounding (6.5), and has a .549 field goal percentage. He had 15 points and seven rebounds in a win over CSUN in The Matadome last year.

Junior forward Aaron Valdes is averaging 14.4 points and 5.6 rebounds per game; senior point guard Roderick Bobbitt is averaging 13.4 points, 5.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game, and also leads the team with 43 3-pointers.

Junior forward Mike Thomas is contributing 7.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, while his back-up, senior Sai Tummala, is at 6.4 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.

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Of particular note, the Warriors should see the return of sophomore guard Isaac Fleming to the rotation. Fleming, who is averaging 11.2 points and 2.5 assists per game, has missed the last four games with an ankle injury.

CSUN also has a balanced rotation, in addition to Kendall Smith. Micheal Warren, a 6-5 sophomore, is averaging 13.6 points and 4.1 rebounds per game; Aaron Parks, a 6-3 junior, is averaging 11.5 points and 3.2 rebounds per game.

The Matadors start two experienced bigs in 6-11 senior center Olalekan Ajayi (5.0 points, 7.5 rebounds per game) and 6-9 senior forward Tre Hale-Edmerson (8.8 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.8 blocked shots per game).

They also have two quality reserves in Tavrion Dawson and Jerron Wilbut. Dawson, a 6-8 sophomore, is averaging 9.9 points and 5.6 rebounds per game; Wilbut, a 6-3 sophomore, is averaging 9.7 points per game.

Hawai’i continues to lead the Big West in numerous team categories, including scoring (78.8 per game), field goal percentage (.463), total rebounds (37.8), assists (16.3) and steals (8.3). CSUN is averaging 71.1 points per game, while allowing 74.7.

Also of note, CSUN is averaging just 1,094 fans per home game this season, but that average could rise on Thursday due to a relatively-large contingent of Hawai’i fans expected to attend the game.

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Wednesday’s Big West Results
UC Irvine 96, at Cal State Fullerton 77

Thursday’s Big West Games
UC Davis at Cal Poly
Hawai’i at CSUN, 5:00 p.m. (Hawai’i time)
UC Santa Barbara at UC Riverside

Saturday’s Big West Games
CSUN at Cal Poly
UC Davis at UC Santa Barbara
Cal State Fullerton at Long Beach State
Hawai’i at UC Irvine, 6:30 p.m. (Hawai’i time)

19 Comments

  1. Trap game…Let’s go out and take care of business boys!

  2. Irvine beats Fullerton at Titan’s gym tonite so Saturday

    game with Warriors battle of top teams again. Really

    exciting stretch run for Hawaii!

  3. I feel this road trip is gonna tell us a lot about the rest of the season. Can’t wait to see how Fleming plays off his injury and it must feel good to finally have a full strength team hitting the road. If we keep up the good D and hit free throws, the offense should just flow as usual and we could build even more momentum for our final home stand.

    And a question out there to the fans.. Do you ever think the Big West will be a 2 bid NCAA tourney conference? Or will conference play lower RPI too much?

    Can’t wait for tomorrow, Go Bows!

  4. Definite trap game. Hawaii needs to play its game and play Hawaii basketball. Not looking ahead to Irvine….one game at a time. Go Bows!!!!

  5. I’m glad that Fleming gets one game to warm up prior to the game at Irvine. Csun is dangerous but the way I see it, they don’t shoot particularly well and our boys have been playing total lockdown D! They keep this up and they’ll win by double digits. Vegas has them as 7.5 point faves, which is pretty crazy to be that much of a favorite on the road. It’s a direct reflection of the national level of respect the team has earned. Looking forward to 2 awesome games this week. Let’s go BOWS!

  6. One thing you know will show up every game is defense. Even a poor offensive game they are still in it because of the D. Couple that with a money post game from Jankovic and a rejuvenated back court with new found confidence in their 3 shots and you got the makings of a post season run deep into Kim Chee territory. Yes defense does win championships.

  7. Defense and staying out of foul trouble.

    Big big statement if the Bows can get both wins this trip!

    Good to see Isaac returning!

    Just play Hawaii basketball fellas!

  8. Agree, THIS Team, KEY Factors:

    1) They, More Than Most, ‘Almost’ Always,
    SHOW UP Ready-to-Play;

    2) Lock-Down, Great Rotation, Help Defense
    Keeps Them In Most/Every Game;

    3) Avoid Foul Trouble (Attrition)
    ESP. Key for Active Players like Janks, MT, AV, Isaac

    4) “DEPTH” Next Man Up, Every Man Up;
    Rest of the Way, Gotta Be Ready to Deal wth (Hopefully Temporary) Loses
    Like AV, Isaac (WELCOME Back!) or Game-by-Game (Illness, etc.)
    Report from Road (BC) that AV suffering Flu-like Symtoms?
    TribeVX4? Hopefully Quick ‘Recovery’, IV, Jordan-esque Tough Game?,,,
    Stay Healthy, Guys!

    JUST Keep WINNING
    Keep Improving
    Keep Climbing
    GO ‘BOWS!

  9. A poster on another board said or claims all-session tickets for the BW Tournament are sold out at the UH ticket office. How many tickets are allotted to UH ?

  10. Trap game because they may be looking ahead to the big UCI matchup. Easier said than done but all games need to be taken seriously and you must respect your opponent. I’m sure Q as a senior leader will not let UH come out flat so he can have bragging rights over his brother. Fleming should be amped to get back on the court so I’m hoping that we are energized and blow them out.

  11. You never know what’s going to happen game to game. The long standing maxim is that road games are always tough, very tough. Just ask Oklahoma and Iowa just this week. UH could win easily, or Northridge could win easily. On paper, UH is favored by 7.5 points according to Vegas. The fact is, you have to come play, and as Ganot likes to say, get “locked” in. You also need some breaks.

    Bottom line, it’s never as easy as it looks. UH has to come out with their legs and heads and eyes, and shots ready to play a good game. If not, the bubble can burst easily and we are back in the pack. You have to give credit to your opponents and show genuine respect. If not, that’s how upsets happen and in college basketball it happens all the time.

    In the final analysis, I trust Coach Ganot to make the right decisions to get our players to be in the position to win tonight. I hope so. As to the final score, I don’t care, just win baby. But here’s my guess. UH 80, CSUN 76. A tight game. Who knows!

  12. Isn’t that the “crackerbox” gym where the Fab Five got bushwhacked so many years ago when they were nationally ranked and flying high? At that time, the place had fans in you face due to the close proximity of the court and the UH also got jobbed by the refs. Hope history doesn’t repeat itself!!

  13. I feel last week’s homestand told us all about the rest of the season. Wish the conference tournament was in Hawaii…

  14. This team has more pressure playing at Hawaii. California is home for 4 of the starters. On the road, they should come out angry that they aren’t undefeated in conference and nationally ranked. Last homestand showed that this team wants to prove itself.

  15. Family affair? Smith family and other California home

    base guys support in csun gym. Should be neat. What

    team wanted family see them play. Hope brothers Smith

    are game high scorers!

  16. -Nice to see so many new contributors. Hope you are real fans and will be with us over the long haul.

  17. Aaron Valdes is in uniform, but doubtful to play at CSUN today due to flu-like symptoms.

  18. Like I said, things happen all the time. Valdes out is huge to me. A rusty Fleming needs to replace his production or somebody else needs to chip in more than their usual. Right now, they are quite sloppy handling the ball and Ganot is not happy at halftime.

  19. Janks had a record amount of turnovers unlike him. Hope we have a completely healthy team on Saturday. A win on Saturday at Irvine should make a statement for more national recognition.

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