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UPDATED: Unfazed Warriors knock off Northern Iowa, 68-52

Jovanovic1_UNI

Unshaken and full of spirit in the face of harsh NCAA sanctions, the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team successfully lived in the moment Tuesday night and raced past Northern Iowa, 68-52, for an inspiring opening-round victory in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

Aaron Valdes scored a game-high 15 points and Sai Tummala added 12 points off the bench barely 12 hours after the Rainbow Warriors were handed a 2017 postseason ban and reduced scholarships by the NCAA — the result of an investigation revealing several “Level 2” violations committed in previous years under a different coaching staff.

“This win was big for us,” said Valdes, a junior wing who played a team-high 35 minutes. “We tried not to think about that (sanction) stuff that happened early today, because we needed to focus on Northern Iowa. I thought we did a great job staying focused all 40 minutes. Northern Iowa is a good team and we knew we would need to play our best. Our coach (Eran Ganot) gave us a great game plan, and we followed it.”

Fleming1_UNI

An equally spirited crowd of 6,313 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Isaac Fleming add 11 points, eight rebounds, six steals and four assists off the bench and Stefan Jovanovic contribute 11 points, nine boards and four blocks — also off the bench — as the Rainbow Warriors improved to 8-1 and advanced to Wednesday’s 4 p.m. semifinal against No. 3-ranked Oklahoma (9-0). The game will be nationally televised on ESPN2.

Northern Iowa, which has already defeated two Top 5-ranked teams (North Carolina and Iowa State) this season, fell to 7-4 and into Wednesday’s 6:30 p.m. consolation bracket game vs. Washington State.

Last night on ESPNU, Hawai’i built a 34-25 halftime lead and then held on despite three starters saddled with foul trouble. Forward Mike Thomas picked up his third foul less than four minutes into the second half, starting post Stefan Jankovic was whistled for his fourth foul with 12:06 remaining in the game and starting point guard Roderick Bobbitt drew his third foul at the 11:08 mark with the Rainbow Warriors leading, 50-43.

But UH actually expanded that lead after that, with Tummala’s free throw putting the Rainbow Warriors ahead, 59-47, with 5:37 left. Hawai’i then broke open the game by converting three straight Fleming steals into layups, capped by his three-point play at the 4:44 mark which made it 66-47 and brought the crowd to its collective feet. Jovanovic added a layup 17 seconds later to make it 68-47, and the Panthers could not get closer than 16 points the rest of the way.

“The adrenaline was just ridiculous at that point,” Ganot said. “Guys realize they have to step up, and the mark of a good team is when you get contributions from a lot of players. And not just scoring. It could have gone the other way, but they stepped up and it was encouraging because then we were fresh down the stretch — you could feel that.”

Bench1_UNI

Northern Iowa started the game with a quick 7-3 lead, but the Rainbow Warriors responded with an 8-2 run to lead, 11-9, after Jankovic’s layup off a spin move with 15:14 remaining in the half. The Panthers answered with a 10-3 surge capped by Paul Jesperson’s 3-pointer which dropped in at the 11:39 mark.

UH later took the lead for good at 26-25 on Quincy Smith’s layup with 4:59 left, and finished the half with eight unanswered points to lead 34-25 at the break.

Tummala scored a team-high eight points in the first half, including two crucial 3-pointers from the top of the key and a tip-in putback off a missed 3-pointer by Fleming. Thomas, Jankovic and Bobbitt each had two fouls in the first half, sending them to the bench prematurely.

But the Rainbow Warriors still out-rebounded the Panthers, 16 to nine, and made 6 of 16 shots (37.5 percent) from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes.

UH stretched the lead to 39-27 in the first 90 seconds of the second half, but Northern Iowa quickly responded with a 7-2 run to close it to 41-37 on Wes Washpun’s layup with 16:03 remaining in the game. The Rainbow Warriors then struck back with a 9-2 surge, as Jovanovic’s layup made it 50-39 with 11:30 left.

Valdes2_UNI

Jovanovic scored nine points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots in 17 second-half minutes.

“We had to get on Stef a little bit, but his response was amazing,” Valdes said. “He was big for us, he really lifted us in the second half.”

Ganot added, “Stef not only played well, but he played well when we really needed it, on both ends.”

For his part, Jovanovic said, “It always feels good when I am helping the team. Defensively, I just gave it my best. Honestly, I just try to be a team player.”

Ganot said Hawai’i used a team approach in defending UNI point guard Washpun, who entered the night averaging a team-high 16.5 points and a Missouri Valley Conference-best 6.5 assists per game. Washpun fouled out with 5:41 remaining, finishing with 10 points, five assists and seven turnovers.

“We were throwing three different guys at him — Rod, Quincy and Isaac,” Ganot said. “And the rest of the team did a great job clogging things up inside.”

Ganot acknowledged his team will face another huge challenge vs. Oklahoma on Wednesday, but he was encouraged by the grit shown by the Rainbow Warriors on Tuesday — on and off the court.

“It was probably our best game of the season, at a time we needed it, against a great team on what was obviously a unique day,” Ganot said. “The guys did a good job of staying together, there was good leadership and great poise, and I’m proud of their effort. And I knew we’d get a good crowd and the people here would rise up even more (in support). That was the jolt we needed.

“But it’s tough … it feels like the news hit the team quick, it was sudden. It’s a good thing we had a game tonight to get their minds off of it, but give them credit — it’s still a tough deal. Not just in the game, but the whole day, they stuck together. With all that was going on … give them credit.”

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

(Game photo courtesy Matt Osumi)

CLICK HERE to view Facebook photo gallery

Tuesday’s Results
Auburn 83, New Mexico 78
Harvard 85, BYU 82 (OT)
No. 3 Oklahoma 88, Washington State 60
Hawai’i 68, Northern Iowa 52

Wednesday’s Games
9:30 a.m. – New Mexico vs. BYU (ESPNU)
11:30 a.m. – Auburn vs. Harvard (ESPNU)
4:00 p.m. – Oklahoma vs. Hawai’i (ESPN2)
6:30 p.m. Washington State vs. Northern Iowa (ESPNU)

22 Comments

  1. Watched at 1 am on the East Coast and glad I did! Great team effort. Javonovich had the best game of his UH career, I thought, playing under control with much fewer than usual turnovers and some great shots and good boards and blocks. Those Isaac steals down the stretch were insane! Bobbitt controlled the game well. Sai came out on fire and played harder underneath than usual. Valdez seemed off but was still high scorer. Defense pretty much won the game, I guess, and gave us the pace and the edge. Well done.

  2. Fleming could redshirt at UH next season because he has to redshirt if he transfers anyway. Also, Jovanovic and Thomas could redshirt since they haven’t used up their redshirt year yet, i think.
    ————————————————————————————————————
    The UH case straddles the implementation of the new penalty structure which began on August 1, 2013. So is UH entitled to a more lenient decision as to the post-season ban ?

    Because the Syracuse case “straddled the implementation of the new penalty structure, they were entitled to the more lenient penalty structure” per the NCAA Syracuse infractions decision. So, apparently, even though the case was classified Level I-AGGRAVATED, the NCAA accepted their self-imposed only one year post season ban. I think that’s what happened without reading the whole decision. Also on appeal, their scholarship penalty was reduced by one per year.
    https://www.ncaa.org/sites/default/files/Figure19-1.pdf

  3. Write to UH, Islandman. Last night Maitlin said as of now they have no intention of appealing. SMH. Always, always appeal and go for at least a lighter sentence. Bite my tongue.

  4. I did email some people,thanks, Kelley.
    ————————————————————————————————————-
    Dayton and Wes, thanks for the highlight video. I don’t get ESPNU, and the pirate streaming i get freezes up a lot. Impressed by the passing of UH in the video linside, the kickouts and around the outside.
    Washpun was bothered into 7 turnovers.

  5. Great Team Victory Bowz. The win moved you up 19 spots in the Pomeroy Ratings to #77. Imagine what it would be with a win today against Pomeroy’s #1 team. If you play like that today, it is very possible.

    If UH does not appeal this NCAA decision, it is just further negligence on the part of the UH Admin. They can decide to lose $185K in forfeitures for backing out of the Las Vegas tournament but paying for an appeal is not an option??? You cannot lose anything in an appeal, it could only get better. The post season ban is out of order…then again, perhaps the UH Admin is hiding something.

    Expecting a near Sellout Crowd today and this could be one of those games that we will all remember for a long time.

    GO BOWZ

  6. Awesome, awesome win! N. Iowa is a very good team and I expect them to make noise in the NCAA so this is a win that will mean a lot for UH. Of course this next game against Oklahoma even bigger! They are ripe for a upset because they just blew out Wazzu and thinking they can cruise against UH. I bet everybody in Oklahoma was expecting to play N. Iowa. Wrong!

  7. The Syracuse case involved mostly things that occurred before Aug. 1, 2013, the implementation of the new penalty structure.

  8. Anyone else catch the Washington State- Oklahoma game? Wasn’t particularly impressed with either team. Very boring game. Considering Oklahoma are 3rd in the nation, no reason why UH can’t be in mid-teens or higher.

  9. Oh man, I heard the AD Matlin on the radio this morning and he confirmed that he will not appeal. Lame, very lame!

    I think it is UH policy to stick head in the sand at every time of controversy. An appeal does not have to be viewed as an act of defiance to NCAA. It can be written to show of support for YOUR players and coaches with explaining of how unfair this is to UH.

    Here is something to think about Mr. Matlin and that is the NCAA down graded all the violations and STILL decided to give UH a post season ban. You keep saying how disappointed you are at this decision, but then just sit back and take it? Show some fight!

    If you want to just sit back and say “we messed up, so sorry NCAA and thank you for our punishments” that shows to me you are giving the players a lot of reasons to transfer out.

    A lot of people including me wonder why the NCAA always seem to pick on UH in a lot of sports. I am starting to understand now. Because the people in power at UH let them!

    If anybody at UH is reading, I apologize for my rant. You can go back and stick your head in the sand now.

  10. Great overall team victory. I think NI did not expect our bench to be that much of a factor. When Washpun got his 5th foul and was replaced you could feel the team knew it was their moment to tighten the screws on them. It happened so fast. I think Fleming got about 5 steals in a row off that new sub and that broke their backs.

    As for Oklahoma they got some serious trees on the inside. Like all marquee teams they go to the high percentage shots and then kick out. Our bigs will have their hands full. Especially Jankovic will have to keep out of foul trouble. Last night Janks would have been unstoppable like Jovanovic as NI had no one to defend against either one.

    I got a feeling that we will be there at the end of this game. This is deja vu from last year when we let Wichita St. off the hook in the closing seconds. We won’t let Oklahoma off this time around. Because we got an ax to grind. Adn unfortunately for Oklahoma their necks are on the chopping block.

  11. bigdaddy, the video posted at 9:17 am is for you.

  12. Just for fun, UH RPI is now 43, UNI 46 and Oklahoma 10. Auburn 36, New Mexico 86. Harvard 162, BYU 141. Washington St. 210.
    Wahine 139.

  13. Islandman 90ft of ball pressure will break must teams back without a formidable back up.Ganot is figuring out what he has should be a good game tonight.

  14. I seriously don’t think UH will lose any games at SSC this year. .that is HOME court. they play so well..
    Could UH finish season at 28-1 , and 16-0 in BWC regular season play, before 2-0 or 3-0 run in BWC tournament for NCAA invite? YES.. UH will probably, they have that something.. great defense and team play.. to run the table for the rest of year..
    probably finish, number 5 in final RPI. before March Madness.. sticking to that prediction. UH will go 30-1 before they get invited to NCAA tournament.. you can just feel it..

    As for UH handling of Gib vs UH vs NCAA.. typical of UH Manoa.. they have to revamp from UH president..on down. every dept.. totally inept..

    Just start a brand NEW campus. with better leadership.. the whole Gib fiasco. ? Never would have happened if UH had Top notch leadership and Compliance ..oversight..

  15. Sanctions would not have been for Level II-AGGRAVATED, if Gib cooperated more with the NCAA investigators.
    ” Aggravating Factors for the Former Head Coach
    19.9.3-(d): Obstructing an investigation or attempting to conceal the violation;
    19.9.3-(e): Unethical conduct, compromising the integrity of an investigation, failing to cooperate during an investigation or refusing to provide all relevant or requested information;

    19.9.3-(g): Multiple Level II violations;
    19.9.3-(h): Persons of authority condoned, participated in or negligently disregarded the violation or related wrongful conduct;
    19.9.3-(i): One or more violations caused significant ineligibility or other substantial harm to a student-athlete or prospective student-athlete
    19.9.3-(j): Conduct or circumstances demonstrating an abuse of a position of trust;
    19.9.3-(k):A pattern of noncompliance in the sport program involved;and
    19.9.3-(m): Intentional, willful or blatant disregard for the NCAA constitution or bylaws “

  16. still islandman,

    that Amanda Paterson promotion to Assistant AD, that is not pono.
    SHE specifically named, and called out by NCAA spokesman, if She and Gib had worked together professionally, a lot of these things would have been mitigated or completely avoided.
    that Paterson, should not be second in command to Matlin.. that case. in public perception we are united.. Paterson HUGE role, and NCAA documented. for infighting with Gib.. and Admin, knowing about this.. and praising her for going after Gib? that is unprofessional.. work things out.. that is what every Great organization, from family unit to major corporations or even nations try to do..

    Gib taking FULL responsibility… however UH did not want to help him in battle against NCAA..then the post Season ban… and such.. a lot would never have been sanctioned against UH..
    sad..
    UH Manoa. wow.. it does not make sense.. and we ALL know that.. they get things backwards, .or not working in spirit of love aloha.. pono. help each other out.. and we have this mess.

  17. UH just keeps on shooting themselves in foot, or self inflicted wounds and worse to academics/ facilities infrastructure, lack of funds for classes/ programs/ instructors.. falling apart campus, athletic facilities.. etc.. and terrible decisions they make no matter what , or whom in compliance or chancellor/
    And agreed, the student/athletes and their fans suffer.. next season: Well I went to all the games at Blaisdell when UH was under 2 year probation, no post season play when Larry Little was coach. I enjoyed it.. some walkons, and under radar.. guys played a lot, and had fun, didn’t win a lot. however for that 1800 or so that would go. and sometimes 3800 for UH vs big time school.. it was fun.. Gavin Smith, the late , UCLA transfer.. shooting from 35 feet out. and BEING the First Rainbow to dunk the ball, when NCAA allowed again in fall of 1976…
    so NEXT season, if one or two or ALL the juniors come back for Senior year. it will be Fun year, nothing to lose.. and I don’t think they vacate the wins.. just go for another 30 win season.

  18. Hana hou tonight or nah?

  19. From Espn article today:
    “The Rainbow Warriors won their last two games against top-5 opponents but haven’t faced one since beating No. 4 Michigan State 84-62 on Nov. 19, 2005.”

    Get that win ‘Bows. Everyone go to the SSC today. We gotta make it loud and teach these overrated Sooners a lesson or two. I’m sure they’re scared.

  20. One thing most of same team as last year, that front 6, with Sai as spot up utility player.. In SSC, UH plays , I am not kidding like a National championship contender, final four material.. would not be surprised, if OU sooners cannot handle ball against UH pressure.. UH will get steals, the runouts.. and win by 8.. would be upset, the best at SSC since taking down number 4 Michigan St. whose coach, will never come back to Manoa again, coach Izzo..

    I like the team..
    bigdaddy, Isaac Flemming what a monster, his pressure on other teams guards, his D and athleticism. a one man gang buster,.. those 4 deflections , steals and dish and score.. incredible. like the great from past Washington Bulllets World champion form the seventies. UH greatest guard Tom Henderson out of DeWitt Clinton HS, NYC.. class of 1970, JC all American, 1972 Olympian, and first round NBA pick of the Atlanta Hawks 1974.. Flemming, your son , in great company.. he can play some defense…

    90 feet or 94 feet? oh well either way.. UH has to play D, gets their O going. and those 3 bombs. UH has nothing to lose.. they shoot with such calm and confidence.. winner.. whoever plays better D and rebounds. . produce in paint.

  21. I had written before that UH should sanction itself last year not allowing them to participate in post season. The reason why is that they had only 1 senior and the odds of them making post season was slim. However looking at the penalties levied against UH if they had done that, the NCAA would of added another year.

    I also wrote that the NCAA would probably give Gib 2-3 years and not allow him to coach at any NCAA university which they have done so.

    I also wrote that the NCAA will lower the levels of the violations against Gib which they did.

    So big deal of my insight of what may take place, because the penalties levied against UH does not fit the crime.

    So what went wrong. Only the insiders know. Of course there are always 2 sides of the story and those 2 sides was more important for their own survival (Gib & Amanda) than for the good of the university’s basketball program.

    If Gib and Amanda was looking out for the good of the program and taking responsibility for their ineptness and oversight these result and penalties the NCAA served the university’s basketball program would not have been this harsh. The NCAA would of come out with a whole different verdict. The personal conflict between the two created this to be bigger than it was.

    Adding the higher up into the fracas which they themselves were emotionally involved and siding with Amanda just made it worse as evident to the settlement that was paid to Gib. I believe the chancellor erred and needs to be held accountable for the results. Now he is stating he will not challenge the decision made by the NCAA, how can this person be called a leader and he needs to be relieved from his post especially after Amanda with little fanfare is appointed as assistant athletic director by him with such little public information on the hiring.

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