Playing with pace pushed the 'Bows into another gear

Mar. 14—The Hawaii basketball team is back in the fastbreak lane.

HENDERSON, NEV.—The Hawaii basketball team is back in the fastbreak lane.

The transition offense has played a role in the Rainbow Warriors surging from a 2-6 start in league play to the third seed in the eight-team Big West Tournament at the Dollar Loan Center in Henderson, Nev. The'Bows' 9-3 run coincided with their renewed emphasis on running.

It began with controlling the boards, according to head coach Eran Ganot. With guards helping the forwards by tracking down long and weak-side rebounds, the'Bows are 26th nationally in defensive rebounding at 77.8 %. (The formula factors a team's defensive rebounds with an opponent's offensive rebounds.)

After securing an opponent's missed shot, the'Bows try to accelerate in the other direction.

"We call it 'push with poise, '" Ganot said. "The decision-making is a big part of it. Some guys play uptempo and crazy. I think we can play fast and smart."

Guard Noel Coleman said : "He says 'push with poise' every day. He reminds us every day we have to run the floor."

Point guard Juan Munoz said increasing the tempo "made our offense a little more free flow. Getting up and down gave us easy baskets. And when we score (quickly ), we can set up our defense, which is something we've been harping on."

While baskets are the ultimate goal of fast breaks, Ganot noted, "either way, there's no penalty for it. If you attack and have something good, you take (the shot ). If you don't, you made the defense work to get back. And then you can make the defense work in the halfcourt."

The'Bows are averaging 9.8 fastbreak points in their last nine victories, an uptick from 7.3 in their 2-6 start.

Forward Justin McKoy, who is averaging 16.1 points in the last 10 games, said the quick ball movement in the half-court offense has created more scoring opportunities. Opponents can no longer assign a second defender on 6-9 center Bernardo da Silva in the post. With opponents having to spread the coverage, a defender can no longer plant himself in gap.

"When the defense moves, that's where the gaps open up, " said Brad Davidson, who serves as the'Bows' offensive coordinator. "When a driving lane opens, somebody will help, and we'll get a 3-point shot."

Ganot said : "Our player movement has gotten better. We try not to be too sticky and have the ball in one place. That's helped us."

Ganot said the'Bows were on track to a quick-tempo offense earlier in the seaon and "then we hit a lull. Sometimes the tempo depends on your personnel, the conditioning and the depth. There was a stretch we were still finding ourselves. ... You'll hear us say confidence comes from deserving it because you work. The second level is breakthroughs. We started to have some transition breakthroughs, and that presented opportunities for us."

With Wednesday's opening-round bye, the'Bows prepared for both UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge. After CSUN won in overtime to advance to tonight's second round, the UH coaches and players met on Wednesday night. The'Bows will finalize their game plan during today's shoot-around practice.

"Everything's ready to go, " Ganot said. "We've prepared for every scenario. We take pride in being prepared."

BIG WEST CONFERENCE TOURNAMENTS Both tournaments being played at Dollar Loan Center, Henderson, Nev.

MEN FIRST ROUND Wednesday UC Riverside 83, CS Bakersfield 78 CS Northridge 87, UC Santa Barbara 84 OT QUARTERFINALS Today Hawaii vs. CS Northridge, 3 p.m.

Long Beach St. vs. UC Riverside, 5 :30 p.m.—UH on radio : 1420-AM / 92.7-FM—Streaming : ESPN +

SEMIFINALS Friday UC Irvine vs. TBD, 3 p.m.

UC Davis vs. TBD, 5 :30 p.m.

CHAMPIONSHIP Saturday, Semifinal winners, 3 :30 p.m.

WOMEN FIRST ROUND Wednesday UC Davis 81, Cal State-Fullerton 56 Long Beach State 90, UC Santa Barbara 75 QUARTERFINALS Today UC Riverside vs. Long Beach State, 9 a.m.

Cal Poly vs. UC Davis, 11 :30 a.m.

SEMIFINALS Friday Hawaii vs. Cal Poly-UC Davis-winner, 9 a.m.

UC Irvine vs. UCR-LBSU.-winner, 11 :30 a.m.—Wahine on radio : 1420-AM / 92.7-FM—Streaming : ESPN +

CHAMPIONSHIP Saturday, Semifinal winners, noon