Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warrior freshmen getting adjusted

Head coach Gib Arnold has already made it known that the freshmen on the Hawai’i basketball team will have to grow and learn quickly for the Warriors to be successful this season.

The Warriors have eight freshmen on the roster this season, including seven true freshmen. The past week of official practices have been an eye-opening introduction to NCAA Division I basketball for them.

“They’ve been hard for my legs and my body, but I’m getting used to it,” said Ozren Pavlovic, a true freshman from Croatia. “The game is more physical here, so it’s harder. The practices are longer and we do a lot of defense. Back home we did a lot of offense.”

Fellow true freshman Manroop Clair has described the UH practices as having “way more intensity” than what he experienced in high school and prep school.

As if the grueling practices are not enough, the freshmen are also adjusting to life as college students. A typical day might include weightlifting/conditioning in the early morning, classes later in the morning and early afternoon, practice in the late afternoon, then study hall sessions in the evening.

“That’s Division I basketball,” Pavlovic said. “Free time, I don’t have it … it’s not easy, but if you love it, you can do it.”

One freshman who already knows what it’s like is Brandon Jawato. He used a redshirt year last season, and he said it did wonders for him both on and off the court.

“It actually made a great impact taking a year off,” he said. “Coming out of high school, I dropped a lot of weight and I was able to learn all the new defenses and all the new offenses, which helped me this season so far.”

Jawato said he has been trying to help the other freshmen as much as possible during practice drills. “If everybody knows what to do on the court, it’s going to be better for the entire team,” he said. “That’s what I’m here for, to help the younger guys and learn from the older guys.”

Besides Clair, Pavlovic and Jawato, the other freshmen are Caleb Dressler, Dyrbe Enos, Isaac Fotu, Michael Harper and Aaron Valdes.

Arnold said there likely will be a freshman or two that will redshirt this season, although he has not made that decision yet.


  1. ozi speaks for most foreign players and scares me….”more physical and gotta learn to play D”

  2. no surprise if any of the freshman redshirts

  3. Dayton,

    thanks for the interviews and read what the new incoming true Frosh have to go thru their 1st year here. Guess the practices is now open to the media so we can’t wait for some video of it.

  4. Hawai’i’s Defense has been among the Conference Leaders and kept them in games Gib’s first two seasons against teams with superior basketball talent…. Very Few players come in already playing defense to that level of physicality and intensity (maybe Garrett Jefferson who was one of the few new players who could ‘quickly’ match the returnees)…

    They worked their legs in weight/quickness training and on the beach for months to develop the muscles/ligaments/tendons
    that can support this level of intensity and physicality, ideally without injury; but the legs still burn, the weight still melts and drains away unless you work real hard to maintain your body weight & tone….

    The freshmen are meeting and working their way up to a new level of defensive intensity; as well as new offenses, schemes, team moves & timing; they’ll get there, the same as they all elevated themselves to the tops of their teams and leagues in their previous stops/homes….just a matter of how fast they can learn; they’ve already displayed good Team Attitudes and they know this, Team Defense and Offensive Schemes, are among the things they must do well enough to get onto and stay on the court longer. Eventually they’ll also get a feel for how much of a difference it makes versus the opposition, and with respect to winning…. unfortunately some of that probably will have to be learned in losses to ‘better prepared’ teams unless they can work hard enough and learn it well enough in practice and the earlier games.

  5. Having the freshmen adjust to D1 practices/lifestyle are certainly a priority at this stage. The guys have to get used to grueling practices, practicing defense, and taking college-level classes. It looks like the redshirt season really helped Brandon Jawato. He did look quick in open gym highlights during the off-season and apparently made an impact in practices last season.

  6. Good Interview @ Court Sense:
    Davis impressed with Ozi, Manroop & Isaac;

    For Ozi, i think physicality is a ‘choice’, that they don’t necessarily make in Europe, Refs would call them on it;
    Watched Wahine Soccer last night; Pacific’s “physicality” would be illegal blocking to the back, cut tackles and holding (grabbing/pulling jerseys), even in the NFL (just that they’re 90-130 pounds versus 190/220-330). Ozi displayed tough interior defense/harassment even when he showed up early in Open Gym videos….so much of the schemes are familiar to him OR he just picks it up fast — the type of person that understands what he’s doing the second or third time he does it, then quickly “Masters” the skill; his English And Basketball Language seem to be picking up quickly as well, an indication that he can combine concepts and maybe process/integrate or even create new concepts, combinations.

    IF they hit their shots (highly likely by Game 3) any of the Top 3 Freshmen may crack The Top 7 or 8…

    School might take a full semester to get familiar with the cycle/process…

  7. Eagle and hawaiifan,

    Yes agree Ozi recognizes the physical nature of USA BB. And if you note interview, quite clear, you can hear Dayton asking “do you Love it”? referring to what has to be done at NCAA D1 level, i.e. Defense, and getting physical,,.balancing school , practice, weights, etc…He says in effect: “Yes!” I thought that was good sign..he must be one of the freshman, who is willing to work very, very hard at it as a warrior.

    I think we shall see in next week who really is stepping up! Credit to guys from Canada, Croatia, Australia, Honolulu, California, Washington and New Zealand….for working hard…buying in..

    Isaac, had shoulder injury during summer league?..he is tough guy, very physcial,,he is going to be good, Michael H. hard working , good athlete, he working it, and Dyrbe with personal trainer this past summer, he working it too, I am sure AV and Caleb, Manroop, know it is tough , however, want to get better..

    All I can say, is good job guys, keep on working hard and doing well in classroom!
    Really appreciate your families too!!
    Mahalo MBB team!!

  8. The success of this year’s team will be based on the play of our guards, in particularly ball handling, outside shooting, and on ball defense. Thus, the key players are Jefferson, Spearmon, Tavita, and Clair in no particular order, but somebody will step up, maybe a couple. Jefferson and Tavita stronger on defense. Spearmon and Clair stronger on offense. So it might come down on who does better in running the floor, assists, cutting down the turnovers and free throw shooting. In other words, the steadiest.

  9. To all the Freshmen – Keep working hard guys and it will pay off.
    It’s also good to see two future Hawaii’i MBB players in the background training hard.
    Go Warriors!

    Thanks to Dayton also for all your hard work

  10. And let me not forget Brandon Jawato. He said the redshirt year really helps him to get stronger and understand the program and the offense. He might be the x-factor.

  11. Can’t wait for this season to start!!! UH will have some growing pains with all the freshmen, but that’s how it goes.

    I think the UH being picked in the middle of the Big West in the preseason publications show that their research teams don’t spend much time with the mid-major conferences. Obviously, UH needs to prove itself, but Long Beach St lost 4 or 5 starters from last year’s team. So calling them the favorite is a big stretch. I think most of these publications look at the final standings and use that to base their next year’s predictions.

  12. Hope Christian recovers soon from staph infection! Man, Vander now Christian…good thing Gib has another 12 or 13 guys, to work with towards HPU opening exhibition game, and hopefully have Vander back for start of season!

    Now, freshman , have to really step up, especially Caleb, Isaac, Davis, and now even Ozi…

    Also, wings, Hauns, Jawato, ,
    Basically the whole team..

    The one good thing, injury and ailment happened early in season, and hopefully will not occur again for Vander and Christian later this season..Boy, Gib , certain, he is happy he has an active roster(potentially for now..still await AV clearing) of 15!!

    Speedy recovery Vander and Christian, main thing your good health and bodies, without, no matter what you choose to do currently and in future would be hard..stay healthy young guys!!

  13. Aloha, King Christian:

    there are things in life that beyond your control sometime!
    sorry, just hoping for a speedy recovery.

    we need your 110%-effort service for the entire season –
    strong contender of an all-Big West First-Team.

    Maintain that wonderful intensity throughout your Senior-year for a MVP!

    may fans’ applause always be with you!

  14. I love how the season began… But i’ve got a question why is Dyrbe Enos freshmen redshirted this year???


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