Warriors entertain crowd at ‘Ohana Hoopfest
It was a late night of dancing, leaping and running-and-gunning for the Hawai’i basketball team on Friday. The Warriors are looking to carry that kind of fun into the 2012-13 season.
This season’s team was introduced to the public late Friday night during the annual ‘Ohana Hoopfest at the Stan Sheriff Center. The fans that stayed up past 11 p.m. for the event watched in delight as the Warriors entertained with a dance routine, a slam-dunk contest and an intrasquad scrimmage.
“It was a fun night overall, a real fun night,” said junior guard Garrett Jefferson, who won the slam-dunk contest.
It started with the team introductions (the UH women’s team was introduced first), and then junior forward Davis Rozitis – all 7 feet of him – led the team as they danced to the international smash hit “Gangnam Style.”
“That’s UH basketball style,” Rozitis said. “I looked up the video and when we were having a repetition, I had the best routine.”
Head coach Gib Arnold addressed the crowd immediately after that and said: “Give them an A for effort. I hope we can play a lot better than we can dance. But if Davis can move like that on the floor, he can be the defensive player of the year.”
Four of the Warriors – Jefferson, Ozren Pavlovic, Brandon Spearman and Aaron Valdes – then participated in the slam-dunk contest. Jefferson and Valdes advanced to the final, with the junior prevailing over the freshman. Jefferson’s final dunk came off a jump over associate coach Benjy Taylor’s son, Ostin.
“It feels good,” Jefferson said. “I haven’t won a slam-dunk contest in a long time … I wanna say in high school we had a pep rally and a dunk contest and that’s the last one.”
Valdes also impressed the crowd – and his teammates – with him jumping ability. He was cleared to participate in the ‘Ohana Hoopfest earlier in the day (he has been awaiting NCAA clearance ever since he enrolled at UH a week late back in August).
“Human beings should not be able to elevate as high as Garrett Jefferson and Aaron Valdes,” Rozitis said. “Those guys are video games.”
The finale of the event was an intrasquad scrimmage, also known as the “Freshmen Challenge” because it featured the eight freshmen against the seven upper classmen.
Due to time restraints the scrimmage was limited to eight minutes of running time, so it was mostly a run-n-gun exhibition. Junior forward Christian Standhardinger scored 10 points to lead the Upper Classmen to a 30-21 victory.
“We held our ground; they came close though,” said Jefferson, who scored six. “They almost tied it up … and then we blew it open a little bit.”
Friday was the first day that NCAA basketball teams could begin full practices. The Warriors will open their schedule on November 2 with an exhibition game against Hawai’i Pacific at the Sheriff Center. The first official home game is scheduled for November 9 against Maryland-Eastern Shore.
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Prep recruits Niko Filipovich and Stefan Jovanovic were in attendance at the ‘Ohana Hoopfest, and they confirmed their commitment to join the Warriors for the 2013-14 season.
Filipovich, a 6-foot point guard, and Jovanovic, a 6-10 post player, are senior teammates at Bishop Montgomery High School in Torrance, Calif.
“Actually, I’ve never seen anything like this,” Jovanovic said. “It was really interesting to see the guys do all those crazy things. It was really funny.”
Of their commitment to play at Hawaii next season, Filipovich said “definitely,” while Jovanovic said “100 percent.”
Here is video of the intrasquad scrimmage in its entirety:
Photos courtesy Brandon Flores/www.brandonfloresphotography.com
To view more photos from the ‘Ohana Hoopfest, please visit our facebook page at www.facebook.com/warriorinsider.
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Season ticket packages for the home basketball games at the Stan Sheriff Center will be available starting Monday, October 15.
Here is the link to the UH announcement: