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'Bows aim to slow down Beach offense

Jan. 18—The Hawaii basketball team is seeking to be a speed bump on the road for today's game against Long Beach State in the Walter Pyramid.

The Beach run the nation's sixth-fastest offense, averaging 14.7 seconds per possession. That has correlated to 80.1 points a game.

"We've been very successful outscoring some people," LBSU coach Dan Monson said. "But it's giving us a false sense of reality because, game in and game out, that's not going to work. We'll try to get out of that mode a little bit. We're still a work in progress."

In last weekend's loss to UC Santa Barbara, the Beach managed 76 points despite being without leading scorer Marcus Tsohonis. The 6-foot-3 guard is a double transfer (Washington and Virginia Commonwealth) who averages 17.6 points.

Of a defense that allowed an average of 80.8 points against Big West opponents, Monson said, "we have a lot of guys who aren't connected. It's easy to see teams that are connected offensively. Defensively, you have to have five guys on the same page. And right now, we think we're going to guard our guy individually, and we have to guard as a team. We're trying to focus on that a little bit."

UH coach Eran Ganot expressed concern about the Beach's board work. In six Big West games, the Beach have an average rebounding margin of plus-5.4 points. Lassina Traore and Aboubacar Traore — unrelated players who grew up in Cote d'Ivoire — are averaging 11.3 and 10.7 rebounds, respectively, in league play.

"They've got two guys averaging double-digit rebounding," Ganot said of 6-10 Lassina Traore and 6-5 Aboubacar Traore. "The other day, (the Beach) played huge, even big at the two, three, four, five (positions).

Against Cal State Fullerton, Aboubacar Traore grabbed 22 rebounds, Lassina Traore pulled down 17. In league games, they have accounted for 53.4% of the Beach's rebounds, including 50.1% off the offensive boards.

"We kind of rely on them too much," Monson said. "They're good rebounders, and they play hard. ... People know they're rebounding, too, and they try to keep them off the boards. We've got to get some other guys to help them."

The Beach are 3-0 when they outrebound Big West opponents, 0-3 when they lose the board battle.

The 'Bows have made some tweaks to their expanding rotation. In previous seasons, Ganot went mostly with eight or nine core players each game. This year, he has used nine or 10 "and some guys with spot moments."

In league play, Ryan Rapp has started all five games at the three while Matt Cotton's playing time dropped to 10 minutes per game. Cotton, a Yale transfer who was the starter for the 'Bows' 12 nonconference games, did not play last Saturday.

"Sometimes you have some good players playing behind some good players," Ganot said. "It's not always 'there's something wrong' with someone or something. Sometimes, it's just the way it is."

But Ganot indicated roles are not set in stone, and any player can earn more minutes. Rapp received a medical redshirt for the 2022-23 season because of a nerve problem in his right foot.

"Sometimes roles are reversed, but they can change back," Ganot said. "Any great team, it's all hands on deck. I know it's easy to say and hard to do, but you've got to do it. Everybody wants to play. But to be good, to be great, to be special, you have to continue to be ready. I don't want guys to be OK with not playing. I want them to do something about that, and continue to attack practices, continue to be great teammates."

BIG WEST BASKETBALL

At Walter Pyramid, Long Beach, Calif.

Hawaii (10-7, 2-3 Big West) at Long Beach State (11-7, 3-3 BWC)

>> When: Today, 5 p.m.

>> TV: Spectrum sportsnet

>> Radio: 1420-AM

>> Streaming: Spectrumsportsnet.com