Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors look to continue improvement at CSUN

With a six-game homestand now in the rearview mirror, the University of Hawai’i basketball team will shift its focus to the road ahead.

The Rainbow Warriors will play a two-game series at CSUN on Friday and Saturday at the Matadome in Northridge, Calif. Both games are scheduled to start at 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time (2:00 p.m. Hawai’i Time). Friday’s game will be streamed live on BigWest.tv; Saturday’s game will be streamed live on ESPN3.com.

Hawai’i went 3-3 during its recent homestand and is now 7-7 overall and 5-7 in the Big West Conference. The Matadors, who had a scheduled bye week last week, are 7-8 overall and 3-5 in the Big West. CSUN had six conference games canceled in January due to COVID-related issues.

The Warriors are currently in sixth place (out of 10 teams) in the conference standings. The Matadors are in eighth. The teams in the 7 through 10 positions at the end of the regular season will have to play “first round” games in the Big West Conference Championship Tournament. The top six teams will be seeded into the quarterfinals.

Bottom line, this weekend’s games could have significant implications for both teams to stay away from the bottom line of the standings.

“I think every day is critical,” Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot said. “If we want to make our move up the standings, we’re going to have to perform in these games and get over the hump. And if we want to make our move in the standings, we’re going to have to practice really well and we’re getting to that point.”

The Warriors are coming off two home losses to first-place UC Santa Barbara. The second loss went to overtime after the Warriors rallied from a 15-point deficit in the second half. Ganot noted that inconsistent stretches have too often put Hawai’i into deficits that require rallies.

“I think you can see the flashes individually and collectively,” Ganot said. “We have to continue to get a more consistent effort to get over the hump in some of these games. But we’re not as far off as we think, and these experiences will help us.”

Hawai’i is relying on a balanced offense that features four players averaging double-figure points. Sophomore guard Justin Webster leads the team at 12.8 points per game, followed by senior center James Jean-Marie (12.6), senior forward Casdon Jardine (11.7) and junior guard Junior Madut (10.6).

Jardine leads the Big West in 3-point percentage at .489 (23 for 47), while Jean-Marie ranks third in the conference for overall field goal percentage at .558 (67 for 120).

Senior center Mate Colina leads the Warriors in rebounding at 5.8 per game, followed by Jardine at 5.6, and Jean-Marie at 4.1.

“There are not many modifications you can make when you have 11 guys (on the roster),” Ganot said. “But I do think we can do what we do better. I do think each week has had a different theme in terms of focal points. Last week it was turnovers … that will continue to be a big message this week.”

The Warriors have been using a rotation of point guards – freshman Biwali Bayles, and sophomores Noel Coleman and JoVon McClanahan. Bayles earned significant minutes against UC Santa Barbara’s experienced backcourt, and he now leads the Warriors in assists at 2.5 per game.

“We’re getting better with each game, with each practice,” Bayles said. “We’ve been in a few overtime games and close games, and rallied a lot, so I definitely feel like we’re leaning off that.”

CSUN lost two all-conference players from last season, including Lamine Diane, who was the Big West Player of the Year in 2019 and 2020. He departed CSUN after his sophomore season to play professional basketball. Also, sharpshooting guard Terrell Gomez transferred to San Diego State.

The Matadors found another high scorer for this season in TJ Starks, a 6-2 junior guard who transferred from Texas A&M. He leads the Big West in scoring at 19.7 points per game and free throws made (60). He also leads CSUN with 24 3-pointers.

Junior guard Darius Brown II is adding 10.5 points, 5.0 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game. Alex Merkviladze, a 6-9 freshman, is emerging as CSUN’s top big man with 8.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game.

Senior forward Lance Coleman II is averaging 13.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game. However, he has played in just two of the team’s eight conference games due to injuries. His status for this week is not known.

“They’re always a very high-scoring team and they run a really good offensive system,” Ganot said. “We know how dangerous they can be. But again, we’ve had some good competition thus far and we’ve seen some good guards and I think that can help us moving forward.”

HAWAI’I (7-7, 5-7 Big West) at CSUN (7-8, 3-5 Big West)
When: Friday, Feb. 19 (4:00 p.m. PT / 2:00 p.m. HT) & Saturday, Feb. 20 (4:00 p.m. PT / 2:00 p.m. HT)
Where: The Matadome – Northridge, Calif.
Television: None
Streaming Video: BigWest.TV on Friday; ESPN3.com on Saturday
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
Hawai’i at CSUN, 4:00 p.m. PT
Cal Poly at Long Beach State, 4:00 p.m. PT
UC Riverside at UC San Diego, 5:00 p.m. PT
UC Irvine at Cal State Fullerton, 5:00 p.m. PT
CSU Bakersfield at UC Santa Barbara, 8:00 p.m. PT

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

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