Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Freshmen Seck, Rouhliadeff add needed depth for home stretch

Mor is certainly not less for the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team. Especially heading down the home stretch of the brutal 20-game Big West Conference regular season, with the league’s postseason tournament immediately to follow.

Photo courtesy Matt Osumi

So just in the nick of time, 7-foot-1 freshman Mor Seck and fellow rookie Harry Rouhliadeff, a 6-9 forward, stepped up last Saturday night and provided surprising but much-needed low post support after 6-9 starting center Bernardo da Silva was scratched that morning due to a sprained ankle.

Seck responded with career highs of 14 points and 16 rebounds, to go along with four blocks in 29 minutes played — by far the most action he has seen in a single game this season. Rouhliadeff came off the bench and contributed 10 points, one rebound and valuable energy in 10 key minutes.

The end result was a thrilling 72-67 victory over first place UC Irvine in front of a raucous and appreciative white-clad “Senior Night” sellout crowd of 8,248 in SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center. And perhaps just as important, it was proof that Seck and Rouhliadeff can offer vital depth to a Warriors team (21-9 overall, 12-6 Big West) that will need it in the final two league games this week — at CSUN (7-23, 4-15) on Thursday and UC Santa Barbara (22-7, 13-5) on Saturday.   

The first order of business is beating CSUN, because that would keep UH in contention for the Big West regular-season championship and the No. 1 seed for the Conference Tournament in Henderson, Nev. Three teams — UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara and UC Riverside – are currently tied for first place with 13-5 records.

The Warriors are only one game behind the tri-leaders and need to win both games this week to have a shot at first place. While it is mathematically impossible for Hawai’i to win the regular-season title outright, the Warriors can still finish in a tie for first place and earn the No. 1 seed.

Photo courtesy Matt Osumi

The Warriors won the first meeting against CSUN in Honolulu, 58-51 on Jan. 16, but only after the Matadors closed it to 52-51 with 3:16 remaining.

“I think we’ll be fine, every game is different,” said junior point guard JoVon McClanahan, who scored a career-high 27 points with seven assists on Saturday. “The discipline word, that’s what we’ve been preaching, that’s the theme right now. Just be disciplined, lock in every possession, every possession matters. We can’t be careless with the ball, or if we have a lapse defensively, it’s going to all add up. So if we just keep being solid over the course of the game, you’ll see that we’ll break teams and end up being victorious.”

In that Jan. 16 game, da Silva scored 11 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, while Seck saw limited action and was scoreless with two boards.

But when da Silva was not cleared to play last Saturday morning, Seck got the call and had the confidence of his teammates. 

“I don’t think there was doubt within our team, because it’s just, ‘Next man, every man,’ and that’s what Coach (Eran Ganot) was preaching,” McClanahan said. “But how about Mor Seck and Harry just — especially in a big game like that, that’s huge for them. Just as freshmen, and being in that environment, that’s only going to make them better. Mor came ready to play, and he was ballin’ out, him and Harry. I’m just so proud of them, because they showed that they can compete at a high level, and that’s just going to make them better moving forward.” 

Photo courtesy Matt Osumi

For Ganot, it was an added bonus to what already was expected to be an emotional night for his three outgoing seniors, Samuta Avea, Kamaka Hepa and Juan Munoz.

“It was like a ‘Senior Night’ AND ‘Freshman Night,’ which was pretty cool,” Ganot said. “For those guys to perform on the biggest stage … they should have confidence, they’re good, they put in the work, they’ve stayed ready. But it always helps when your guys have confidence in each other. We were out Bernardo, and then sometimes had to navigate foul trouble. And Mor stepped up with as good a game as you could have on that kind of stage versus that team. Fourteen points, 16 rebounds, set the tone early. Harry, when we were down nine, hit the 3, got the and-1 three-point play, hit Von for an and-1. Harry had his fingerprints all over the biggest time of the game.”

Ganot said da Silva, who was injured in the first half of last Thursday’s loss to UC Riverside but finished the game anyway, was feeling better on Monday but his status will be day-to-day.

“I know he’s doing better, and obviously we don’t play until Thursday, so we’ll just monitor how it is every day,” Ganot said. “His job is to do everything he can to get back, he’s doing that and our medical team is working with him … he’s better today (Monday), I think he’ll be better tomorrow, and we’ll go from there. Time will tell.”

HAWAI’I (21-9 overall, 12-6 Big West) at CSUN (7-23, 4-15)
When: Thursday, March 2, 7:00 p.m. Pacific Time (5:00 p.m. Hawai’i)
Where: Premier America Credit Union Arena, Northridge, Calif.
TV/Video streaming: ESPN+
Radio/Audio streaming: ESPN Honolulu (92.7 FM, 1420 AM, espnhonolulu.com, Sideline Hawaii app)

Thursday’s Games
UC Santa Barbara at UC Davis
Cal Poly at UC San Diego
CSU Bakersfield at Long Beach State
UC Irvine at UC Riverside
Hawai’i at CSUN

Saturday’s Games
Long Beach State at UC Davis
CSU Bakersfield at UC Irvine
UC San Diego at Cal State Fullerton
Hawai’i at UC Santa Barbara
UC Riverside at Cal Poly

1 Comment

  1. Here’s my starting lineup for the next 2 road games.

    1. McClanahan
    2. Coleman
    3. Avea
    4. Hepa
    5. Seck

    I’m not sure if we would’ve won the last game if Bernardo played?

    Sit Bernardo down. Let him have more time to heal and save him for the tournament.

    Even then, have him come off the bench at the tournament. Seck, although showed signs of being gassed, has a big impact on defense. Altering and blocking shots

    Coleman – What’s up with Coleman? Struggling badly lately. Be ready to bring in Justus early.

    Riley – Gotta limit those turnovers to 0. Good on D and scrappy for rebounds

    Go Bows!

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