Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors host D-1 newcomer Texas A&M-Commerce on Wednesday

The University of Hawai’i basketball team hosts Texas A&M-Commerce at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday at SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center.

Photo courtesy Matt Osumi

Let’s get this out of the way first: Yes, TAMU-Commerce is a NCAA Division I program. Barely.

The Lions have a 3-4 record in their first season as NCAA-I members and the Southland Conference. This is the first year of a four-year “transition period” during which the Lions are not eligible for the NCAA or NIT tournaments.

The Rainbow Warriors are 5-1 following a Thanksgiving week field trip across the island that resulted in the championship of the inaugural Patty Mills North Shore Classic. It is the program’s best start since the 2015-16 NCAA Tournament team started 8-1. Wednesday’s game will be televised live in Hawai’i on Spectrum Sports

The Warriors have found early-season consistency through its consistent starting lineup. Guards Noel Coleman and JoVon McClanahan, forwards Samuta Avea and Kamaka Hepa, and forward/center Bernardo da Silva have been the starters for all six games this season.

Coleman leads the offense with 17.3 points and 3.3 assists per game, and 16 3-pointers. Da Silva is averaging 12.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, and has a field goal percentage of .582. Avea and Hepa are each scoring 9.3 points per game, and McClanahan is at 6.5 points per game with a 16-to-7 total on assists-to-turnovers.

The key to the early-season success has been defense. The Warriors are allowing just 58.0 points per game, while limiting opponents to a .411 field goal percentage. Hawai’i also ranks among the national leaders for 3-pointers allowed (24 total, 4.0 per game) and opponent 3-point percentage (.282).

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

On the surface, it would appear to be a mismatch against a TAMU-Commerce team that played a home game on Monday night, then traveled on Tuesday to get to Honolulu. However, the Lions moved up from NCAA-II with a strong resume. Here are some notes on the Lions:

• Two of their wins this season came on the road against NCAA-I competition – Air Force and Eastern Kentucky.

• Their four losses have been away from home against NCAA-I programs – SMU, Northern Colorado, UNC-Asheville and Georgia State. SMU is the only team to beat TAMU-Commerce by double-digits (77-60).

• Demarcus Demonia, a 6-foot-7 senior forward, is the team’s top player with averages of 16.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game. He has previous NCAA-I experience at Central Michigan.

• Kalen Williams, a 6-2 junior guard, is averaging 11.6 points and 3.6 rebounds per game. He previously played at New Mexico State.

• TAMU-Commerce has participated in the NCAA Division II Championship Tournament nine times since 1996, including last season.

• Head coach Jaret von Rosenberg is in his sixth season as head coach at TAMU-Commerce. His record is 88-46 in the previous five seasons, with three NCAA-II tournament appearances.

• The city of Commerce, Texas, is located approximately 65 miles northeast of Dallas.

• The school was formerly known as East Texas State before becoming Texas A&M-Commerce in 1996.

• When the team was known as East Texas State and a member of the NAIA in 1981, the Lions made a week-long trip to O’ahu. They lost at BYU-Hawai’i and Chaminade, then won at Hawai’i Pacific.

HAWAI’I (5-1) vs. TEXAS A&M-COMMERCE (3-4)
When: Wednesday, November 30, 7:00 p.m.
Where: SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center
TV: Spectrum Sports (Channels 12/1012 in Hawai’i)
Video streaming: ESPN+ (blacked out in Hawai’i)
Radio/Audio streaming: ESPN Honolulu (92.7 FM, 1420 AM, espnhonolulu.com, Sideline Hawaii app)
Live stats: statbroadcast.com
Tickets: Etickethawaii.com

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