Bench play will be key at UC Santa Barbara

Hawai’i freshman guard Tom Beattie scored six points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out two assists in 25 minutes off the bench Thursday night to help the Warriors rout Cal Poly, 80-51, at San Luis Obispo. (Chris Kadooka file photo)

The University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team can point to several key factors helping the Warriors put together three straight victories and five wins in their past six outings.

But near the top of that list is the play off the bench, which has been a pleasant surprise and desperately needed especially with significant injuries to backup center Mor Seck (torn anterior cruciate ligament) and point guard JoVon McClanahan (right shoulder).

Production from non-starters will likely again be a factor in Saturday’s key showdown at UC Santa Barbara, which is set for an early (11 a.m. Hawai’i time) tipoff. The game will be shown live on Spectrum SportsNet (Channel 218), live streamed on ESPN + and broadcast via radio on ESPN 1420AM.

UH (15-11 overall and 7-7 in the Big West) is coming off an impressive 80-51 victory at short-handed Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, but UCSB (13-11, 6-8) promises to present a much bigger challenge.

In their first meeting in Honolulu on Jan. 25, the Gauchos went on a stunning 26-0 run in the first half en route to a convincing 78-61 victory.

“They’re a really good team, they have good players,” said Warriors forward Justin McKoy, who scored 18 points and grabbed five rebounds on Thursday. “I just think that, for us, we owe them. We didn’t play our best game against them, we definitely owe those guys. They took one from us at home, so we want to go take one from them.”

UCSB is coming off a 61-46 loss at UC San Diego on Thursday, after trailing 39-20 at halftime. Yohan Traore led the Gauchos with 14 points and six rebounds.

“I think it always helps to play a team again, it’s hard to beat a team twice,” McKoy said. “I think every game that we play (against) them, we’re more familiar with how they play, their style, their pace … and we can prepare better.”

As for the Hawai’i, the Warriors have become tougher to scout since gaining more production from their bench, which scored only eight points against UCSB but contributed 20 points on Thursday.

“That’s the great thing about having a good group of guys — next man (up), every man, everybody stay ready,” UH coach Eran Ganot said. “Sometimes it’s your night, sometimes it’s someone else’s night, (but) continue to support the guys, stay engaged. It can be anybody on any given night. I think they’re gaining momentum, gaining confidence because that approach has helped them …

“We’re better for it than we were a week or two weeks ago. Confidence comes from work — you put in a lot of work, you feel like you deserve success. The next phase is, sometimes you need a breakthrough to take that confidence up to another level. You need it to happen in games, in key games. Kody (Williams) is in a better place than he was, Tom Beattie, Ryan Rapp, Akira (Jacobs) … that’s a lot of different guys who can now point to success they’ve had in the past, and hopefully that will help us moving forward.”

McClanahan, whose shoulder was in a sling on Feb. 8 and missed the past three games, made the road trip and his status is being monitored for possible availability.


  1. UC Irvine (11-2)
  2. UC San Diego (10-3)
  3. UC Davis (10-4)
  4. Long Beach State (8-5)
  5. Cal State Northridge (8-6)
  6. HAWAI’I (7-7)
  7. UC Santa Barbara (6-8)
  8. UC Riverside (6-8)
  9. Cal State Bakersfield (5-9)
  10. Cal State Fullerton (4-9)
  11. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (0-14)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Theme Blog Explorer by Kantipur Themes