Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

UPDATED: Warriors battle past Cal Poly in Big West opener


In Wednesday night’s third annual Hawai’i vs. Cal Poly knock-down, drag-out Big West Conference men’s basketball opener, the Rainbow Warriors stood toe-to-toe with the visiting Mustangs and this time battled their way to a hard-fought 86-73 victory.

A passionate and vocal crowd of 4,319 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Roderick Bobbitt score a game-high 21 points and Aaron Valdes add 20 points as the Rainbow Warriors improved to 12-2 overall. The Mustangs, who prevailed in last year’s overtime slugfest, fell to 6-8.

Starting post Stefan Jankovic added 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds and Isaac Fleming contributed 12 points, five assists and three rebounds off the bench for UH, which converted 34 of 42 free throws (81 percent). The 34 made free throws was one shy of the school record set in 2000.

Mike Thomas added a career-high 13 rebounds, including eight off the defensive glass. Hawai’i out-rebounded Cal Poly, 40-28.

“The last two years, it was the same kind of game, the same kind of atmosphere, the same kind of grind-it-out game,” Jankovic said. “But we wanted to make sure this year was gonna be different. It was a tough win, but we love these games.”

After a physical first half that ended up tied at 37-37, David Nwaba sank a short jumper to put Cal Poly up, 39-37, but that would be the Mustangs’ final lead of the evening, as Bobbitt’s 3-pointer broke a 42-42 tie with 17:25 remaining to give the Rainbow Warriors the lead for good.


Stefan Jovanovic’s layup with 11:57 left capped a 10-2 run that put Hawai’i ahead, 61-51. The Mustangs closed it to 66-64 after Tayler Sutlive’s 3-pointer with 7:03 remaining, but the Rainbow Warriors responded with a 9-2 run capped by Valdes’ 3-pointer from the left corner off Fleming’s swing assist with 4:18 left and held on for the victory.

“Two of the biggest plays for us came when we shared the ball, because the hardest thing to scout is passing,” UH coach Eran Ganot said. “The first was when Isaac split the defenders, drove down the middle and fed Aaron for a layup (to put the Rainbow Warriors up, 63-53, with 9:40 remaining in the game). The second was when Isaac passed up a good shot for a better shot and made the extra pass to Aaron in the corner for a 3 (to make it 75-66 with 4:18 left). The team gained so much confidence from that, it’s inspiring.”

Said Fleming: “We knew coming into the game there would be a lot of adversity, but no matter what, we were gonna stick to the game plan and overcome it.”

Cal Poly came out strong and muscled its way to a quick 14-5 lead in the first six minutes, but Fleming swished a 3-pointer from the left corner to ignite a 9-1 run which closed it to 15-14 with 12:32 remaining in the half, and Valdes later converted a three-point play to give Hawai’i its first lead since the opening moments at 29-27 with 5:04 left.


The Rainbow Warriors extended the lead to 35-29 after Jankovic glided in for a layup with 3:28 remaining, but Reese Morgan bookended an 8-0 run with a pair of deep 3-pointers to put the Mustangs back ahead at 37-35 with 37 seconds left. Quincy Smith then tied it up with a halftime buzzer-beating layup off Fleming’s assist.

“What you saw is what you would expect — it was intense,” Ganot said. “(The Mustangs) are such a challenge, because they have so much versatility and it is such a weapon to have that many shooters. I’m glad we came out on top, but it’s because we made some ‘team’ basketball plays and our guys had great energy.”

Ganot added he was also pleased to watch his team fight through for a tough win against a physical, stubborn team that made UH earn every basket.

“Whether it’s grinding it out or with finesse, we will have to be able to perform well against a lot of different styles,” Ganot said.

The Rainbow Warriors will face UC Santa Barbara at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Stan Sheriff Center. UH’s 12-2 start is the program’s best since the 2001-02 team’s 15-2 mark out of the gates en route to an NCAA Tournament appearance. Hawai’i has not been back to the Big Dance since.


“‘We’ve been through a lot of games like this last year, but sometimes we fell short,” said Fleming, a sophomore guard. “This year, we have a lot more experience, a lot more maturing … after the loss to (then-No. 3-ranked) Oklahoma (in the Diamond Head Classic on Dec. 23), we told ourselves we would never lose at home again. We’re confident we can protect our home court.”

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

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

CLICK HERE to view photo gallery

Wednesday’s Big West Scores
Long Beach State 94, CSUN 79
Hawai’i 86, Cal Poly 73

Thursday’s Games
UC Davis at UC Irvine
Cal State Fullerton at UC Riverside

Saturday’s Games
UC Davis at Long Beach State
CSUN at Cal State Fullerton
UC Riverside at UC Irvine
UC Santa Barbara at Hawai’i, 7:00 p.m.


  1. Great game!

    Let’s Go Bows! Let’s Go Bows! Let’s Go Bows!

  2. Still, some of the Bows needs to work on their uncrisp passing and they need to be reminded to stop pleading their cases with the refs when the fouls are called on them. They need to realize their crying won’t change the Ref’s mind and I think that it’ll hurt them moreso having the refs be more keen on them. Getting tired of seeing Valdes and Janks pleading their cases after a foul.

    Take them fouls like a man! boys

  3. Correction to story above as of 5:40 am, Fleming is a soph. Digdaddy, he played the whole 2nd half along with Roderick, plus 15 min. in the 1st. Great assists along with Mike’s. And that turnaround shot near the basket made us take notice. We heard Roderick who had another good game along with the others say on the post game that Isaac is shifty and hard to guard, etc. Plus a tough on-ball defender per commentators. But good things can be said about the whole team.
    Roderick said he has to be told a very funny joke to crack a smile. His father Rod on the radio post game said he watched the game last night on tv in California, was here for the DHC and encouraged fans to support the team.

    Good to use Valdes in the mismatch with certain players, although there were some heated moments. Surprise, Mike played 31 minutes and Sai only 9 but he was 2 for 2 on 3’s. Isaac to Quincy at end of 1st half was nice

    On radio post game, in answer to a question from Gary, Janks said he never used to like small dogs because they used to bite at his feet, until his girlfriend got one.
    The dog has a twitter,

  4. And nice assist from Sai to Stef and there was one vice versa per the stats, when Sai made a three.

  5. Great win and good effort from all boys on and off the court Agree the inside/outside game when played worked well Cal Poly good at this and passed a lot better Rod and Stef backed up by Mike, Stef and Sai played solid bball and won the game for us. Not sure without Rod coaching on the court we would have a win. Agree with less questioning of calls and need less trash talk too (clapping hands in faces of players – telling them to shoot rather than play defence – rubbish which we should be above)! Same for all the street ball Thought coaches wanted offence Was hard to see much of this at times esp with Quincy on the bench Coaches seemed to like style of game Not sure this will get us wins on the road or keep the fans Even from home could hear the cheering when ball in Rods hands knowing he is only hope of good offence. Great win and effort but worrying signs me thinks

  6. Good win Warriors! Looks like Cal Poly earned a fan here last year after they beat the venerable car salesman/interim coach.

    Still, exciting basketball game last night and people starting to pay attention to this team all around the island and on a national scale. Word is getting out, this team is going to get the best shot from every opponent now. REAL FANS should come out to see them, get 7-8,000 rocking the Stan Sheriff on a Saturday night…

  7. Funny how that works out, the other team is trying to come back in the last minutes of the game and has to foul. Funny how UH ends up taking more free throws, I wonder how that happens? /s
    Maybe the Warriors can tell the refs to shove it and keep playing. Keep dribbling around after the whistle and forsake the fouls and free throws.

    Look, UH shot better than Cal Poly (47% to 42%) and outrebounded them (40 to 28). And they played an exciting game scoring 86 points, just the same as against Hilo and HPU, and they score 81 against #3 Oklahoma. They cool it off, run it in 2nd gear, and work on specific parts of their game when they need to like against the D-II opponents. Eran Ganot’s offense is better, the players actually have a plan in the half-court this year. Go Warriors!

  8. Bottom line…UH won and boys played hard.

    Mike Thomas was a monster on the boards.
    Liked Sai in limited time role…no stupid turnovers and took good shots and made them.

    Isaac was really bothering them on defense in first half. I thought he had a strong defensive game and his presence on offense helps the other four a lot because they have to key on him, whereas with Quincy they can drop off a guy cause Quincy not a shooter and double up on someone. Isaac made some great passes as well.

    Bobbit, interesting how he completely stayed away from 3….didn’t have too many open looks but was almost predetermined, like they knew he was gonna be keyed on…but he didn’t have a lot of assists either, did he? Scored a lot from free throw line, drove straight to basket. Was an odd looking game from him.

    Very pleased that Aaron came out after bad start shooting then adversity with refs in first half and turned it around in second half. Not sure, but don’t recall him ever being able to do that before. Visually if he’s off he’s off. Once he started hitting the short fade away jumper he got his rhythm and then he hit that three when he was all alone. Really great to see. Maturity.

    Steph…man, he is soooo much better than last year. And whoever made a comment about him talking to refs, oh my gosh, he is sooooo much better than he was last year. The rebounding, his confidence in the paint, his moves into the paint from outside, it’s like night and day. He’s really worked hard and matured. He credited his dad for stopping the talking to the refs after every call, telling him how ridiculous he looked and making him watch himself!

    Those bozos on ESPN 1420 Bobby and especially the lawyer/UH Regent/mobster-sounding guy (I can’t think of his name) drive me nuts in their post game interview with Ganot, acting like know-it-alls and trying to stir the pot and always asking about Isaac and bringing up every little thing about him trying to create controversy! I loved how Ganot handled it and was very positive and stood behind Isaac and the team and didn’t feed into their innuendo and he gained points in my book a lot in last night’s interview.

    I’m afraid to say it out loud this early, but these guys are special.

  9. Oh, and I suppose it goes without saying, but Big West officiating sucks. That play where the guy pushed Aaron to the ground and they called Aaron for the foul? That was a crime. I haven’t watched the replay yet but It was right in front of me, I know what I saw!

  10. Senst23 coach Ganot said on the radio that was an adjustment he made based on what the opposition was giving them Rod & Valdes was struggling the first half.

    Streetball is a terminology for discrimination try using the word skillset example look at Oklahoma guards and around the Ncaa.

  11. Commentator mentioned Bennett is 6-9, 288 lbs, hard to stop his hook, but Janks blocked one of his shots.
    Thought Cal Poly was a school for brainy students and it is ranked #10 in US News Regional Universities West rankings, but Gonzaga is ranked #4, Seattle (Manroop’s) #6, St. Mary’s #9.
    For National Universities , UCSB is ranked #37, Irvine #39, UC Davis #41, Riverside #121 and UH # 161. Big West has some brainy teams.

  12. The team stood up to Cal Poly and the refs (who were terrible) and spoke with their play and free throw shooting. Surprised there has been so little said about it. It was the difference in the score. Guaranteed, we will see free throws being the difference in many of the tight games we play this year. Free throw shooting is a test of mental concentration and confidence in oneself. Credit to everyone of our players who stayed calm at the foul line last night. Hope it will carry forward.

    Other thoughts: Cal Poly’s legs seem to go on them late in the second half. Speaks well for our conditioning. Those of you who can’t pick up on the good play of our team need to get a life. These are college students, not pros. Individually they have all improved their skills and they have a great attitude. Let them enjoy the game along with those of us who love basketball and can appreciate the hard work it takes to do the amazing things they do.

  13. Win. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

  14. I think it is a good sign that people are nitpicking the little things and not satisfied with just winning. It shows that fans expect this team to win and want even more! All the good teams deal with it.

    This was a wonderful win. To me the team did not play that good but still beat a solid Poly team by 13. As others already said Valdes and Bobbitt were not hot but they both still got their 20 points and that is what they need to do. Imagine if one of them was hot, UH would win by 20-25.

    Like Ganot said in the video this is only one game and long way to go. Can not get big head. Lets not forget that this was Poly’s six road game in a row so of course they going be tired in second half. One of Poly’s starting guards Ridge Shipley didn’t play and that is a big loss for them. He was the hero of the Big West tournament couple years ago. We need to be real careful when we go up there to Poly because they will be looking for big revenge.

  15. bigdaddy:

    I thought I was watching Steph Curry jr, out there ! a one man offensive wiz, handling the ball, waiting, dribbling at top of the key, to the wings, then going hard left, left hand layin.. or dish to big for finish, Isaac was balling last nite !
    AT his height , and vision, BB IQ, he can play pro ball even next year. . overall talent, I think HE might be the best on team
    Rod, is a great FT shooter, in prime Time, and a great spot up 3 point shooter.. Rod should actually play off guard or wing/ SG.. with Isaac at PG.. or Q.. either way the 2 guards.. Bobbit and Fleming work together really well, team shares the ball, and rebounded against a physical team
    I love the team.. it is the same team, just have gotten better.

    however THE ROAD awaits. and the psyche of being on the road, especially after a possible loss, how will team respond. . plus the antics of the Hawaii 50 crew cute in SSC.. I think they will get heckled or worse in those tiny BWC gyms.. UCSB all over again? guy come out of stands? I hope not.

  16. I was wrong, a little. Had UH 75-60 (15 pt. margin), but final was 86-73 (13 pt. margin). Forgot momentarily that this year’s shot clock is at 30 seconds so scoring should be a little up. Rainbow Warriors, led by Eran Ganot are playing solid basketball. Definitely, a dramatic improvement over Arnold/Taylor group. The difference is that this group doesn’t make a lot of stupid mistakes and they look for each other and they keep their composure. It’s called POISE!!!!! It takes good coaching to instill that and this coaching staff is doing a great job. Free throw shooting is coming around, or should I say the right people are shooting free throws. Q didn’t shoot any FTs last night. Fans can see that the team has confidence and the fans are feeling it and are getting jacked up. Should be a good crowd on Saturday against Santa Barbara. It should be a good game and a tight game, but the trend is that UH takes it up a notch in the latter stages of the second half and I don’t see any difference this time so, I’ll go with UH 87, UCSB 77.

    Gotta have some excitement and some inspiration. Let’s try this: http://www.youtube Santana-Winning w/ lyrics

  17. Sorry, try it on Google.

  18. Wow CSUN self imposes post season ban this year. Sucks for their seniors who just have to ride it out and had no chance to transfer.

  19. Wow, yes that is harsh on the CSUN senior class. I am wondering if they had to take ban for this year because UH ban is next year. Two teams ban in the same year would really mess up the Big West Tournament because that would have only seven teams.

    I will have to say it – that is one less team for UH to worry about, even though I wasn’t worried about CSUN too much this year.

  20. “51” Fouls in this game!

    I personally did not know anyone in that officiating crew, but know that they will most likely be here for the Saturday game. They whistled fouls like their pregame talk was about controlling the game and don’t let it get out of hand…or perhaps one or two of them had just done a high school girls game. It was evident that they were protecting the shooters and the drives. Bobbitt, to his credit, recognized that and as a result lived at the line with Valdes.

    This BWC prejudice against Hawaii has been evident for the past 4 years, but the officiating has gotten somewhat better about it, at least here. It is shameful about the scheduling, the Gauchos should be pretty acclimated by Saturday’s game. Bryson is yet another high scorer who will give us trouble, but it is the rest of the team that we need to concentrate on. They were picked above us in the preseason rankings, let’s send them home on that long plane ride feeling like losers.

    Can’t say enough about the monster that Thomas turned into on the boards, even cut down on the cheap fouls…love that effort Michael! Gotta love Jank’s attitude as well as the bench. Bball is back in Manoa.


  21. One alternative mentioned in today’s SA, is whether UH could push back the ban to another season, like 2017-18 .

  22. Mahalo Dayton and WI.. scmidts and moderators.
    Take care Davis Rozitis, Isaac Fotu and Tonganator ohana
    Gib, Benjy , and Eran have good future..
    Pono UH..

    Aloha fans!!

  23. Bigdaddy…cream rise to the top

    Isaac top notch player, all BWC caliber..
    Pro skillset
    Thanks for your thoughts, kelleyO, eagle encoraging me to comment when no on was, clyde, al, n2joy originals..and insider servante.
    Keep on supporting team..
    Aussie mum and Ozi mum mahalo , you have great sons too..
    Brandyn Akana, good man..Hawaiian man..:)
    Aloha. Pau..

  24. It was a battle and fight to the end.

    The team shot better at free throws. Rod was money from the charity line especially at the end of the game. Mike did a bit better too. New Year’s resolution?

    Issac played lots of minutes and did well all through the game. He has definitely improved on his conversations, or lack of, with the refs. Good stats for Issac. Want to see more playing time for him. Good D, scoring and unselfishness.

    Mike – learn a new move. It’s called a jump stop vs. plowing into the defenders. Less offensive fouls will result in more playing time and the jump stop will result in more points.

    Janks – very impressive. Should’ve had at least 8 more points. Shoot the ball. Stay tough on the boards.

    AV – post up the smaller defenders. We miss that fly high action stuff. Maybe this Saturday’s game?

    Refs – they really blew lots of calls. One missed travel call resulted in a 3 point swing. The fouls on Aaron were terrible. 3 calls by the same ref. Then at half time summons Janks over to call Aaron over to say “my bad” and proceed to justify his bad calls. They were so inconsistent. Then they go to the replay. Can you imagine what one will think to themselves when they see that they really blew the call.

    Appeal – addressing the post season ban is one thing, but the probation part will ruin the program. The University self sanctioned itself above and beyond.

    Road trips next week will be fun. Let’s go! See you there.

    CSUN self imposing a post conference ban

    Go Bows!!!

  25. Wahine give up 15-point second-quarter lead (was down to 1-point), but regroup to win conference opener at Long Beach, 67-55.

  26. Wahine are 6-0 on the road so far this season.

  27. We might see more post ups with Valdes in the future especially when he is not hitting from the outside. Aaron is a very versatile athlete or should I say natural athlete. Don’t know why they didn’t do it before since his strength is mid-range. Cal Poly did not have an answer for that. I guess there has to be a miss match for it to really work. Good surprise move by Ganot.

  28. Great interview Well done Issac and Stef! Dont want to get negative BUT please coach do not make silly statements about human nature being about being average and resting on your laurels. I get what you were trying to say but human nature is about survival, growth and relationships between people. People in developing worlds are not sitting on their laurels, fans who work each day to raise money to attend games are not sitting on their laurels and every student at UH (not just the atheltes in your program) is not sitting on their laurels – we are all trying to be the best we can be, no different to your athletes. That is human nature at its finest and it goes a lot further than just you and your team. Struck a bad not with me and a lot of others with that comment!

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