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Warriors warm up for BYU at Salt Lake City

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – If osmosis through a practice facility is possible, then the University of Hawai’i basketball team was in the right place on Friday.

The Warriors will play Brigham Young on Saturday afternoon, and they prepared for it with a two-hour practice at the University of Utah. The Utes happen to be BYU’s intra-state rival, and they just upset No. 8-ranked Wichita State on Wednesday in Salt Lake City. Utah also beat BYU last year in Salt Lake City.

UtahHuddle

The Hawai’i vs. BYU game will take place in the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, but that arena was unavailable on Friday because the Utah Jazz were hosting a game that night. The game is scheduled to start at 1 p.m. (Hawai’i time) and will be televised via BYU-TV (Oceanic channel 409).

“They helped us out,” UH acting head coach Benjy Taylor said of practicing at the University of Utah. “They had us practicing (Friday) at 7 o’clock (p.m.) at a junior college, and we play at 4 (Mountain time), so I said no way we can do that, so we got a hold of these guys and they were nice enough to help us out. This is a beautiful practice facility, so hopefully we can return the favor one day.”

Interestingly enough, the Warriors could do the Utes a favor by beating the Cougars. Utah and BYU are scheduled to play each other next Wednesday.

Hawai’i is 7-2 and brings a three-game winning streak to Salt Lake City. BYU is 6-2, including a 91-81 victory at Utah State earlier this week.

The Cougars lead the nation in scoring at 95.1 points per game, but the Warriors are not necessarily looking to turn it into a racetrack for baskets.

“We’re going to play our game,” Taylor said. “We’ve been an opportunistic break team all year. I won’t consider us a fast break team, but if we smell blood in the water, that’s what we’re going to do. If not, we’ll do a better job of executing in the half-court.”

It could come down to a challenge of styles, as the Warriors are allowing just 66.8 points per game to their opponents. BYU has scored at least 85 points in each of its games this season, but Hawai’i has allowed only one opponent (San Francisco with 88) to score that many.

“Defense is always the key no matter what teams you play,” sophomore forward Aaron Valdes said. “We just have to lock in tomorrow and be ready for their shooters.”

Senior guard Garrett Nevels said: “I think it’s stopping them in transition. Just getting out to their shooters.”

There is the issue of the thin air at altitude, as Salt Lake City is situated 4,327 feet above sea level, or about 4,320 feet higher than Honolulu.

“I’ll probably go a little deeper in the rotation, but it’s not that big a deal,” Taylor said. “Altitude, it is what it is. Nothing we can do in 24 hours is going to change that. We have to get over it mentally.”

Friday’s practice at the University of Utah certainly helped the Warriors learn what it feels like.

“It was hard at first, breathing at stuff,” Valdes said. “But you’re going to get used to it. I think we’ll be ready by tomorrow. The subs are going to be key coming off the bench and giving us energy.”

What’s more, the Warriors actually arrived in Salt Lake City on Thursday night, giving them an extra night to rest and adjust.

Valdes1_Bakersfield

The Warriors will likely stick with their same starting lineup: Roderick Bobbitt at point guard, Nevels and Valdes at the wings, and Negus Webster-Chan and Mike Thomas at the forwards.

Valdes leads the team with 15.4 points and 7.4 rebounds per game; Nevels is next in both categories at 12.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.

Webster-Chan is averaging 9.2 points and 4.6 rebounds per game, and leads the team with 16 3-pointers. Bobbitt is averaging 9.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and team-highs of 5.6 assists and 2.6 steals per game. Thomas is averaging 8.2 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

Reserves expected to play key roles include: freshman guard Isaac Fleming (7.9 points and 3.8 rebounds per game), sophomore center Stefan Jovanovic (4.8 points, 3.1 rebounds) and junior guard Quincy Smith (4.8 points, 2.8 rebounds).

Fleming portrayed BYU leading scorer Tyler Haws during Friday’s practice. Haws ranks fourth in the nation in scoring at 23.8 points per game, but Fleming had to adjust his own style to properly portray Haws. “They were actually getting upset because I was creating and going to the basket and scoring and they were telling me that’s not what he does,” Fleming said. “He’s more a catch-and-shoot type of player.”

The Warriors said they are looking forward to the challenge, and the rare opportunity to play in an NBA arena.

“I encourage everybody back home to watch this one because it’s going to be up and down, a lot of scoring, so it’s going to be a lot of fun,” Valdes said.

Nevels added: “It should be a real good atmosphere. Nice arena, NBA arena, so that’s what everybody wants.”

Temperatures were expected to be in the 30s in Utah this weekend, but the sun was shining and it was in the 50s on Friday afternoon.

“This ain’t cold, this is normal,” said Fleming, who is from Delaware. “I’m used to this, this is nothing.”

GAME INFO

Who: Hawai’i (7-2, 0-0 Big West) vs. Brigham Young (6-2, 0-0 West Coast Conference)
Where: EnergySolutions Arena, Salt Lake City, Utah
When: Saturday, December 6, 1 p.m. (Hawai’i time)
TV: Live on BYU-TV (Oceanic channel 409 in Hawai’i)
Streaming video: Live at www.byutv.org
Radio: Live on ESPN 1420 AM. Neighbor islands can listen live on KNUI on Maui, KHLO in Hilo, KKON in Kona and KTOH on Kaua’i.
Streaming audio: Live at www.espn1420.com
Live stats: Live in-game stats at www.hawaiiathletics.com

24 Comments

  1. Go Bows….glad you guys in utah
    stay together play great defense..control tempo.and grab victory
    nothing to lose..everthing to gain
    keep on improving!!
    Go Rainbow Warriors !!
    🙂

  2. From an article by a Salt Lake writer:

    ” Hawaii is 7-2, but hasn’t really played anyone, or played in a hostile environment yet this season. Still, this has the potential to be a trap game for BYU, with the Utah game looming … ”

    http://www.sltrib.com/home/1913370-155/basketball-byu-players-laugh-off-utah

  3. Well we shall see. Glad we don’t have schedule like Long Beach. On the road for December playing San Diego State, Texas, Louisville, Syracuse, St. John’s. Brutal. UH schedule not the greatest but better than that. Go Bows!

  4. UH MBB just happy to play…hey some said uh mbb schedule weak..well Pitt win in maui, 2 out of 3 in florida, now byu.. in utah..Nebraska first game DHC..tougher schedule for team without HC and assistant

    that recruited them..frend and elite pf gone pro..what they got to be afraid of? Nothing!! which utah fans don’t like…nice the utes let uh mbb practice in their facilities..
    would not be surprised at all if uh mbb wins 🙂

    Very proud of Benjy and team !!
    they been underdogs..and every bit of junk thrown on them..they are winners!! Real warriors, fun game to watch…help them for rest of season..

    Go Bows!!
    🙂

  5. Keepitreal

    True too hard a schedule can deflate confidence with one loss after another. On the other hand wish we didn’t have to play so many powder puffs. I don’t think you can improve your game playing many teams in the RPI 250 to 350 range. One or two a year is more than enough. But then scheduling quality teams to come to Hawaii to play is never easy. No one wants to come all the way out here with the possibility of losing to a lower ranking team than they. The only way you can do it is we are a top 25 team. Then will come and we might get invited to tournaments such as the Maui Classic and play the Dukes and Arizona’s. Now that’s college basketball.

  6. Just win 19+ games at least this year pre bwc tournament…get hot and get to ncaa’s…would be unreal, remarkable year
    benjy just win 18 games with great guys …guarantees winning 2014-15 season..really love this team..family..:)
    then whomever runnuing uh athletic ship stabilize uh mbb hc and recruiting..would put benjy..que in top of list..recruit sg..pf…center etletic high character
    then in years to come be top 35 team consistent!!
    🙂

  7. Let’s Go Bows! Let’s Go Bows! Let’s Go Bows!

  8. Sorry for the delay on the video. It is now posted above.

  9. Mahalo Dayton..you the best!!
    🙂

  10. Brad Autry and Senque working hard in the drills in the video.

  11. Special mahalo to Schmidt ohana, Amerprise and Pacific Risk Solutions for sponsoring Dayton and video footage. WI and the Schmidts real solid fans of this family mbb team.

    From WI UH MBB fans from NZ to Lihue…thankyou so very much!!
    🙂

  12. Hey, 15C&4ofL:

    Each basketball game maybe enjoy & view from various perspectives.

    Overall performances so far as a group – you are beyond expectations.

    Good effort produce good result.

    May luck be with you!

  13. Know the guys tired, cold, dry hands and mouth at altitude, have to gut it out, toughen it out, defende, and Benjy has to go 9 deep , maybe 10 or 11, keep that fundamental Defense, going good. Hey whatever the outcome,… UH just keep grinding getting better, come home for 2 weeks , get Janks into top 9 rotation and ready for Chaminade, DHC, the last 2 pre BWC games Then the true test, winning or going out to win 19+ games pre BWC tournament,.. keep the prize ahead of your eyes !!

    Go Bows. You Got Chance, ? Of Course, wish the best !!
    🙂

  14. I am very anxious to see how the team responds in this game. BYU has the experience and size on there side, but I really believe UH might have the edge in athletes and courage. Everybody is talking about Haws, but I think the guy for BYU who can not go off is Fischer. He made 10 3’s against Chaminade and can not let him do that again.

    I saw that BYU treating this like a road game and they stayed at a hotel in Salt Lake City yesterday. It must be nice to have that kind of money but I’m sure it helps that there football team wins games and goes to bowl games.

  15. New Jersey Institute of Technology beats Michigan at Ann Arbor 72-70!! Anything can happen. It’s why they play the game. Believe and play together. Go Bows! (Nothing like college bb! Gotta love it!)

  16. Keepitreal….yes…chaminade beats virginia 32 years ago
    UClA and Nort Carolina Both lost to low mid majors at home
    basketball parity…3 pt shot…quicks..athleticism..grit and heart

    Just would not surprise us if Bows won..
    just do not give up…The 11…
    give effort.defense
    hit free throws
    🙂

  17. Heck this season…team will give 100% as long as healthy emotionally, physically, mentality. .
    look forward to game..awesome
    team has to make shots
    Get D stops
    they win
    🙂

  18. ALL Weʻre Asking is Win ONE Game… Today…

    IF You CAN, IF You DO… Huge…

    Just Like Pitt (Rated #40), BYU (Rated #44) [REF; kenpom.com]
    on a ʻNeutralʻ Court? Wouldnʻt A Lot of Utah And Utah State ʻFansʻ Continue to Cheer Against Arrogant BYU?
    So Many Years BYU treated Utah, Utah State AND Hawaiʻi like Second-Class Opponents
    To Them, Beating Notre Dame would be a Big Deal…This Three? “What Rivalry?. theyʻd say

    Tough One — A Team that Can Score @ Will (As Much As Any, #1 Even]
    BUT This Is The One You Can Harass to Death & A Loss Today
    BOTH their Losses in O.T.
    SO You Know They Wonʻt Quit even to the Last Second

    This TEAM (Hawaii) KNOWS They CAN Do It
    That Team (BYU) is Already Playing like they Can Do It Every Day
    Todayʻs Could Be One of he Great Battles

    Have FUN ʻBows!
    Have a Great Day!

    GO ʻBows!
    Win ʻBows!
    Weʻll be with You In Spirit!

    40, 45, 50. 55 Minutes
    ALL Strong, Finish Strong!

  19. Quote from above, probably The Upset by a team the last one in NCAA D1 not a part of conference, No at large bid to NCAA unless they go 30-5, regular season, their RPI must have jumped a lot…Upset 17th ranked Michigan In Ann Arbor, Mich. .. The Upset of the NCAA DI MBB season and perhaps the 21st century first quarter..

    If they could do it.. however they hit what.. 11-17 from 3 line, and their two main guns, went throught the Michigan Bigs for points near the rim.. And Michigan shot really well.. ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN.. UH just play their game, hope they not cold, or tired… just Defend and Make shots, You guys can Win !!

    Quote from Keepitreal above:” New Jersey Institute of Technology beats Michigan at Ann Arbor 72-70!!” HIstoric,.. If NJIT could do it.. UH can beat BYU.. even if UH comes up short.. not for lack of effort, AND NO ONE on team pouts or get negative emotional.. win or lose, support each other and Come back for next 2 weeks work to get better with Janks in top 9 rotation..

    Go Bows !! Get Chance? Yes !!

    Give em Bows !! Go
    The Mighty Warriors !
    🙂

  20. At the start of BB practice, we were picked about 4th or 5th in the Big West, that is with Fotu and all our coaches. With Fotu and the 2 coaches gone, we slid down to dead last place. Everybody looked at us as a powder puff team and a guarantee win on their schedule, so nothing wrong with us playing other powder puffs (and winning). But beating Pitt was a shocker. I don’t think any fan thought we had a chance. Pleasant surprise. BYU is a tough one though, and I don’t expect them to win this one either. But if they can hang tough with them and give them a good game, I know I will be happy (kinda like how the Wahine hung with Stanford and UNC). It will be a good measuring stick for them when they start conference play, and it may help them shed that powder puff label (if they have’nt already). Win or lose, I hope they play well. Can’t wait to seem them play at home again.

  21. Anything wrong with NWC? Checked box score and nothing for him? Sick? Injury?

  22. Per Brian McGinnis, NWC has sprained ankle. Wouldn’t it be amazing if the Bows win. First no coach or Fotu when contract was signed and now one starter down.

  23. Negus was in sweats, on the bench.

  24. No depth, no legs but no shame. Do not hang heads. No fun to lose but still playing hard through the end. Learn from each loss and get better. Keep your eyes on the prize…March and tourney time. Keep working. Looking forward to DHC. Hope fans come out for Nebraska game. Show this team you appreciate their effort. Go Bows!

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