Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Air Force strikes down Warriors, 69-65


Living up to its name and logo, Air Force struck like lightning from high and far with 15 three-point baskets Wednesday night to stun the Hawai’i men’s basketball team, 69-65, in the opening round of the CollegeInsider.com Tournament.

A crowd of 3,544 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the Warriors’ season end at 17-15. The Falcons improved to 18-13 and advance to the second round.

Despite the loss — and starting center Vander Joaquim leaving the court in frustration early in the second half — UH coach Gib Arnold said there were positives to the finale.

“I had fun tonight, I enjoyed coaching this game,” Arnold said. “There’s only about 100 teams still playing at this point of the season, and we were fortunate to be one of them.”

Mike Fitzgerald led Air Force with a game-high 25 points and nine rebounds and Kyle Green added 18 points. Freshman forward Isaac Fotu led the Warriors with 24 points and nine rebounds and junior forward Christian Standhardinger added 16 points and eight boards. Joaquim, a 6-foot-10 senior, played just seven minutes before being whistled for his second foul and then a technical with 14:48 remaining and Hawai’i trailing, 40-38.

As the Falcons sank three of the four free throws to make it 43-38, Joaquim left the court and did not return.

“He just got really frustrated,” Arnold said. “He’s an emotional player to begin with, and he picked up some fouls and was struggling … he just got frustrated.”

After trailing 34-31 at halftime, Air Force tied it at 34-34 on Fitzgerald’s 3-pointer to open the second half and then took a 40-36 lead after back-to-back 3s by Todd Fletcher and Fitzgerald. The Warriors later tied it at 43-43 on Fotu’s three-point play with 12:24 remaining, but the Falcons took the lead again on a 3-pointer by Cameron Michael to go up, 46-43, with 12:01 left.


Air Force led, 63-57, after Green’s 3-pointer with 2:54 remaining, but UH clawed back and drew to 67-65 on two free throws by Hauns Brereton with 43.7 seconds remaining. The Warriors regained possession six seconds later when Garrett Jefferson poked the ball loose, but Brereton’s 3-point attempt from the left wing was off the mark with 16 ticks left and the Falcons grabbed the rebound.

Fitzgerald was then fouled and sank two free throws to seal it with seven seconds remaining as Hawai’i was out of timeouts and could only manage a missed 3-point attempt at the buzzer.

“I was happy Hauns took the last shot (with 16 seconds left),” Standhardinger said. “I have the most faith in Hauns. We battled out there, and what’s important to remember is that we came back after a horrible start.”

Air Force jumped out to leads of 6-0, 11-3 and 19-5 in the first six minutes after draining 5 of 7 from 3-point range. The Falcons led, 20-8, on Michael’s technical free throw with 11:22 remaining in the first half, but Fotu scored on a spin move 50 seconds later to start Hawai’i on a 21-3 blitz capped by Brandon Spearman’s 3-pointer that put the Warriors up, 29-23, with 2:55 left.

Fletcher’s 3-pointer from the top of the key with 49 seconds remaining closed it to 34-31 heading into halftime.

Air Force finished the first half 8 of 18 (44.4 percent) from 3-point range and was 7 of 13 (53.8 percent) from beyond the arc in the second half. Fitzgerald, a 6-6 forward, was 6 of 10 from long range.

“They’re a great shooting team, and we knew that,” Arnold said. “They hit 15 three-pointers against (No. 12-ranked) New Mexico (in an 89-88 upset on March 9), and they hit 15 against us. They spread you out and they shoot the 3, that’s what they do.”


Among the bright spots for UH was the return of Spearman, a 6-3 junior guard who was out the previous five games due to an ankle injury. Spearman played 28 minutes, finishing with eight points, five rebounds and two assists.

“It was great seeing Spearman out there, I really missed him,” Arnold said. “You can see what he brings to our team, and I think things could have been a lot different if we had him (the past month).”

Standhardinger and Fotu were grateful for the opportunity the CIT berth provided, after last week’s disappointing 71-60 loss to UC Irvine in the first round of the Big West Tournament in Anaheim.

“I want to thank (athletic director Ben Jay) who decided to let us play in this tournament,” Standhardinger said. “It feels a lot better playing like a team on our home court. Thank you very much.”

Said Fotu: “If we finished the season with the Irvine game, I don’t think I would be happy at all.”

Arnold said he will now turn his focus immediately to recruiting.

“I’m not hanging my head on this (loss),” Arnold said. “I’m going to look for the first flight I can take to go out and recruit again. I think we need to get more athletic, we need to be quicker and deeper on the guard line, I think we need more shooters. It starts in the next 24 hours.”

Air Force finished the first half 8 of 18 (44.4 percent) from 3-point range.

(Game photos courtesy Charles Simmons)


Video highlights and interviews will be posted later.


  1. Well, happy with the effort of reserves including Michael Harper(!) who led a charge to come back and take halftime lead after trailing 19-4. Good job Michael!

    Isaac Fotu, very agressive on offense and defense, shot well from field, rebounded , blocked shots and shot well from FT line.

    Christian Standhardinger: He always brings effort, from star to finish. All Big West Player indeed! Good job and year Christian!

    Brandon Spearman: even though 80% , as I thought, and Gib too, he was key going down in Pacific game on the road. UH not deep, at guard , athletic type that could keep up with BWC type of perimeter players. Great effort, and look forward to his senior year.

    Jace and Hauns, very classy great student athletes, battled to the end, what more can you ask? Have a great post UH career guys!

    Interesting: Gib mention on post game radio show, that he is looking to fill a few scholarships, perimeter, athletic guards that can create, shoot, and defend with quickness. So that answers some questions, yes Gib recruiting still for next year.

    Kudos and props to the 15 guys who stuck is out(including RS’s on the bench, Keith, Dyrbe, Caleb and Aaron Valdes)

    Saddest part: I feel for the young man, the way he left game and the building, Vander if you ever met in person, very nice young man. Wish him well, hope he gets his degree, and has a chance for a euro pro team as free agent. One thing Vander, appreciated your progress in the past 3 years, however, now have to mature. The rest of your adult life awaits. Take care and have a good life. Pro Ball will be more physical, have to adjust. Aloha Vander.

    Gib has to recruit, looks like maybe two( I don’t know, sounds like it) athletic perimeter players. I hope Gib can sign the guys they are keying on, they have to have speed, hops and ability to defend and score. With Christian, Isaac, Davis , Spearman, Jefferson and company, team should be ready from the start of next season.

    Question for Dayton: Have post season interview with Gib, know he cannot comment on names, however, what type of perimeter players, and possibly from what areas of the country, is he looking at. Dayton, it sure sounds like he is targeting Two scholarship players for next year.

    Mahalo fellow fans, been great watching the games, kind of up and down, however team just did not have a lot of athletic types, Next year will be better, Gib will have to recruit big time. Pretty sure he will have to! Go sign a couple more good ones Gib, either HS elite or JC elite athletic perimeter players!

    Mahalo Dayton , WI, the WI MBB Warrior Nation.
    Will be posting hopefully this summer, and we thank sponsors, and the Schmidts for support !!

    Aloha, and Go Warriors!

  2. Very, very happy that the team got to play one more game. This was an excellent “preview” of what next year’s team will look like.

    Shout out to Micheal for being a part of the turning point of the game. Micheal got a steal to assist to Christian and his 3 pointer! Super awesome! (YAY Aussie Mum)

    There were so many highlights of the season, however my favorites were:
    1) The team being silly together on film on their trips
    2) They had the highest GPA as a team
    3) The student section was awesome
    4) Jamie Smith coordinated Every Game to be a Party and Star Wars nite was the bomb!
    5) The team continues to be my son’s role models!

    Great job, heads up high!

  3. Wow, what an end to the year… Pretty wild game with AF hitting 15 made 3’s and only 9 made 2’s. AF did their homework and took advantage of UH’s biggest weakness of defending the 3pt arc. But good lord, 31 attempted 3’s is absurd & usually means you’re losing.

    The Bows made a hellacious run to end the 1st half, with Michael Harper on the floor!?! After the starting guards playing awful and Jefferson struggling off the bench, Gib dug deep in the bench and put Harper in. To Harper’s credit, he was ready to play and added a spark.

    Fotu had a monster game and Standhardinger was solid as usual. Brereton had another off night going 2-9 FG and 3 TOs. I can’t believe Spearman played 32 minutes. That’s astounding considering the severity of his ankle injury, but he showed some rust and I can’t believe he was 100% healthy.

    But the BIG STORY is Vander quitting on the team and leaving the Stan Sheriff while the 2nd half was still going on. He was off to another poor start to the game and was pulled after 5 min. Then UH when on their run with him on the bench into halftime. Gib kept the same hot lineup to start the 2nd half and eventually put Vander back in a couple minutes into the 2nd half. Vander got 2 FTs and then gets T’d up and then leaves the court. He WAS NOT EJECTED. He left on his own will. Several people reported Vander had left the arena.

    Vander just completely ruined his image and tarnished his legacy as one of the best UH centers. Quitting is unacceptable and there’s soon to be a major windfall of deserved criticism. Quitting on your teammates, your coach, the program and the fans on the last game of your UH career is the worst lasting image you could ever leave. People will forget that Vander had a very good career and was a dominating center in the 2011-12 season where he was named 1st Team All-WAC and All-WAC Defensive Team.

    Gib was depending on Vander to have a big year in the Big West vs smaller, and less talented centers than the WAC the previous year and Vander had been extremely inconsistent. The knock on Vander over the years was when things didn’t go well early in games, he tends to lose intensity or loses aggressiveness in effort to stay away from foul trouble.

    Fotu will take over as the primary post option. Standhardinger looks like he’ll be the leader. Spearman is back. Shamburger, by all accounts, is a major upgrade over Tavita, and Hauns’ starting spot will be filled by a superior athlete (Valdes or Thomas) or by Oz if he develops his game. Oz has more raw talent than Hauns and if Oz can solidify his footwork on his jump shot, he can be a lethal 3pt shooter. Just from an athletic standpoint, Tavita, Vander and Hauns were the slowest players on the active roster and their replacements are all faster and more athletic.

    Still got to give thanks to the seniors for their efforts and wish them luck after UH. UH is in a good shape going forward.

  4. well does this make gib look even worse?

  5. Could Gib be recruiting junior college guards
    Garret Nevels and Corey Allen


  6. FUHA – Good Summary & Prognosis
    Air Force was Another Smart-Senior Laden Team that just kept making shots…
    While i appreciate Our Seniors, they generally came up short as often as not in the “take over the game and just win category” – Next Yearʻs Seniors (Christian, Spearman, Davis, Gee) should have an improved supporting cast…

    GIB & Co. said they expect a “Couple of Visits in the Next Couple of Weeks…
    These are players weʻve been working with for awhile who can help us immediately…”

    Aussie Mum ! Proud, Oi! Great Effort and Sweet Looking Three by Michael …
    i yelled he needed to & ought to shoot more — Might Have Won the Game…
    i think he Will Help Win Some Next Season
    D, Steals & Hustle looked real good, too!

    Great Glimpse of The Dynamic Duo — Fotu & Christian — running wild — suspect Dresslerʻs Quick Shot & Passing will contribute to a much quicker offense … As FUHA noted, Our slowest players are graduating…

    i think Most, More Likely ALL, the Returnees will show better quickness in the system, better balance on their feet, and on their shots, better court vision and timing for their teammates, especially because i think Keith Shamburger IS one of the better passers iʻve seen (in person) recently, maybe up there with a Miami Shane Larkin …and passing like that gets to be contagious.

    i think the athleticism and Pride in Defense that Valdes & Thomas already profess and display will contribute to better team, on-ball and perimeter defense….and should add dimension to the offensive repertoire as well…

    WARRIORS! Keep Playinʻ Good Ball & Making Additions to Highlight Reels — Even Win More Next Season and Earn More Students & Fans! The First-Timers Tonight (Even without the W) were impressed! “Wow! This is So Much Bigger & Better than T.V. (Yes) and way louder…” (even with tonightʻs small-ish crowd)… Wish we coulda supported the A,D, Coffers a Lot Better…

    Keep Inching Upwards…
    Maybe Start the Leaps and Bounds…

  7. Good luck to the seniors as they move on. If they all return next year, UH has a good group to rebuild on. Vander……too bad. He’ll be remembered for this poor decision.

  8. Good riddance Vander. I feel bad for the team that had to experience not just a player give up and leave, but a senior and a projected player of the year. He had a promising junior year and then UH moved to a league w/ not a lot of quality big men and Vander was being predicted to have a monster year and what did he do. He did his team, coaching staff, university, community and family wrong. Not many pro teams will want to take him now. You reap what you sow Vander.

    Thank you seniors and best of luck UH warrior bball.

  9. As much as I love and appreciate what Vander has done in his time as a Warrior, I can’t help but feel like he was one of the main reasons we lost last night. He negatively impacted the game, and although it may have only been a few points difference, it ended up being the few points too much to overcome for this round. Very selfish and bone headed thing to do, losing control of your emotions like that and quitting. If only the big guy got some perspective and realized if he had kept his cool, he may have had at least one more game in his college career.

    In any case, I love how Fotu and Christian stepped up. I love the projected starting line-up of those two, as well as Spearman, Shamburger, and possibly Valdes. Pretty athletic trio right there, whom I strongly believe could keep up w/most other Big West guards. Really looking forward to next season. Happy recruiting Gib!

  10. Vander has some anger management issues and his fiance better think twice before she ties the knot with this BOZO , totally inexusable behavior last night , we were there saw it , Ben Jay saw it ,the Gov saw it , you’re not too smart Vander, Selfish beyond, leaving your team , not stepping up when this was the time to play harder , and smarter, well see ya, dont wanna be yea.

  11. jjay, that’s a bit too personal for here. Let’s keep comments basketball related.

    Hawaiifan, I think this gives Gib a free pass because we now know Vander was a much bigger issue than we all knew about. Looking back on his play this year there have been several games where his effort was not there at all. Plus, now we got a few answers as to why Gib benched Vander for long stretches during a few games this year.

  12. Although this is a bit of a Stretch … because No One Player should feel they have to Win the Games — i think Vander did;
    That Sense of Responsibiity, Burden and Frustration with lesser results started to show after the injury, then worsen with the offensive calls that triggered benching and poor performances, then tentative play…
    Vander would be Wise to Apologize…(maybe already did)

    BUT as some pointed out, screaming at coaches (earlier game) and last nightʻs flame out are reminders that Vander really was a retained part of last yearʻs moved on sulkers and self-aggrandizers…

    Glad he invested three years of improvement and results;
    How low would we have been these three years without Vander, and previous two without Josten & Trevor?

    The last holdover, Davis, seems More in sync with the ʻhigh characterʻ guys…
    So hopefully moving on to better chemistry, better skills and results

  13. Wonder what Alika Smith thinks of his senior guards'(Josh Ko) chances of playing on the next level? and also wondering if coach Gid has even inquired/scouted him?

  14. Former Athlete, I tell it like it is. I was there last night . And all the other home games as well, Gib put up with a lot of unnecessary attitude from Vander, his inability to play smart and follow the game plan hurt the team and end result . That’s it in a nutshell. He shows that he needs a lot of growing up to do to make a go of it in the real world. Good Luck to him.

  15. Jjay take a hike youre the bozo here.

  16. Vander I think wanted to win and produce as much as anything. As Eagle alluded to, his MCL injury, and wanting to be THE MAN to score, defend rebound, lead team to victory, maybe he took it all upon himself. From Jr to Sr , year, felt he couldn’t get the benefit of doubt from referees on calls.

    However, to walk out, that is not good. The GM’s and NBA , Euro pro scouts watch the games too, if it is an issue of anger, selfish play, or just ME first, who would want employ such a player? Vander can still turn it around, He has to grow up, be a man. Hope he does apologize publicly to Gib the team, the fans , his family and Hawaii.

    He is a young guy, hope he graduates and matures. He will still be in the record books, however he was very frustrated this year. One thing I notice, when Vander not in there, Fotu and Standhardinger more effective. If only UH had the defenders of 3 ball, and quickness as well as good to great 3 ball shooters.

    Even if Gib benched Vander halfway through season, Imagine, if Fotu, Christian, Jawato, Spearman(if healthy) and Jace, Hauns, could do. They might have been an offensive machine, at least be able to score with any team in the country, and a lot of times they did.

    It leaves a bad impression the way Vander left team, however, now, the team becomes Isaac and Christian’s, if they explode along with Keith Shamburger, Spearman, Jawato, Michael Thompson, Aaron Valdes, and who knows maybe one or two other recruits, BW look out. And UH will be playing in either NCAA or NIT, no CIT(though thankyou Riley! and Ben Jay!)

    Vander , Coach Fish really helped coach up as a Big, bet that Fish feels bad as well as all of the coaching staff. Maybe the PUBLIC APOLOGY, and returning after a few years to give back to program , if , and I think he still has a shot, a Euro pro team gave him a free agent contract. Young people go through things, the trials of youth, hope he turns it around.

  17. Womp, womp, whhhaa! I said at the beginning of the year that UHMBB would go 16 – 14; which is a poor performance in the BWC. Coming from the WAC – UH should have won at least 20 games. A few things to consider:

    1- Coach did not have VJ under control or in anger management sessions – this is not the first time he has blown-up nor is he the first player to go off!
    2 – Hauns and his people were not happy with his role this year nor did he have a good enough year to get looks from Euro teams – he will have to work hard this summer over there and do some networking on his own!
    3 – I was expecting Christian to get kicked-off again; but he seemed to contain himself and even out-shined VJ which must have made him more frustrated.
    4 – The young talent and incoming additions may help – but you look closely at the head – it is not bringing the body along! Recruiters recruit – coaches coach and if you lose games in the last 2 minutes by a few points – to me that’s pilot error!
    5 – Overall – I would rate this season as a BUST and give the man in charge a D- for his performance. Don’t pass GO – Don’t collect $200,000.

    Hawaiifan09 – now do you see what I’m talking about . . . you and a few others (Eagle, FUHA, UHfazonly1) owe me some props!

  18. I had season’s tickets, but I didn’t go last night. Had bad vibes and I was right. Down the stretch the team looked like they kinda folded their tents after Spearman went down. Even before that, this team had struggles winning on the road. You can tell if the team is a very good team the way the team plays on the road, especially when they beat someone that’s very reputable. This team didn’t beat anybody respectable on the road. I expected at least 20 wins this year because the schedule was pretty weak. And they should have. Not enough production from the guard line and perimeter defense. I was never high on Vander Joaquim. He had some nice accolades which he was here, but me personally I didn’t like his interior game. He held on to the ball too long. He didn’t pass well and he wasn’t quick. He shot well for a big man, but his footwork and defense wasn’t first rate. And as we all saw, he would lose his cool. But, it’s over. I’m glad he got his degree and I appreciate his efforts. That’s a lot more than a lot of other guys that came into this program. He stayed 3 years and that’s all good. I hope the best for him in the future. Take it easy and stay cool!

    I’m not sure I’m going to renew my season’s tickets again, but I have some time to ponder that. Maybe that will depend on who Arnold recruits. Looking at last night, I guess Ozren might not be back. He didn’t play at all last night.

  19. Aloha Dayton, Schmidt family (awesome sponsor) and all UHMBB fans for your contributions to a rollercoaster ride of a season. My first experience of college Basket Ball watching the UH MBB and the fans here in Torbay, Aotearoa have been part of the ride watching or listening to games. Shout out to Aussie mum, Ozi mum and all players family around the world. Also to the hardcore MBB fans. Keep the faith, future of the programme looking good. Can’t wait for next year.


  20. Derek:

    Yes, great summary from long time UH MBB fan. Ben Jay says going to sit down with Gib and see where he is at recruiting wise. He has to bring in great quick guards, defenders, and 3 pt shooters. Maybe Ozren doesn’t come back? Another player goes pro or transfers. It seems like Gib will be recruiting two outstanding(?) perimeter athletes.

    I like the team character and ohana feeling. Vander, not really NBA material, he might be burned out with Basketball, just get his degree and move on with life. Sad way to end his UH career. Van apologies are in order to coach and Warrior MBB nation!!

    Isaac Fotu and Christian Standhardinger will be among the elite pair of forwards in the country. If they get help with good guard/wing play who are athletic, hops, speed , can shoot it, D up, and play team ball, UH will be much improved. This final year four is a “NO MORE EXCUSE ZONE”. Gib has to recruit, or help ones who want to move on, to make room for two great scholarship athletes who can play with the likes of Cal Poly, Cal Irvine?

    I kind of miss Uncle Riley Wallace, he got the best out of what talent he had, Career 300+ MBB wins and several NCAA and NIT invites. Mahalo to Riley and Ben Jay, for letting 3500+ of the best basketball fans in the Pacific see Isaac, Christian, Michael Harper and a hurt Spearman, make a great run to get back into game.

    Dallan, love him or hate him, Gib will be back for year 4, he is trying to get a one year extension to have continuation of recruiting and relationships with families, and targeted athletes. I think, my personal opinion, and some other Star Advertiser Sports writers, that Ben Jay, will look who are the possibly 2 more great athletes Gib will positively have LOI , signed sealed and delivered. We can watch them hopefully 2nd summer session, in open gym, workouts on WI, and in NCAA summer league, then we know if we have those great guard, SF, who can light it up and shut down other teams.

    Dallan, either that, or UH goes to DII and plays in the PACWEST, just joking!

    UH MBB, under Gib: 17.3 wins per season for first 3 years. Out of those 3, two CIT invites to post season play. Significant wins, Xavier upset in DH classic, and LBSU getting bombed out of the SSC. Key: Who are the TARGETED athletes Gib will for certain, no question bring in next year? Ben is waiting on that, Gib: who are those guys?

  21. It seems lots of folks are disappointed, that’s healthy and good. Expectations should always be at the highest levels. Looking at the videos of the current 3 incoming recruits, don’t believe any are game changers but all have “game.” So what’s the upside? For us all that’s the mystery, the reality is based on “how hard ALL these players work to improve themselves for next year.” Changing coaches at this point is premature. Why? Probably, this is the first time in decades that we a hosts of high character and young players coming in. We all itch for success and understand the dollars and cents issues of running a D1 program. However, experience has shown that you need to invest first. Game ON! Christian and Isaac are the proven previews for next season.

  22. so is gib still recruiting for next season?…at this point I think we need 1 or 2 ready to play JCs

  23. Two main guys that we can count on next season will be Fotu and Christian They never gave up All heart

  24. Dallan —
    ON Previous Post (a week or so ago, so this is repeated request) i asked for the name of your Charity for Donation
    DO you remember the date of the wager posting (for review and to ensure i meet all terms…)….

    Donʻt Know about Props …. iʻm SURE NO ONE IS SATISFIED, Many are Unhappy — BUT also NOT Able to do better themselves — Talk is Cheap — Results Cost a Bit More — In Faith, Patience, Effort; on Coachesʻ, Playersʻ to a lesser degree Fansʻ parts…

    i still think that the Program is Now Stabilized and Heading in a good direction — i personally thought it was a mistake to “Lose” both OʻNeil and Riley — the only other winning Coaches in 60 years; this is a tough place to run a winning D-1 program; at least we have a Winner on board who has prospects for Continued improvement …

  25. Not sure many coaches could control Vander’s attitude. If Vander played for a super intense coach, he would have quit a long time ago. I think Gib was able to get the most milage out of him he could without pushing him over the edge.

    Let’s not forget Vander was an gangly 6’10” with little game when Gib recruited him in 2010. His development was pretty extraordinary considering how raw he was. I think his time with the Angolan National team’s coaching staff this past offseason really stunted his development. He did sharpen his jump shot, but did not improve on any other segment of his game and I think he regressed defensively. Maybe Vander’s ego got a little inflated and he though he could roll through Big West competition after his All-WAC campaign.

    Hard work will defeat talent…. and let’s be honest, Vander isn’t and upper level talent at center, although he may have thought so.

  26. Vander is a nice guy with a good heart. I put his character on par with the other members of the team and higher than the guys that left the program last year. Everybody loses their cool sometime in their lives. Does that make him an unworthy person and tarnish his career at UH? I think not. I’m sure he feels bad for his lack of judgment in walking off the court and hope he will give an apology soon. We all make mistakes. Important thing is to learn from it and be better from it.

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