Allen continues tear as Hawaii ends home stand with romp over UCSB

You’d have to consider its five-game home stand to be a success after Hawaii absolutely thumped UC Santa Barbara, Saturday night at Manoa. With the first four games split between a pair of high-scoring wins and low-scoring losses, Hawaii’s rubber match was never in doubt when the ‘Bows ran all over the Gauchos, 78-56.

While the team could have maybe hoped for better than three victories during the stretch, the one thing that was thankfully re-calibrated were the expectations placed upon guard Noah Allen. Despite including just an eight-point outing in a loss to UC Riverside, Allen averaged 24.6 points during the five-game home stand. He scored a career-high 34 against the Gauchos and did so on just 14 field goal attempts.

During the two-week period, Allen shot 61 percent from the floor. His offensive efficiency has re-emerged and he has again become the go-to player on display at the beginning of the season.

Allen’s outside shot still can’t be considered a strength, as he’s just a 30 percent shooter from behind the arc. But he was only 6 for 32 from that distance in his three years at UCLA, so his 24 makes from long range are already a major improvement. Despite the direction most offenses have moved towards at all levels of basketball in recent years, Allen is a bit of a throwback. His slashing style and in-between game are a breath of fresh air to just being camped outside the three-point line.

Unless he falls into a similar funk as his midseason swoon when he scored 13 total points over the span of five contests, Allen will lead Hawaii down the stretch as they approach the halfway mark in Big West Conference play.

We’ve begun to get a much better feel for who this team is and what its identity seems to be. They are going to shoot a lot of threes. Only Cal Poly has shot more (167) than Hawaii (152) through seven conference games. They’re only hitting at a 31 percent clip, but their volume does make up for a lack of accuracy, in turn placing them third in the conference in points per game (75.1).

Rebounding has remained an issue, as Hawaii ranks dead last in total rebounds per game (32.0). Front court players like Jack Purchase and Gibson Johnson are not typical big men who camp out near the rim, so everyone else is forced to pitch in on the glass. It’s actually Allen who leads the team in rebounding (5.7). This is one area the ‘Bows truly miss Mike Thomas, who is redshirting the season.

And while he may not be the breakout star on the roster, “veteran” guard Sheriff Drammeh really has provided stability across the board. He’s been the first player off the bench and is playing close to starter minutes. As the only returning player with any sort of experience with last year’s record-setting team, Drammeh has settled nicely into a regular role as a player Eran Ganot can trust.

Hawaii is 9-11 overall and 3-4 in conference play, so they’re not in a similar realm to last season. But they have shown a lot of heart and competitive fire and are a really fun team to watch. We won’t get to see as much of them up close with only three home games remaining, but things have developed nicely during this transition phase and the future remains bright. How much of that future may be right now still remains to be seen.

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David Simon can be reached at dsimon@thegardenisland.com.

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