BYU-Hawaii winning with team focus
Chang leads the Seasiders but is not the only key to success
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- There was a point early in the season when BYU-Hawaii seemed as far away from reaching the NCAA Division II Elite Eight as the distance from Honolulu to Massachusetts.
The Seasiders weren’t playing great team basketball and it was holding the team back from reaching its full potential.
“We were being too selfish and trying to do too much,” senior guard Marques Whippy said. “We lacked a lot as a basketball team and we had to learn to put aside our own success for the good of the team.”
Turns out, it was the right move. The Seasiders (20-8) not only won their first West Regional championship after falling short in the previous three regional title games, they have arrived in Springfield as one of four teams seeded sixth or lower.
BYU-Hawaii will continue its quest Wednesday when it squares off against Bloomfield (24-8) in an 8:30 p.m. ET national quarterfinal at the MassMutual Center.
“We have really done a good job of being more patient and have done a better job of taking good shots,” BYU-Hawaii head coach Ken Wagner said. “Our teamwork has been a big part of our success.”
Wagner said the fact that every player settled into his role has been huge for the Seasiders.
“Everyone found their roles instead of trying to do too much,” Wagner said. “The guys realized that things work out much better when you work as a team.”
Junior guard Jet Chang has helped put the Seasiders in a position to contend for a national championship. He is averaging 19.9 points per game while Whippy is clicking for 14.7 ppg.
Junior guard Jake Dastrup is averaging 12.6 points per outing for a BYU-Hawaii team that is averaging 79.2 points per outing and allowing 72.5.
BYU-Hawaii is shooting 46.4 percent from the field and 36.6 percent from beyond the arc.
“We have become a very good shooting team,” Wagner said. “I like the way we push the ball and if we can shoot the way we have lately, we’ll be in a position to win.”
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Finding a way to slow down a Bloomfield team that has a lot of offensive weapons will be key.
“They have great guards and we know they are going to be a very tough team to play against,” Wagner said. “Every team is good at this point. We just have to play good basketball and see what happens.”
When BYU-Hawaii entered the regional coming off an 84-82 loss to Chaminade, it didn’t seem as if the Seasiders would have a chance to make a run at the Elite Eight.
A stunning 83-76 win against No. 15 Cal State-Dominguez Hills changed everything. The Seasiders haven’t looked back since and Whippy said that success is a credit to good teamwork.
“We showed how well we could work as a team in the regional,” Whippy said. “Playing good team basketball has taken us here and we have to continue to play that way to contend for the title.”