Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors host Wolf Pack in WAC showdown on Thursday

With one man down, the Hawai’i basketball team will have to collectively man up when it hosts first-place Nevada in a Western Athletic Conference showdown on Thursday.

The game is scheduled to start at 7:05 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The Warriors are 13-9 overall and in third place in the WAC at 5-3. The Wolf Pack is 19-4 overall and alone in first place at 8-1. A Hawai’i victory will keep the Warriors in the race for a regular-season championship heading into the stretch run of the WAC schedule.

“I think it’s going to be a great game,” Hawai’i head coach Gib Arnold said. “These guys can really play. I really believe they’re a Top 25 team. We were able to play a couple this year in Gonzaga and Xavier and I think they’re every bit as good as those two teams. if not better. They have great athleticism and great talent and they’re playing well.”

Nevada defeated the Warriors, 77-74, on January 14 in Reno, Nev. Hawai’i had a seven-point lead with less than five minutes remaining in that game, but the Wolf Pack finished with a 14-4 run.

“We’re confident, but we’re not overconfident,” senior guard Zane Johnson said. “We lost to them and felt like we gave it away. But they’re a great team. Credit to them for coming back and fighting through and getting the victory for themselves, but we think we know what we have to do this time around and hopefully it’s enough to get the victory.”

Nevada has been the most consistent team in the WAC this season, and it’s no coincidence that the Wolf Pack has used the same starting lineup in every game: Deonte Burton at point guard, Malik Story and Jerry Evans Jr. on the wings, Olek Czyz at forward, and Dario Hunt at center.

Those five players account for 83 percent of the team’s scoring, 69 percent of the rebounds, and 77 percent of the assists.

“You know who’s coming off the picks, you know who they’re trying to get it to, you know how they’re going to get it to them,” Arnold said of the Wolf Pack. “But you still have to stop them because they’re outstanding basketball players.”

Burton, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, is a leading candidate for WAC Player of the Year, and is averaging 15.5 points and 4.4 assists per game. Story is contributing 14.4 points per game and is one of the WAC’s top shooters with 65 3-pointers and a .461 percentage from beyond the arc.

The Warriors have their own sharpshooter in Johnson, who leads the team with 15.7 points per game and 67 3-pointers.

In the loss at Nevada, junior center Vander Joaquim led Hawaii with 22 points, seven rebounds and seven blocked shots. Junior forward Joston Thomas added 21 points.

For the season, Joaquim is averaging 14.3 points and 9.9 rebounds per game, and Thomas is contributing 14.0 points and 6.1 rebounds per game.

Nevada head coach David Carter said Joaquim is a concern for the Wolf Pack. “Oh yeah, because he’s patient with the ball, he’s big, he positions himself very well. He doesn’t necessarily need an angle to score – he can shoot over both shoulders and he can shoot from the elbow. I think he’s one of the best offensive players, big guys, in the conference.”

While Nevada has used the same starting lineup in every game, Hawai’i has been mixing and matching all season. The rotation will be shuffled again on Thursday, as sophomore Trevor Wiseman will be unavailable.

Wiseman is on an indefinite suspension and will not be with the team on Thursday. The 6-7 forward had seven points and three rebounds in the loss at Nevada.

In Wiseman’s absence, 7-foot sophomore Davis Rozitis will play a key role as the back-up for both Joaquim and Thomas.

“We’ve had a week to prepare for it and the guys are fine with it,” Arnold said. “And Davis has played enough … where I think he’ll be fine.”

Rozitis said of his role: “It’s going to take unbelievable effort and willingness to go the extra mile.”

The Warriors are also looking for help from a “sixth man” – the crowd at the Stan Sheriff Center. The game is a “Blackout,” so all fans are encouraged to wear black.

“I can tell that there’s a nice vibe in the air about it,” Arnold said. “And it should be. It’s going to be a heck of a college game and I think it will be a great experience for anybody showing up. I hope we get this place rocking.”


When: Thursday, February 9, 7 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu
Tickets: $26 lower level; $18 upper level adults, $16 upper level senior citizens, $5 upper level students. Parking is $5.
TV: Live on OCSports (channel 12 or 1012)
Radio: Live on ESPN 1420 AM
Internet: Live video streaming available on www.ocsports.tv
Blackout: All fans are encouraged to wear black

(WarriorInsider.com file photos courtesy Brandon Flores)


  1. Game day is finally here! And I am PUMPED for tonight and can’t wait to get the arena!

    Come on, team! Win this game and create some momentum to sweep the homestand and then go on a 3-game road tear!



  3. in a big game like this down one man…if stokes doesn’t play his future looks slim

  4. Stokes will play and will step it up tonight, as will everyone else

  5. I don’t see the need to bring Shaq in that much this game. Gid said he’ll bring in Davis more to play the 4 position. With no Trevor, besides Davis, we’ll see more PT for guys like Hauns and Garett. We will need more of the defensive guys tonight. Shaq will get him time, but with Miah here there is little need to bring him in this season for any significant PT.

    Unless we think Shaq is a better defender than Bobby. ?

  6. Okay guys, show your stuff tonite and execute, execute, execute. As Coach says, know your roles. If everyone contributes and focus on protecting the house…..we’ll be alright.

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