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Updated: Warriors rally in exhibition win over HPU

The Hawaii basketball team discovered that it has much improving to do after a 62-56 exhibition game victory over Hawaii Pacific University. The good news is the Warriors still have an entire season awaiting.

Hawaii rallied from a seven-point deficit in the second half to defeat the NCAA Division II Sea Warriors. The exhibition game – which will not count on either team’s record – was played at the Stan Sheriff Center, and served as the final tune-up before the “real” season opener on Monday, November 14.

“Our best basketball is still ahead of us,” Hawaii head coach Gib Arnold said. “We showed that we have a long ways to go, especially on the offensive side. I thought we struggled at times offensively to really get into a flow. I give HPU a lot of credit for that. But it’s also something that we need to really continue to work on.”

Zane Johnson scored 21 points, including seven in the game’s final seven minutes, when the Warriors rallied from a 49-42 deficit. The 6-foot-6 senior guard connected on five 3-pointers to lead the Hawaii offense.

“I think the biggest thing we have to learn from this is we gotta have fun all the time ,” Johnson said. “It’s not fun if the crowd is not feeding off of you and you’re not getting stops and Coach gets mad, and nothing is flowing.”

Indeed, the Warriors never got into a consistent flow against the pesky Sea Warriors, and the game was still in doubt until the final minute. The score was tied at 54 with less than two minutes remaining, then Joston Thomas gave Hawaii the lead for good with a 15-foot jumper.

Defensive steals by Garrett Jefferson and Shaquille Stokes in the final minute helped secure the win.

Junior center Vander Joaquim finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds and six blocked shots. “I expect Vander to be a double-double guy this year,” Arnold said. “I see where he was 4 for 7 (from the field). We need to get him more touches down there. I’d like to see him get 12, 13, 14 shots a game.

“We got a long ways to go. This is still a young team … but it starts with Zane and Vander. As they continue to progress, then so will this team.”

Nine Warriors saw action in the exhibition game. The starting lineup featured Stokes at point guard, Johnson and Hauns Brereton on the wings, and Davis Rozitis and Joaquim in the post. Others who rotated in were Jefferson, Thomas, Bobby Miles, and Trevor Wiseman.

“Everybody who played tonight contributed and did some good things, and everybody who played tonight has some stuff to work on,” Arnold said. “We’re in no ways close to where we need to go or where we expect to end up.”

Hawaii led 33-31 at halftime, but HPU responded with a 10-2 surge midway through the second half that put the Sea Warriors in front 49-42 with 8:17 remaining.

“Even though we were down seven, I always felt that we were going to pull this one out,” Arnold said. “I just kind of felt that this team would bear down and come together, and they did. Those last five minutes or so, I don’t know if they scored a whole lot.”

HPU, in fact, did not make a field goal in the game’s final six minutes. In those final six minutes, Hawaii out-scored the Sea Warriors 15-5.

Stokes, the highly-touted freshman out of Harlem, New York, finished with 11 points and four assists. He shot 2 of 10 from the field, and also committed six turnovers.

“We probably were a little over-hyped coming into the game,” Stokes said. “We wanted to play, we wanted to do a lot of things that we don’t normally do in the flow of the offense.”

Arnold said: “Shaq’s going to be a really, really good player. But he had some freshman moments tonight. He didn’t shoot it as well as he can and did some things that got us in a little bit of trouble offensively, but I’m a big believer in Shaquille. He’s going to be just fine.”

Stokes did help clinch the win when he stole a pass in the closing seconds and then provided a fastbreak assist to Jefferson for a slam dunk that made the final score 62-56.

Hawaii shot just 38.9 percent from the field, but HPU was worse at 34.4 percent. “We guarded when we needed to,” Arnold said. “The stats show that we actually had a pretty good defensive game. But I’m a big believer in the attitude of the game. The attitude and the effort, and I don’t know if that was there the whole time.”

The Warriors now have two days to improve. The regular-season opener is scheduled for Monday night, November 14, against Cal State Northridge. That game will start at 11 p.m. (Hawaii time) to accommodate a nationally televised time slot on ESPN.

(Photos courtesy Brandon Flores)

12 Comments

  1. How come Joston isn’t getting much PT?

  2. Joston needs to learn not to be a me-first player before he’ll see extensive PT. That was evident when both times he made a shot or a block, he made sure the crowd knew it. Artie kept commenting on it during the broadcast. He has so much potential but I believe he thinks he is better than he actually is at this point. I hope he looks up into the crowd and salutes after clanking one of his dunks or making a stupid turnover at some point this year. Just play the game!

  3. REPOST:
    Go easy on Josten – he will “get it”; when he gets it. We will need his explosiveness during the season – but as you said, he has so much potential, it just needs to be channeled! Mahalo.

    Good points hawaiifan09 and agree with the D grade – Wiseman plays small (7 rebounds) becuase he is a small forward and should be out on the wing as a 3; Miles should not be afraid to shoot more when he has those open shots, Rozitis was out of position, he needs to be down low as a center (5); Breeton was a deer in headlights – ineffective defensively and needs more bench time to get a better feel for the D1 game. Jefferson was good on D but sloppy with the ball; Thomas did good but needed more time to get into the flow. Stokes was not fine . . too many turnovers and had an opportunity to pass to an open teammate and forced-up a missed shot . . as a point he needs to think pass first and shoot second. Vander did have a nice overall game – would like to see more picks and drop step moves down low. Zane was good at times but he needs to maintain that stamina and keep moving to get those open looks, like Ray Allen does. Yes, it was the first game and I it was good to experiment – but now we have to tighten the rotations and reduce the t/o’s. Not sure what that means, 2 – 4 recruiting classes away . . . from what?

  4. Offensively, they were way off last night. Defensively, I thought they were okay. Free throw shooting needs to be better. I like the play of the scrappy Garret Jefferson. There’s work to be done yet. But, I think this team is gonna be okay going forward.

  5. I am, too. overhyped, overlooked, underexecutive of game plan..
    be a 30-points-winner, overwhelmed the fans..

    Hauns: how’s left ankle hurting?
    Vander: doubled-teamed, well-guarded problems can be solved?
    Davis: practices worn you out?
    Bobby: timing is a little off?
    Shag: D2 players played surprisingly well?
    Zane: stamina can be elusive? (hope your old injury goes away.)
    Garrett: defense wins game, open makes the points?
    Trevor: speed and control smooths everything?
    Joston: show-time low equals play-time high?
    Coaches: going to work harder still?

    HPU staff and players: thanks for the lessons – well executions.. high speed, intensity & focus!

    we are mistake-prone as human; quicker learner advances.

  6. based on last night i believe i’d start thomas over brereton on monday

  7. Joston should be starting. He is the best all around talent on the team. He’s a decent outside guy and strong enough for the paint. He can attack the rim and is athletic. I could care less that he plays to the crowd, cause if he’s doing work on the court and producing he should be playing.

  8. Glad you’re not the coach..He’s not the best all around talent. Most athletic..yes. Vander, Zane and Shaq are more talented. I agree with you, Joston SHOULD be starting, but he is inconsistent and makes some pretty bad mental mistakes. Yes he’s great in a summer league or in a pick up game, but he has a long way to go in understanding team play. I hope he really “gets it” this year because he can be a productive inside-out guy. But he’s sitting the bench for a reason, he looked lost at times on defense last night. He hit a couple good shots and had a good blocked shot on the help, but relies too much on his athleticism and lacks in the fundamentals at time. His decision making needs to improve and he’ll see more PT. I looking forward to when it does click for him because we will need him this year.

  9. The reason why we have an exhibition game is to get the kinks out. Some people, like Shaq said, were too hyped. We should not pass final judgment any player or team. I think everyone remembers a kid named Trevor Ruffin who made a ton of mistakes when he first started. Some people need a little time to get adjusted to D1. You still gotta look at the guys that perform in practice because that’s the place you try to secure playing time.
    I will admit that Josten Thomas is the most talented guy on the team. But I can’t say he is the most dependable. A gifted canoe paddler is no good to the crew if he is not in sync with the rest. Individualism has no place in team sports. I think the day Josten wakes up and understands this he will be on his way to becoming the player he is capable of becoming. Until then better go with proven team players.

  10. Don’t get overly worried about Brereton….I watched him play all of last year, and even at Jr. college, he started slow, but once he gets it, you will not be disappointed. He is one of the hardest workers you will ever see….averaged about 12/game the first half of the season and close to 30 the 2nd half….He is a great player, a great person and he will get it….it will take a little time, but mark my words, you will fall in love with the kid.

  11. Love Josten…but i just have to say that until he makes Defense the No 1 priority he is not going to see PT….He has not yet learned to have the game come to him and to take pride in defense, rebounding and the pass…i hope he proves me wrong, because I think we potentially can be great if he comes to realize this.

  12. I agree with Wickster. Brereton will rise to the challenge! No one knows what is going
    on behind the lines and what they are asking of him while on the court. Most of you are off base.

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