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Warriors look to maintain focus against upcoming opponents

After the highs of the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic, come the lows of a few more tune-up games for the University of Hawai’i basketball team. It has become a recent tradition, and the Warriors and first-year head coach Eran Ganot are vowing to maintain focus this week.

“They’re all tough,” Ganot said. “With our team, the next game is the most important game. Respect all, fear none. This game is very humbling; you better show up and play. We’re always going to have a lot of respect for our opponents, night in and night out.”

Bobbitt2_Oklahoma

The Warriors will host Mississippi Valley State on Tuesday, December 29, then Howard on Saturday, January 2. The two games are essentially “schedule fillers” between the Diamond Head Classic on Christmas week, and the start of Big West Conference games on January 6.

The Warriors drew national attention off and on the court last week. First, the NCAA slapped the UH program with numerous penalties, including a postseason ban for the 2016-17 season.

All the current Warriors did in response to that was place third among a solid eight-team field in the Diamond Head Classic. Hawai’i went 2-1, with the victories coming against nationally-recognized programs Northern Iowa and Auburn; the only loss was by three points (84-81) to No. 3 Oklahoma in the semifinals.

“I think we were very much on the radar going in,” Ganot said. “The challenge was playing against these kind of teams … we’ve had a chance in every single game we’ve played and I’m proud of that. That’s hard to do.”

Now comes a different kind of challenge.

Mississippi Valley State is arguably the worst team in NCAA Division I with a 0-13 record. MVSU is one of only two teams in NCAA-I that is winless this far into the season (fellow Southwestern Athletic Conference member Prairie View A&M is the other at 0-11).

It should be noted, however, that MVSU has played one of the most ridiculous schedules in the nation, with all 13 games coming on the road. The Delta Devils have already played games in the Eastern, Central, Mountain and Pacific time zones, and will add the Hawai’i time zone to that list on Tuesday.

Among their road losses are Nebraska, Air Force, New Mexico State, BYU and Northwestern.

Saturday’s opponent, Howard, is 7-6 and considered one of the better teams in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. The only problem is the MEAC is ranked 31 out of 32 conferences in most NCAA-I power ratings.

The Warriors have played similar tune-up games in each of the last two seasons. They are 4-0 in those games, with victories over Norfolk State and Omaha in 2013-14, and Southern and Prairie View A&M last season. Two of those games were decided by single-digit margins: 77-73 over Omaha, then 76-68 over Prairie View A&M last season.

“We do have the reminder from before and you can see it all the time,” Ganot said. “We’ll obviously continue to motivate our guys, but the next step for our team is when they’re obviously overly self-motivated all the time. As we get to that point, we’ll continue to improve.”

— — — — — — —

Stats update

After its impressive week in the Diamond Head Classic, Hawai’i now has four players averaging double-figure points: Stefan Jankovic (15.4), Aaron Valdes (15.4), Roderick Bobbitt (13.2) and Isaac Fleming (10.9).

Jankovic leads the team in rebounding with 6.4 per game, followed by Valdes (5.3), Bobbitt (4.5) and Quincy Smith (4.5).

Bobbitt leads the team in assists with 6.1 per game, and also leads the team with 16 3-pointers (Valdes and Sai Tummala have 15 each).

The Warriors quietly went 59 for 80 (.738) from the free-throw line in the Diamond Head Classic to raise their season percentage to .641.

Hawai’i’s current 9-2 record is one of the best starts to a season in recent times. The 2004-05 team was the last group to open with a better record at 10-2 (but that team eventually finished 16-13).

HAWAI’I VS. MISSISSIPPI VALLEY STATE
When:
Tuesday, December 29, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
Tickets: Lower Level – $26 (all ages); Upper Level – $18 for adults, $16 for senior citizens (ages 65-older), $5 for students (ages 4-18). Parking is $6.
TV: Live on OCSports (channels 16 / 1016)
Streaming video: Live on bigwest.tv
Radio: Live on ESPN1420 AM
Streaming audio: Live on espn1420am.com
Live stats: hawaiiathletics.com

9 Comments

  1. Will be interesting to see if Bobbitt will continue his all-tournament ways. With the way he has been scoring lately it gives the defense fits as they now have to contend with not only Valdes and Jankovic as the principle scorers, but Bobbitt too. Not to mention the bench has contributed big time and is a huge reason why we had that impressive showing at DHC and the 9-2 record. This team has not hit its stride yet. Free throw shooting improving and Janks laying off the ticky tack fouls. We’ll be ready for BW play this time.

  2. I STILL THINK MIKE THOMAS AND SAI TUMMALA are Capable of More Complete and Consistent Games — avoiding Foul Trouble (Like Janks) and becoming Consistent Offensive Threats IN-System (like Janks AND Jovanovic) hit one to two more shots per game (into double-figures)… Which should also relieve some pressure from Aaron …

    Also Noticing Sherriff Drammeh ready to break out (versus BWC?)
    Good Prep for Next Year….

  3. Just the starters
    And Fleming, Sai, Jovanovic off bench..
    Remember Past UH teams had post Rainbow Classic and now Diamond Head Classic letdowns?
    No problem with next 2 ..250-337 rpi ranked teams
    UH with one hand tied behind their backs will beat these teams by 40 minimum..
    Then bench..all guards, can play some..

    Really acid test for Ganot, will he be first UH MBB coach to run table in BWC regular season..
    With that first 8… UH looks like elite eight material

    The best D1 school in western USA..

    go bows..

    This is it… NCAA tournament guaranteed
    Only thing stop UH from winning next 18 to 19 games in a row?
    Themselves and staff, ill, injuries or lack of BB smarts

    Warrior time..been waiting near 14 years for return to NCAA Dance!!
    🙂

  4. …themselves… Potentialy HOT BWC Teams…

    AND The ROAD.. Team NOT Road-Tested (Yet)… JUST 0-1

    That’s So Far, ZERO for Everything on the Road…

    Wahine Have Eked Some Out Against Lesser Competition…

    GO ‘BOWS!

  5. Rod Bobbitt last year:

    *January 24, 2015 versus Irvine: 10 points
    *Feb. 19, 2015 at Irvine: 1 point
    *March 14, 2015 versus Irvine (Big West Championship): 6 points

    Last year, Irvine’s guards really gave Bobbitt some trouble… I think this year will be really different.

    Circle Thursday, February 12, 2016… that’s Hawaii’s first game against Irvine.

  6. these are like Exhibiton type games, will add to total wins for guys and coach though.. bittersweet feeling. good they win, however.. just the background of this season and past. Guys just win for yourselves and families / fans..

    We have seen Riley, Nash, Gib and Benjy coach in WAC and BWC games..let us see after these next 2 wins for UH, pre BWC.. if Eran Ganot can coach, guys in conference..
    Really, he has slowed guys down. more paced.. space….

    The guys performance on the floor, form last year’s pedal to the metal stance, they against the world.. still the best job, by a temp hire, Otto, in near 55 years I follow MBB.. great job Otto and guys.

    road. as eagle says. UH teams in past played the 20 home games. they go on the road for six to eight games. very rare they have winning record, only handful of UH MBB teams had winning record on road in conference. surprising, it was, Gib last year with Shamburger at PG.. UH MBB had winning record BWC on the road.. including that All Time great victory against Mamadou and Irvine at Irvine on national TV. great game..

    Okay coach Ganot, we see what you got.. You got great core, as Janks says.. different coach.. pace, however same tough guys. .wanting to go to NCAA dance..

    And bigdaddy, I hope Ganot can coach in conference. that is A WHOLE DIFFERENT game.. wish for the best.

  7. Uhfanzonly no comment in observation mode.

  8. My bad…
    With Shamburger running the Point for GA last year coached team, they went 4-4 on the road BWC games.. however, they set a record for MBB teams win in a row, conference games..
    they lost some BWC road games.. they were on a mission to just go out and win, just concentrate ONE win at a time on the road, across, 2 Cali road swings, they won historic, never been done by another MBB team in conference play. 4 games in a row on the road, including that great OT win over Mamadou and Irvine at Irvine on national tv. that was a great 4 win winning streak on the road.. Just could not do the Sweep All home games, and split on the road formula basic for success .. usually UH would be in running for league regular title.
    see if this year’s team can do it. SWEEP all BWC home games. and either winning road BWC record or at minimum.. split 4-4..

  9. Still one of Hawaii’s regular season conference BWC road win: amazing..bank is open!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mthbetc2M-A

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