Warriors begin preparations for first road trip
After one day of rest – and giving thanks – the Hawai’i basketball team went back to work with an afternoon practice on Friday.
“Sharpening the axe,” is how head coach Gib Arnold described it. “Things that we already have in, but getting better at it. Angles on screens and technique.”
The Warriors have a full week to prepare for No. 18 ranked UNLV. The game is scheduled for Saturday, December 1, at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas. It will be the Warriors’ first road game of this season.
“I think we’re going to have a team that’s toing to be able to compete on the road,” Arnold said. “The signs you look for is maturity. Although we’re young and we’re new together, all the off court stuff, they’re very mature … I don’t think Vegas is going to be a distraction for this group.”
Hawai’i is 4-1, with its only loss by one point (78-77) in overtime against an Illinois team that went on to win the prestigious EA Sports Maui Invitational.
The Warriors’ last game was a 71-66 victory over North Dakota on November 20. Because of the 10-day break between games, the Warriors are still working on self-improvement. Arnold said the specific game plan for UNLV will be implemented next week.
“Today we didn’t do anything specifically for UNLV, but we worked on all our stuff,” Arnold sdaid.
UNLV is in quite a different situation from Hawai’i in terms of preparation for the December 1 game. The Rebels lost their first game of the season, 83-79, on Friday night – a loss that could jeopardize their Top 25 ranking next week. UNLV also has a home game on Saturday night against Iowa State, and another home game on November 28 against UC Irvine.
The Warriors also welcomed two players back to practice on Friday – redshirt freshman Brandon Jawato and true freshman Aaron Valdes.
Jawato sat out the North Dakota game with an injured thigh. He has been cleared to return to action, and said he will make the trip to UNLV.
“We’re actually very excited and hyped for the game coming, so we’re working hard, training hard in practice,” he said.
Jawato got a sneak preview at road travel as a Hawai’i player last season, when he made several road trips as a practice player (he did not suit up for games). “People don’t realize how tiring it can get from traveling,” he said.
Valdes was finally cleared this week to join the Warriors after nearly three months of waiting. He participated in Friday’s practice as part of the scout team.
“It felt great to finally get out there and practice again and be able to help out the team,” he said.
Valdes is targeted to redshirt this season. He said he was working out on his own while awaiting the NCAA clearance.
(Photo courtesy Charles Simmons)