Hawaii men’s basketball team wary of UCSB’s healthy Max Heidegger
In sickness, UC Santa Barbara was one of the Big West’s best basketball teams. Now the Gauchos have good health.
Mahalo for reading the Honolulu Star-Advertiser!
You're reading a premium story. Read the full story with our Print & Digital Subscription.
Already a subscriber? Log in now to continue reading this story.
In sickness, UC Santa Barbara was one of the Big West’s best basketball teams.
Now the Gauchos have good health.
Max Heidegger, a 6-foot-3 senior guard who was the league’s top scorer two years ago, has fully recovered from a concussion that sidelined him for 10 games. Heidegger is expected to play extended minutes, maybe even start, against Hawaii tonight. Tip-off is at 8 in the Stan Sheriff Center.
“They were able to overcome (Heidegger’s absence) because they have a lot of weapons,” UH coach Eran Ganot said. “But now they’re at full strength.”
In a familiar scenario, Heidegger missed the early part of the 2018-19 season because of a concussion. But in last year’s game in the Sheriff Center, Heidegger hit all three of his 3-point shots in the second half to finish with 20 points and lead the Gauchos to a one-sided victory.
“As he goes, they go,” said UH assistant coach Jabari Trotter, who is in charge of scouting the Gauchos. “We’re on high alert with him. … He is a good shooter. He’s coming off an injuy. He’s a little rusty. But you can’t ever sleep on him. Our guys know that. They’ve had enough experience with him. They know exactly who he is and what he’s trying to do.”
Devearl Ramsey, who transferred from Nevada in August 2018, is an attacking point guard. JaQuori McLaughlin, who can slide into the playmaker role, leads the Gauchos in scoring (15.2 points) and assists (3.9). Heidegger is a threat on ball screens, using them to seal paths for drives or to swing out for 3s. Despite the skilled guards, the Gauchos prefer sets to begin with an inside-outside sequence. Amadou Sow, a 6-9 post, usually draws an extra defender that opens the perimeter.
“Amadou is only a sophomore, but he has a gift to be able to score and rebound,” UCSB coach Joe Pasternack said. “We’re really fortunate to have him on our team.”
The Gauchos have similar qualities to UC Irvine, an active rebounding team that dominated UH on the boards last week. Ganot emphasized improved rebounding for Thursday’s game against Cal Poly. The ’Bows controlled the boards early, then struggled, before holding off Poly.
“Our next phase is to find that consistency,” Ganot said. “When we’re good, we’re really good. In short spans, our tough moments are really tough. We’ve got to make sure we shorten those ones.”
Ganot noted the ’Bows’ lapses on Thursday could be traced to Poly’s multiple-defensive looks and Samuta Avea’s back ailment. Avea was limited to 23 minutes, which was eight minutes fewer than his average. Avea has been receiving treatment.
“We’ll wait and see,” Ganot said. “All I know is he’s doing everything he can, as always, to be ready to go.”
UH’s captains — power forward Zigmars Raimo and point guard Drew Buggs — also were resourceful against Poly. Raimo shot 2-for-14, but he grabbed 14 rebounds, dished four assists and cobbled 11 points. “He fills the stat sheet,” Ganot said.
Buggs scored only four points but hit a key shot in the final minute.
“Both of those guys make hustle plays for us,” Ganot said. “Drew takes charges. He’s a leading assist guy. He made the biggest (shot) of the game. … If we want to be a balanced team, we have to have balanced players, not one-dimensional guys. When shots don’t fall for our team, we have to find other ways to win. When shots don’t fall for some of our players, they have to find another way to impact the game.”