Rainbow Warrior basketball: Defending Big West position

Cal State Northridge forward Lamine Diane threw down a slam dunk over Hawaii guard Eddie Stansberry in the first half Saturday. / Photo by Jamm Aquino, Star-Advertiser

To defend its present position in the Big West Conference, the Hawaii basketball team will have to find a way to defend, and do it in hostile territory.

It’s no secret that defense has been the Rainbow Warriors’ greatest shortcoming over their three-game losing streak. Over that span, UH has given up 83.7 points per game and .514 (92-for-179) field-goal shooting in road losses to UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly, and Cal State Northridge on senior night on Saturday.

Fresh on the team’s mind had to be CSUN’s two stars, forward Lamine Diane and guard Terrell Gomez, going for a combined for 57 points.

“A lot’s at stake,” UH coach Eran Ganot said before boarding the team bus Tuesday.

“There’s times where there’s times during the course of the season where it’s not so glaring, but it’s really glaring right now,” he said. “We’ve gotta be better defensively. Especially when we’re No. 1 in many categories in our league. So why have we been inconsistent? Because of the defensive end. That being said, we’ve got to continue to excel offensively.”

UH (16-12, 7-7 Big West) was tied for third in the standings at one point, and actually hasn’t dropped much on paper — into a three-way tie for fourth. But the Rainbows will have to rally up, and fast, if they want to stay there while playing on the mainland the rest of the way.

UC Davis, Thursday’s opponent that UH beat by 20 in Honolulu, is always tough to beat at The Pavilion and is coming off a seven-point home win over Cal State Fullerton. And before that loss, Fullerton had won 10 of 12 since an 0-2 BWC start, including the 79-68 BWC-opening loss at the Stan Sheriff Center.

“Davis is really tough at home,” said point guard Drew Buggs, who had one of his better games (12 points, 12 assists) against Davis in an 80-60 win on Jan. 26. “I’m just expecting a battle, because since then they’ve been playing a lot (better), and we’re tied in the conference standings. It’s going to be a battle. Everybody wants to get this win. Everybody wants momentum heading into the conference tournament. So we just gotta be locked in and ready to go.”

Here are the basic scenarios this week:

>> IF UH wins twice, improving to 9-7: UH is the 3 seed if UC Santa Barbara loses at CSUN and at Cal Poly, and if CSUN then loses at UC Irvine; UH is the 4 seed if UCSB beats CSUN, or if CSUN beats UCSB but the Matadors then lose at UC Irvine; UH is the 5 seed if CSUN wins against UCSB and at UC Irvine, and if UCSB wins against Cal Poly.

>> IF UH goes 1-1, moving to 8-8: Up to five teams could be tied at 8-8, in which case it’s sorted by a team’s total record against everyone else in that group. That team with the best record in the pile is given the top seed among that group, removed from the pile, and the process is repeated for the next four teams, the next three, and so on. If UH beats UC Davis, UH would be 5-1 against a theoretical 8-8 grouping that includes Davis, CSUN and Long Beach State, and would take the 4 seed. If UCSB drops to 8-8, or if UH loses to Davis and beats Fullerton to get to 8-8, it gets a lot murkier, and the 5 or 6 seed is in play for the ‘Bows.

>> IF UH goes 0-2, dropping to 7-9: UH could be looking at tiebreaker scenarios with CSUN and Long Beach State (which the ‘Bows would actually win). If it is all three at 7-9, UH is the 5 seed. If it is UH and LBSU or UH and CSUN, UH is the 6 seed. Or, if CSUN and LBSU both win a game (CSUN is at home against UCSB and at UC Irvine, and Long Beach is at home against UC Riverside) UH will be by itself at 7.


  1. Scott Morris March 6, 2019 7:59 am

    This perfectly describes the scenarios. Let’s hope UH gets two wins and the higher seed.

  2. Warrior Lifer March 6, 2019 9:06 am

    Just gotta play hard and get back to the defensive efforts at the beginning of conference play. Hopefully pick up 2 wins and some momentum heading into the BWT.

  3. Aaron March 6, 2019 8:55 pm

    Anything but the 6th seed is good…

  4. Matt March 7, 2019 6:05 pm

    I always pondered about this, but seriously…these guys gotta stay consistent. What Coach Ganot said about the lack of defense with this team before the season started is becoming a huge situation with this team. The losses they had were just inexcusable, including when they had scored 80 in the road at Cal Poly and 73 against CSUN at home. They just got outplayed against teams in the bottom of the conference, and it’s just disappointing to watch. Seriously, I always say this about certain UH programs, “If you can’t beat the teams at the bottom of the conference, what’s the point of facing those at the top?”.

    Lately, the MBB and football programs just can’t seem to keep pace in conference lately. There’s some inconsistency issues that need to be addressed. Yes, baseball and softball should fit into the conversation as well, but it’s been mostly with football and men’s basketball. We’re just not able to keep up the pace with conference games, recruiting, and winning games in general. 3 of the last 4 seasons, the MBB program goes 8-8 in conference play. If this isn’t an indication to the program in general, it tells me one thing, they can’t win the BWC title for sure. They gotta find a way to win games against tough opponents in non-conference, and find a way to be consistent in conference play. Even in football, they have NEVER won an MWC title ever since joining there. They won a WAC title, but that even isn’t enough to satisfy the fans. This is where they gotta step up big time after the season’s end for the MBB. While yes, UH will lose what’s left of the 2015-16 season, they could still retain all 3 of the 7’0″ players and find a way to find good athletic players. I always look at this for perspective, but finding good perimeter shooters will probably be the best bet from here on out for Ganot. We have to find a way to get back to being competitive, and hopefully, they’ll find it.

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