Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

“Accepting their roles” has led to wins for Warriors

Whether it was due to the hair or the comforting words from family members, Zane Johnson got his shot back for Christmas.

Johnson broke out of a shooting slump last week by connecting on 12 3-pointers in Hawaii’s three games during the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. He was named to the all-tournament team and was also selected as the Western Athletic Conference Player of the Week.

Perhaps not coincidentally, the 6-foot-6 senior got back on track while his family members were in Hawaii to celebrate Christmas with him. Most notable, Johnson said he is close with his grandfather. Some of Johnson’s childhood Christmas memories include shooting baskets with his grandfather in Arizona.

“He didn’t really say much to me, he just said relax and just play and don’t worry about anything else,” Johnson said.

It was also interesting that Johnson’s shooting touch came back after he dyed his hair. He said it was “a mistake” but he may just leave his hair as is, as long as the team keeps winning.

“I dyed my hair earlier in the year and I was trying to get it to go back to normal and it didn’t work, obviously, because it’s like orange, gold, yellow, I don’t know,” he said. “I was going to dye it back this week, but since we won, I think I’m going to keep it how it is.”

Johnson and the Warriors will host two games this week – South Carolina State on Thursday, and then nationally-ranked UNLV on Saturday. Hawaii is 7-5 after going 2-1 in the Diamond Head Classic.

“It’s taken a while, but I think everyone has bought in now,” Johnson said. “Everyone is accepting their roles. People aren’t worried about numbers and stuff anymore, just worried about getting wins … hopefully we can keep it going.”

Freshman point guard Shaquille Stokes is one of the players who has seen his role change in recent weeks, and he said he is willing to work to improve during his first season of NCAA Division I basketball.

“I’m only a freshman – I’m watching the guys, how they get ready for games,” he said. “It’s a lot different for me coming from high school. I was the vocal point to now where I’m learning from other people.

“I’m still doing great. I’m not mad. I’m still with the island, 110 percent. I ain’t going nowhere.”

Junior forward Joston Thomas added: “We haven’t arrived yet. We just have to stay humble and keep working hard. We just have to continue to do what we’ve been doing.”


  1. Shaq is such an impressive young man. He’s got a huge career ahead of him.

  2. Shaq just needs to keep working hard. He’s going to be a starter again at some point this year, whether it’s because we need a smaller lineup for a matchup or due to injuries injury *knock on wood*. The SSC arena is his home now, he just has to relax and play like he’s at home.

    Joston has been impressive in his decision making lately. He’s learning to trust that his teammates will find him on the court, and he doesn’t need to create a shot on his own all the time. He’s spot on when he talks to the media and has represented himself and his team well.

    Thank you Warriors for giving us a hell of a Christmas gift in the last three exciting games!

  3. “I ain’t going nowhere” I love it! Shaq you’re the man, keep working hard and you’re going to be one of the greatest/well liked warriors ever.

  4. Great attitudes can only lead to great results in the end. Good to know the team is accepting their roles.
    Go Warriors!

  5. To me, actions always speak louder than words..

    While it’s nice to hear some of the things that Shaq is and has been saying, you gotta wonder if he actually truly believes it and is going to follow-through. During the huge OT UH win over Xavier, Shaq was the only one who didn’t seem all that excited with the win, presumably due to his lack of playing time during the game. This was pointed out on the radio and during the Clemson telecast. So..

    >> Is Shaq REALLY going to be ok with his role if Miah starts all season?
    >> Is the team winning really more important (because it didn’t seem like it during the Xavier game)?
    >> Is the distance from his hometown going to start becoming a bigger issue as the see-sawing of his minutes continues?

    On a positive note, Shaq showed what kind of player he can be when he came in (ice-cold no less) during the last few frenetic minutes of the Clemson game and nailed two critical free throws when the rest of the Bows were throwing the ball around and away..

  6. Great job of interviewing Stokes and Thomas. A lot of the questions that are on the minds of fans were asked and it was reassuring to hear from both of them that they’re 100% on board.

    This team and this program can go far with Stokes and Thomas rowing in the same direction as everyone else. Looking forward to them being major impact players in the future.

  7. Shaq, great comments! Keep positive…listen to coaches..even back in AAU and at Lincoln…your team will do better and ultimately your future will be bright. Great that you had good Math final.

    We are really appreciative that you chose to come to Hawaii..the real Hawaii fans will support your effort in class and court. And as you mentioned before, look at that Hawaiian sun, 79 , 80 degrees compared to 20 degrees and ice and snow elsewhere.

    Glad you are all in…you can have great career with Hawaii…bring something special to Hawaii…

    Thank you and Mahalo, you are a very nice young dude!!

    True UH basketball fans…say Aloha!!

  8. Shaq is very young and still learning. He probably started every game of his life until this season. That would be a huge adjustment for anyone. He is 18 years old and has shown only one incident of immaturity during the celebration of the Xavier game. Hopefully he has learned from that. When he is in the game he isn’t perfect but he plays hard. You know that if he continually plays hard and works on his game Gib will give him playing time.

  9. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: both Joston and Shaq will do great things at UH before they leave. Working hard and coming to understand that “it’s all about the Ws” are the keys.

    A lot of other players are coming into their own as well. Zane, Vander, Miah, Hauns, Garret, Bobby, Davis… all making contributions in one way or another.

  10. http://www.omaha.com/article/20111229/SPORTS09/712309997/1001

    Wish Little Brereton the best,
    Hauns is gonna be big for us the rest of the season, I just know it.

  11. hauns has arrived.
    i liked that five of miah, zane, hauns, joston and vander on the floor together. a lot of firepower, scrappy defense, mismatch nightmares.

    one day when miah starts stroking from outside like he did in hs, this team will hold its own. the excitement is back in the gym..

    we saw shaq be involved with his team tonight. our bench looks great with shaq, davis, wiseman, miles, jefferson, et al.

  12. when does tavita get out of the blocks?

  13. Tavita would have been back already for the second semester but is sitting out the entire season this year so he can play a full season next year.

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