Warriors to host Bakersfield on ‘Senior Night’

Hawai’i will honor seniors (from left) Noel Coleman, Juan Munoz, Bernardo da Silva, Justin McKoy, Matt Cotton and JoVon McClanahan after Saturday night’s “White Out” game against Cal State Bakersfield. (graphic courtesy UH Athletics)

This year’s University of Hawai’i men’s basketball senior class features three longtime Manoa veterans, two newcomers who spent only one season here, and a sixth guy in between whom coach Eran Ganot calls “maybe the best story in college basketball.”

All six will be making their final appearance in SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center Saturday night against Cal State Bakersfield. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m., and the game will be televised live on Spectrum OC Channel 12 and broadcast live via radio on ESPN Honolulu 1420AM.

The game is billed as a Senior Night “White Out,” with all fans encouraged to wear white. Also, all youth aged 17 and under will gain free admission. Free white T-shirts will be given out to the first 2,000 fans who enter the arena.

The game will not just be ceremonial with a great atmosphere — there is a lot at stake and it promises to be an intense battle with both teams jockeying for position in next week’s Hercules Tires Big West Tournament in Henderson, Nev.

The Warriors are 18-13 overall and 10-9 in league play, tied for fourth place with Long Beach State. A victory by UH would clinch a top four spot and first-round bye in the tournament, advancing the Warriors to Thursday’s quarterfinals. A loss could drop them into Wednesday’s “bottom four” first round.

Cal State Bakersfield, meanwhile, is 13-17 and 8-11, still needing to clinch a berth in the tournament. The Roadrunners are riding a three-game win streak and coming off a 68-56 road victory at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on March 2.

“They’re not (just) dangerous — they’re good,” Hawai’i coach Eran Ganot said. “Take away their 0-5 (Big West) start, and they’re 8-6, they’ve won three in a row and some of their losses were close losses, their (UC) Irvine game was (down to) one possession. Rod Barnes is a good coach, he’s been to the NCAA Tournament, he’s been to the NIT Final Four. Those guys are tough, and because of the respect we have for them, we’ve got to play well again.”

As always, there is extra incentive to send out the Warrior seniors with a victory. Here is a closer look at each of them:

NOEL COLEMAN, 6-4, G, Leopoldsburg, Belgium

Coleman arrived at UH in 2020 as a transfer from San Diego and immediately saw playing time, mostly rotating at point guard with JoVon McClanahan and Biwali Bayles. He is now No. 8 on the Warriors’ career scoring list, with 1,235 points.

As a sophomore, Coleman earned a starting spot at shooting guard and All-Big West second-team honors and then garnered Honorable Mention last season. This year, he leads the team in scoring average with 13.7 points per game, shooting 45 percent from the field and 82 percent from the free throw line. Coleman also contributes an average of 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game.

But besides the games, Coleman said he will remember Hawai’i as the place he could call home.

“Yeah there’s a lot of mixed emotions (for Senior Night) — excitement, but also a little sadness that it’s going to be my last (game) in here,” Coleman said. “Being here for four years, I’ve had nothing but love received. It’s definitely going to be a special moment for me, I know it’s going to be a special moment for my family, as well.

“On the road, I mainly room with JoVon, so we talk about it all the time. Looking back, it’s been four years (since) we came in here together. Bernardo was already here, but just being able to share the court with those guys, it’s been special. It’s been a roller coaster, especially with COVID and all the different rules. But it’s going to be fun, sharing the court with them one last week.”

BERNARDO DA SILVA, 6-9, C, Rio das Ostras, Brazil

Entering UH as a true freshman in 2019, da Silva played in 25 games, starting four and averaging 4.5 points and 3.5 boards per game.

He redshirted the next season after being injured just five games in, and returned to start 19 games in 2021-22, averaging 9.5 points and 6.3 rebounds. As a junior, da Silva started 30 games and averaged 9.5 points, 6.6 boards and 1.17 blocks per game (second in the Big West). He also was earned academic All-Big West honors.

This season, da Silva has started all 31 contests and is averaging 11.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. He needs just 15 points to reach the 1,000 milestone for his career.

“I feel like it’s going to be a special night (Saturday),” da Silva said. “We’re just trying to stay locked in on Bakersfield as much as we can and really focus on the win. Coach talks about how we honor our seniors every game, so in that regard it could be no different as far as like playing hard and playing to win and doing our best.

“We’re definitely really excited to play, it’s our last game here and I feel a lot of emotions going into it.”

JOVON MCCLANAHAN, 5-10, G, Vallejo, Calif.

McClanahan arrived at UH in 2020 after one season at Sheridan (Wyo.) College. After sharing time at point guard with Coleman and Bayles, he played in 28 games as a sophomore, starting 14 and averaging 6.2 points, 3.6 assists and 2.5 rebounds per outing.

As a junior, McClanahan started all 33 games and was named Second Team All-Big West after averaging 13.5 points in league play and 3.5 assists per game overall. He also was named Most Outstanding Player of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic after hitting the game-winning shot against Southern Methodist in the title game.

This season, McClanahan started 19 of the first 20 games before being sidelined for four games with an injured shoulder. He has since returned and is contributing in a reserve role.

JUAN MUNOZ, G, 6-0, Morrisville, N.C.

A record eighth-year senior, Munoz spent his first five years at Longwood University before arriving at UH in 2021. Unfortunately before the season started, he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament injury and was lost for the year.

In 2022, Munoz put on a dazzling performance in the exhibition opener against UH Hilo, only to go down with a torn Achilles tendon that cost him another season. He applied to the NCAA for another year of eligibility, which was granted.

Munoz has made the most of it, playing in all 31 games and starting the past 13, averaging 9 points and 1.8 assists and 1.6 rebounds per outing.

“He might be the best story in college basketball, if you really think about it,” Ganot said. “I know I’m biased, but how often have we seen another guy go through eight years, (three) season-ending surgeries, try to come back — some guys don’t, and you wouldn’t blame them — and perform (like that). It’s amazing, it’s incredible.”

JUSTIN MCKOY, F, 6-8, Cary, N.C.

A highly touted high school recruit who played two years at Virginia and two at North Carolina, McKoy started four games as a sophomore for a Cavaliers team that won the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season title. He then transferred to Carolina and played in 30 games for a team that advanced to the 2022 NCAA Championship game.

This season, McKoy has started all 31 games and is averaging 12 points and 6.1 rebounds per outing.

“I’ve been talking to Juan about it, and from what he told me, it’s going to be super special,” McKoy said about Saturday. “We honor the seniors at the end of the game, so I think it helps us lock in, and it’s also extra motivation to make sure we get it done. Everyone wants to be happy and send the seniors away on a good note. Yeah I’m a senior (too), but I think I owe it to these guys who have been here four or five years … I need to make sure they’re sent out on the right note.”

MATT COTTON, 6-5, G, Voorhees, N.J.

Cotton played three years at Yale before transferring to UH last summer.

He got off to a strong this season, starting 12 games early and notching a career-high 23 points against Texas-Rio Grande Valley. Cotton has served in a reserve role throughout the Big West season.

No matter if they are a veteran or newcomer, Ganot said all six seniors have made valuable contributions to the program.

“They’ve stuck together, and that’s a real testament to the group we should honor on Saturday, six great seniors,” Ganot said. “How often do we have six seniors who have done what they’ve done? How often will you see three guys who have been here four years — Bernardo five — who are all over the all-time leader boards? They’ve won 57 games over the past three years, been here through COVID, through injuries — JoVon this year, Noel two years ago, Bernardo couple times.

“And then you gotta look at the points all-time, look at the rebounds, field goal percentage, 3’s, assists … they’re all over it. That’s hard to do, when you’re in year 104 of program history. But it’s refreshing when you’ve got guys who have been here four years, three of them, and impactful first-year guys like Matt Cotton, Justin McKoy and Juan Munoz.

“It’s a special group that hopefully we get a really nice crowd for.”


  1. UC Irvine (16-3)
  2. UC San Diego (14-5)
  3. UC Davis (13-6)
  4. HAWAI’I (10-9)
  5. Long Beach State (10-9)
  6. UC Santa Barbara (9-10)
  7. UC Riverside (9-10)
  8. Cal State Northridge (9-11)
  9. Cal State Bakersfield (8-11)
  10. Cal State Fullerton (7-12)
  11. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (0-19)

Saturday’s Schedule (all times HST)

UC Davis at Long Beach State, 1 p.m.
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo at UC San Diego, 4 p.m.
UC Irvine at Cal State Fullerton, 4 p.m.
UC Riverside at UC Santa Barbara, 5 p.m.
Cal State Bakersfield at HAWAI’I, 7 p.m.

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