HONOLULU — The University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team was unable to take advantage of the opportunity to split the series with the top team in the Big West Conference, the University of Santa Barbara, in back-to-back losses last Friday and Saturday.
Because the ‘Bows were unable to take advantage of splitting the Big West contests with the Gauchos, they have now fallen into sixth place in the conference standings.
Critical conference showdown
Hawai’i, who has four conference games left before the Big West Tournament on March 11-13, will try to position themselves to get one of the top five seeds in the tournament so they will play a lower-seeded team in the first round of the tournament.
Currently, Hawai’i is only two spots above California State University of Northridge for eight place, which would drastically affect their chances of winning the Big West Tournament if they get a lower seed.
The champion of the Big West Tournament will receive an automatic bid to the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament, but for them to get a better chance to qualify and win the tournament, it will help if they can get a higher seed in the Big West.
Big man on campus
Hawai’i basketball coach Eric Ganot has emphasized all season because of the logistical challenges caused by COVID-19 travel, this year will feature various roster rotations.
While Ganot’s preseason prediction about a revolving roster has mostly come true, Hawai’i has had a couple of solid contributors to their team that have emerged as leading point scorers.
Currently, sophomore Justin Webster is leading the team in points production on a team where the basketball is widely distributed.
Webster is leading the team with 12.9 points per game, and not far behind that level of points production are two other players that have emerged as three go-to players for Hawai’i.
Jardine Casdon is averaging 11.7 points per game, and the 6-foot, 7-inch freshman is also grabbing 5.7 rebounds per game.
The ‘Bows also get scoring production from their reserves.
Forward-Center James Jean-Marie is averaging 12.6 points, and 4.1 points per game coming off the bench, and because he is the tallest member of the team at 6 foot, 8 inches, he gets significant minutes depending on the matchup.
The four main contributors are averaging just under 45 points per game, and they are a critical component to the ‘Bow’s success with each game they play.
In order for Hawai’i to have a significant chance to win the game, they will have to be able to contain the Matadors’ leading scorer T.J. Starks.
Starks, who was a transfer from Texas A&M, is the current scoring leader of the Big West Conference.
If Hawai’i is unable to contain Starks, their chances of winning will diminish significantly.
Starks, by himself, is currently averaging just a little under half of what four Hawai’i players average per game, and just ten points less than three of their starters, scoring 19.7 points per game.
Following the games at CSUN, Hawai’i will return to Honolulu for its final home games of the year versus Long Beach State on Feb. 26-27.
Jason Blasco, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.