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Warriors rally past UC Davis

Sixteen days and two road losses after its last home game, the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team returned to the Stan Sheriff Center Sunday night with a new-look lineup and — most importantly — a new result.

The Rainbow Warriors rallied past UC Davis, 74-61, to improve to 3-4 after recent losses at Pepperdine and Pacific. The Aggies fell to 1-8.

UH coach Gib Arnold unveiled a surprising starting lineup that included senior point guard Miah Ostrowski, who just re-joined the team on Tuesday after spending the past four months as a starting receiver in football. The lineup also did not include leading scorer Zane Johnson or leading rebounder Vander Joaquim.

But the early platoon system and different lineup combinations paid dividends, especially in the game’s final eight minutes which included a 14-0 run that turned a 56-51 deficit into a 65-56 lead.

“I like the energy we had, especially in the second half, so this might be something we continue,” Arnold said after the game. “Competition is the most important thing — if we can go out there and compete, we’ll always get a chance to win.”

UC Davis led 56-51 after Eddie Miller’s 3-pointer with 9:53 remaining, but Bobby Miles’ layup at the 8-minute mark started UH on a 14-0 run capped by Joaquim’s jumper with 3:40 on the clock to put the Warriors ahead, 65-56. Harrison Dupont finally broke the string with a jumper 10 seconds later, but Trevor Wiseman answered with a layup at 3:09 to start a 5-0 spurt that made it 70-58 after two free throws by Johnson with 1:04 left.

“It started with defense, I think (the Aggies) went nine straight times without a basket, and in their last 15 possessions, they only scored twice,” Arnold said. “They shot 45 percent in the first half, but only 25 percent in the second half. That led to long rebounds, which led us to getting out and running the break.”

UC Davis had led, 39-34, at halftime after draining 6 of 13 shots (46.2 percent) from 3-point range. Ironically, Arnold said it was a switch to a 2-3 zone in the second half that helped change that stat to 4 of 17 (23.5 percent) in the final 20 minutes.

“We manned them the entire first half and they made 6 of 13, so I figured it couldn’t get any worse,” Arnold said. “A lot of teams that shoot well don’t see a lot of zone, and they had good movement against our man. Against the zone, I think they got a little more stagnant.”

Arnold said it was stagnant play in practice this week that prompted his lineup changes.

“I thought in practice, we were still going through the motions, so I wanted a clean slate,” Arnold said. “I wanted to start the five players who were playing the hardest. Starting is not that big a deal to me but it is for the players, so I told them if you want to start, you’ve got to play harder than the other group. These guys (who started) did a really good job.”

Ostrowski needed only 49 seconds to make an impact, delivering a nifty assist to center Davis Rozitis for a layup and 2-0 lead. He made another crisp assist to Trevor Wiseman at the 17:04 mark and finished the game with eight assists, two points and one steal in 24 minutes.

“It feels good, I’m excited to be back with the boys,” said Ostrowski, who is playing despite a broken rib that he describes as “minor.” “That’s just my role, to distribute the ball before scoring, if I score at all. Once I get the outlet, I’ll run and the guys did a great job finishing.”

Arnold substituted all five players at the 16:51 mark and rotated the lineup freely throughout the game.

Johnson finished with a game-high 19 points in just 30 minutes, and Joaquim added 16 points and a game-high 15 rebounds in 29 minutes.

“We lessened their minutes, usually Zane will get about 37 and Vander 36, but I think it helped because we had livelier legs at the end,” Arnold said. “It doesn’t matter who starts, I just want everyone to just give their all during the time they’re in there. If you are a selfless player, then all you care about is winning, and those are the kind of guys I want to coach.”

Tyler Les led the Aggies with 14 points, Miller added 13 points and contributed 12 points.

Hawaii’s next game is scheduled for Friday, December 16, on the Big Island. The Warriors will play Hawaii-Hilo at Kona.

More details, including video highlights and interviews, will be posted later.

(Photos courtesy Brandon Flores)

9 Comments

  1. gib you bench stokes and he’ll be gone..watch out!!

  2. You really have no clue do you? This isn’t youth basketball where everyone has to play equal minutes to keep the parents happy. You play the most productive players, those that bring cohesiveness to the team. Yes, his minutes are going to diminish with the addition of Miah.That’s a given. He’s a freshman. He’s still learning, and he probably already learned a tremendous amount from Miah in the short time he’s been back, but they are two different types of point guards.I’m positive Stokes will get his PT as he develops his game at the D1 level. But if someone (especially a freshman)did become unhappy because of PT and transferred, then he wasn’t a good team player in the first place and I’d wish him well. But I’m sure Stokes will learn alot with Miah being there this year, and he still has three more years after this to run the point/2 guard for this team.

  3. um…i do

  4. The kid will have a lot of minutes this season both at the one and two guard.

  5. Thank goodness for Miah tonight.. Without him, I don’t even want to think about the outcome.. It’ll take him a few weeks to get into game shape, but I do like our chances with him around.. If nothing else, maybe his unselfish play will rub off on Little Shaq..

  6. shaq’s a team guy and will buy in to what gibber is doing.

    it’s gonna take time to build this team

  7. hawaiifan09, you really post a lot of ignorant, baseless comments. “Um..I do” ..really? For once why not back your comments up with something substantiated rather than your “couch coach” whims?

  8. Points …

    Hopefully, Miah’s Three Returns this year … he is capable of hitting a really quick and deadly three & being No. 2 to Zane …

    [RE: Threes: C’mon Hauns and Shaq — Light it Up ! Too]

    i expect Shaq will be a Quick Learner … Miah understands and instinctively uses angles and vectors — an instinctive player that Shaq also has and is developing …

    Nice to see Bobby Miles blasting past his detractors’ limitations, and coming up with back-to-back game-turning steals and breakaways …

  9. As a team they all played well. Yes there is always room for improvement that is a constant but the team is improving and I agree it will take some time but they are getting there good job to both players and coaches

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