Finding out a little more about open gym
Aaron Valdes has apparently made a good first impression with the Hawai’i basketball team.
The 6-foot-5 freshman was a late addition to the roster – enrolling in classes a week after the semester started – and thus was the last player to join the fun in open gym sessions.
But seniors Hauns Brereton and Jace Tavita agreed that Valdes has been the most surprising player in open gym during these first few weeks of the semester.
“We heard he was athletic, but we hadn’t seen anything live until he came,” Tavita said. “He’s had some major putback dunks that have really shocked me.”
Brereton added: “He went up and grabbed one at the top of the square (on the backboard) and threw it down the other day. That was a nice one.”
Juniors Brandon Spearman and Keith Shamburger also cited Valdes when they were asked who the most surprising player has been so far in open gym. Shamburger also mentioned Spearman and Isaac Fotu.
When asked who their top pick would be if there were an open gym draft, Tavita and Shamburger both said junior forward Christian Standhardinger.
“He plays so hard; he’s relentless,” Shamburger said. “No matter what you try to do to stop him, he’s going to keep on going. He’s going to keep getting rebounds for you, he’s going to play as hard as he can, no matter if he makes his shots or not. He’s going to do whatever he can do to win.”
Brereton said his top pick would be junior guard Garrett Jefferson. “He creates some type of defensive distraction, and helps us get it up the court to run more,” Brereton said.
Standhardinger ‘s competitiveness can also be a source of “discussion.” The open gym scrimmages are often stopped while players argue a foul call, or an out-of-bounds situation, or the score, and Standhardinger and senior center Vander Joaquim are apparently the primary culprits.
“They’re going at it all the time and everything’s a foul,” Brereton said.
Tavita added: “Whatever team Vander is on, he’ll call fouls for his teammates and they won’t even say it’s a foul.”
However, the disputes are usually resolved quickly, and the players said it never carries off the court.
“On the court everyone is competitive and feisty, but when we step off the court, everyone is family and friends, so it’s good,” Tavita said. “We just like to keep it competitive, that’s the biggest thing.”
In any case, the Warriors said they are ready to go against players other than themselves.
“We’ve been talking about that,” Tavita said. “We can’t wait to get a team in here. November 9 is our first game and we can’t wait. We’re hungry. We’re sick of fouling and fighting with each other.”
It should be noted that freshman guard Manroop Clair re-injured his ankle during a recent open gym session, so his highlights are limited (and he’ll likely have to miss some gym time again to recover).