Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors find their flow, snap skid with road win

After a lengthy torrential downpour in Manoa on Monday afternoon and evening, by late Tuesday morning the birds were back singing again, the sun slightly broke through a lingering cloud cover and there was hope for brighter days ahead.

The University of Hawai’i men’s basketball had already gone through a similar cycle on last weekend’s road trip at Cal State Fullerton, where the Warriors turned a disappointing 16-point loss on Friday — their fourth straight defeat — into a stunning 23-point victory literally overnight on Saturday.

And they’re hoping for the good times to keep rolling for this weekend’s crucial series at home against Big West Conference leader UC Irvine, with 7 p.m. games set for Friday and Saturday at the SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.

“The hunger is to see how we can take it a step further, because we still have a lot of work to do,” UH coach Eran Ganot said. “It was one game (Saturday), each game is a different story, at times you’re up, at times you’re down. When you get a group that’s young and pressing, they want to do well, unintentionally they try to do it on their own when things are not going as well. When the reality is that you gotta continue to come together and fight through things. I think they’re doing it, all of the people have to go through it, but they’re doing it a little different this year because of the circumstances.

“Like I’ve always said, I really believe in the character of this group, and I can’t wait to get back on the floor.”

The Warriors (4-4 overall, 2-4 Big West) had been looking for consistent offensive flow since their Big West opener three weeks ago and finally found it in Saturday’s 76-53 victory, when they avoided the stagnant stretches that had plagued them in previous games and received balanced play from guards Junior Madut (14 points), Justin Webster (12 points three assists), Biwali Bayles (six points, four assists) and JoVon McClanahan (four points, five assists), plus wing Justin Hemsley (eight points, five rebounds).
Hawai’i also saw consistent production from post players James Jean-Marie (13 points) and Mate Colina (five points, 11 boards), plus forward Casdon Jardine (12 points, seven rebounds).

 “You definitely could feel the flow out there, I was setting more screens, so you knew the ball was moving around more and getting into other people’s hands,” Colina said. “Passing up good shots for better shots … whatever we did on Saturday, worked.”   

Ganot said the point guard play of Bayles and McClanahan showed much promise.

“With Biwali, he hasn’t had as many interruptions as JoVon early and Noel (Coleman) recently, but he certainly established himself as an energizer on a team that needs it,” Ganot said. “He’s the point of attack offensively with his voice and aggressiveness, and he’s the point of attack defensively with his non-stop pressure. And you can just feel his presence every day. I think the best is yet to come from him, and how about the amount of minutes he’s going to get as a freshman — that’s going to help him next year.

“JoVon recently … last week guys performed better when they’re comfortable, he’s going to get games where he has bigger scoring when teams give him a good shot, because he’s a good shooter. But he’s really done a nice job facilitating for us. So I think, just with the situation, we’ll continue to play them together.”

Webster, a sophomore co-captain, has found his shooting stroke recently and averaged 18.3 points per game in the past three outings.

“He’s thrown in the fire, right now our captains are a grad transfer, Casdon, and a sophomore (Webster),”  Ganot said. “I really think he’s doing better and better every day, he is very consistent. I think in the past three games you could see his offensive firepower coming back, but I wasn’t too worried about that, I know what he’s capable of there. And we have a team that (has) good versatility. 

“But I’m most pleased with who he is as a person, I think he comes from such a great family, and he’s so respectful, so energetic, that you would not have seen a difference with him when he was maybe not as effective as he is now. And that’s a true testament to his character, his leadership. I think the best is yet to come for him there, but I certainly think this experience right now will challenge him. His approach has been terrific, and I think this will pay dividends for him long-term, and for us.”

In the post, Ganot said the difference on Saturday was grabbing — and securing — every rebound that was there for the taking.

“We set the tone going from Night 1 to Night 2 in terms of we won the boards in Night 1, but we left too many offensive rebounds on the table by tipping them,” Ganot said. “We secured those in Night 2, and I think that — and the voice and the spirit — a combination of those things led us to a consistent effort.”

Ganot said the coaches and players held a couple of team meetings shortly after Friday’s 83-67 loss.

“We met in the locker room, and then in the hotel,” Ganot said. “(It was) an opportunity for the players and the coaches … the message is we have to put the talk into action, action speaks louder than words. Everybody’s gotta do a little bit more, and so there were talks with the coaches and talks amongst the players, and a combination of that approach into the next day. So I don’t think it was like we were far off, you saw flashes in every game, but the consistency wasn’t there and that was what we wanted to talk about. 

“This is about continuing to grow together and be connected and not have that feeling we’ve had where we had a couple of lulls in games and going into the locker room wishing we had that back. We can’t live with regret. So definitely, individually they all took on that challenge, and we’re proud of them.”

Colina said like other team meetings in past seasons, Friday’s sessions opened up channels of communication and improved the team’s focus.

“I think it’s important as it clears the air and makes sure everyone is on the same page,” Colina said. “At the end of the day it does bring the group closer as well, because we look out for each other and really pinpoint what you need to do better individually and collectively the next day.”

Ganot said watching the Warriors quickly turn words into action was refreshing.

“Obviously we all wish things were smooth sailing all the time, but that’s not the way the world is sometimes,” Ganot said. “And so you do see the character of your group when they go through some of this. I know they feel it, they’re pleasers, they care a lot, they want to do well. But I will continue to say I’m proud of who they are and how they’ve been doing through a lot of tough challenges, and I’m just looking forward to continuing to work with them.”

HAWAI’I (4-4, 2-4 Big West) vs. UC IRVINE (8-4, 4-0 Big West)
When: Friday, Jan. 29 (7:00 p.m. HT) & Saturday, Jan. 30 (7:00 p.m. HT)
Where: SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center – Honolulu, HI
Television: Spectrum Sports – Channels 12 (SD) and 1012 (HD).
Streaming Video: BigWest.TV (Must be a Spectrum cable subscriber to stream in Hawai’i).
Radio: Live on ESPN Honolulu (1420 AM/92.7 FM), KRKH (Maui), KPUA (Hawai’i Island), and KTOH (Kaua’i).
Audio Webcast: ESPNHonolulu.com/Sideline Hawai’i App.
Live Stats: HawaiiAthletics.com

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