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Allen, Drammeh stand out in Green & White Scrimmage

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In what could be called its first “rehearsal” for the upcoming season, the revamped University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team showed flashes of potential but also its youth and inexperience throughout Saturday afternoon’s annual Green vs. White Scrimmage at the Stan Sheriff Center.

UCLA transfer Noah Allen led all players with 23 points and 10 rebounds, returning sophomore guard Sheriff Drammeh added 15 points, five boards and four assists, junior Gibson Johnson scored 13 points and freshman guard Matt Owies chipped in 11 points and six assists to highlight the action. The scrimmage was played in three 10-minute periods with three NCAA officials; the “Green” and “White” squads were mixed up in different combinations for each of the three sessions.

To help create a game-night atmosphere, longtime PA announcer Keenan Goo was at the microphone to do formal introductions and call out the fouls and baskets made. A crowd of about 500 watched in curiosity.

“It went well, for all of us to be able to get up and down in front of the fans and be in more a game-like setting, as opposed to practice where there’s so much stoppage,” said Allen, a 6-foot-7 guard/forward originally from Pacific Grove, Calif. “I think we all got to see what we could play like and get a feel for each other.”

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The first few minutes of the scrimmage were a bit ragged, with both sides struggling to find a rhythm and put the ball in the basket. Allen finally broke the ice with a free throw for the White team, and then Drammeh scored on a putback and then a drive and two-handed dunk for the Green.

After Owies, a 6-foot point guard from Melbourne, Australia, hit a short baseline jumper to put the Green up, 6-1, sophomore guard Brocke Stepteau drained a 3-pointer from the top of the key for the White. Owies answered with his own 3-pointer to beat the shot clock buzzer and then redshirt sophomore Jack Purchase sank another 3 from the left corner to push the Green’s lead to 12-4.

Purchase later made another 3-pointer from the left wing to make it 15-8, before the White closed it to 17-12 on true freshman Leland Green’s 3-pointer from the right wing, off Stepteau’s assist.

The Green team — made up of Drammeh, Owies, Purchase, Gibson Johnson, Larry Lewis, Jr., and Zach Buscher — won the first period by a score of 21-14 over the White (Allen, Stepteau, Green, Zigmars Raimo, Ido Flaisher and Brian Garrett).

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“It was our first time being able to play in front of the fans, it was a good turnout and I think we played pretty well,” said Stepteau, a 5-9 point who saw limited action last season. “We got off to a slow start probably due to some jitters … but after halfway through the first (period), or so, everybody kind of got into their comfort zone and I think we played pretty well. Obviously, (still) room to improve, but I think it was a good start for us.”

After some players switched jerseys, the second period began with a short jumper by sophomore Buscher (White), followed by Lewis’ layup and another 3-pointer by Green. Allen then scored eight straight points on a baseline jumper and back-to-back 3’s from the top of the key, fueling a 16-run by the Green capped by Garrett’s 3-pointer from the right corner to make it 18-7.

The Green (Stepteau, Owies, Garrett, Johnson, Allen, Lewis) eventually won the second period, 26-16.

“Noah obviously can score the ball really well, we already knew that coming in, (but) I’m sure the fans might not have,” Stepteau said. “He’s a really good scorer, and we’re going to need him to do that this year for us.”

After more switching of jerseys, Owies began the third period with a 3-pointer from the top of the key for the White, but Allen answered with a free throw and then a slam dunk off Drammeh’s assist. Green finished a strong drive with a tough layup, and Raimo banked in a short jumper to give the White team a 7-3 lead.

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The rest of the action was highlighted by Buscher’s tricky fast break layup, Green’s 3-pointer from the right corner, Flaisher’s layup off a nice assist from Buscher, and Green’s steal and breakaway slam dunk at the other end. The White (Green, Owies, Raimo, Flaisher, Buscher and Lewis) ended up winning 25-20 over the Green (Stepteau, Purchase, Johnson, Drammeh, Allen and Garrett).

Lewis finished with 10 points and four rebounds and Purchase tallied nine points and four boards.

“I thought the scrimmage was good, I think we played well together as a team … it was a successful day,” said Purchase, a 6-8 forward from Melbourne. “Everyone played hard. We haven’t been practicing well the last couple sessions, but today everyone came and had a good practice, so that was good. Offensively and defensively, we played pretty well, we executed well. Defensively, we were in the right spots in the rotations for the most part.”

Purchase said the thing the team must improve on most is “consistency,” and coach Eran Ganot also said — as Stepteau did — the Rainbow Warriors are not quite where they need to be with only 19 days until the season opener vs. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Nov. 11.

“There’s some positives when you go back to the game specifically, (but) some things we need to work on and clean up, both collectively and individually,” Ganot said. “I think we’re getting better. I think a couple days ago we hit a little bit of a wall, we’ve got this six-week period (before the season opener) … after about three weeks you could tell guys were tired of seeing each other. (But) now we’re in the phase we want to be — we’ve got this Green-White Scrimmage, playing in a little bit more of a game-like action in front of a crowd, then the exhibition (against Brigham Young-Hawai’i on Nov. 3), and then before you know it, the first game on Nov. 11.

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“We gotta pick it up, there were some positives today but we’ve gotta clean up a lot. In terms of the progress, I think we’re probably about on pace, maybe a little bit behind so these next three weeks will be really key and critical. We’re gonna have to go back to the film and see what we missed with the naked eye. But we’ve got a coachable group … We’re getting there, (but) we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

When the final horn went off, the players received a loud ovation and then the players went into the arena’s lower bowl to personally shake hands with fans and thank them for coming.

“There were two things — letting the fans get to know our guys, and our guys getting to know the fans,” Ganot said.

Everybody then stuck around to watch an Alumni Game featuring former UH standouts like Julian Sensley, Zane Johnson and Miah Ostrowski, along with fan favorites like Dyrbe Enos and Lance Takaki.

“This is a family program — from our current team, for recruits, for our alums … it was a nice cap-off, to have the alums and the fans watch our guys, and then having our guys go into the stands and then come back and support the alums,” Ganot said. “It was a fun, festive event.”

Now, Ganot said, the team will shift into “lock-down mode” and focus on improvement before the dress rehearsal vs. BYUH on Nov. 3.

“You want to see how your team progresses with practices, but then in a game-like atmosphere it’s different, how guys handle that,” Ganot said. “Every single guy on the team today — there were some struggles, but there were some highlights as well. We’ll watch film and continue to go to work like we always do. I just think it was important for our guys to get to this next phase, they were excited. This whole week — with Media Day on Tuesday, the Tip-Off Event on Thursday … it’s a lot that they had to handle, with practices. But as we shift into next week, we’re pretty much in lock-down mode, and it’s all about us and getting ready for the games.”

(Photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com)

3 Comments

  1. Really good to see Sai Tummala and Dyrbe Enos. Looks like a much more competitive alumni game than last year’s. Nice to see some attendance. Should be higher though! Great occasion for newcomers to get a feel for the SSC in front of fans.

  2. Great to see crisper ball movement, very little hesitation (No Carmelo-type dribbling);
    This team is likely to surpass last year’s shots per seconds… so MORE SHOTS…
    And already a better shooting team….

    IF they continue last year’s trend, moving from about #227(?) REBOUNDING Nationally the year before to Number One in BWC, Also means More Possessions…

    More Possessions, More Shots, More Baskets… ==>> “More Wins”

    ———–
    Great to See The Alums having So Much FUN And So Full of Respect for One Another…
    WAY Higher Level of BB (than Summer League) — THE MEN Can still PLAY…
    But Also Smiles And Grins All Around…
    Getting Announced, Coming Out into SSC…
    Could Tell they were RE-Experiencing Some of The BEST Days of their Lives…
    Have Never Seen Such a Big Grin from Coach Zane

    Tip-Off Banquet was Excellent as well
    So Much Interaction
    Thursday & Saturday
    This Team, Really Personable Guys
    Chemistry Should Also Be Improved…

    Way to Go, Coach Ganot & Staff
    GO ‘Bows!

  3. The top tier players playing with impressive speed, confidence and efficiency.
    New comers exuded potential with experience and conditioning.
    Freshmen need to do both diligently!

    We should be compassionate and supportive for team.

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