Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

UPDATED: Warriors overpower Vulcans, 86-67


While some may view this week as the “Local Kine Grindz” soft part of the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball schedule, the Rainbow Warriors looked at UH-Hilo as more than just bite-sized Big Island candy.

The undersized Vulcans indeed played hard and hung tough for more than a half Tuesday night, but UH’s Aaron Valdes scored a game-high 33 points — including 22 in the first half — and grabbed seven rebounds and Isaac Fleming added 17 points, seven assists and six boards to help the Rainbow Warriors pull away, 86-67, in non-conference action.

A mellow gathering of 2,145 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Stefan Jovanovic add 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting as UH improved to 6-1, including 6-0 at home. While the game counted for the Warriors, it was classified as an exhibition for the Vulcans, and their record remains 0-5.

UH will stay local this week, playing host to Hawai’i Pacific at 7 p.m. Saturday. UH-Hilo and HPU both compete in NCAA Division II.

“At this point, we’re not looking at (the opponent’s) talent,” said Fleming, who made his contributions Tuesday in 27 minutes off the bench. “We just look at it as the next game. We take it as if (we’re playing) Duke or North Carolina.”

Said Valdes: “We need to have good effort all 40 minutes. We gotta learn to keep competing, no matter how much we’re up.”

The Rainbow Warriors were not really up by enough to be comfortable Tuesday until midway through the second half, when they went ahead, 65-41, after an 18-3 surge.


Until then, the Vulcans seemed to hit just enough clutch 3-point shots or back-to-back transition layups to stay within striking distance every time it appeared UH might break the game open.

“You see it every day in college basketball,” Rainbow Warriors coach Eran Ganot said. “It’s very humbling — you’re only as good as your habits are, and we really have to watch how we open games and how we finish halves. It’s a tough game, and if you don’t honor it, you will get exposed.

Hilo took an early 5-4 lead on Patrick Ball’s layup two minutes into the game, but Mike Thomas answered with two free throws to give UH the lead for good. The Vulcans hung around, however, closing to 18-17 on Ball’s 3-pointer with 12:06 remaining in the first half, before the Rainbow Warriors opened it up to 33-20 as Valdes capped an 8-0 run with a layup six minutes later.

Valdes later drained a 3-pointer from the left corner to push the lead to 38-24 with 2:54 left, but Ball swished a buzzer-beater from about 30 feet away at the halftime horn to close it to 44-33.

Ganot said his main concern at halftime was defensive responsibility.

“Overall I was pleased with our effort, except for the defensive intensity in the first half,” Ganot said. “We went away from that … it was there early, but then we went backward as far as everybody doing their job. It was one our worst defensive halves of the year, so that was discouraging. We shared the ball well on offense, but we didn’t share things defensively as far as putting heat on the ball and being ready with the rotation.”


Hilo narrowed the margin to 47-38 on Vandyon Lockett’s 3-pointer three minutes into the second half, but that was as close as the Vulcans would get, as UH used an 18-3 run ignited by Valdes’ layup and capped by Fleming’s reverse to stretch the lead to 65-41 with 11:10 remaining in the game.

Hilo would not get closer than 15 points the rest of the way.

The Rainbow Warriors played without starting 6-foot-11 center Stefan Jankovic, who was on the bench in street clothes due to nagging back spasms. Also, 6-7 junior forward Mike Thomas started the game, but was limited to 14 minutes due to a nagging back injury. Thomas scored nine points, shooting 3 for 3 from the field and 3 for 3 on free throws.

Ganot said it was a “game time decision” to rest Jankovic, and the matchup against the shorter Vulcans — who have no players over 6 feet 6 inches — allowed him to go with a smaller lineup.

“Every opportunity to play is an opportunity to get better,” Ganot said. “We got to play some small ball, and maybe there will be other games where we have to go there, with (Valdes) at the 4, and Mike Thomas at the 5. We need to continue to establish ourselves as a team — when one guy goes down, another guy steps up.”

Even without leading rebounder Jankovic, the Warriors out-rebounded the Vulcans, 43-31. Valdes and guard Quincy Smith led the way with seven boards each.


Thirteen players got into Tuesday’s game, and each of them contributed in some fashion. Reserve guard Niko Filipovich contributed eight points, two rebounds, two steals and one assist in 19 minutes off the bench.

“I was happy to get a lot of guys some minutes,” Ganot said. “They have good attitudes, and they deserve those minutes. And that bench should help us down the road … Niko had great practices, and he earned that playing time. Guys can earn the opportunity to play.”

Freshman guard Jakob Cornelissen saw his first action of the season, thus ending any speculation that he may redshirt. He did not score, but grabbed two rebounds. Ganot said Cornelissen and his parents made the decision to remain active this season.

Patrick Ball led the Vulcans with 20 points, and Lockett added 13.

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

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

CLICK HERE to view Facebook photo gallery


  1. I couldn’t bear to watch after seeing the 1st half. No real competition, nothing to gain but everything to lose. The Bows didn’t come out real sharp at all.

  2. I did not go to the game so I would like to hear from some of those who were there. It sounds like UH didn’t play that good but Hilo is just a bad team so they couldn’t keep up.

    My gosh UH still can not make free throws again!

  3. Hey Bigdaddy, Isaac gave you a big shout out at the end of the video. He is doing great and showing why he is so valuable to this team.

  4. really hope Ganot uprgrades the pre BWC season schedule. the RPI thing is a joke for now having UH top 100’s..or better.
    Maybe ONE DII game against local schools vs UH.. however 2.. I guess to fill out schedule.
    that is why small crowd, not even that 4000 faithful no matter whom team play, or what day.. they show up.. not against Hilo or HPU…
    Even against LMU, or U San Diego, Eastern Washington.. I don’t know. just a DI opponent..very sad that UNLV and SDSU road games cancelled. that would have been great prep for DHC and BWC.. anyways. look forward to WVB.. trying to get to finals.

  5. Hilo was 92.9 % at the FT line .

  6. UH men’s RPI is 70, currently the highest for the Big West teams. Wahine RPI 179, 5th in the Big West.

  7. So much for the validity of RPIs …

    I’m concerned about Bobbitt. I believe that’s two consecutive games of 4 assists, 3 turnovers, and early-bench time. Perhaps it’s the opposition, but he obviously can, and needs to be, much more productive if this team is going anywhere. I know his on-court demeanor is often understated … even when he’s playing well … but he just seemed a little uninspired against APB and UHH..

    Hopefully, he’ll bounce back … starting Saturday against HPU.

  8. went online, real time or so may RPI, BPI, polls/ ranks.. UH MBB?

    SOS rank 185?
    and RPI rank: 75?
    really want to be in top 60 and below, before the BWC tournament.
    yes, I know, UH in past played HPU and BYUH, Chaminade,Hilo, sometimes twice in a season..

    something about the team.. I guess against level of competition.. well this year the Free Pass year..
    Admin wants UH to just have winning record, and no problems..APR good to go..
    then by year three of Ganot.tenure, what sweet sixteen, ideal, or actually like Butler, or Wichita St. playing for a national title, would be neat..

    just not that excited.. unless UH wins the DHC.. and gets some votes for top 25…then.. still.. Hawaii, the fanbase has changed.. lot more for the millennials to do, then go to Football, or Basketball games. Wahine Volleyball? That is Iconic.. Shoji has created a real gem. .a 5th national title.. hard to do..however he gets that this year or next.? he retires? man he can go on to 80, low stress. job, and he is in good shape health wise so far.

  9. Div II schools don’t count in the RPI.

  10. Three Hawaii D2 teams in one year. That’s a little too much. We’ll see what Matlin can do in scheduling better teams. I can see why Bobbitt is bored. But he is the captain of this team and should try to make the best of it whether it’s against Hilo or Kentucky. Plus this team is still in the fundamentals mode. They still need to solve their free throw shooting, 3 shooting, and foul trouble with the bigs. These are the kind of games in which they can try to iron out those problems.

  11. Texas Tech RPI is 5 .

  12. Texas Tech RPI is 5 . yes, that confirms it.. RPI at this stage, so early, really does not mean anything. weird..I think software computer spewed out…
    Who is Below Hawaii in RPI at 75? I bet a lot of good teams.. who will end up in NCAA or NIT..
    something about this year.. just cannot get the grip on it.. it is okay..guys healthy.. win some winnable games.. not there yet. win over fanbase. and do something special..
    we wait I guess.. waiting on Ganot ?

  13. A/P Poll
    1.Michigan St. 2. Kansas 3. N Carolina 4. Iowa St. 5. Kentucky 6. Maryland 7. Oklahoma 8. Duke 9. Villanova 10. Virginia

    RPI Rank
    Michigan St. 9, Kansas 67, N Carolina 1, Iowa St. 10, Kentucky 28, Maryland 62, Oklahoma 26, Duke 11, Villanova 6, Virginia 61 .

  14. Brian McInnis ‏@Brian_McInnis 1h ago
    Brian McInnis Retweeted NPH
    Missed earlier: Negus Webster-Chan will make his pro debut with the NBL’s Halifax Hurricanes in his native Canada.

    Brian McInnis added,
    NPH @NorthPoleHoops
    Negus Webster-Chan begins PRO career in Halifax https://youtu.be/hmF1w6Ddj3A via @NBLCanada #CanBall #NBLC #NPH

  15. I hope NWC fulfills his hoop dream, the league, hey.. AC made it through the grind, the old CBA, minor league pro basketball in USA.. maybe NWC can make it too.. hard as heck, however, if NWC can shoot the ball, and handle, defend at the 2 spot. at his height.. teams can use that

  16. LOL now you guys want to just throw out RPI cause it actually disproves your points. Deal with it, RPI is used by the big boys like the NCAA.

    I said it before, I’ll say it again: Valdes is the best player for this team. He brings it every game, you guys don’t understand how important that is. And he will do whatever for this team, even play the ‘5’. Remember NWC whining last year about playing the ‘4’. Valdes is what I like to see in a UH basketball player.

  17. Horssse:

    What? Just saying, whom in top 35 rpi ranked above UH.. did the Warriors beat yet? How many road games pre BWC did they win yet? SOS? 185? not even a top 40 SOS..? weird. it is just a computer generated thing for the Basketball junkies..and no bearing ..that is what we are saying.. UNTIL UH makes the NIT or NCAA.. then they use that for seeding.. at Large NCAA bid for a runnerup BWC championship game.. if UH fell again.. and were at 25 wins, say? NCAA.. doesn’t respect UH..see Shoji and his 41 year run as storied UH Women’s Volleyball program, getting sent on the road..

    Aaron, is getting better.. has to drop 30 on Oklahoma in a win for DHC crown, plus an elite BB skillset which he is developing.. has to be a 2 guard in pros.. ability to breakdown his defender off the dribble. sure that he is working on that.. his handles.. very good player though. probably the best on team, just very smooth, who doesn’t like AV ? remember, he is now on scholie, Horsssse…he was A walkon. and now he WILL graduate from UH in May, after that.. ? wish him the best.. whatever he decides.

    RPI for UH Now? RIP.. rest in peace unless UH qualifies for NIT or NCAA..

  18. ONE game against DII local team a season is enough.. understand.. Ganot or Admin just went and revamped that pre BWC / DHC schedule.. it wasn’t done yet.. We ALL wish Ganot would have kept the UNLV and the SDSU road game.. that would have been better than the two DII local schools, no disrespect though.. those guys play hard.. and if three bombs are dropping. they can upset DI schools..

    just a slow time for MBB. and not that much fire in interest. yet..things to work on SOS.. and getting more depth in talent across the board. next few years.. then they will be maybe, legitimate top 30 ranked team every year.. hopefully.
    Women’s VB. hope they can beat Penn St.. that would be something.. then go on..

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