Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

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).


  1. Airon: Aaron Valdes Hi Flyin, phi slamma jamma, going to rock that SSC!! Just get everthing in order..Going be exciting season, Aussie Mum, Tonganator, Memphis, Zagreb Crew, Kapalama Heights Kamehameha Schools, and Angola, to Canada and all points in between..Exciting UH MBB on the way, taking the BWC by storm!!

  2. Heck, Oahu, spread the aloha, UH MBB team has some offensive talent. you are right, Gib has to coach em up,bond them as a team, and Gib control your T emotions as well as team’s you guys will do well!! Can’t wait for Gib’s Big Year 3…Hey Gib, let Fish and Benjy help coach and support too, great team work..Gib you done good this year recruiting good kids, Kudos to you and your loving support of your wife and kids..!!

  3. best vid yet…vander makes dressler really look like a freshman redshirt candidate….bunch of offense but hopefully we see some D….garrett still seems to be the most athletic

  4. Manroop: Work with doctor and trainers, Get stronger, rehab longer, tape up well, and make sure your shoes are the proper ones.Practice gyms notorious for being wet and have wet spots, the whole MBB team be careful so don’t get, ankle sprains, knee sprains, ligament damage, achilles tears, or hamstring injuries..hey you guys have hopefully 15 live good student athletes available this year..POTENTIAL : skie the limit!! Stay Healthy guys, MBB fans, from Kaimuki to Anogola anxiously await even HPU exhibition game on Nov 2 2012..very soon, regular season practices start in OCT. going be exciting!!

  5. GOOD that they enjoy each other’s playin’ or intensity…
    And that our candidates for “Mr. Intensity” aren’t killing each other …
    Just about eight weeks to first exhibition (HPU) and exactly two months ’til it counts…

    Too Bad NCAA doesn’t allow more or less ‘continuous’ leagues like summer/fall/ spring leagues similar to baseball…

    Appreciate the Highlights, Dayton
    Thanks for ID’ing the names and making better use of all our time…

    The skill (as always) will be coaches helping to build team context around these available skills;
    And for each player to weave his skills into the flow and context of the team’s schemes in the game,
    Especially with so many “new” and young players …

    In Hindsight, it seems smart that NCAA/coaches agreed to allow small goup work (such as in skill groups up to four) to build inventory of needed individual skills leading into full team practices…

  6. Appreciate all of the hard work editing these open gym highlights and interviews. We’re getting such great coverage in September.

    I noticed that Vander is moving as swiftly as ever. Glad that the guys are going hard even in open gym. Can’t wait for the season to start.

  7. Dayton,

    thanks for the interviews and open gym hilites. I just can’t get enough of UH bb this season with all the new players.

    Keep it coming

  8. OK Roop, you got a chronic ankle, heal it good, see your trainers regularly for rehab and then strengthen it with sessions in weight room, and wear ankle braces from now on since there are no trainers to tape all you guys up during open gym , all your team mates should be wearing strap on braces as well, easy to put on and help prevent further incidents.

  9. I was just wondering if you practice any defensive sets that were used last year? I know that it is open gym and there are no coaches around but I know you want to win when the season rolls around! Have fun but if the Seniors want to win they need to be ahead of the game… look over your play books from last year and own the plays with whom ever is on the court. THE OFFENSIVE TALENT LOOKS AWESOME!!! P.S. MISSING FREE THROWS cost the team more than a couple games last year

  10. GREAT Point Rob …
    Woulda thought they already started, BUT IF NOT

    DO The Drills
    Practice the Defenses
    Esp. handling MAN Pressure and The Press
    GET PAST The Leg Burn…

    Seniors, Captains (maybe already doing)

  11. Awesome highlights Dayton, and nice concept on the Q&A … enlightening and funny. The collective depth on this team is so much better than Gib’s first two years. How he manages that, and how the chemistry develops will be key to the team’s success. Should be fun.

  12. They all spoke very well, their mother’s should be proud of them!!!


  13. Davis dunking’, Garrett working on his shot, Vander actually passing out of the post, Hauns looking more comfortable with his offense. In addition to stupid range with ozzie’s shooting, Aaron’s athleticism, Fotu’s post game, etc… the team is looking good. I need to get my season tickets. Couple things though, I know it’s open gym, but can some defense be played? I know people don’t like seeing D highlights, but Jefferson’s dunk and Aaron’s steal are the only D highlights of any significance. Kind of concerned with some of the highlights. I’m not seeing rotations, picking up charges, there is abunch of lazy matador defense being played and no boxing out. Hopefully, it’s because it is just open gym.

    Lastly, Dayton, do you have extra help? If so can someone take stats during open gym? There is an app called Statware that works very well. I’ve used it myself. Keep up the good work Dayton and keep on keeping on UH Warrior Basketball!!!

  14. I love the fact that this team is a family and that they seem to really care about one another!

  15. Agree with all above posts, UH MBB team , Dayton does a great job with video coverage, we know these videos are being seen worldwide!!! All players , 16 of them , have some type of offensive game..really great to see!

    The closest to D was Caleb trying to draw charge on Fotu(young guy has courage), this latest video, Isaac gets ball and goes coast to coast, Dressler stands guarding basket to take charge, Isaac crossover left, and layin…I think , IMO, for OPEN GYM, guys don’t want to get hurt, mostly working on shooting, etc. highly competitive though

    Wait until practice starts OCT, then Gib and staff will implement D. And with Gib, we know already, if you don’t play D for 4 or 40 minutes, you will sit, starter or not..NOW Gib has luxury of guys who will have to play defense , however positions 1 through 5 have offensive skills, something lacking last year.!! KEY to any really good team, GREAT DEFENSIVE TEAM. TAKE CARE OF BALL, SHOOT FT’s WELL, and close out games. This team has Real Potential, and , as stated, they really seem like OHANA.!!

  16. Shout out to young man Caleb Dressler. Been watching him guard Vander one on one. Caleb young guy at about 6’10” 250-255 lbs. He will get really physical with Vander. Caleb will not back down, even if Vander scores . Give credit to you Caleb! Will only help Van get better, and in the crunch, when 2 or 3 bigs are in foul trouble, Caleb might be the Big to finish a first or second half to secure win. Caleb very competitive young guy! Appreciate his effort! Young freshman will only get better with time!!

  17. Looking good. The coaching staff need to develop Fotu’s left hand moves and Dressler’s right hand moves. The both look like they will be good players.

    Orzen has ridiculous shooting range and Valdes is very athletic. Based on what I’ve seen, this is the best physical talent UH has had in a very long time. It’s probably the biggest team UH has ever had (Vander – 6’11”; Rozitis 7′; Dressler 6’10”; Fotu 6’9″‘ Standhardinger 6’8″; Orzen 6’8″) What’s really nice is that we don’t have any slow plodders. They all have good mobility.

    Athletically, UH is much better this year. The only bad part having a great recruiting class is that Gib has to figure out the lineups and playing time (which is always a touchy subject). But that’s a good problem to have.

    I’d much rather have too much talent fighting for minutes that not having enough talent to where you’re pigeon holed to a short rotation.

  18. Dressler as. Freshman is probably ahead of where Vander was when he arrived as a sophomore in terms of skills, hooting, footwork — of course two short years ago many thought Vander was a Project…then the shooting began to complement the rebounding, then control of the and he became.a 36+ minute player…

    Dressler ‘should’ improve fast facing Vander, Rozitis and Fotu daily…

    Rozitis should also feel the push to elevate from the freshmen…


    Michael Harper is starting to look like a steady harassing guard —
    good size @ 6-4 with team’s top measured speed/quickness helps…

    Valdes, Jefferson, Spearman, Harper, Tavita & Jawato, even Oz with Size and Quickness could slow down a lot of up-shots, need to become more effective at blunting passes, and cutting off drives…

    IF their opposing guard slows down or gives space on defense, All can burn with their jumpers…
    Most already displaying improved drives to the basket to force ‘honest’ defense

    SO OTHER Than the Long-Standing ‘Elite’ Point Guard Concern…

    GIB MIGHT Have Enough Size, Quickness and Depth to Reverse/Turn the Tables on Most Big West Teams so that Guard Play is NOT Their Advantage… ?WIN? at three, four of court positions? Maybe…

    GOOD TO Have Skills, Size and Depth to make Defensive/Offensive Schemes and Execution a Decent Possibility…

    They look like they can do what the coaches ask them to…

  19. Matt:

    Agree with your take on Caleb and Fotu, Isaac strong to his right, Caleb deceptive left hand, Vander , at this stage can over top, up and under and right or left. If two young Bigs develop both going right and left, though, Isaac pretty athletic, however, teams will catch on in BWC, if he goes right all the time, though his spin moves are so quick, they could play his right hand move and draw charges.

    I think Coach Fisher will coach up the Bigs in that regard.What a luxury, Vander, Davis, Christian,Ozren a tall shooting guard/SF, Isaac, Caleb, all have a dimension to offensive game, Never has a UH team, in my memory have guys 6’8″ to 7’0″ have these skills and they look for each other. Love the pick and rolls, and kick out to shooters. nice inside pass to cutters to rim,.that is a good thing, if doing now in OPEN gym, in real game big time advantage.Hope the best for this year , sure OPEN gym, is open gym,..however team work hard with coaches what..POTENTIAL!!

  20. Excellent video Dayton, I hope in the next installment you ask Ozi and Michael questions <3

  21. Dayton:

    Great to see Aussie Mum and Jessica, followers of MBB too! A very exciting and loyal demographic.. Great appeal of guys on this year’s team, a real cosmopolitan team makeup.! Good students, players and athletes..

    Would be nice to see 1000 or more student fan section at SSC rocking the house and helping Ozi, Michael, Manroop, Isaac, Caleb, Dyrbe, Brandon J. and Aaron V. doing well with upper classmen leading the way! This is where Gib and staff have to get out to dorms, have pep rallies, emails, interviews, pizza contests, UH pep band, local UH alum entertaiment step up, to drum up support for UH students to come to games at SSC…For the students who dorm, the SSC is a few minutes away..make sure Security is spot on for all the kids so that they are safe from SSC to dorm and back!!

    Reminds one of Fabulous Five 1971-1972 when they were on a tear, and pep rallies, interviews, man , woman on the street knew them by face and hair(fros)..

    Great question Jessica, See how guys, especially freshman are doing as weeks go by, they are , some of them, a long way from home and appreciate your and all UH fans care for them I am sure!! Would be neat to interview Manroop too, see how he is doing rehabbing and training, he and all of the guys , are not slackers, even in open gym , they want to WIN..!!

  22. A Manroop interview would be nice although he may be a bit timid/shy I thinks. Think Manroop and Enos are the only 2 newbies that haven’t spoken in front of the camera. Of course I don’t want to make these 2 uncomfortable but we fans would want to hear their take too if they’re willing.

  23. got to get manroop and enos out of their shells. Maybe Rozitis can get their interviews

  24. Aloha, kiaora, malo e lelei.

    Awesome work again Dayton in updating on progress. Kiaora Aussie mum.Team looking good, and always looking forward to reading comments from fans. I can only image what it would be like come show time!!! Can’t wait. Bring it on!!!

    Mahalo, Ka kite ano

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