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Warriors return home to host HPU

Hawaii Pacific might be one of its friendly neighbors, but the Hawaii basketball team doesn’t exactly want to be a hospitable host on Saturday.

The Warriors will play in the Stan Sheriff Center for the first time in more than two weeks when they host the NCAA Division II Sea Warriors at 7:05 p.m. Saturday.

Hawaii, which is 5-0 in the Sheriff Center this season, went 0-2 on a seven-day road trip last week.

“It feels good to be back in Hawaii, that was a long road trip,” junior guard Zane Johnson said. “We’ve been working hard this week, ready to go.”

Hawaii returned to Honolulu on Sunday, and has had the full week to prepare for the Sea Warriors. But there have been distractions.

Two players – junior point guard Anthony Salter and freshman wing Jordan Coleman – requested to transfer out of the program this week. At the same time, a player from the Hawaii football team – Miah Ostrowski – agreed to join the basketball team, although he will not be ready to play until after Christmas.

Bottom line, the Warriors will have just nine active players available for the game against HPU.

“We didn’t do all that preseason conditioning for nothing,” Johnson said. “We’re excited for the opportunity to play more minutes.”

While the Warriors had a full week to prepare for Saturday’s intra-city game, the Sea Warriors have been busy. Saturday will be HPU’s third game in as many days.

The Sea Warriors lost to Chaminade on Thursday, then lost to Hawaii-Hilo on Friday. HPU is 3-5, and will bring a four-game losing streak to the Sheriff Center.

Hawaii assistant coach Brandyn Akana, who scouted the Sea Warriors, described HPU as “a talented team.”

“It’s like a Super Bowl game for them, they come in here as the Division II team, so they’ll come after us,” Akana said. “We have to be solid with the ball, protect the ball, and not allow them to get excited and get momentum on their side, and we should be OK.”

HPU’s leading scorer is Nick Frazier, a 6-foot-2 junior guard who is averaging 13.3 points per game. The Sea Warriors rely on a balanced attack, as four others average more than 8 points per game: 6-9 forward Adrian den Dulk (9.3 points per game), 6-5 forward Kyle Allen (9.0), 5-10 point guard LaBrent Chappell (8.8) and 6-8 center Jason Jackson (8.8).

Among the Hawaii players available, four are averaging double-figure points, led by senior point guard Hiram Thompson at 12.9 per game. Sophomore forward Joston Thomas is averaging 12.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game, Zane Johnson is averaging 10.6 points, and Bo Barnes 10.1 points per game. Also, sophomore center Vander Joaquim is contributing 5.0 points and a team-high 7.1 rebounds per game.

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