Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Transition defense a key for Warriors again

After blowing double-digit leads in back-to-back games at CSUN last weekend, the Hawai’i men’s basketball team insists it is not just blowing smoke about improving its transition defense this week.

A painful but revealing film session on Monday clearly showed where the Warriors need immediate improvement, especially when reviewing how the Matadors were able to erase a 12-point second-half deficit in UH’s 75-74 victory last Friday, and then roar back after trailing by 23 points in the first half last Saturday to eventually win in overtime, 88-80. 

“It was very exposing,” said Hawai’i forward Casdon Jardine, a senior co-captain. “Film is the best way to see mistakes, it’s right there in front of you, you can’t argue about it, it’s fact. So if we want to play a fast style of basketball and transition offensively, then we have to guard in transition as well. We came up short big-time in transition defense and talking out matchups, communication overall last weekend, in both games. There’s no excuse for that, really. There’s no excuse to not communicate, no excuse for not being on the same page. So going forward, that’s something that is a huge emphasis for us this week in practice, and I’m sure that’s going to be a talking point every single day is our communication and our transition defense. And I can bet we’ll have a much better showing of that this weekend.”

The Warriors will need it in their final two home games against Long Beach State on Friday and Saturday, since the 49ers traditionally play a similar up-tempo style like CSUN’s, with similar personnel.

“We’re going to use that experience (from last weekend), we had a good film session with the guys, to get better,” UH coach Eran Ganot said Tuesday afternoon. “Getting exposed in some areas isn’t great, but it is an opportunity for us to clean it up.”

Jardine, who is 6 feet, 7 inches tall and has had to defend both power forwards and centers, said he takes personal responsibility for some defensive  lapses against the Matadors.

“For me defensively, I’ve seen myself slip off a bit in my talk and my energy and my urgency, which is something that I’ve always prided myself in,” Jardine said. “So it’s something that I have to do better, whether I’m guarding the four, or whether I have to slide over to the 5, I gotta be more physical. I have to go get rebounds better, I have to be a better communicator, make sure in transition I’m leading that transition defense with my talk, coordinating where players should be. It’s extremely important that I do that, so that other players can feed off of me and my talk, because that’s one of my biggest roles on this team, is being consistent with my communication. So when that slips off for me, that’s not good for the team, because then it slips off for everybody else involved.”

Ganot said while some observers will point to late-game collapses in both of last week’s games, CSUN actually mounted pieces of the comebacks much earlier.

“Not so much the way we finished, but the way we performed in two (earlier) stretches,” Ganot said. “So many times, we look at moments late in the game, but there are moments that add up over the course of a game that put us in that situation. That’s a lot of where our talk was. So absolutely, everything is a learning experience, whether it’s good moments or bad moments, you can learn from both that we’re going to transfer into practice and then into the game.”

Ganot said another key factor in both games was the absence of sophomore guard Justin Webster, a co-captain who fell ill during halftime last Friday and did not play at all on Saturday.

“I think the biggest thing that happened the first night was we didn’t have Webster in the second half, and we didn’t have him the whole game on Night 2,” Ganot said. “We’ve had to deal with that (lack of depth) in the front court, where we had to be a little creative. You saw Beon (Riley) get more time, but it probably magnified itself a little more, with Webster’s situation. So I’m sure some of that was in play, and we’ll try to be on top of that, it certainly put a wrench in it. There are points in (Saturday’s) game, like with six minutes left in the first half, where we let down a little bit. So it’s something we’re alert to, but hopefully Webster will be back, that will be helpful in that area.”

Ganot said Webster sat out on Saturday and also Monday, but was expected to return to practice Tuesday afternoon.

“He was ill, I know he’s better and hopefully he’ll be practicing today,” Ganot said on Tuesday. “You have to have an abundance of caution. He was day-to-day, but he’s better and we expect to see him back ready on Friday.”

Like Jardine, Ganot said he will take personal responsibility in trying to fix the Warriors’ mistakes from last weekend.

“Heading into the Long Beach game, I will be back to making sure we’re executing and taking care of our business first and have a good week to focus,” Ganot said.

HAWAI’I (8-8, 6-8 Big West) vs. LONG BEACH STATE (5-7, 4-4 Big West)
When: Friday, Feb. 26 (7:00 p.m. HT) & Saturday, Feb. 27 (5:00 p.m. HT)
Where: SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center
Television: Spectrum Sports (Channels 12 / 1012)
Streaming Video: BigWest.TV 
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

Friday’s Games
UC Davis at Cal Poly, 2:00 p.m. PT
UC San Diego at UC Irvine, 4:00 p.m. PT
CSUN at CSU Bakersfield, 7:00 p.m. PT
UC Santa Barbara at UC Riverside, 8:00 p.m. PT
Long Beach State at Hawai’i, 7:00 p.m. HT

Saturday’s Games
UC Davis at Cal Poly, 2:00 p.m. PT
UC San Diego at UC Irvine, 4:00 p.m. PT
CSUN at CSU Bakersfield, 7:00 p.m. PT
UC Santa Barbara at UC Riverside, 7:00 p.m. PT
Long Beach State at Hawai’i, 5:00 p.m. HT

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