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Late night with the Warriors: Season opener at 11 p.m.

The Hawaii basketball team held its version of a late-night study session over the weekend.

In preparation for its season-opening game on Monday night, the Warriors went through late-night practices on Saturday and Sunday. Hawaii is scheduled to host Cal State Northridge at the Stan Sheriff Center on Monday night, and the game will start at 11 p.m. to accommodate a live national telecast on ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-off Marathon.

“It’s by design,” Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold said of the late-night practices over the weekend. “When you have to play at 11 o’clock, and the game ends at 1 in the morning, you might as well practice for it.”

Arnold said the Warriors will have to be energized to play a Northridge team that is guard-oriented and likes to play at a fast pace.

“Northridge likes to throw a bunch of defenses at you,” Arnold said. “They trap and rotate and get after you. We’re going to see a lot of different things and we have to be ready for all of them – that can be tough when it’s your first game. It’s going to be a fast-paced game and I think it’s going to be an exciting game.”

Hawaii’s primary ball-handlers – Shaquille Stokes and Bobby Miles – will have to respond by controlling the pace of the Warriors’ offense.

“We’re ready for it,” said Stokes, the freshman point guard out of New York who will be playing in his first NCAA Division I game. “The coaches are going to put us in the right situation, and we just have to be focused. There are going to be a lot of opportunities to find guys open, so that’s what I’m going to try to do.”

The late-night start will also give the Warriors more time to prepare for the Matadors during the day. As Stokes said: “I’m going to watch more film of (Northridge) to get ready.”

While it will be the season-opener for Hawaii, the Matadors have already played a game. Northridge opened with a 66-59 loss at USC last Friday. The Matadors had a 54-50 lead with less than five minutes remaining in that game before USC rallied to victory.

Northridge lost by just seven points despite shooting only 25 percent from the field. The Matadors stayed in it by forcing 20 USC turnovers.

“They like to get up and down the court and score it quick,” Hawaii senior Zane Johnson said of the Matadors. “They’re a guard-oriented team and they like to trap, so we have to be ready.”

Northridge finished 14-18 overall and third in the Big West Conference last season at 9-7. The Matadors were picked to finish eighth (out of nine) in the Big West preseason poll this season.

The top returnee from last season is Vinnie McGhee, a 5-foot-10 guard, who averaged 6.7 points per game and led the team with 51 3-pointers. In the loss at USC, Stephan Hicks – a 6-5 freshman – led Northridge with 19 points and eight rebounds.

The Matadors started a three-guard lineup against USC, and the tallest starter was 6-8. They did, however, use a couple of their big men (6-10 and 6-9) off the bench.

Northridge is the youngest team in NCAA Division I, with nine freshmen and six sophomores among the 18 players on its roster. It is also worth noting that the Matadors are ineligible for the postseason due to sub-standard Academic Progress Rate scores in recent years.

Hawaii is coming off a 62-56 exhibition victory over Hawaii Pacific last Friday. Johnson scored 21 points in the win, while junior center Vander Joaquim contributed 12 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots.

This is the fourth consecutive season that Hawaii was selected for a late-night game on the ESPN Hoops Tip-off Marathon. All tickets to the Monday night game are general admission, so seats can be taken on a first-come, first-served basis.

“The late night crowd is always fun,” Arnold said. “Obviously when it’s on national TV, that’s good for the parents and families and friends. And it’s a good thing for the program, too, to get this kind of exposure.”

Stokes said his family in New York will set their alarms for 4 a.m. to watch the game. “Oh yeah, they’ll be up,” he said. “It’s my first game. They’re excited they get to see it on TV.”

Hawaii vs. Cal State Northridge

Where: Stan Sheriff Center
When: Monday, November 14, 11 p.m. start
Tickets: All seats general admission — $10 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens
TV: ESPN
Radio: ESPN 1420 AM

(Photos courtesy Brandon Flores)

8 Comments

  1. lets go TEAM,
    giv’em brah!
    we expecting you a double-digit winna, 20+ even..

    do them what HPU did to you on national TV;
    President Obama will be watching. (say: HI, Coach Arnold)?!

    Hawaii proud of you,and wishing some time in the future that he will HI back to you at the White House!!!

  2. Hopefully all the kinks were worked out and the team will come out to play tonight.

  3. It’s late for Hawaii but its even more late for CSN. Let’s go warriors!

  4. Bring on the Students, Party at Stan Sheriff Tonight ! Hope they get some free snacks

  5. CSUN Coach noted that Hawai’i and Northridge will be Travel Partners Next Year in the Big West … hopefully they’re experienced and capable to beat up a few teams by then; soften ’em up for their Hell Weekend in Hawai’i …

  6. expect the turnovers because of pressure all game but expect a lot of open shots

  7. it will be kinky

  8. gonzaga’s kevin pangos is the real deal watch out

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