A lot can happen in a short period of time within the college basketball season. Teams often change identities rapidly, for better or worse. What you see today may not be at all what you get 10 days from now.
So the up-and-down nature of the Hawaii men’s basketball season to this point is not surprising, nor should we expect it to change much, even with just seven games remaining on the regular season slate. Seven games can be an eternity in this NCAA universe.
When UH (14-9, 5-4 Big West) suffered its heartbreaking defeat on Jan. 23 against UC Irvine, there was reason to think that it could send this somewhat inexperienced bunch into a downward spiral. The ‘Bows surrendered a 14-point lead with just over eight minutes to play in that one, ultimately losing 75-74 in overtime.
That can be a tough result from which to recover, but Hawaii picked itself up and won two straight with contributions from different players to regain its momentum. However, the ‘Bows have since dropped two of their last three and while the overall unsteadiness isn’t surprising, the reversal of fortunes for Eddie Stansberry certainly is.
The junior guard is currently in the midst of what could be generously deemed a funk. For the first 16 games of the year, Stansberry appeared to be the team’s go-to scorer. He was averaging more than 14 points per game and shooting 38 percent from beyond the three-point line. In the eight-game stretch from Dec. 8 to Jan. 17, he averaged over 17 points a night and UH went 7-1 over that time period.
Since then, Stansberry’s production has fallen off a cliff. He is averaging just six points per game and is shooting only 28 percent from the field over the past seven contests, reaching double figures just once. It’s a massive shift in both his efficiency and aggressiveness. Clearly the lack of production is impacting his willingness to take on a primary role on the offensive end. Percentages are down, but so are his attempts.
The common thread throughout the season has been different players stepping up each night. Defenses can’t just key on one individual because Hawaii has numerous talented offensive players who can each be the difference makers.
But the burden has gotten much more difficult during Stansberry’s dry spell. The ‘Bows have gone 3-4 over this stretch and have done a great job at still maintaining that balance. Zigmars Raimo, Sheriff Drammeh, Jack Purchase, Drew Buggs and Brocke Stepteau have all had opportunities to be the go-to guy and all have seized it for different stretches.
Things would just be much easier if Stansberry can get his offense back to a level where the team can at least count on him for about 12 points a night. They don’t need him back in that 20-point range to win games, but just having him consistently in double figures will make this final stretch a lot more indicative of what this team’s ceiling looks like.
If there was ever an opportunity to right the ship, it would be this week. UH will take on Cal Poly (5-17, 1-8) on Thursday and then UC Riverside (8-17, 2-7) on Saturday, both at the Stan Sheriff Center.
David Simon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.