Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors looking for payback against UC Riverside

The University of Hawai’i basketball team will get a chance at a do-over when it hosts UC Riverside in a Big West Conference game on Thursday night at the Stan Sheriff Center.

The teams are tied for fifth place in the Big West at 4-5. Hawai’i is 16-9 overall; UCR is 11-12, including a 66-62 win over the Warriors on January 17 at Riverside, Calif.

“We just didn’t play well that game – maybe our worst game of the season,” Hawai’i head coach Benjy Taylor said.


This game will have a different look for the Warriors, and not just because it will be in the Sheriff Center. When the teams met a month ago, senior guard Garrett Nevels did not suit up due to a thumb injury, and sophomore forward Negus Webster-Chan did not make the trip to Riverside due to flu-like symptoms.

“A big part of our offense … our two best 3-point shooters,” Taylor said. “We struggled offensively, but I don’t know if we would have beat them with those guys. We just didn’t play very well.”

Sophomore wing Aaron Valdes, the team’s leading scorer at 14.5 points per game, had his worst performance of the Big West season in the last meeting at Riverside. He scored two points on 1-for-12 shooting,

“We’re not trying to make excuses,” Valdes said. “We know we should have won that game. That was probably our worst game. I know personally for me, that was probably my worst game I played so I’m looking forward to getting out there and playing them again.”

What the Warriors did do well against the Highlanders was create turnovers. Hawai’i got 15 steals and forced UCR into 23 turnovers in the last meeting.

“We’re going to get after them and see what happens,” Taylor said. “But they’re better now than they were a month ago and so are we, so it’s going to go down to the wire.”

UCR is led by the inside-out duo of 6-foot-7 junior forward Taylor Johns and 6-3 junior guard Jaylen Bland. Johns is averaging team-highs of16.6 points and 8.2 rebounds per game; Bland is averaging 15.5 points per game and leads the Big West with 74 3-pointers.

Johns finished with seven points and seven rebounds in the first meeting with Hawai’i, while Bland contributed 15 points and five boards. The UCR player who hurt the Warriors most was 6-4 senior forward Steven Thornton, who scored a career-high 22 points.


“Thornton just really killed us,” Taylor said. “We let him get to a sweet spot a lot, driving right. With Bland, he hit some big shots late. We just have to guard those guys for 40 minutes. We can’t take plays off. The game was low-scoring the last time so we need to get the tempo up a little bit.”

The additions of Nevels and Webster-Chan should make a difference. Nevels is coming off a 16-point game at UC Santa Barbara. It was his best offensive game since undergoing hand surgery on December 31.

“My hand’s feeling good, my shot’s feeling pretty good,” Nevels said. “That last game definitely gave me a lot of confidence, so I’m going to try to keep it going.”

There is a potential subtraction, and it could be a significant one. Junior point guard Roderick Bobbitt has not practiced all week due to a knee injury, and is considered a game-time decision. He leads the nation with 81 steals, and had 10 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals in the loss at UC Riverside.

“This time of the year, guys get beat up a little bit,” Taylor said. “I don’t want to sacrifice his long-term health for the rest of the season for one or two games, so we have to make sure he’s 100 percent.”

(WarriorInsider.com file photos courtesy Warren Haraki)

Thursday’s Game Information
Hawai’i (16-9, 4-5 Big West) vs. UC Riverside (11-12, 4-5 Big West)
When: Thursday, Feb. 12, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center – Honolulu, O’ahu
Tickets: Lower level – $26 per seat; upper level – $18 for adults, $16 for senior citizens, $5 for students (age 4 through high school). Parking is $6.
Television: Live on OCSports – Channels 16 (SD) and 1016 (HD).
Streaming Video: www.bigwest.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.
Audio Webcast: Live audio streaming on espn1420am.com
Live Stats: Live in-game stats are available at HawaiiAthletics.com

— — — — — — —

Jamie Smith has (finally) returned as a member of the UH basketball staff, and his presence should be evident in the student section at this week’s home games. Specifically, theme nights are back in place.

Thursday night is “Rock Star Night” and Saturday is “Superhero Night.” Fans are encouraged to dress up in costumes on both nights.

Smith was in his home country of England for the past few months while awaiting clearance from UH officials.

— — — — — — —

More attendees have been added for Saturday’s Alumni Game, which is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center. It is considered part of a doubleheader, with the UH game against Cal State Fullerton to follow at 7 p.m.

Here is the latest list:

Eric Ambrozich, Jason “JC” Carter, Dennis Chai, Al Davis, Rykin Enos, Jerome Freeman, Ed Gayagas, Kawika Hallums, Dwight Holiday, Ryne Holliday, Phil Martin, Kalia McGee, Pii Minns, Woodrow Moore, Miah Ostrowski, John Penebacker, Geremy Robinson, Tim Shepherd, Kelii Silva, Justice Sueing, Lance Takaki, Johnny White, and Artie Wilson.

The alumni players will be split into two squads and play against each other in a 30-minute game.


  1. All I can say is… you know .. the same thing… GO RAINBOW WARRIORS..

    Get win 17 and 18.. make some NOISE…

    Heck, the team and Benjy and staff have really impressed and made it fun, for all of us on this forum…we go back and forth…me a little to over the top sometimes.. However love what Coach Taylor and his team have done.. Incredible job.

    Very sure team will win 20 or close to 20 games this overall season.. and get hot in March BWC tournament.. hey.. if Poly could do it last season.. Poly not want a cracker .. UH want an ncaa crack at that tournament..

    Go Bows !! And Fellow fans.. we just Backing The Bows !!

    Have fun ..!
    Team they is !!
    Put down the High in Highlanders from Riverside.. Down by the Riverside.. Down by the Riverside.

    Have to go to bed now.. good night and we watch, hopefully over 7000 plus with Jamie Smith for Rock Star night.. helping team and fans have fun!!


  2. Let’s Go Bows! Let’s Go Bows! Let’s Go Bows!

  3. Payback game indeed! Looking forward to it, especially after watching the last one agains them get away. Losing Rod tonight would suck but I’d prefer that he get his rest and prepare for bigger games coming ahead. We are deep enough to have other guys that can step in to fill the void. Fleming should be ready to go, Janks should be back to full health/regular minutes, and hopefully Benjy goes deep on the bench tonight so we can keep the tempo up and the pressure on!

    I have full confidence in the Warriors going 2 – 0 this week at home against lesser opponents. I’m not exactly expecting blowouts but I will be shocked if they don’t. If they end up losing either contest, it will be due to them being their own worst enemy (e.g., shooting 1 for 12).

    At this point in the season, I want to see the players going hard to the basket and not relying so much on the refs to bail them out. Go hard to the basket, finish strong. If there’s a whistle, so be it. If there isn’t, move on and adapt accordingly.

    There’s no place like home, right? Let’s GO BOWS!!

  4. If I remember, UH should of won the game at Riverside but they ran out of gas at the end (I know, I know sound familiar) but that was without G Nevels and Negus. Two guys makes a big difference for a team that doesn’t have that much deep bench to begin with. This team really need Bobbitt to make the defense work so hope he can play at least a little bit.

    Maybe Benjy can use the five for five subs like he did before. Five guys including Bobbitt for full court press, then bring in five new guys for half court D and rotate it every five minutes to keep Bobbitt rested.

  5. Alumnus Dennis Chai , name from the past, attended St. Louis High, class of 1961, same as Jim Leahy. Lettered in basketball at UH in 1961, per their website. Also, member of volleyball and track and field teams, 1961-65 . Retired as Associate Professor from UH.

    Four of five Fabulous Five members on the Alumni Game roster, Freeman, Holiday, Davis, Penebacker plus Artie Wilson who played with the Five and then with Tom Henderson.

    Speaking of Lance Takaki, he is on the roster too, per Dayton.

  6. Spark your interest, Bobby C said UH going for a big man in recruiting. Also, said UH is going the JC player route (don’t know the accuracy of his statements).

  7. I think the 30 minute Alumni Game is too long for the “old” alumni players. There’s going to be a lot of standing around, even though approx. 23 players.

  8. The key for UH to win the 7 final BWC regular season games…check stats and how UH loss the 5 games…appears to be:

    3 point shooting.

    1- UH allowing opponents to outshoot them from 3 line, and especially last 10 minutes of those losses. They have to guard in half court, and keep man in front of them, make really difficult for opponents, and it was all , what 4 different guys for UCSB that hit a 3 in final minutes of loss

    2- UH shoots the 3 ball, when good shot, not jacking them up, and especially when have to run half court sets, to close game out, just one pass, or no pass and 3 ball goes, up.. think in those losses, UH shooting in the 20 percent range, not going to win games, shooting that low a percentage.
    Take higher percentage shots, from paint, and mid range, in system, then move out on Good 3 ball shot selection

    Key… shooting and defending 3 pointers.. well…Of course, that Benjy Frenzy Ball, exciting for 35 minutes, get leads, .to hold leads.. as WE all know by now.. in last 6 minutes or so, tight game, or UH has good lead, SLOW it down.. and execute in half court..on O and D.. UH get that down.. from 100 mph to 50 mph to manage game and get win, by 1 pt or 21 pts.. key.
    Hey.. this team Never lacked for effort.. however.. cannot be so hectic, and frenetic when have to Slow down, yield and play smart,.. even Rod B. you can tell when slow down in half court, he is juiced to go.. however not just him.. THE WHOLE TEAM as one, execute well, avoid the unforced turnovers.. another Killer in Prime Time.

    All the above things to get down NOW.. completely fixable.. pressure up, get leads.. then be smart, when no breaks or advantage, slow down, execute.. on O half court.
    On D.. man up, or really good matchup zone, stay with the shooters.. fight over around screens…

    Interesting, in past 4 years or so.. UH was pretty good in guarding the 3 ball line, have to get back to that.. They will be in the hunt.

    HEY FOR FANS AND STUDENTS THAT CAN GO.. I would be happy if 7000+ showed up tonite, on Thursday week night, Rock Star night eighties and nineties.. with Jamie Smith.. should be fun

    Go Bows.. Get Two HUGE wins for a Winning Season guaranteed this year..

    ISLANDMAN.. yes, heard that on Animals show too, Yesterday.. Benjy and Que, they still working, to their credit,.. just business as usual..winning games, and RECRUITING>. Bigs..JC route.. WE would all like to see how Senque can recruit.. get another Reggie Cross, or Terry Houston, or Troy Ostler, would be good, an athletic, team guy, Vander type, quicker, and pass the ball out…would be great too..maybe freshmen qualifiers out of HS, who can transfer into UH as sophs. like Quincy with 3 years to play would be nice.. SEE how Benjy’s recruiting does.. they get those athletic, bigs, that can guard and score in the paint, rim protectors. and Terrific hands and strong rebounders.. This team next season and the following Will Be Really good.

    Hope works out for Benjy and The Bowz.. Really ray of sunshine for UH MBB fans..

  9. Main thing goal right now , must win at home ,two games hopefully will solidify our position which for now is 5th, not good ,but better than 8th. If we can win out hopefully we can get up to 4th . According to standings if we end up 5th we may be faced with Santa Barbara in first round, Not Good, especially with their big guy coming back who we didnt have to face . Gotta Protect the House and win tonight and Saturday, everybody show up and get your buns down to SSC!! Its Warrior Time!!

  10. It’s Fleming Time!!!!

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