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UPDATED: Warriors race past Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 85-57

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After a tumultuous and dizzying preseason, the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team officially righted the ship Friday night with a season-opening 85-57 victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

An appreciative crowd of 5,875 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched sophomore swingman Aaron Valdes notch a game-high 28 points and nine rebounds, and sophomore transfer Negus Webster-Chan added 16 points and eight boards on Night 1 of the 50th Annual Outrigger Hotels and Resorts Rainbow Classic.

Newcomer Roderick Bobbitt, a junior, added 11 points, four rebounds and seven assists, and senior co-captain Garrett Nevels contributed 11 points and four rebounds. Junior co-captain Quincy Smith shot 3 for 3 from the field and finished with eight points, five rebounds and two assists off the bench. Freshman Isaac Fleming added seven points, six rebounds and four assists in a reserve role.

“This was a good win for us, we needed that,” said UH coach Benjy Taylor. “We’re gonna keep competing.”

After clinging to a 33-32 lead at halftime, the Rainbow Warriors opened the second half with an 8-0 run highlighted by 3-pointers from Valdes and Webster-Chan. Hawai’i later appeared to be in a tenuous situation when post players Michael Thomas and Stefan Jovanovic each had four fouls with 10:21 remaining and the score at 55-48, but the Rainbow Warriors later used a 21-0 run to put the game away, leading 80-51 after Nevels’ layup with 2:50 left.

The victory represented a welcome affirmation of stability for a team that had been anything but stable the past three weeks. Former head coach Gib Arnold and assistant coach Brandyn Akana each was abruptly relieved of his duties on Oct. 28, and top returnee Isaac Fotu announced on Nov. 3 that he would withdraw from school and turn pro, after he was declared ineligible at least for the Rainbow Warriors’ preseason game vs. Hawai’i Pacific on Nov. 6.

A couple other players weighed intentions to transfer, but freshman Sammis Reyes reversed his decision and announced on Thursday he would re-join the team.

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UH was eager to put all that aside Friday night and finally focus on a real game, but even that was delayed when the preceding game between High Point and Cal State Bakersfield went into four overtimes.

“Obviously, we didn’t handle it (the long delay) well,” Taylor said.

Arkansas-Pine Bluff came out in an aggressive zone trap in the game’s first eight minutes or so, taking advantage of the Rainbow Warriors’ youth and unfamiliarity to force 11 first-half turnovers. The Golden Lions led, 18-15, with 11:10 remaining in the first half after JoVaughn Love’s alley-oop dunk. Hawai’i regained the lead on Nevels’ slam dunk about 30 seconds later and they went up, 28-24, on Bobbitt’s two free throws with 5:54 left.

But Pine Bluff later tied it at 28-28 on Marcel Mosley’s steal and layup, and after Valdes’ leaning banker put the Rainbow Warriors ahead, 33-28 with 1:03 remaining, the Golden Lions later closed it to 33-32 on Mosley’s two free throws 14 seconds before halftime.

“We have only one senior, and we’re one of the most inexperienced teams in the country,” Taylor said. “We’re gonna make mistakes, we’re gonna grow and learn, and hopefully we’ll get some wins along the way. I think I over-coached in the first half, I was trying to control the game and put us in situations to make plays. But they were trapping the wings and the corners, and we made some mistakes.

“(In the second half) we went to ball fakes and stretched the floor a bit. That’s how we’re going to be, we’re going to have to be blue collar, grind it out. We don’t need them to do spectacular things, just the little things that will make us better.”

The Rainbow Warriors made just 11 of 33 field goal attempts in the first half, but got better in a hurry in the second half, igniting their transition game and converting 20 of 34 shot attempts (59 percent).

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“We were moving the ball to the open man, and we’ve got all five guys who can shoot, so that’s when we were having fun,” said Valdes, who was 11 of 15 (73.3 percent) from the field. “We got off to a slow start, but we were able to pick away at it.”

Most impressively, UH made its biggest run just when it appeared to be most vulnerable — with Thomas and Jovanovic each saddled with four fouls and the Rainbow Warriors clinging to a 55-48 lead. That is when Quincy Smith dropped in a floater with 10:06 remaining, sparking the stunning 23-3 run which ended with Valdes’ thunderous alley-oop slam dunk to make it 78-51 with just over three minutes left.

“I do like the way they responded to that situation,” Taylor said. “I spent hours and hours (this week) coming up with a rotation (of substitutions), but that went out the window after the first eight minutes. We tried to have an interior presence, but the foul trouble forced us to go small. Maybe I gotta go small before we get into foul trouble. I’ve used small lineups before, sometimes you can steal some minutes with a small lineup.”

Hawai’i finished with a .463 field goal percentage, and out-rebounded the Golden Lions, 46-28. The Warriors also went 8 for 24 from 3-point range, and 15 for 20 (75 percent) on free throws. Arkansas-Pine Bluff shot just 35.8 percent from the field (19 for 53), 26.3 percent from 3-point range (5 for 19) and 60.9 percent on free throws (14 for 23). Hawai’i committed 17 turnovers, but passed for 20 assists.

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Marcel Mosley led the Golden Lions with 18 points, and JoVaughn Love added 15.

Taylor said the victory showed just a piece of this team’s overall potential.

“I’m really excited,” Taylor said. “It’s a long season, a tough season, but there’s a lot of room for growth, and I want to see us get there. The program is in good shape.”

Webster-Chan, who transferred from Missouri and sat out last year as a redshirt, attested to as much.

“It was long, it took me a full year,” Webster-Chan said. “But once I go out there, I could feel the energy from the crowd and when we got hot, I was loving it. And we’re gonna get better every game. I couldn’t ask for a better place to play.”

Taylor said Reyes will suit up for tonight’s 7:30 game against Cal State Bakersfield, but Taylor does not yet know if he will play. High Point defeated Bakersfield, 100-99, in the four-overtime thriller that delayed the start of the Hawai’i game by more than one hour.

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Game photos courtesy Matt Osumi

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TONIGHT’S GAME INFO

What: 50th Annual Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic
Who: Hawai’i (1-0, 0-0 Big West) vs. Cal State Bakersfield (0-1, 0-0 WAC)
When: Saturday, Nov. 15, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center (10,300) – Honolulu, O‘ahu
Tickets: Lower level – $26; upper level – $18 for adults, $16 for senior citizens (65-older), $5 for students (ages 4-18). Parking is $6.
Television: Live on OCSports – Channels 16 (SD) and 1016 (HD).
Streaming Video: Live video streaming is available on Big West.tv.
Radio: Live on ESPN 1420 AM. Neighbor islands can listen live on KNUI on Maui, KHLO in Hilo, KKON in Kona, KTOH on Kaua’i, and KNWJ in Pago Pago, American Samoa.
Audio Webcast: Live audio streaming on espn1420am.com
Live Stats: Live in-game stats are available at HawaiiAthletics.com

Promotions: Outrigger Resorts is the tournament sponsor and will distribute 1,000 “rollabannas” each night, beginning one hour prior to each UH game. Also, Outrigger will award up to $2,000 each night during the popular “Shoot for Loot” contest at halftime. Kids can sign up to to be a lucky winner in the Outrigger Keiki & Tween Prize Giveaway. In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic, Outrigger will award a prize at Friday’s game to the first 50 people that present their ID showing that they turn 50 in 2014. Also, Outrigger will award a prize at Saturday’s game to the fan wearing the oldest Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic t-shirt. Monday’s midnight game is a “Black Out” and fans are asked to wear UH-branded black shirts, which can be purchased at H-Zone stores at Ward Center and the Stan Sheriff Center.

UH Student Promotions: Saturday’s game is “Star Wars Night” and the first 700 students receive a free Lightsaber. Monday is a “Black Out” and the first 700 students receive a free black t-shirt.

19 Comments

  1. UH MBB Warriors , Rainbow Warriors, great job, and Coach Taylor, Que, Loyd and staff, great job managing game and athletes….One day at a time, one victory to be had..just get better week to week, month to month, and then March, go booooom!

    Thanks to All the Warrior MBB fans, the support, and the Ohana, like the Valdes, Enos, Bushcers in the house and others listening too, or watching a video. Great game and first win.

    UH WI UH MBB nation.. could not be prouder.. Now Benjy, do the scout, or Que /Loyd and battle that big from Bakersfield..

    Once again since I cannot go, and perhaps some others through cirucumstance, PLEASE if you are able to , students and older and newbie fans, SUPPORT THE TEAM by going to SSC..
    These guys deserve 6000 in attendance at least.. !!

    Go Bows. Warriors!!
    🙂

  2. Only the first game, but this team is so fun to watch. They play “all out” and everybody hustles. Keep it up guys and you’ll get the support you guys deserve. Hawaii is hungry for a feel good team.

  3. I like the fight in these boys it all starts with defense .

  4. Anyone know why (according to Brian M) Buscher and Stepteau were not in uniform ?

    This team looks quite athletic on defense . The steal by Bobbitt on the video was too quick to see what happened.

  5. Excellent start! Great hustle! Team knows what they have to improve on…. -Go Bows..

  6. Did anyone notice that Aaron Valdes shooting is so much better than last year. I mean even his mechanics seems better. Now when he shoots he has better elevation and because of his jumping ability he just goes straight up and not forward. His shooting is starting to remind me of Zane Johnson. And he seems to have that uncanny ability to go where the ball will bounce. Sort of like how John Penebacker played scoring with a lot of put backs under the basket. This is just the first game and it’s amazing what we saw out of Valdes last night. And he did it with confidence and composure as if he was playing a full season.

  7. Some may not like this but…. Believe Coach Arnold deserves credit. He’s the Coach that recruited these players as well as outlined what they had to do in the offseason to be where they are today. Great CHARACTER players as evidenced by the way these young guys have stepped up.

  8. Tako, I am sure Coach Arnold is just as proud of his players after last night as I am for him bringing them here. They are an outstanding bunch of young men who win or lose I can get behind. Talk about support, the student section was as awesome as the team and its great they got to be part of such a great win.

    The thing I noticed about Valdes last night was the incredible body control when he leaves the floor.He was squaring himself up to the basket once he was in the air and with his jumping ability it was like a 6″8/9 guy shorting an uncontested shot. I love it. Keep it up. And oh yes, he was patient and seem to be taking shots not making them up. Negus was another one who you look up, scratch your head and ask where/when did he get those baskets and rebounds. I like his style.

    Kudo’s to Quincy. You got robed on that steal. It was a piece of art that the refs couldn’t appreciate. It belong in a “how to” video. Bobbitt’s interception, that is all you can compare it to, was also worth the price of admission along with his on the floor hustle and pass after Stephan lead him. Good going Stephan, you are going to be a player and a needed one as we go along.

    See you all tonight. I have to get back to watch the replay I taped of last nights game.

  9. tako I agree coach Arnold & staff build a nice team i know he was watching his squad perform without him at the helm his asst coaches are stepping up as well thats the reflection of a good coach with bball knowledge.

  10. bigdaddy — The Wife noted: “This Team is So Much Faster” as Isaac dribble-faked and took his cross-over past the ‘frozen-in-place’ defense on a fast-break and made a Great Pass all ‘lookin’ full-speed’ — All in What — Less Than Three Seconds?
    And Isaac is easily The MOST Aggressive “First-Game” Freshman i’ve ever seen — NO Tentativeness Apparent in His Defense OR Jump Shot…(Of Course You ‘Gotta Be Good’ To Get IN The Game In Prime Time of Your First College Game…So i’m actually comparing him to Reggie Carter who played for the NYKnicks.)

    AND He (and Seemed Whole Team) Seems to Really Value and ENJOY Playing Defense…
    Clearly Reflecting You & Your Viewpoint
    THAT IS Smart BB & GREAT to see

    As You said, “It All Begins With Defense…”
    Several Fouls were The Refs not yet learning to Adjust to The Team’s Defensive Quickness;
    Clean Plays that the Refs haven’t Learned Yet to be in position to see Clearly
    The Hawai’i Crowd BOOed the Refs as Loudly as i’ve ever heard on some of those calls
    And Louder After The Scoreboard Replay

    Agree, They Definitely — First, But Real Good, Impression–
    ATTACK On DEFENSE… Pressure, Get in the Opposition’s Space —
    Aggessive, Athletic And Strong… And Quick
    They Complement Each Other Well
    Bobbitt knocks the ball out when there seems to be ‘No Play’, Just another Pass Going Back The Other Way
    and The Break Is On.. SIX Second-Half Roderick Assists — Great Conversion of Turnovers …
    Aaron and Negus are like Tightly Wound Watch-Springs Springing Forward – At the Right Time – Around, Beyond the Opponent for Clean Steals and Breakaways….

    Nice Offensive and BB Skills, Too!
    bd- Thanks for Supporting Isaac on His Cross-COUNTRY Jaunt
    What a Difference He, Roderick, Aaron, Negus Already make!

    Servante — Agree with ‘Every’ Aaron Observation
    Straight Up, Under Control, In-Balance, Much Less Likely to Foul
    Thank You Valdés Óhana for The Gift and Support of Aaron In Hawaií..
    28 points in 27 minutes, 11-15 FG (73% Fotu-Like Numbers, Kinda Like Last-Year’s All-Conference Sophomore), 2-3 on Threes, 4 for 4 Free-Throws, 9 Rebounds (Three Offensive), 2 assists, Three Steals (Tied for Team Lead with Roderick), TWO Fouls; (I’ll Cut him some First-Game-Only Slack)

    (I Think) Hawai’i Fans Respect and Gonna Love This Team’s Effort and Work Ethic

    GO ‘Bows!
    FIND The Ways to Get WIN #2 Tonight!

    702(?) Crazy Green Light Sabers and All!
    [Since US No-Longer-Registered-Students Don’t Get Free ($100 Retail) Light Sabres (As It Should Be ‘For the Students’)
    i think we might just bring our own….IF they gave out iPads instead..eligibility might never have been an issue?]
    P.S. People Really WANTED The Black and Green T-Shirts That List ALL The Game Party Night Themes
    NICE JOB Jamie Smith (!) who’s here NOW “Visiting” On His Own Dime and Time
    While he gets his VISA and UH Hire Updated…[Awesome that we Stole Him Away from The Boston Celtics!(?)]

    SO MUCH Here to Like, FANS!

    ————-THE “BLACK-OUT” SIDE—————
    [Tako – Betcha 70-80% of those at This Site — AND ON The TEAM — See it that way…
    Yes, Errors, Yes, LEARN-Able… UNLESS BAD Non-Trustworthy Individuals…
    I TRUST Most MORE After their mistakes, The Good Ones Become Teachers Or Ambassadors of “Doin’ it Right’
    As They Struggle to Recover themselves in their own Self-Disappointment — The Good Ones Judge Themselves the Hardest– i’d Remind Them That They WILL Be Better Players And Coaches having Learned from their mistakes].

  11. I was there last night but had to woke up early to watch the replay and was so happy to see these kids pull out a win like this. This program and all those coaches and players every single one deserve praise and credit for sticking through this and showing the fans what they are made of. This is a team with a lot of heart and a lot of hustle.

    This might not be the run and gun team that Gib had in mind but these guys can get after the ball and that leads to some fantastic finishes on the break. So very exciting to watch these guys.

    My only concern is the depth problem with only using eight guys a game.Need probably two more guys to come back whether it is Sammis or Jawato or Janks or better yet all of them.

    Now lets get win number 2 tonight!

  12. You gotta love UH athletics webiste. Not!!

    I tell you there is some kind of conspirancy against this basketball team. I just went to the UH site and when you click on the video for the UH basketball game they start showing some stuff with the women’s team. Talk about no respect!

    I said it already so many times about the bumblers and fumblers at UH athletic department and they keep proving me right. So sad.

    I will also say this again, dont let any of the negatives get you down Warriors! Be Warriors and throw the poop back in their faces by winning games!

  13. The 1st half went as I expected… sloppy, discombobulated, not much flow. All things considered, taking a 1 pt lead into halftime was pretty nice with all the issues surrounding the program and the make shift training camp,

    Eventually, UH just had too much talent over their opponent and overwhelmed them.

    It looked like Nevels was trying to lead, but maybe nerves and the adrenaline got the better of him.

    After halftime, Valdes did exactly what was needed… and that was for somebody to step up and become a 2nd scoring threat other than Nevels. I don’t expect Valdes to go for 28 every night, but if just stays aggressive and keeps his confidence up, I don’t see why he can’t be a 20 pt per night guy. Standhardinger wasn’t the most gifted scorer, but his just was an animal in terms of aggressiveness.

    NWC was solid. I can’t wait to see him get comfortable and really step up his game.

    I think this team has probably the best group of on-ball defenders UH has had in a very long time. Valdes, Bobbitt, Flemings, and Filopovic are solid on-ball defenders. These 4 can really cause havoc for opposing guards. On-ball pressure will need to be their calling card this season. It’s one thing they can do to mitigate their lack of depth in the front court.

    Only concerns that I could see was Thomas and Jovanovic got in foul trouble. UH got away with this because their opponent didn’t have the tools to take advantage.

  14. Thank you for that islandman and that is exactly the kind of cool videos that UH should be promoting for this team. Maybe they can even post some videos on this site!

    I kid you not though the UH site still has the video of the womens team connected to the mens story. It really is embarrassing and sad for the guys to work so hard for a win and have stuff like that from your own athletic administration.

  15. Hey fans…and bigdady in NBA, NCAA, teams get after it defensively…they have chance to win games..the guards and wings long athletic quick..agree
    Eagle: When Jawato, Sammis and Jankovich get ready..there will be more depth 3 to 5..

    Team servante. reminds me of Fab Five defense and Tom Henderson led teams..

    Agree Eagle , Fleming is bigdaddy’s big game hoops deluxe..defense, assists..
    Bobbitt just getting started? Wow, no wonder he was considered one of top Winning guars in NJCAA..

    NWC..get on board..he is riding train to glory

    AV..Phil Lott 5.0
    Jovanovich, banger..
    and our guy who has injured hand Mike Thomas? Lookout bro stay ready to show some 3+star Cali magic
    he will be ready
    And NO QUESTION THESE ARE GIB AND BENJY, and Akana’s guys
    take car Gib..you can be proud
    darn proud..
    High Character by team and Benjy Ball!!

    Go Bows
    was NWC playing 5? Yesssir !! Salute Ontario!!

    🙂

  16. Chuck..we all love Beeman and her gals..they win at Fort Collins fantastic
    however what this team went through and going to fight..that UH athletic site should make it right
    still proud of both teams , still NCAA MBB games athletically exciting to watch

    Wish well for both programs

    Especially this Warrior team..

  17. Trifecta for UH sports. Men’s and women’s basketball wins and football pulls off the shutout.

  18. Ahmed looks something like Fotu .

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