Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors aim to maintain momentum

The University of Hawai’i basketball team didn’t get exactly what it wished for this Christmas, but the gifts it did get were quite pleasing.

Specifically, the Warriors were hoping for a tournament championship, but went 2-1 in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, including a 79-73 win over Oregon State on Christmas Day. The Warriors also earned a meaningful win over perennial power Saint Mary’s in the tournament, and their only loss was by one point to a solid Boise State team.


“We beat two very good teams, we got beat by a team by one at the buzzer … I think we could have won this thing,” head coach Gib Arnold said. “I think the guys are upset that we didn’t win it. We’ve played good basketball this time of year.”

The Warriors are now 9-3 overall and have won seven of their last eight games. The last UH team to start 9-3 was Arnold’s first UH team in 2010.

Senior guard Brandon Spearman was the most consistent Warrior during the three-day tournament, averaging 14.3 points and 6.0 rebounds per game, and earning a place on the All-Tournament Team. He is only the third Hawai’i player in the five-year history of the Diamond Head Classic to earn a spot on the All-Tournament Team (Dwain Williams in 2009 and Zane Johnson in 2011 are the others).

However, he was not the only key contributor for the Warriors. Junior point guard Keith Shamburger set a Diamond Head Classic record with 21 assists for the tournament, and he also averaged 9.3 points and 4.3 rebounds per game.

Also, sophomore forward Isaac Fotu set a Diamond Head Classic record for highest field goal percentage at .633 (19 for 30). He also averaged 14.0 points and 3.3 rebounds per game.

Senior forward Christian Standhardinger averaged 14.7 points and 5.0 rebounds per game in the tournament, and continues to lead the Warriors in both overall scoring (17.5) and rebounding (7.1).

The Warriors will not have much time to celebrate the Christmas week success, as they will host a pair of non-conference opponents next week – Norfolk State on Monday, and then Omaha on Friday, January 3.

“I hope we can continue to get better,” Arnold said. “I’m starting to see some things on this team that I’m pleased with and the whole thing is to just continue to progress, obviously.”

Norfolk State is 8-5, and its five losses have been by an average of 5.8 points per game; Omaha is 9-4, with all four losses on the road against quality opponents (Iowa, Drake, UNLV and Minnesota).

“Those two games will be good to just sharpen the axe before conference starts,” Fotu said. “These two games are important for us. We don’t want to drop these two at home and it will be good to make the adjustments for conference to make sure we’re 100 percent.”


  1. Hey Coach Gib, if Enos, Thomas, and Jovanovich, are doing well in practice as winbows says, would like to see them get some playing time along with Aaron Valdes against Norfolk and Omaha, two pretty good NCAA DI teams.
    Know that team has to hit 75-80% of their Free Throws, I think guys spent so much energy on O and D, their legs and focus were not there. Make them do the 50 FT’s and 50 3’s to end practices again. And see if they can hit 75-85: or better, especially when they are tired after practice session.

    Love this team, probably about 5000 die hard fans, online, and live at the SSC love the heart, the athleticism, the goal to win, not to lose, and to chase and win championships. Good Job Gib, and great job by seniors, Jr.s , super sophs, and emerging freshmen.

    Have a great last two games before, first BWC road game, you will be at , 11-3 hopefully, and then, have the guys prepare to sweep, road trips if possible, no less than split, and protect home court, try to go 8-0, you guys will be up at the top 1 or 2, eyeing the BWC tourney crown!

    Go Rainbow Warriors!

  2. Good that Youʻre All seeing the Need for and Potential of UHMBBʻs Next (Immediate) Wave of Strength…

    i know (from what Gibʻs said) that he sees that opportunity and need as well;
    that he wants to speed/accelerate the development of Aaron, Dyrbe, Thomas and Jovanovic,
    Our Freshmen who Can Play…

    They DO Learn in Game-Time Playing Time a heightened Sense of Urgency and that EVERY Play Counts…

    SO, Aaron (Great Game Otherwise) Donʻt Leave your Man Open for an Easy, Uncontested Three (Ever, Saint Maryʻs 6-6 SR Beau Levesque, #15) OR the Coach may have an Aneurysm-Like Conniption, Suffer the Tantrum, Rant Court-side and Post-Game and your personal Ten-Point Run comes to an abrupt end…

    OR Dyrbe, youʻve Got To Find a Way to Cut Off that Transition Fast-Break (Oregon Stateʻs #11 6-2 FR Malcolm Duvivier) without Giving Up an Easy Three-Point Play, OR WE All donʻt get to Enjoy that ʻRainʻ of Threes Coach and the fans were looking (even Aching) for…

    BUT iʻm sure the coaches see That Potential Future just about every day in Practice — when Our Own ʻBetterʻ Players canʻt Stop YOU, Either… and They Will Find You Future Opportunities, maybe (likely) even these coming two games…

    BTW, itʻs not as visible with sparse TV ʻbackground shotsʻ coverage, but
    – Michael Thomasʻ ʻwarm-upsʻ are getting off-the-charts; hitting five of every six or seven threes clean and ʻvery-NBA-Looking-Professionalʻ like in style and clean-ness; they look ʻDownhillʻ, even better and more consistent than Fotuʻs …
    – Dyrbe is just ʻridiculousʻ his shot is so clean and consistent…
    – Jawato is getting more consistent so iʻm looking for him to get a break/opportunity soon as well…
    – Jovanovic IS pretty steady (as his fans know), heʻs (actually, probably) ready; but has there really been anyone (even the recent Big Three Opposition) better than our Christian-Isaac-Davis three-headed Opposing Coaches Nightmare? He gets his Best Work Every Day in Practice…

  3. eagle- Two things stand out for Enos, Valdes, Jovanovich, Jawato, etc. to get more quality minutes, in fact with URGENCY, as you said, since Big West Conference first 2 road games, in a week and a half.

    1)Can these 2nd rotation(the bench)play good D. Gib’s schemes. He has quite a few.
    2)Can they take care of the ball, during prime time.
    3)Can they score, within Gib’s system, make the shots in their sets or transition. The perimeter guys, from outside the arc and mid range, the Bigs, inside the FT line to the rim.

    If Dyrbe, Aaron, Stefan, Brandon Jawato, Michael Harper, Jack Hackman, can do that, with as others say, and you too, No Dropoff, actually sustain, leads, and increase, or steady play until starters return to game. They will get to play more. Gib, as others have mentioned, wants, and his bench guys too, the Win first and foremost, so he stays with the guys who will bring home the W.

    So, that is my opinion. For all the team. First, play solid Defense entire game. Secondly, take care of the ball. Third, score from the field and the line, to really affect winning.
    Hope, as Eagle and hoopsa say, that Enos, Valdes, Jovanovich, Jawato, Thomas, all get to play these next two games. They can have no let down, would be terrible if Norfolk or Omaha beat them at home.
    Get the 2 wins guys, before Conference starts.

  4. eagle-actually it was 3 things: Defense, take care of ball, and score within system. Sorry.

  5. At this point, any playing time will have to be earned through practices and intra-squad scrimmages.
    By the time you get to conference, the rotation will shorten depending on needs. Quincy Smith will get lots of time on the floor, as well as Rozitis depending on how he plays. Aaron Valdes can score in bunches and defend athletic 2, 3, or 4 spots. Mike Thomas will see time in case Fotu, or Standhardinger get in foul trouble. Brandon Jawato and Drbe Enos will get time if Arnold needs more shooting from the outside. Anybody else will get garbage minutes if we have a big lead late in the game. That’s the way it is. But, first things first, practice hard and show the coaches that you are improving and deserving of a shot to play more and contribute.

  6. Derek: Know where you are coming from. If Enos, Jovanovich, Thomas, Valdes, not doing it in pracitce, they will not be in game just to get them in game. Unless, UH is up 20 with 3 minutes to go.

    Enos, has earned it. Interesting, such a close, because of the failure at FT line, for Gib to put him in, give the other guards a rest, he came up with great scramble for ball, got it to I think Shamburger, he passed it down court and they scored. Enos , Gib trusts him, and he has earned it.
    Aaron Valdes, without question, high ceiling as an athlete, he has to come in , like against St Mary’s and just pick it up big time on O and D. He will play.
    Thomas, the question mark? How is he doing in practices? He has high ceiling, plus the young guy is still growing, I could swear, he came out of HS as senior at 6’5″, now looks like a legitimate 6’8″ with shoes, and 215-218,,and growing, the guy can take the ball length of the court, shoot the threes, block shots , rebound, he needs to show in practice, too, however, still Think Gib is very, very high on his 3 star HS athlete. We will see Mike pretty soon. These next two games critical, we would wish, that Enos, Valdes, Thomas, could get at least 8-12 minutes of quality time, in good big wins, or even in crunch.

    So for Dyrbe, Aaron, Mike T, Stefan Jovanovich, Brandon J. just keep on working, Derek, UH MBB team still , needs besides Q and Rozitis, at least another 3 who can play, why? the illness, other matters, and injuries, we have seen happen to UH in the past, Good to have 10 guys on roster who can play and affect winning as winbow says!

    Go Rainbow Warriors!

  7. Derek- Hopefully, against Norfolk St and Nebraska Omaha( who are ranked 75th in RPI current), UH will have controlling and good leads, then Dyrbe, Aaron, Mike, can play quality time.

    Depth, and of course as you said the attitude and working it in practices, equal playing time. I think on hoopstalk, or BC radio show, Gib said that he wants to use, as Eagle said,Aaron Valdes, Mike Thomas, Stefan Jovanovich and Dyrbe Enos, much more, when BWC starts, with the need for depth and to provide spark and rest or relief for tired or foul strapped first 7, UH needs to use those guys, need depth, to make run in BWC tourney, and Post season, to win more games,..if make NCAA’s, it would be historic, if UH could win one or two or more!


  8. Kiaora MBB Ohana.

    Just returned back to New Zealand, and we thorougly enjoyed our time in Hawaii. We made connection with other players Ohana: Aussie mum, the Spearman ohana, the Valde’s ohana, the Shamburgers ohana, the Enos ohana. Wonderful to have met you all. Also great to catch up with some of Isaac’s relatives.

    Shout out to coach Brandyn and Joselyn ohana for taking care of us really well. Really appreciate your great hospitality.

    If anyone ever happen to be in New Zealand anytime, don’t hesitate to look me up, would love to assist anyway I can.

    Looking forward to the next 2 games.


  9. Tonganator, Aussie Mum, Spearman Ohana, Shamburger Ohana, Valdes Ohana, with that type of support for your sons, going to school and working hard on the court, that is why this team very special. The One Ohana, The One Family!

    Great that you all came to visit your sons.
    To the families, of Christian, Davis, a warm aloha for your support too!

    And soon, the West Coast, young athletes, will be seeing their folks, at the Big West Conference Road games, a total of 8, and of course the Big West Tournament. so…For those guys who come from California, Oregon, etc, , you will be seeing your relatives and loved ones soon!
    And of course shout out to the Webster-Chans in Toronto, Canada!

    Gib, Brandyn, Benjy, Scott Fisher, and Chris McMillan, great job on keeping team together, and being winners, in school, community and on the court!
    One Ohana!
    Uhfanzonly1. Looking forward to last two games, before BWC play starts. And hopefully, a full on challenge for regular and Big West Tournament Championships!

    Go Rainbows. Warriors, Let’s go Bows!

  10. I think the biggest reason Thomas isnt playing much is because he came in as a three, and then grew when he got here, so now he’s making the transition from a wing to a low post player. and that’s an entirely different skill set.

  11. Is Niko still with the team. Point guard. freshman. was injured earlier pre season.

  12. xer 21..
    .good memory. Remember, when Mike Thomas was in high school, his team not big, so coach asked him to play down low, though he was a 3. Now, coming out of HS, he was projected to be a 3. Because of being thin , especially with the loss of Caleb, Gib, wanted to use Mike as a 4 to relieve Fotu and Standhardinger. At mid season, Gib would start using Mike at wing. Same thing with Aaron Valdes, a 2 or 3, with the lack of dept in the frontcourt, Aaron does remarkably well helping and guarding down low, and occasional put backs, and rebounds. Sometimes in Basketball, with shortage of frontline guys, wings are asked to help on the boards. That is what Spearman is doing, plus the switching , the guards switch down low on the low block, to guard opponents bigs, when the bigs , Isaac and Christian, get stuck out guarding a perimeter player.

    Just works out that way. Boise St. not big, yet very smart and efficient team. Sort of what UH will have to do going against big teams, with good bigs, in Big West, Irvine, UCSB, LBSU, and post season.
    Gib and staff, and the team , are wise though, making great adjustments. Still think as hoops, and UHF, say, that Gib wants to use Mike Thomas more, just for that athleticism and to give the bigs a break. We need Mike whether at 3 or 4. Just to affect winning

  13. Niko is redshirting. he’s still here.

    and yeah, Thomas might have played down low, but he wasnt using a big man’s skill set, he never really posted guys up. which is what i think they’re working on with him.

  14. jjay…good question, don’t see him at games . I don’t know if Negus was there for Diamond Head Classic as well. I think during Winter Break, some of the Redshirts, option to go home and visit folks. Maybe, Niko chose to go home for Christmas break. If he does leave team, we shall know very soon, if he is not enrolled for Spring. We like Niko, like Nevels and Quincy Smith, Niko has that Something, an extra gear. Great PG mind as well. Never can have enough, He willing to RS with support of family, speaks volumes of families of Harper, Enos, Valdes, Hackman and Niki. Hope he does return. we shall see. This team very tight family.

  15. xer 21..
    .Thanks for update. Niko, has a great PG mentality, very quick , pretty good handles, and played with Stefan Jovanovich on a top rated Cali HS team. Niko Filopovich, Gib’s pipeline of good guards now. So important, Nevels, Smith, Filopovich, Fleming, and….they just keep coming.

    And you, xer21 are correct, Mike Thomas is not a 4, however Scott Fisher, who works with the bigs, is trying to help him out. Wait until, Jankovic, comes, that hybrid 4/5, then Mike can go wing. I still think as others say, that Mike is Growing, physically…awesome, and the young guy is trying to post a 4.0 GPA, trying his best. Gib has some great student athletes, and smart Basketball guys, that is why they are winning, and possibly could be even 11-1 at this point, great direction of UH Basketball men’s team.

  16. RE DHC 1st round…

    Can we please stop drawing the best or 2nd best team in the field every year? C’Mon, if the NBA can fix the lottery (allegedly), getting an Akron or a South Carolina in the 1st round isn’t too much to ask for.

  17. AMEN!
    May Be that ESPN
    Doesn’t Like HAWAI’I
    Taking the PRIME Time TOP TV-Rated Games …

    BUT For the FAST-Paced Style of BBall
    that GIB’s Got Them Playing Now…
    THEY Should be VERY Watchable…

    JUST Throw in More Bikinis and “Beach” (Sand) Volleyball…
    MORE Sunsets, Surfing, Blue Skies …
    and BIKINIS (did we already say that?)

    The Answer IS:


    HAWAI’I Has Become a Very Watchable Team…


    PROBABLY (Should PROVE IT Next Year)
    Whomever is Matched Up

    I think IF Hawai’i HAD Already Improved as Much as Post-DHC
    As they Learned with Saint Mary’s and Oregon State
    ( i THINK They Really Improved in FOUR Days)
    They Would have BEATEN Boise OR Iowa State…
    and As Was, Already Woulda Beat Either on the Last Day of The DHC…

    I guess that also Fits FUHA’s Point…
    Back in The Days when Riley Controlled the Seeding,
    They Would Have Built Up to The Finals Against the Best Team

  19. POSTED HERE, For the Good Seekers…

    And to Minimize Controversy or ʻConflictingʻ ANALYSES…

    POMEROY Ratings, which (so far) iʻve found very accurate and Highly Predictive:

    Hawaiʻi # 109

    Norfolk State # 198; Hawaiʻi Favored by 9

    Nebraska Omaha # 155; Hawaiʻi Favored bt 8

    WIN ʻEM Both, ʻBOWS!


    THEN, Put The BIG WEST On Notice….
    CAN Hawaiʻi DOMINATE?
    Win At Least Four of First Five?

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