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Warriors set to begin Big West Tournament quest

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(video courtesy KHON2)

The last, and only, time a University of Hawai’i basketball team entered a conference tournament as a No. 1 seed, it ran roughshod over three Western Athletic Conference foes on the way to the NCAA Tournament.

That was 2002. This is 2016, and the Warriors have finally earned another No. 1 seed, although this time in the Big West Conference. If history is to repeat, the Warriors need to start strong on the opening day, just as the 2002 team did.

Hawai’i will face No. 8 seed Cal State Fullerton in a quarterfinal game on Thursday afternoon (12:30 p.m. Hawai’i time) at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif. The game will be televised live on Fox Sports Prime Ticket (Oceanic channels 228 and 1228 in Hawai’i).

The Warriors are 24-5 overall and finished 13-3 in the regular season of the Big West. Cal State Fullerton is 10-19 and 3-13. Las Vegas oddsmakers are listing the Warriors as 11.5-point favorites.

In the 40-year history of the Big West Conference Tournament, No. 1 seeds have a record of 18-1 against No. 8 seeds, with the average margin of victory being 16.2 points per game in those wins (note that the tournament format has changed several times throughout the years, and a No. 1 has not played a No. 8 every year).

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In any case, Cal State Fullerton is fortunate to even be in the conference tournament as the No. 8 seed this year. The Titans actually finished in ninth place (out of nine teams) in the Big West, and if CSUN were not ineligible for the postseason this year, Fullerton would have been the odd-team out.

Still, the Titans could be considered a dangerous draw based on at least one game earlier this season – an 86-79 Hawai’i win in overtime at Fullerton on January 16. The Warriors needed a 3-pointer by Stefan Jankovic in the closing seconds of that game to force the overtime. Hawai’i won a second game with the Titans by a more comfortable score of 76-59 in Honolulu on February 13.

Fullerton has a dynamic pair of guards in Tre’ Coggins and Khalil Ahmad. Coggins, a 6-foot-2 junior, is third among Big West players in scoring at 16.1 points per game. He scored a total of 31 points (13 and 18) in the two games against Hawai’i.

Ahmad, a 6-4 freshman, is averaging 14.6 points per game and scored a total of 26 points (17 and 9) in the two games against Hawai’i. He was named the Big West Conference Freshman of the Year earlier this week.

The only other significant scoring threats on the Fullerton roster are 6-8 senior forward Malcolm Brooks (12.3 points per game) and 5-10 junior guard Lionheart Leslie (8.5 points per game).

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The Titans have a rotation of three post players in 6-10, 245-pound Kennedy Esume, 6-8, 250-pound Malcolm Henderson, and 6-7, 240-pound Jamar Akoh. The primary roles of those three players are to set screens for the guards and rebound.

One, or more, of those three will also have to deal with Jankovic – the 2016 Big West Conference Player of the Year. The 6-11 junior is averaging 15.7 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots per game, and is shooting 55.9 percent from the field. He had a total of 37 points and 13 rebounds in the two wins over Fullerton.

Senior point guard Roderick Bobbitt, who joined Jankovic on the All-Big West first team, is averaging 13.2 points, 5.7 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game.

Junior forward Aaron Valdes, a second-team All-Big West selection, is averaging 14.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game.

Senior guard Quincy Smith is averaging 8.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game; junior forward Mike Thomas is averaging 7.3 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, and is shooting 51 percent from the field; senior forward Sai Tummala is averaging 6.9 points and 3.3 rebounds per game, and is shooting 41.7 percent from 3-point range.

Since joining the Big West Conference in the 2012-13 season, Hawai’i has a perfect 8-0 record against Cal State Fullerton (note that two of those wins have since been vacated by UH and the NCAA). This, however, is the first meeting in a conference tournament between the teams.


HAWAI’I VS. CAL STATE FULLERTON
What:
Big West Conference Tournament, quarterfinals
When: Thursday, March 10, 12:30 p.m. (Hawai’i time)
Where: Honda Center, Anaheim, Calif.
TV: Live on Fox Sports Prime Ticket (Oceanic channels 228 and 1228 in Hawai’i)
Internet video: None
Radio: Live on ESPN 1420 AM
Internet audio: Live on www.espn1420am.com

Big West Conference Tournament schedule (note that the times listed are Pacific Time, and Hawai’i time is two hours earlier):

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20 Comments

  1. Let’s do this Bows!! You know what to do!!

    Time to just go out there and play with that warrior heart!!

  2. Dayton, please correct article to read 12:30 pm Hawaii time (or 2:30 pm Pacific time). Thanks.

  3. Still miracle awhile ago. Job not finished. Get the “ship” and some wins in ncaa big dance. If fall short. 808 proud of coach and team. Go to final four MSG. NYC for NIT.!! Excellent too.Might be last time see several of team this magical season. 808 enjoy the ride. Maybe 6 or 7 current guys will make great pros they wil!! Enjoyed wonderful year!!

  4. Guys, I logged into Fox2GO and it doesn’t let me watch Prime ticket…says my TV provider doesn’t allow me 🙁 Pretty sure I have the advantage HD package, which I would think gets me that channel. Guess I’ll be giving them a call tomorrow to see what’s up w/that! I NEED to watch this game!

    Yes, it’s the 9th place team in the Big West but the fact still remains that this is the same team that required us to make a last second3 point prayer to push into OT to get the win. The boys need to be ON POINT tomorrow! First step toward that automatic bid starts tomorrow! Let’s GO BOWS!!!

  5. Let’s do this guys. Three days of focus and all out effort.

  6. Let’s go Bows!!! It would have been good to know about the. Color scheme earlier.. I don’t thnkl it really matters….

  7. Warriors favored by a good margin. Neutral court that is huge.Cannot imagine Titans competing with warriors.
    One win at a time. As we all know Janks dominates Fullerton will lose. They have no bigs can handle him.

  8. They need their legs for three days. They need to stay healthy. Could we play five ironmen? Perhaps. Any chance Jovanovich comes up big with a 20 point game?

  9. Big Game, Big Game, BIG GAME !

    Out last night at the hoops happening reception at Schmids Restaurant Anaheim !

    The guys had their pregame meal inside with the rest of UH die hard fans out side in a cozy seated area eating ono food and drinking from every part of the patio facility !

    Guys came over to greet and all you heard from the 70 plus was that loud symbolic UH cheer “Lets Go Bows” as it just RIVETED the walls through the entire building ! Chicken skin was the feeling at that moment!

    The guys look calm, healthy and relax as I grabbed Aaron Valdes and shook his hand firmly told him to “fly, jump and own the boards” his smile and appreciation was HUGE !

    They are READY as Ganot gave a BIG pregame speech acknowledging the TREMENDOUS support !

    It’s ON like Donkey Kong !

  10. Firmly, but don’t squeeze too hard when you shake his hand.

  11. Hopefully Jovanovic will contribute significant minutes for Janks against Fullerton and do well. Speaking of the two, anyone remember when Benjy would play them together? Teams had a hard time scoring when the two Stefans were on the court. Considering how good they were together I’m surprised Ganot hasn’t at least tried to play them simultaneously.

  12. RainbowCliff,

    The ‘Let’s Go Bows’ chant echoing through the building…awesome. Wish there was video on that.

    Make history, ‘Bows.

  13. Fullerton has 4 good guards. We can’t get in foul trouble and we must make a good percentage from 3. Prediction UH 86, Fullerton 83. A tight one. So far only one #1 seed have won their conference tournament, Chattanooga. Not Wichita St., not St. Mary’s, not Valpo, nada, nada, nada, etc. That’s not too encouraging. Every win is a big win from here on out.

  14. Forget my earlier post I made about parking at Schmidt’s, they raised the price to $20. The hotel across the street is only charging $10!

  15. TAVS: For what it’s worth, Ganot did play both Stefans at the same time earlier in the season. Neither looked comfortable and I’m guessing Ganot scrapped that idea and stayed with his rotation subbing. It’s helped if and when Janks gets in early foul trouble.

  16. KelleyO is right. Thought it was gonna be cheaper at JT Schmidt but they’re charging $20. Might as well park at the arena already

  17. Gauchos are hot. They destroyed UC Davis earlier and will play the winner of UH-Fullerton, unless Irvine or Long Beach loses their games. First things first, take care of business. Worry about it later, like tonight.

  18. Need to play inside out. Their bigs are dominating the paint.

  19. It seems like Fullerton crossed up Hawaii, working almost exclusively on getting the ball inside. All season long you heard about Fullerton’s perimeter threats. I don’t think their bigs are dominating inside so much as it’s obviously Taylor’s game plan.

    On the flip side, what part of working “inside-out” do the Warriors not understand? It’s preached to them every game and still the team tends to “settle” for 3-pointers, where they’re 4 for 14 at the half. Two made 3-pointers (Tummala, Bobbitt) came directly from kick-out passes from the post. Need to do more of that.

    Oh, well, just another grind-it-out game.

  20. 75 – 44 And this one is in the books !
    Go Bows !

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