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UPDATED: Warriors open WAC with 82-69 win over Spartans

It’s a Happy New Year, indeed, for the Hawai’i men’s basketball team.

After starting the 2011 Western Athletic Conference season at 0-5, the Warriors are 1-0 in 2012 as Joston Thomas scored a career-high 27 points and grabbed eight rebounds and Vander Joaquim added 20 points and 14 boards Saturday night to help the Warriors hold off San Jose State, 82-69.

A crowd of 6,458 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Hawai’i improve to 9-6 overall, while the Spartans fell to 6-9. It is also the first time since the 2005-06 season that the Warriors won their WAC opener. Last season, the Warriors opened the WAC season 0-5, but finished 8-8 in the conference.

“It took us six times to get a WAC victory last year, so it’s good to get this one out of the way early,” Warriors coach Gib Arnold said. “I’m pleased with the overall showing of our basketball team, we played great in spurts.”

UH led from wire-to-wire, going up by as much as 36-17 after Shaquille Stokes’ 3-pointer 12 minutes into the first half and 51-31 two minutes into the second.

“It was nice to start out fast, because we’re accustomed to starting out slow,” said Thomas, who had 11 points and four rebounds by halftime. “Our first conference game– what better time? Hopefully, it’s something we continue.”

San Jose State woke up with an 18-4 run that closed it to 55-49 after Calvin Douglas’ 3-pointer with 11:37 remaining, but that was as close as they would get as the Warriors pushed the lead back up to 13 several times, including at the end on Thomas’ slam dunk with five seconds left.

Spartans guards James Kinney and Keith Shamburger entered the game averaging 16.7 and 15.4 points per game, respectively, but combined for only two points on 1-for-8 shooting in the first half.

Hawai’i guards Miah Ostrowski and Hauns Brereton started the defensive pressure on Shamburger and Kinney, and reserves Garrett Jefferson, Bobby Miles and Shaquille Stokes also contributed.

“We started out with a triangle-and-2, and then when they brought Douglas in, he’s a higher-percentage shooter and it’s hard to get out on the 3 in a triangle so we went with everybody else in man and two guys in a ‘Lock 2,’ which is basically face-guarding,” Arnold said. “Put your forehead on his numbers, that’s what we call it. And then we turned them down on all the screens so that there’s help, and if they do get inside, they’re facing Vander and Joston.”

Kinney finished with 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting, while Shamburger finshed with just six points on 1-of-6 shooting.

Joaquim, who played only four minutes in the first half last week against No. 19-ranked UNLV after being saddled with three early fouls, had 13 points and six boards by halftime Saturday night with no fouls.

“I was surprised I had no fouls,” Joaquim said. “That’s great.”

Hawai’i point guard Ostrowski had a game-high seven assists. Sophomore forward Trevor Wiseman, who did not start for the first time this season, added seven points. Jefferson also scored seven, and grabbed five rebounds.

Wil Carter, a 6-foot-8 forward, led San Jose State with a career-high 21 points and 20 rebounds. Hawai’i out-rebounded the Spartans 44-39, meaning Carter grabbed more than half of his team’s total rebounds.

“He got a lot of those points from the foul line, but he did a monster job,” Arnold said. “They got 20 offensive rebounds, and that’s something I’m not pleased about and it’s something we gotta work on. It seemed like every time I looked up, Carter got an offensive rebound and we fouled him.”

Thomas said Carter’s statistics are not as important as the bottom line.

“They’re a good ball club and (Carter) got his 21 and 20, but at the end of the day, we got the ‘W,’ ” Thomas said.

Douglas added 12 points and Kinney finished with 11 points, though he did not score his first basket until draining a 3-pointer five minutes into the second half. Shamburger ended up with just six points on 1-for-6 shooting.

“We had a good defensive game plan and held the third and fourth-leading scorers in our conference 15 points underneath their average,” Arnold said. “I thought we were frustrating them, we did things different on defense and when they missed, that led us out to baskets early.”

San Jose State head coach George Nessman said: “Frankly, I was disappointed with the way we started both halves. We started out poorly in both halves and they were very good. Hawaii defended us very well. It’s hard for us to win when we don’t make more than four 3-pointers.”

Hawai’i senior guard Zane Johnson scored nine points on three 3-pointers, despite playing with an injury to his ribs. He started and played 34 minutes.

Sophomore forward Trevor Wiseman did not start for the first time this season and finished with seven points and two rebounds.

Hawai’i hits the WAC road this coming week with games at Fresno State on Thursday and Nevada on Saturday.

(Photos courtesy Brandon Flores)

14 Comments

  1. Again GREAT TEAM effort an Win!…gonna have a handful in Neveda…keep practicing hard an Good Luck Warriors!..Thanx for the great coverage..

  2. It was only a matter of time Joston Thomas would showcase that he is the X factor for this team!

  3. Keep it coming Warriors! Love Gib’s approach on defense. This year’s team is better than last in transition, turfed endive stops and turnSaw some nice extra passes to find the open shooters.

  4. LOL whoa.. what happened to my last post. Was going to say that this year the defensive stops and turnovers are finally starting to turn into some points. Inbounds plays are looking good. A few minor hiccups here and there, but nothing that can’t be fixed. I don’t know about everyone else, but I’m starting to see more and more old friends coming out to the games these days. 😀 The word is getting out on this team’s potential!

  5. Gib has got this team humming.

  6. what i like about this team is that we have had different high scorers step up each night. last night it was all about the inside guys getting their due. i think gib knew that we had an inside advantage with vander. this was good timing as zane was not at 100%. and i liked how our D kept their guards under control. they were the threat that i was worried about, but it seems like shamburger was a little off last night. he didn’t seem all there mentally and was always sulking on the bench and even on the court. and did anyone see that almost scuffle between 21 and 33 (i think) in the handshake line after the game? they were really upset at each other for some reason.
    anyways, hope they can keep up this momentum on the road. that’ll be the true test to see whether or not this team has matured and come together since the first cali road trip. fresno is never easy to win at. and reno, well, they don’t like us either.
    Go Warriors!!

  7. A great win. The team played with a lot of confidence. Fo’ real………….Coach got them buying in.
    Go Warriors!

  8. This is the Vander and Joston I was expecting at the beginning of the season, good job guys!

  9. I’m impressed with Joston Thomas. Wow I saw him fake the open 3 shot, dribble in closer, and bang the two. I was like I can’t believe I saw that. I think Joston is finally realizing that his turf is ALL inside the 3 line. Many players his size have made careers doing just that. And when I see him catch the ball inside 10 feet I’m thinking that the ball is going in and it usually does. I think the more he keeps himself under control and play where he has the green light, the skies the limit. Who knows maybe next year if he develops his 3 point shooting he might put that in his arsenal too. But he’s got a lot going for him as it is, and no better time to put it all together in WAC play.
    Now on the road. If we use 10 player rotation and keep all the legs fresh we should be there at the end. Hope everyone brings everything they got because we will need it against Fresno and Nevada. Good luck guys. Make Hawaii proud.

  10. Yo a shout out to Hauns’ D! I see ya broski. Keep up the work. Shuttin folks down like nothin. And great win, I thought it seemed a lil selfish ball was being played but I guess that happens when you play teams not as good as the teams they’ve been playing. Hopefully they remember it takes a team effort to beat other great teams.

  11. I like it! We handled a team we are suppose to handle. Vander and Joston are now imposing their will on defenses and most teams can’t handle it. I think Gib is doing a great job of trying to make the offense more inside-out. Opposing defenses have been keying on Zane, and he’s had far fewer open shot attempts than last season, but that has opened up the inside for V&J. UH may actually have the best front-court in the WAC.

    What I really like about UH this year is that they now have the ability to shut down the top scorer from the other team. Garrett Jefferson is a tremendous athlete and can lock down 1 on 1. He’s going to be a key player in conference play.

    My only worry about the team is Shaq Stokes. Miah is getting the minutes because he takes care of the ball. I just hope he doesn’t transfer out because of lack of minutes. Stokes is the future of UH basketball. He’s a natural born scorer with elite quickness and is awesome in transition. I just hope he understands his role on the team right now… play hard and add a spark when he gets his minutes.

    My prediction for WAC schedule: I think UH goes 9-5 in conference play. Utah St might beat us twice, but I think UH splits vs New Mex St & Nevada. Add in one unexpected loss and you wind up with 5 losses. Overall, I think UH has a shot at winning the WAC tournament. If V&J keep playing at a high level, UH takes care of the ball and Zane/Hans can hit the open 3’s, they can beat anybody in the WAC.

  12. WIth Orel Lev in for spring will he be able to practice? I hope we get a meet orel Lev video soon.

  13. youtube got a highlight video…well kinda…of Orel Lev….search his name you should find it…kinda looks like a very young Manu Ginobli…..VERY VERY YOUNG….lol

  14. yep i just checked an its still there…

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