Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors look to build on  recent Pyramid success

While UCLA basketball lore is built largely around John Wooden’s conceptual “Pyramid of Success,” Long Beach State prides itself on the success built inside its own Walter Pyramid.

Which … is literally a pyramid.

Hawai’i will again get a close-up look inside the odd-shaped venue at 2 p.m. (HST) Saturday, when the Warriors face rival Long Beach State in a key Big West Conference showdown. UH is 18-8 overall and 9-5 in league play, good for fourth place. But Long Beach State is looking right over the Warriors’ shoulder at 15-12, 9-6. 

And historically, the Beach has been tough to beat at home in the 4,000-seat Walter Pyramid, one of nation’s most unique arenas in a conference full of mostly oversized generic-looking high school gyms.

“Everybody knows the Pyramid, they have tradition there, and they’ve had a lot of success there over the years and great fan bases,” Hawai’i coach Eran Ganot said. “As a competitor, that’s what you want to play in front of.”

Ganot, in his eighth year at the helm, lost his first three games with the Warriors at the Pyramid from 2016 to 2018 but has won two of the past three meetings there, including last year’s 67-62 victory.

“I actually like Long Beach, the last time we went to Long Beach, we made a lot of 3’s,” said junior point guard JoVon McClanahan. “I think our guys like shooting in that gym … I think it should work in our favor, and it obviously works in theirs because they like playing at home. I had never seen a gym like that, that was my first time playing at Long Beach. It was cool though, they have a nice gym. Solid arena.”

UH made 15 of 34 attempts from 3-point range in that win, including a 6-for-11 effort from Noel Coleman. In the teams’ last meeting on Jan. 14 in SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center, the Warriors shot poorly (10 of 37) in the first half but much better (15 of 27) in the second half, including 5 of 10 from beyond the arc.

Hawai’i had trailed, 51-47, with 9:13 remaining but the Warriors responded with a 10-2 run to take the lead for good and then finished the game with another 10-2  surge.

Reserve wing Beon Riley, who logged almost 13 minutes of court time in that game, has missed the past two games with a reported lower leg injury.

“He’s had a breakthrough in terms of feeling better, and getting out there a little bit more,” Ganot said. “The hope is, he will be ready for Saturday and this final stretch. We know he will be back, that’s a good thing, he’s better than he was a couple days ago. We’ll see how the next two days go, but it’s moving in a better direction.”

Perhaps a bigger issue, in the broader picture, is solving the problem of stretches of lapses in performance which has cost UH dearly in recent losses. McClanahan said one possible solution is for the Warriors to break the game down into four-minute segments, and trying to win each segment as a way to create a sense of urgency.

“I think we were doing that in the stretch around the Diamond Head (Classic), we used to come to the timeout and say, ‘Make sure we win the next media (timeout),’ or ‘Be up by this many points by the time the next media comes,’ or ‘Let’s hold them to this many points before the next media comes,’ ” McClanahan said. “I think we need to start doing that (again), because that is something that good teams do, is they try to win stretches instead of looking at the game from afar. I think just segments of the game, we just need to win and slowly you’ll see the lead building up and slowly we’ll just stop them from creating runs and stuff like that.

“I think we’ll try to do that this Saturday, make sure we just stay solid within these stretches.”

Ganot said that strategy has worked in coming back from large deficits, but the overall focus remains on trusting the process and striving for consistency.

“We talk about segments a lot more when we can’t get it all back in one or two plays,” Ganot said. “A big emphasis for us has been process, and after the (last) game we talked to our guys about double-digit separations for us and against us, and finding that consistency. I think part of it has been lack of discipline on both ends in key moments, and some of it has also been — good intentions — trying to do a little bit on our own, wanting to bring us back or separate. And you really gotta be disciplined in those moments.

“Obviously we’ve lived and learned, our guys are awesome, we talk it out. And we’re looking forward to finally breaking through in that regard.”

UH at The Walter Pyramid

Dec. 6, 1995: L, 71-65
Feb. 17, 2007: W, 93-78
Jan. 12, 2013: L, 76-72
Feb. 27, 2014: L, 63-61
Jan. 31, 2015: L, 65-50
March 5, 2016: L, 74-72
March 4, 2017: L, 84-75
Jan. 4, 2018: L, 89-81
Feb. 7, 2019: W, 77-70
Feb. 22, 2020: L, 64-60
Jan. 8, 2022: W, 67-62

Overall record:  3-8
Last three meetings: 2-1

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