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UPDATED: Warriors hold off Montana State for opening win

Valdes_MSU

The University of Hawai’i basketball team – and first-year head coach Eran Ganot – is 1-0 right now, and that’s the bottom line for now.

A fast start helped offset a slow finish for the Warriors in an 87-76 opening night victory over Montana State on the opening night of the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic. A crowd of 6,259 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Hawai’i control the game from start to finish, although the Bobcats made the score respectable in the closing minutes.

“Obviously, number one, pleased with the win,” Ganot said. “You do this long enough, you’ll lose your mind if you don’t enjoy these. That’s what we told our guys. It’s hard to because of the way we finished the game, but a lot of good things, a lot of things to build off.”

Senior forward Aaron Valdes led the scoring with 18 points, including four dunks in the second half. He also grabbed nine rebounds, but was not the only standout for the Warriors.

Sai Tummala scored 17 points, including 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point range, in his first game in a Hawai’i uniform. The senior forward played at Arizona State last season, but transferred to UH and is eligible to play immediately as a graduate student.

“Sai is a really great kid and a great worker,” Ganot said. “He’s a grunt work guy who can shoot the ball … today he was open and he took great shots.”

Tummala played 22 minutes in relief of starter Mike Thomas, who was limited to 14 minutes due to foul trouble. Tummala hit his first five 3-point shots before missing one midway through the second half.

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“It was good,” Tummala said. “My teammates put me in good positions with good shots and we have a good point guard like Rod and I know he’s going to throw it back to me when I’m open. I just had to stay ready.”

Not to be overlooked, the Warriors got double-doubles from center Stefan Jankovic (15 points, 11 rebounds) and point guard Roderick Bobbitt (10 points, 14 assists).

Jankovic had 13 points and seven rebounds in the first half, when the Warriors managed to take a 48-27 lead at intermission.

Bobbitt also contributed five rebounds and five steals, and committed just two turnovers while playing a game-high 39 minutes.

“A lot of times when people talk about Rod, they start with the steals … but it’s a disservice not to talk about his ability to facilitate.”

Bobbitt said: “I just feel like we came out harder than we did against Chaminade (in last week’s exhibition). We just kept our foot on their throat and we didn’t try to let them see any chance to get back in the game. Eventually we let them hit a couple 3s and feel like they get back in it, but we stuck together and played hard, got the W.”

The Warriors shot 51.6 percent (32 for 62) from the field, but just 57.7 percent (15 for 26) from the free-throw line. They shot 9 for 20 on free throws in the second half, allowing the Bobcats to chip away at the lead.

“We wanted to finish this game better,” Ganot said. “You can list them all. Free throw shooting, half-court execution, taking care of the ball, and then we went away from our defense. The whole combination of that. We were fortunate to be up like we were.”

Hawai’i hit its first six shots of the game, and raced to a 14-6 lead to open the game. Later in the first half, the Warriors went on a 12-0 run to increase its lead to an insurmountable 46-24.

The Warriors led by as many as 26 points early in the second half. The lead remained in double-digits for the entire second half, and the final margin of 11 was as close as it got.

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Zach Green and Tyler Hall led Montana State with 15 points each. The Bobcats, who are predicted to finish 11th out of 12 teams in the Big Sky Conference, shot 44.2 percent from the field and committed 21 turnovers.

The Warriors collected 14 steals, led by Bobbit’s five, and three each from Valdes and Jankovic.

Quincy Smith added nine points on 4-of-6 shooting for Hawai’i, and Mike Thoma added seven points on 3-of-4 shooting. Sophomore guard Isaac Fleming, who sat out last week’s exhibition game for personal reasons, scored six points in 22 minutes off the bench.

The Warriors will continue play in the Rainbow Classic on Sunday, when they host Coastal Carolina at 4:30 p.m. Montana State will face Nevada at 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Nevada defeated Coastal Carolina, 73-56, in Friday’s first game of the Rainbow Classic.

(Game photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com)

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36 Comments

  1. We won’t celebrate ’till TEAM won 3 straight in the BWC tournament !!!

  2. Good start. I like the team’s fast tempo. Makes it exciting.

  3. Thanks for the video, Dayton. To add to the writeup above and to Uhf1 on dribble drive offense:

    “I do (enjoy this system), Bobbitt said. “We have a lot of pick-and-roll calls and reads, and we space the floor a lot. I really enjoy myself and I like bringing a 2 (shooting guard) to the ball (for a pick) and finding a teammate open.” (SA print edition)

    Tougher tests coming up. Should Roderick take some breaks even though he wants to play the whole game ?

  4. agree island man only saw the game on stream but second half was not as good as first which looked like fatigue using a few more players for a burst here and there may help

  5. “For that guy to be an extension of the coach…” (Ganot) please tell me he’s not trying to take credit for Bobbit’s natural instincts and ability. And you didn’t recruit the guy either. I mean, I’m glad he’s praising him and all, but come on, keep yourself out of it.

    I enjoyed the first half A LOT and was relieved by our defensive intensity.

    Let’s see what kind of consistency they can bring over the next couple of nights. One thing for sure, these kids are talented and exciting to watch. So glad to be back at the Stan!

  6. Will be good test against Coastal Carolina and Nevada, a step up in talent .
    Still concerned about, you know what? same things, foul trouble to bigs early, more outside shooting other than one game for Sai, Rebounding by others than Janks., and finishing game strong..
    oh well, first game, good win, better than a loss.
    Most important, we all know that, fine tune, improve every game, stay healthy, give effort 100% in class and on the court, in the community, and peak in BWC tourney , 3 wins and they are in, OR win the regular season BWC title=NIT..

    Like to see AV, MT, Quincy, Fleming, hit high percentage from FT line and three point line.. UH will do well..schedule really set up nice by Ganot, ensure, team can get wins..and hopefully be ready for run at BWC championships.
    Love the effort.. my favorite part? Team still got after it. turnover the Bobcats, and got out and ran, and finished.. That was monster fun !

    Go Bows !
    Warrior time, attendance in house, tickets sold, over 6000, disappointing, less than that 5000 mark on Friday nite, though students came out. which was good.
    Rod Bobbitt, man that guy is one of the better PG’s in the nation..really good..!
    🙂

  7. KelleyO:

    wish I could be at SSC with you die hard great MBB fans.. must be super fun.
    However, it does put a knot in my stomach, I know this forum will explode on me, the moderators. perhaps don’t want the past brought up…however. the way OCsports TV broadcast team, mentioning. how great the bows looked, and Bobbitt unreal under guidance of Ganot.. great win Eran.. and Eran says cherish these wins.. he been doing it Soooo Long of a time enjoy these type of wins.. ? well, Eran, has not been NCAA permanent DI coach for a long time, assistant, grad manager and volunteer , for about 11 years since he graduated from college. and correct KelleyO, Eran Did not recruit, Bobbitt, Smith, Valdes, Fleming(who still looks out of sorts.. wish he is okay), Janks, Jovanovich, Thomas..they are previous coaches gets..

    To really be mature.. the bottom line, a class coach, a new young gun, should graciously say, I am blessed, I got the job..and thanks to previous regime for recruiting these great players.. including. a wondrous guard in Rod Bobbitt.
    yes, the mature, classy thing.. recognize Bobbitt as the athlete he is.. a get from previous staff.
    I got you KelleyO, it still, maybe the whole year.. will support the team, and wish them best , much wins and success.. however.. for new coaching staff.. even seems like the players. are reading a teleprompt script, in TV post game interview, Aaron had a script with him? wonder what that was, or just the stats from game.. Well go Bows.. hope you win.. and Eran should step back, until he can lead the team, with his x and o’s to the BWC tournament title.. bottom line..
    Team, Bobbitt and company great, great win.. now get 22 more !

  8. Gib had Zane, Amis and Hiram in his first year, the two leading scorers and the point guard for much of the season, 15.8 and 15.2 pts. average; recruited by Bob Nash’s regime. Amis was also 2nd leading rebounder and leading shot-blocker.

    Yes, Gib recruited a good class(es). But Eran’s recruits already paying dividends so far – Sai and Sheriff.

  9. Thanks to Bob Nash for recruiting wondrous players, Zane, Bill and Hiram.

  10. C’mon now. Taking a pot shot at the old coach and then stating Eran already paying dividends with Sai and Sheriff??? Sai had a great game and I think Sheriff can give some quality minutes this year. But we don’t win this game or any games this year without Gib’s recruits…….which count more than the three you listed…

  11. As a follow up…uhfanzonly1. I enjoy your posts, but let’s move on to the new season. We already know what was in the past. Time to talk about the future…..

  12. Talk about good recruiters, thanks to Wheeler (Riley) and company for recruiting Lojeski, Kubler,English,Martin,Campbell, Savovic, Carter, Alika, Ruffin,Cross, Whitlock, et al.

    Thanks to Portnoy for coaching Scott Robbs who is good at basketball analysis.

  13. Great win by Hawaii, so much working against this team this year. Only 8 guys getting significant minutes, that preseason conditioning is paying off. But like I said so much working against this year’s team, what’s with the administration still not announcing the outcome of the Gib recruiting scandal? Team cannot let that affect them even though so much, seems like everything is against them. Even some players wanting to abandon the TEAM. Meanwhile a guy like Aaron Valdes just goes to work, he might be the best player on this year’s TEAM. Go WARRIORS. WARRIORS hold off Montana St. for opening win.

  14. Baller.. ..Gib wouldn’t have won as many games in his first year without his two leading scorers, 2nd rebounder, 1st shot blocker and point guard in most of the games. Who’s taking pot shots at the former coach ?

  15. Good win. Awesome first half. Too bad we got too cmfortable with the lead in the second half, allowing Montana State to diminish the lead.

    Fleming and Jovanovic seemed frustrated throughout the night. To Ganot’s defense, Fleming made some poor, selfish shot decisions. In Isaac’s defense, I feel like he’s being told to play a style that doesn’t fit his strengths. Hopefully coach and player can find a balance.

    Was impressed with the Australian player’s 3-point shooting during warm ups. I think he knocked down every single shot he made.

    Tummalai, Valdes, and Bobbitt MVPs last night.

  16. Hmmm. Last I checked it didn’t say “Gib recruit” or “Benjy recruit” or “Ganot recruit” on the front of the jerseys. It just says “Hawaii.”

  17. Go Bows !
    I’ve got a good feeling about this team. Coach and Players all.

  18. Sai’s shooting broke open the game (Zane Johnson). The rest of the players hit their averages. But no one else really shot well from the outside. Helps to have one or two hot hands in each game. Still have not seen any kind of pressure defense. Maybe that’s coming in future games. It’s a big part of this team’s success. 14 assists by Bobbitt is just unreal. And he’s starting to knock down his open looks, which makes him even more dangerous. Valdes actually had an off night in shooting but still able to help the team through his hustle and phenomenal athleticism. I think he is more explosive than last year. Isaac’s game will come around. And the big’s, with the exception of Thomas, I tip my hat off to them for staying out of foul trouble. This game is a big improvement from the Chaminade game. We need to fill the pukas in our defense. Need more defensive stops. This game is a confidence booster. But things will get tougher.

  19. Tav’s, which Australian was shooting lights out in warm ups ? The redshirt big guy ?

  20. For the players that performed below standards it’s obvious you need to continue to work hard in practice work to get open as Bobbitt will find you when you away for two weeks don’t expect to be on top of your game.

  21. Very exciting fun to be at game. Haven’t had a chance to watch the game on tv. Felt like the referees were trying to keep the visiting team in the game by calling fouls. Like I said I have not watched the replay (DVR’d it at home). As for a tighter defense the referees have been forced to call hand checking a lot tighter. PLEASE EVERYONE CME DON TO THE STAN SHERIFF these guys are so much fun to watch!!! Nothing beats a deafening crowd to help spur our team on.

  22. akuhead; must be Jakob because i don’t think the redshirts warmup.

    servante; i saw some pressure and also saw like three players collapse and surround a Montana St. player inside. I think i saw some full court pressure at times, then they dropped back.

  23. KelleyO… I don’t think Ganot was trying to take credit for Bobbitt’s performance. He was just saying that the PG is the coach on the court and Ganot liked that Bobbitt was running things according to the scheme. This is a very commonly stated saying (PG = extension of the coach) and accepted view at all levels.

  24. Islandman, how many games did Nash win with those players? Let’s see how many games Ganot wins this year and then we can have a comparison……

  25. Baller; not too many games and Zane was a red shirt on Nash’s last team. However, June Jones didn’t go out of his way to praise von Appen for most of the players that June inherited for the 1999 team. On the other hand, Eran, in the past, has already said Benjy did a good job several times on the radio shows etc.

  26. Hack Mamadou, he was 4 for 10 on FT’s last night. But he may improve there. Irvine also has a 6-10 starter and 7-2 and 6-10 players off the bench. Mamadou had six blocks in 89-73 win over San Diego.

  27. akuhead2,

    Jakob Cornelissen.

  28. Coach Beeman will lost her 6’4 player next year but will gained one 6’3, two 6’2 to boost the already tall front-line plus three good guards.

    Incidentally, among the six newly signed, three of them are Aussie’s. (our Aussie men have reasons to be smiling)!

    The team most likely be backed as a 2-0 winners again convincingly!

    Hope the popular motivator stay for four more seasons with this team!

  29. We have loads of talent on this team. Its always nice to hear there is ‘also’ another guy on the bench waiting to get on the floor.
    I am not a fan of the hack-a-Mama but if it comes to that, well it means our threes are not falling. But I have a good feeling about this team. And isn’t there a new rule about that area under the basket being expanded to 4 feet ?

  30. To all fans who post comments on this site, and a few in particular (you know who you are),

    Some people significant to this site have brought recent posts to my attention, so this is an overdue message. As many of you know, there are parents of current and future players who visit this site on a regular basis.

    I will never take a position to tell fans what to think or write, but it has become evident that many recent posts have created antagonistic responses from others. In particular, incessant referrals to past staffs are creating unnecessary defenses of the current staff.

    Simply put, the 2015-16 season has started under the guidance of a new staff. While historical references can often be helpful, there is a time and place for such.

    If you feel a constant need to compare and contrast between past and present staff and players, I will ask that you please do so on another site.

    I will close by saying this: there were once many ambassadors of sorts in the Comments section of this site. You wrote comments of welcome to new players and parents without any comparisons to the past. Like it or not, changes have been made, and the past is just that. Many others miss the past as well, but new players, parents AND coaches will forever be a part of all programs. Let’s treat them with the same respect.

    Thank you,
    Dayton

  31. well said lets focus on this season
    good to hear the bench is stronger than some posters have said was reading like we only had 7 players great others are looking good lets hope they have confidence to take form onto court go bows

  32. Islandman:

    If I recollect Zane was a transfer and required to sit out one year. Don’t believe he was a red shirt in Hawaii.

  33. servante: That is called redshirt due to transfer rule. From his UH roster bio:
    ” 2009-10: Redshirted per NCAA transfer rules.”

  34. Should UH not have a successful season much like last year, the doubters will have a field day. Fair or not that will not determine how successful Ganot can be. The next 2 years will be the key to what fortunes may lie ahead. There maybe couple starters on this year’s team that may move on, so what. The recruits that he brings in next year will be a very big determining factor on the immediate short term success thereafter.

    Unable to recruit talented players is the downfall of any program no matter how great a coach is. This will be known at the end of his 3rd year as head coach. Until then let’s hope for the best and they make the NCAA tournament, all players wanting to stay and play until the end of their eligibility and the recruits that he brings in next year 2 to 3 players having an immediate impact .

  35. What seems to have been forgotten is the final outcome of the NCAA investigation. You don’t know if there will be post season ban, loss of recruit numbers, loss of practice times, etc. it would be terrible if we have a great season and the NCAA come crashing down late. You never know. In the meantime, Coastal Carolina next.

  36. Congrats to Ganot and the team for their 1st victory. Despite all of the off season distractions (that we frequently get reminded of by others), the team showed what they are made of and put together a good performance. Build on this win and other future games as we later head into BWC play.

    EG – big improvement from exhibition game. More back court pressure and let them play. Work in progress.

    The offense appeared more fluid later is the second half. The players looked like they were have fun vs. playing like robots.

    Attendance will get much better. The word is out… MBB is in season and will be fun and exciting to watch.

    Go Bows!

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