Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors hope ‘discipline’ will prevent lapses versus CSUN

On paper, the University of Hawai’i would appear to be a heavy favorite in its men’s basketball game at CSUN on Thursday.

WarriorInsider.com file photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

But as the Warriors (21-9 overall, 12-6 Big West Conference) have unfortunately learned the hard way this season, paper advantages tend to disappear once the ball is tipped and especially even after a big lead might be built. All it takes is a short lapse of a few minutes. 

CSUN (7-23, 4-15) proved it in the teams’ previous meeting in Honolulu on Jan. 16, when the Matadors overcame a 33-17 halftime deficit and cut it to 52-51 on Dearon Tucker’s three-point play with 3:16 remaining, before UH held on for a 58-51 victory.

The rematch is set for 7 p.m. Pacific Time ( 5 p.m. Hawai’i Time) Thursday at CSUN’s Premier America Credit Union Arena, which actually is not unlike a typical large high school gymnasium. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+ and also broadcast live via radio on ESPN Honolulu 1420 AM.

CSUN’s comeback on Jan. 16 was largely fueled by a stunning 13-0 run that cut the Warriors’ 17-point lead to 38-32 after DeSean Allen-Eikens’ jump hook with 13:30 remaining. It was just one of several mysterious lapses that plagued Hawai’i during the Big West season, and even resulted in a few close heartbreaking defeats.

For their part, the Warriors believe they solved the mystery, and have last Saturday’s thrilling 72-67 comeback victory at home against first-place UC Irvine as evidence.

“I’m just happy with how we performed on Saturday, it just shows that we got better as a team, and we gotta keep going,” said junior point guard JoVon McClanahan, who scored a career-high 27 points with seven assists to lead UH in that game. “It’s just about being locked in. I think regardless of who we play, if it’s Irvine, CSUN, Santa Barbara … it doesn’t matter, we just gotta be locked in and stay disciplined, and we’ll be fine.”

WarriorInsider.com file photo courtesy Brandon Flores

Warriors coach Eran Ganot said he believes his team has righted the ship and is now right on track.

“They know they have to be laser-like down the stretch here,” Ganot said. “We had an emotional, awesome win, (but) alright, let’s shift gears and get back to work, this is what we’re trying to do. We said a couple weeks ago the big change for us to make the next step was really down to two things: 1. Discipline in key moments, and 2. Staying together in key moments. Our intentions are always good, but when you’re down a couple points, you don’t need to bring us back on your own. And when we’re up, just keep hitting what you have and stay disciplined and stay together. 

“That helped us the other night, and we need to continue to do that moving forward, because that’s gonna be the separation down the stretch in a league that’s had a lot of battles.”

Ironically, UH managed the upset victory despite starting center Bernardo da Silva being scratched from the lineup that morning due to a swollen sprained ankle. Ganot said da Silva’s status will be monitored day-to-day.

“We’ve kept it simple, I think we’re always extra careful,” Ganot said. “We know what we’re trying to do in competing, but we’re going to be smart about it. I get the word from the medical team, and the student-athlete, and we go from there. Each case is different.”

In da Silva’s absence, freshmen Mor Seck (14 points, 16 rebounds, 4 blocks) and Harry Rouhliadeff (10 points) filled in more than admirably. And either way — with or without da Silva — McClanahan said the Warriors will be ready.

“It’s the lap, pretty much, so I feel like our team is gonna give everything we have,” McClanahan said. “If we can be disciplined and just lock in this final stretch, and everybody is connected, we’ll make everyone’s job easier. I think everyone is on the same page as far as just competing every possession, because it matters right now. These games matter, and we need to win these games.”  

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

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

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