Warriors looking to play big on Moloka’i
Coaches like to say that every drill and exercise during the preseason will help at some point during the season. In the case of the Hawai’i basketball team, that will be tested this weekend.
The Warriors will make a short flight to the island of Moloka’i on Friday evening, and will play their NCAA Division II neighbor, Chaminade, on Saturday night at Moloka’i High School Gym – also known as “The Barn.”
The Warriors took a weekend trip to Moloka’i back in October, and got to practice – and sleep – in The Barn.
“It does help,” said assistant coach Brandyn Akana, who was born and raised on Moloka’i and helped coordinate the trips to the Friendly Island. “We had couple practices there – we actually stayed in the gym, so the guys feel really comfortable in the gym itself.”
The Warriors will also get another chance to practice in The Barn on Friday night, and again for a game-day shoot around on Saturday afternoon. In contrast, the Silverswords will arrive on Molokai on Saturday afternoon and see The Barn for the first time a few hours before tip-off.
“It’s going to be a little different because we’re actually the visitors for this game,” Akana said. “Chaminade is the home team, but they don’t get in until game day.”
The Silverswords will have to play a home game against Cedarville (Ohio), a NCAA-II team, on Friday night before they can focus on the game on Moloka’i.
In any case, the Warriors will be looking to end a two-game losing streak. They are 4-3 overall, and coming off their worst performance of the season in a 63-56 home loss to Pepperdine a week ago.
“I think one-on-one defense, squaring them up and keeping them out of the paint – that’s going to be big for us,” Akana said.
Chaminade is 3-5 entering the game against Cedarville. However, the Silverswords proved how dangerous they can be when they upset Texas on the opening day of the Maui Invitational last month.
Chaminade has dropped four straight games since that victory over Texas, although two of those losses were against national powers Illinois and North Carolina. What’s more, two key players – De’Andre Haskins and Kevin Hu – have sat out the last two games due to injury.
Haskins, a 6-foot-4 senior guard, is Chaminade’s top player. He leads the team with 21.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game. He led the prestigious Maui Invitational field in scoring with 73 points in three games, including 32 in the win over Texas.
Several of the Warriors are familiar with Haskins, having played with or against him in the Hawaii summer league.
“He’s good at one-on-one, creating his own shot,” said forward Isaac Fotu, who played on the same summer league team as Haskins.
The Warriors will have a distinct size advantage in the post, as Chaminade does not have any players taller than 6-7. Only two of those players – 6-7 forwards Rhys Murphy and Tyree Harrison – have been playing significant minutes. The Silverswords often use four guards and one post player.
In contrast, four of Hawaii’s top five scorers are 6-6 or taller – 6-8 Christian Standhardinger (16.6 points, 7.4 rebounds), 6-10 Vander Joaquim (14.3 points, 7.6 rebounds), 6-6 Hauns Brereton (10.9 points, 6-3 rebounds) and 6-8 Fotu (7.9 points, 7.1 rebounds). Also, 6-2 guard Brandon Spearman is contributing 11.7 points per game.
“We start much bigger players,” Akana said. “We may not be as fast, but that’s something we’ve been working on.”
When: Saturday, Dec. 15, 7:30 p.m. HT
Where: Moloka’i High School Gym/“The Barn” (2,000) – Ho’olehua, Moloka’i
Streaming Video: None.
Radio: ESPN 1420 AM will carry the game live. Neighbor islands can listen live on KNUI on Maui, KHLO in Hilo, KKON in Kona, and KTOH on Kaua’i.
Audio Webcast: Live audio streaming on espn1420am.com
Live Stats: Live in-game stats are available at HawaiiAthletics.com
Ticket Information: $8 (at the door); $5 (presale); $2 (students and sr. citizen). Call 808-567-6959 for more information.