Thursday, February 1, 2018, 7:00pm PST
UCSB, 5-2 and tied for second place in the Big West get a chance to avenge one of their 1 point conference losses when the fourth place Rainbow Warriors leave the island for the first time in two weeks and travel to Santa Barbara. Hawaii is coming off a tough two point loss to Fullerton, in a game they had led most of the way. Thursday’s game will be just their fourth road game of the year, they are 1-2 away from the Sheriff Center.
By the Numbers
|OOC Record, all games||5-15||15-5|
|Home/away vs D1||1-2 (away)||9-0 (home)|
|National Team Rankings|
|Composite (DC2, RPI, Pomeroy,
|Preseason Poll Pick||5th||6th|
|Efficiency Rankings (Pomeroy)|
|Scoring (conference only)||71.9 (70.5)||77.3 (74.1)|
|PPG Allowed (conference only)||69.0 (66.2)||70.0 (67.1)|
Best win: Davidson (home, 78 DC2)
Worst Loss: LB State (away, 220 DC2)
Trend: After opening conference play with a loss at Long Beach, UH went on a four game win streak and into first place in the BWC before dropping a very tough loss to Fullerton at home on Saturday. UH is missing their outstanding PG Brock Stepteau who injured his shooting hand in the game against the Gauchos earlier. After Thursday’s game the Bows get a breather with a roadie up to Poly then at home vs. CSUN & UCR.
Evan Ganot is in his 3rd season at the helm of the Warriors and boasts an outstanding overall record of 55-28, .662 and a conference record of 25-13, .658. In his first season, 2015-6, he took the Warriors to the NCAAs and an upset first round win over Cal which was the first tournament win in program history. He was named BW Coach of the year that season.
Last Meeting: Gibson Johnson, the second oldest player in D1, schooled the UCSB frontcourt going 8-9 in the paint and adding two blocks, leading the Warriors to a 77-76 victory in Honolulu. Senior Forward Mike Thomas was his usual self, going 4-6 from the field and those two enabled the Warriors to outscore UCSB 34-22 in the paint. PG Brock Stepteau, a former walk-on, was outstanding, going 2-3 from three, scoring 12 and adding 5 assists. This despite fracturing his hand in the game. Sheriff Drammeh did what he is good at, drawing several charges and playing excellent defense while adding 11 points. UCSB did not help their cause by starting the game going 1-8 from the FT line. Although UH led the majority of the game with their lead often extending into double digits, the Gauchos offense was also terrific and led by Heidegger’s 5-10 from three, fought back to make it close. All five Gaucho starters hit double digits and 76 points against one of the better defenses in the country was plenty of offense, they just didn’t get it done on the defensive side.
As mentioned, the Rainbows are not at full strength with Brock Stepteau still out with the fractured hand. Not sure of his timeline for return.
Guard Drew Buggs 6’2” 190lbs, RS Freshman. A BW FOY candidate, Buggs is leading the team in assists and steals while scoring 7.4 pg and pulling 3.5 boards per game. He has a 1.76 A/TO ratio. Mostly a slash & dish player, he attempts 1.6 threes per game.
Guard Sherrif Drameh 6’3”, 160lb, Junior from Sweden has started 12 games and is second on the team in scoring with 11.5 ppg. He is second in 3 pointers made with 25 at a .357 clip and leads the team in minutes played, 30.9 pg. Outstanding defender, best in the league for drawing fouls and for annoying the opposition. Admonished by the local paper for not keeping his cool, https://www.pressreader.com/usa/honolul ... 8773564987
Guard Leland Green 6’2”, 185lb, Sophomore has started 12 games and is scoring 6.6 ppg. Not a good three point shooter this season but attempts a lot of them anyways. Good defender.
F Mike Thomas 6’7”, 220lb, RS Senior missed last season, leads the team in scoring and rebounding with 13.1 and 6.2. Was a key part of the tournament team in 2016. Plays only 23 minutes pg. Was outstanding in the losing effort against Fullerton, going for 26 pts and 6 boards.
F Gibson Johnson 6’8”, 220 lb, Senior. Second on the team in rebounding with 5.6 pg and third in scoring with 10.3 ppg. Like Thomas, averages only 23 minutes pg. This because reserve forward Jack Purchase is playing starter minutes. Johnson @ 25 is the second oldest player in D1 and was All BW HM last season.
F Jack Purchase 6’9”, 210 lb. Junior from Australia. Has only started four games but Ganot must like him off the bench as he is averaging more minutes than the starting forwards. He was a starter much of last season. Second on the team in assists and third in rebounding and scoring 7.6 ppg. Leads team in three pointers made and his shooting has improved as the season has gone on as he has been recovering from an earlier shoulder injury.
Guard Brock Stepteau 5’9”, 170 lb. Junior. Currently out with a fractured hand so is a probable DNP on Thursday. Has started 7 games and is playing starter minutes, averaging 25 mpg. Is tied for third in scoring @ 9.9 ppg and is the Warriors best three point threat, tied for team lead and making them at a .468 clip. He dishes 2.3 apg.
Wing Brandon Thomas 6’4”, 175 lb Sophomore is averaging about 10 mpg and is the younger brother of Mike Thomas.
Wing Samuta Avea. 6’6”, 190 lb Freshman from Hawaii
View from a Warrior Fan
--With thanks and credit to HawaiiMongoose, this is his write-up from before the first game. Possible he may have an update later.
"Here are some observations about UH from a 25-year season ticket holder, based on having watched most of this season’s games:
There’s no go-to scorer on this year’s squad. The roster lacks anyone like Noah Allen who could create offensively and led the team in point production last year. In contrast this season’s team relies on executing a disciplined 4-out 1-in motion offense to free up players to take shots from where they’re most comfortable. Even then their shooting is typically mediocre. So far UH is fifth in the conference in overall shooting percentage at 45% but only eighth from behind the arc at 31%.
When the offense is working well UH will get a lot of open looks in the paint early in the game. The players are very unselfish, they know where to find their teammates, and most baskets will be assisted. While UCSB is currently first in the conference in assists per game at 15.6, UH is right behind at 14.9.
When the offense is working poorly (or looked at another way, when the opponent is defending UH well), the team will struggle to get the ball inside and will end up passing it around the perimeter a lot and jacking up ill-advised threes. If that happens against UCSB the Gauchos will win easily.
UH isn’t much of threat in transition. The guards aren’t very good at running the break. When they’re driving at full speed in the open court they’re as likely to turn the ball over as they are to convert. An opponent that makes UH play a fast-paced up-and-down game will have a distinct advantage.
Because there are only two reliably consistent shooters on the team, whom I’ll discuss in a moment, UH is getting its wins this season by playing good team defense. Opponents that rely on three-point shooting and/or pick-and-rolls will typically struggle because UH’s big men do a great job getting out to the perimeter and showing. They know that if they don’t do this consistently and energetically Coach Ganot will sit them on the bench. He preaches defense and praises the players more for getting stops than scoring points.
Statistically UCSB has a slight advantage over UH in overall field goal percentage defense, at 42.4% compared to UH’s 42.5%, but UH’s three-point percentage defense is superior at 31.9% compared to UCSB’s 34.7%.
UH’s leaders are 6’7” senior forward Mike Thomas and 5’9” junior point guard Brocke Stepteau. They’re the most experienced players on the roster and the most reliable shooters and scorers, with Thomas putting up 12.8 ppg on 60% shooting and Stepteau 9.8 ppg on 55% shooting. Thomas is a strong physical athlete who can dominate inside when not guarded by a bigger and stronger defender. His Achilles heel is committing undisciplined fouls; if the Gauchos can force him to the bench early they’ll have a huge advantage. Stepteau is a dead-eye three point shooter but has trouble getting open looks due to his height.
Another UH stalwart is 6’8” senior center Gibson Johnson, a JC transfer and returned Mormon missionary who’s the second oldest player in NCAA D-I basketball. Johnson isn’t a leaper but he’s very crafty around the basket. Like Thomas, he often has issues with foul trouble, not because of poor discipline but rather because he’s almost always forced to defend a bigger opposing center.
New to UH this year is 6’2” point guard Drew Buggs, a redshirt freshman out of Long Beach Poly. He’s still learning the D-I game but it’s evident he’s going to be a good one. Early in the season Ganot had him rotating with Stepteau, but lately the two have been on the court together with Buggs handling the ball and Stepteau at shooting guard. To defend UH effectively the Gauchos will have to keep Buggs out of the lane; he’s good at driving and either finishing or finding Thomas or Johnson under the basket.
UH’s energy guy is Sheriff Drammeh, a rail-thin 6’3” junior wing who plays with happy-go-lucky flair. He’s cat-quick, smiles a lot, talks trash, takes charges gleefully and converses with the referees a little more than Ganot would like. Drammeh is a streak shooter who has to be defended at the three-point line to prevent him from getting hot. It’s less important to stop him from driving because unlike Buggs he has a tendency to play out of control and will frequently lose the ball when he goes inside.
Two players UH was expecting to have big seasons are 6’9” junior forward Jack Purchase and 6’2” sophomore shooting guard Leland Green. Purchase was a tremendous three-point threat last year but is playing with an injured shoulder and as a result is in a deep shooting slump. He still gets lots of court time because he’s a good defender, rebounder and passer. Green is also a good defender but is having an awful season offensively and is getting fewer and fewer minutes. When these two are on the court UCSB can pack in the defense because neither is likely to score from behind the arc.
Finally, my prediction for Saturday: the team that makes the most free throws will win. UH has struggled from the line this year – they’re shooting 65% which is worst in the conference – and it’s really hurt them in close games. If they don’t do better on Saturday I think the Gauchos will pull out the win."
Match-up & prediction:
UCSB’s defense has improved with three consecutive strong performances where it has held a team well below its scoring average before letting up in their victory over Riverside. Sorry for sounding like a broken record but UCSB’s success for this game and for the season is to maintain this level of commitment to defense. Hawaii’s offense is rated 288 in the country but it put up 77 on UCSB.
Keys for the Gauchos:
1) Limit Johnson & Thomas. Leland needs to dig deep and step up in particular. I am sure JP is showing him and the rest of the team plenty of tape from the first game. Hawaii is not a great 3 point shooting team (.325 from three), sacrifice stopping perimeter shots in order to bottle things up in the paint.
2) Harass Drew Buggs, get him out of his rhythm.
3) Although the Gaucho offense has slowed slightly with King in a shooting slump, I am not too concerned about UCSB being able to find points. Thomas is one of the best defensive forwards in the league but Canty has become the man down low. We need him to continue to be the bully down there and get Thomas into foul trouble.
4) Lastly, in the words of Gabe’s Dad, “DEFENSE! Defense Gauchos, DEFENSE!!!”
After the close loss on the island and a lackluster performance Saturday, I am sure the players are fired up for this one. Gauchos exact their revenge, UCSB 73 UH 66
Official Site: http://hawaiiathletics.com/index.aspx?path=mbball
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