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Warriors begin “middle phase” of preseason in decent shape

With two weeks down and four more to go before it’s Nov. 11 season opener vs. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team has effectively shifted into “second gear,” so to speak.

More accurately, the Warriors are now in the “middle phase” of their six-week preparation period, having spent most of the two-week “first phase” building a solid base of fundamentals while many of the players began their adjustment to NCAA Division I practices. This middle phase — also roughly planned for two weeks — started Saturday with a 30-minute film study session followed by an increasingly intense two-hour practice in Gym II.

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“Something we’re focused on is getting better every day, that’s a quality of a good team,” said junior college transfer Gibson Johnson, a 6-foot-8 post. “The emphasis that we have is that every practice is our best practice of the year. If you brought it the day before, then you’ve gotta bring it even more the next day. That’s how we’re gonna get better.”

By that measure, head coach Eran Ganot said the team has made significant progress.

“We didn’t have a lot of great practices that first week, but we haven’t really had any duds like that since,” Ganot said. “We’ve actually had a string of good practices. With a lot of young guys, they need the reps, they need to see film.”

Saturday’s practice began at around 11:35 a.m. with the usual breakout sessions — posts working on moves around the basket and guards/wings going through halfcourt offense moving the ball against a zone defense, along with some motion offense against a zone.

The intensity and speed of the drills definitely picked up from two weeks ago, but there still were important “teaching moments” woven in.

“Get in your stance!” assistant coach Chris Acker told freshman forward Zigmars Raimo, before stopping action to demonstrate what he meant. “You’re guarding he post — you cannot do this (the wrong way).”

Shortly afterward, Acker stopped the action again to point out guard Brian Garrett being out of position in a zone defense.

“The ball is here,” Acker said, pointing. “Why are you down there?”

But soon, the pace of practice picked up sharply as the team split up into trios shooting 3-pointers in timed drills around the arc, followed by full-court three-on-three transition fast break sessions with actual game officials blowing their whistles on fouls and traveling violations.

It later expanded to five-on-five sessions, and when Johnson drew a charge to lift his “Green” team to victory, he was mobbed by jubilant teammates. Later, after Johnson grabbed a defensive rebound, he drew intense defensive pressure from Larry Lewis, who was pawing fiercely at the ball trying to make a steal.

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“Remember,” Ganot said. “Guys are also competing for spots (in the lineup).”

Ganot added that film study can be crucial to each player’s development, especially during this time when he and his staff are adding things to the practice package.

“They’re not just athletes — they are STUDENT-athletes,” Ganot said. “We want them to think about the game. There’s a lot we’re throwing at them right now, so a lot of it is being alert, having a good basketball IQ, but also showing some toughness and the ability to move forward.”

Johnson said the players understand and accept their responsibility in the film room.

“To get better, you can’t just be on the floor, you gotta be a student of the game,” Johnson said. “Film, we go over practice … we always look at our numbers from practice — that’s how we’re gonna improve. It’s a very detail-oriented system, everyone’s gotta do their job, it’s a team game. The main thing about our system is that everyone has to do their job and if we do, then we’re gonna be really good, but if someone doesn’t, then we’re not gonna be so good. So as long as everyone does their job and we work as a team, and not as individuals, then we’re gonna get the job done.”

This second two-week phase of preseason practice also includes some official “festivities” which signal the games are getting nearer: On Friday, the team participated in an on-campus Homecoming event in which they were formally introduced and then got to meet some fans. Saturday night, the team walked onto the field at Aloha Stadium and was introduced before a crowd of more than 28,700 fans at the UH football game vs. UNLV.

On Oct. 18, the Warriors will dress in their game uniforms and take pictures and field interviews for “Media Day,” and a preseason “Tip-Off Event” is planned for Thursday at the Stan Sheriff Center with at least 400 fans expected to attend.

Then there is the Green vs. White scrimmage set for Saturday afternoon at the SSC.

“It’s important for our great community to get to know our guys,” Ganot said. “People are excited, and they should be excited. This ‘H’ (logo) means a lot.”

But ultimately, Ganot said while the three “phases” of preseason practice may change, the overall theme of each phase will not.

“We need to always be obsessed with getting better,” he said.

10 Comments

  1. Idol Flaisher-15 looks like he is still growing in the picture and is 6’10” (look at him compared to Zigmar Raimos at 6’7″-14), plus has put on weight, so he may be a pleasant surprise as a freshman. Idol has skills (including post moves, outside shooting, quickness for his size, international experience, and good hands).

  2. With the additions of Gibson and Ido, the 2016-17 Warriors looked better than many of the teams in the past physically, IMHO!

    With the “get better everyday” system going accordingly…
    And how much this new group LOVE Hawaii.

    Improvements can be obvious sooner than later!!!

  3. Outside of Gib and Purchase I don’t think that we have many scoring options inside. I expect the wings and guards to handle most of the scoring load. I think Allen and Lewis will be a double digit scorers along with Johnson.

  4. Here’s my predicted starting 5:

    PG- Owies
    SG- Lewis
    SF- Allen
    PF- Purchase
    C- Johnson

    First off the bench:
    Drammeh, Green, Ido

  5. Hawaii’s MBB coaching staff is the best in BWC, led by the over-qualified assistant Jacobsen.
    Notedly with Pacific as player, HC for a long period, familiar with west coast MBB, knows BWC in&out…

    Under his tutorage, the front-line is going to be benefited tremendously for sure!

    AD Matlin Sir, please reward him with a good extention and promote him to Associate HC,
    before competitor made him a HC again!

    Or, may save yourselves the trouble of looking for a good HC if, someone BO coach Ganot.

  6. Very interesting comments Iceebear and PONO. Am excited to see them this weekend and make my own evaluation. Just off the Insider News, I think we could have a pretty competitive team come playoffs, maybe better. Don’t plan on missing a game.

  7. Some important rule changes noted by McInnis and others. You cannot push someone to get rebounding position, etc.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4hkblhCl-U

  8. ” The Heat on Monday made its first roster move of the preseason, waiving rookie forward Stefan Jankovic and adding shot-blocking center Vashil Fernandez to the roster.
    While there’s an outside chance Jankovic could be picked up by another NBA team, Monday’s move was made to help beef up the franchise’s D-League affiliate, the Sioux Falls Skyforce.
    As for Jankovic, who received a $100,000 guarantee on his partially guaranteed contract as an undrafted rookie out of Hawaii this summer , the Heat remain high on him. Spoelstra said it was just unfortunate the 6-11, 234-pound stretch power forward was slowed by an ankle injury this preseason. Jankovic played only 3 minutes and 40 seconds in Friday’s win over the Spurs, missing two shots.”
    http://blogs.herald.com/miami_heat/2016/10/heat-waive-forward-stefan-jankovic-sign-center-vashil-fernandez.html

  9. Ankle Injury
    Should be Afforded Chance to come back (IF Spoelstra True to His Words)

    Thursday TIP-OFF Fundraiser
    Chance to CONTRIBUTE to a BETTER Program
    And Meet the Players Before Saturday…
    UHMBB Office 808-956-6501

    THAT Line-Up Should WIN Some Games
    And Still Other Good Options
    Just Need to SEE Some RESULTS And GROWTH

    GO ‘BOWS!

  10. Islandman: Thanks for the link on Jankovic. It sounds like the ball’s in Stefan’s court as to whether to accept assignment to the D-League or sign with a team in Europe. I think he could make more $$ overseas than the D-League, but I wonder if that $100,000 is his to pocket or contingent on him taking the D-League assignment.

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