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UPDATED: Reserves help Warriors run away from Golden Lions

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The University of Hawai’i basketball team finished the holiday weekend with what has become a nice annual tradition – a convincing victory over Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

The latest version came in the form of a 64-44 victory over the Golden Lions on Sunday night. An announced crowd of 5,508 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the Warriors improve to 4-3 while bouncing back from a heartbreaking two-point loss to Troy just 48 hours earlier.

It was Hawai’i’s fifth victory over UAPB since 2010, and the last four wins (in 2012, 2014, 2015 and this year) have come by an average of 25.8 points per game. The Golden Lions fell to 1-5 this season.

This win, however, did not come as easy as the final 20-point margin might indicate. Hawai’i was stuck on six points for the first nine minutes of the game, and made just one of its first 15 field goal attempts to open the game.

“Pleased to come out with a victory; very pleased with our second half,” Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot said. “Like I said, this game is very humbling, you have to honor it. I think for the second consecutive game, we did not. We didn’t come out ready to play … we said some things in the locker room at halftime. Obviously, we have to try that before the game starts.”

Gibson Johnson scored 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting to lead a balanced Hawai’i offense. Jack Purchase added 11 points and six rebounds, and Sheriff Drammeh contributed nine points, five assists and four rebounds.

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All 13 players in uniform saw action, and the contributions of several reserve players received praise from Ganot for igniting the second-half surge. In particular, freshman point guard Matthew Owies scored a season-high 11 points and passed for four assists, and junior guard Larry Lewis Jr. also scored a season-high 10 points on perfect 3-for-3 shooting from the field (along with 4 of 6 on free throws.

“I thought Larry Lewis gave us a huge lift,” Ganot said. “People will talk about his 10 points … but it was more about a look and approach.

“In the first half, it was Matt Owies … those two, specifically, gave us a look and an excitement to play the game. How you can not have that is beyond me.”

Lewis, who entered the game with a total of four points this season, said: “I struggled for the first half of this season remembering plays and defensive floor positioning and all of that. But I just hope I can keep bringing the energy I brought tonight and just keep coming in strong and aggressive.”

Owies and Lewis combined for 17 points in the second half, when the Warriors pulled away. After shooting just 31 percent from the field in the first half, Hawai’i shot 65 percent in the second half, and finished at 44.9 percent (22 for 49) for the game.

UAPB did not help its own cause, shooting just 41 percent from the field, while attempting only 39 shots for the game (16 for 39). More telling, the Golden Lions went 5 for 17 from the free throw line (29.4 percent), and grabbed only five offensive rebounds while being out-rebounded by the Warriors, 29-24.

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“At halftime (the talk) was about lacking energy and not ready to play,” Owies said. “When I got my opportunity I just made sure that I was ready to play and did my part to help the team. The boys also helped me to get going because I’ve had a bit of a struggle since I missed like a week-and-a-half of practice … It was really just being ready to go and pressuring on defense and pushing the ball on offense and trying to attack that zone.”

For the first time this season, Ganot made a change in the starting lineup. Sophomore walk-on guard Brocke Stepteau started in place of freshman Leland Green, but it did not pay immediate dividends. The Warriors went scoreless for the first 4:20 of the game, and fell behind 5-0. A fastbreak layup by Drammeh with 15:40 remaining in the first half was UH’s first made basket of the game.

“You better freakin’ come ready to compete,” Ganot said. “If you don’t, as you saw, we’ll try some other guys. I don’t care who you are. It’s meant too much to too many people to bring that kind of an effort to start the game.”

The Warriors finally got their shots to start falling midway through the first half, and an 8-1 run gave Hawai’i a 14-13 lead with 8:15 remaining. Hawai’i eventually took a 29-23 lead at intermission, despite shooting 31 percent (9 for 29) from the field, including 0 for 12 from 3-point range.

The Warriors were aided in the first half by 11 for 15 shooting from the free throw line, compared to UAPB’s 3 for 7.

The lineup changed again to start the second half, when Owies started in place of Stepteau.

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“I’m not really sure,” Owies said of the future status of roles in the backcourt. “But Brocke, me and Sheriff will continue to attack each other in practice and get each other better. It doesn’t really matter who’s out on the court. We all look to attack and try and figure stuff out.”

The Warriors scored the first four points of the second half to increase their lead to 33-22. The Golden Lions never got closer than eight the rest of the way. Purchase scored seven points during a 13-0 Hawai’i surge that increased the lead to 54-32 with 5:12 remaining to secure the win.

Hawai’i finished the game 2 for 17 (11.8 percent) from 3-point range, but took advantage of 23 turnovers by the Golden Lions. Senior forward Noah Allen, who entered the game leading the Warriors with 17.8 points and 7.0 rebounds per game, was limited to seven points on 1-for-7 shooting, and five rebounds.

Junior forward Darryl Matthews, who has been recovering from an ankle injury, saw his first action of this season and scored his first point in a Hawai’i uniform on a free throw in the final minute.

After opening this season with seven games in 17 days, the Warriors will now play just two games in the next 24 days. Hawai’i will play Seton Hall and Princeton in the Pearl Harbor Invitational on December 6 and 7, respectively, and then will not play again until the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic on December 22.

“We have work to do, and I can’t say enough how appreciative we are that we get this practice time coming up,” Ganot said.

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

Game photos courtesy Matt Osumi and Chris Kadooka

CLICK HERE to view photo gallery

11 Comments

  1. This team let a couple of games get away and they really should be 6-1. Now they need to steal a couple of upsets coming up to get back on track. I still say .500 record for the season should be the measuring standard for this group and these coaches, no matter what the NCAA took away.

  2. Just a Few AIM HIGH, Glass Still BEING FILLED, Thoughts…l

    .500 IS FAIR Standard for a Re-Build or Start-Up Team

    Like Rolo’s Team
    BUT ROLO KNOWS IF They WON The Two Games they were favored in…
    BUT LOST BY ONE Score (Sound Familiar?)
    They WOULD HAVE TIED (SAN DIEGO STATE!!)
    FOR THE CONFERENCE Division Championship
    AND Earned The Bowl Bid Outright, Free & Clear
    NO NCAA ‘Allowance’ for “Pretty-Close-to-Winners” with Good Behaviour (IRONIC?)

    BUT I DO (Ido!) RESPECT ERAN FOR REFUSING TO SETTLE AND BUY-IN TO “RE-BUILDING”
    I Really ENJOY Him ‘Schooling’ And ‘Scolding’ Portnoy And Bobby On Aimimg High…
    “CHALLENGING for Championships!” As ‘The Norm’

    AND i Agree With CC Above — WIN ONE @ Pearl Harbor, EARN Half Back…
    WIN TWO… EARN RESPECT And Maybe Another Full House…
    Now Eight Days for Coaches To Elevate THIS TEAM Above The UNC-Challenging Team of a Week Ago
    To A New Pearl Harbor Ambush…NOT SO Unlike BB Oklahoma Or BB California Last Year

    This Staff EARNED The Voting Respect (Last Year) of Coach-of-Year Voters Maybe even Smarter than Us…
    Kenpom — Smartest Math Analyst I’ve Tracked,
    Has UHMBB ONE WIN Back (Third Place) of a BWC Championship Right Now…
    AND ERAN And Staff Have Consistently Exceeded Even His Projections…

    Such A Long Wait…
    BUT I Know UH Coaches Will Not Waste A Minute…
    Go Staff !
    Work Hard & Smart, Bows!
    GO ‘BOWS !

  3. UH struggled big time against Ken Poms 348th team in the nation. It actually was painful to watch and credit the 2500 fans or so who suffered through the game. There was a striking resemblance to a pick up game at the Y.

    Why? Weakest UH roster in years. Outside of Noah Allen, Sheriff and possibly Purchase the talent is really limited at best .

    Problems with some thoughts:

    Recruiting: To a certain extent, the coaching staff gets a pass because of the NCAA sanctions. OTOH why use up scholarships on young players such as Raimo, Flaisher and several others. Most programs have their 2017 class locked up addressing their needs (in UHʻs case, a real D1 PG, quality strong inside players, etc). However with practically no scholarships available, UH is basically pinning their hopes on this core group plus Mike Thomas and that prospect is not very encouraging.

    Backcourt: Sheriff struggles a lot trying to adjust. Does not see the court well. Tends to dribble around trying to figure out what to do next. Also he is athletic enough to play good on the ball defense – donʻt like to see him running around trying to draw charges when he could be shutting down players and contesting their shot. Stepteau has a better feel for the position but because of his size he will have problems on the defensive end. Can hit the open shot as he has shown. Creating is harder. Owies works hard but is a Dellavadova type player who is limited athletically. Does understand the position a little better though. Lewis with more PT might be able to provide some help as a SG off the bench.

    Frontcourt: Noah Allen is the only real D1 player here. Besides his big time program experience, he passes well, moves well without the ball, can hit the outside shot altho his arc is a little flat at times, and plays good defense. Because of the UHʻs offensive problems, he sometimes ends up with the ball late in the shot clock and has to take a low percentage shot. Purchase has a kind of Euro game most comfortable cruising the perimeter and not one to bang inside. Has saved the UH many possessions by having a good long range shot as the shot clock runs out. Johnson is a prototype garbage player who can get some points inside from time to time but has no real go to offensive moves and does not jump well (can you say white manʻs disease?). He hustles and tries hard but has his athletic limitations. Ido and cover your eyes Raimo are definitely works in progress.

    Coaching: Concerning to see the UH trying to play the 4 out and one inside game especially against a zone like against UAPB. The middle was often open but the passes were going around the outside and the classic pass to the high post look for the baseline cutter as in a typical 1-3-1 zone offense wasnʻt happening. As a result scoreless drought again early and if it hadnʻt been for foul calls, where were the shots? The 4 out 1 in approach as run by Kentucky is potent when you have skilled one on one players and a talented big none of which applies to UH. Did not appear to a number of observers that the team was “flat” early as much as a basic strategic problem. How many times do we have to see the shot clock running down and a high degree of difficulty shot. Basketball is a beautiful game and simple enough when you run your offense, make the extra pass, and get a high percentage shot.

    Schedule: ? no road non conference games before the regular conference season begins a la the Riley Wallace days. Sure the team is in a big time rebuilding mode but as any player knows well, the challenge of playing a better team especially on the road benefits the team with the challenge of playing against better players. Playing too many 300+ rated teams like UAPB and one more against Delaware State actually can hurt a teamʻs progress and certainly affects attendance. UHʻs next two games are going to be an improvement for sure as both Seton Hall and Princeton can definitely play. Luckily for the UH the Big West so far appears to be one of the worst conferences in the country. It is a little hard to evaluate because most teams are playing better competition and some of the games are road contests. For example, one of the BW preseason favorites, LB State goes against KU in Lawrence tomorrow after taking on the likes of Carolina, UCLA and Louisville all on the road.

  4. Good analysis Babyhook. This season is a test of our young coaching staff. They seem to have a vision for future and are sticking to their plan. This team is so young and low on talent but that is a good way to judge the improvement. I expect this team to be a lot better by February/March because all the young guys will have game experience.

    The freshmen Raimo, Flaisher and Owies look lost right now but I say give them time under these coaches. I think they will improve through the year and definitely will be better as sophomores and juniors. As a example, I think back to freshman Drammeh last year and never would of thought he could be a guy who can score 12-15 points a game as a sophomore, but thats what he doing now.

  5. ChuckCheese,

    Good point on Drammeh. He has made vast improvements from last year. Hopefully he’ll continue to get exponentially better. If that’s the case, imagine how good he’ll be by the time he’s a senior.

    Very disappointed that Flaisher didn’t play a single minute in the second half. He seems to be someone who needs to be on the court to get better.

  6. maybe ganot will chase away couple of current players to free up scholarships like gib did

  7. Every year it comes around, and every year there are a couple of candidates who stand out. Its a bit late I know, but the quest is there anyway, and we only need to be good by the end of the year. The Honolulu marathon is around the corner. My candidated number one is Ido Flaisher. His legs look like weights. He’s got so much will, but doesn’t seem like he has enough time to get in shape. Maybe too much homework. And we’ve had players recently that really worked on their jumping skills, on their own time. Who is the strength coach anyway? If there isn’t one, there are plenty of youtubes that give great advice on how to improve jumping and speed, as well as basketball skills. I would say just stay away from the basketball skills as we have coaches for that, and just concentrate on the basic simple jumping skills. And then go out and set a number of miles to run a week and set a number of miles to bike each week. Of course, they’ve got to get their homework done. But just offering this guidance and encouraging them to open the youtube, I think this team would benefit. I can’t forget how much Rodman, Jordan and Pippen seemed to work out more than their competition. They worked at it. Maybe I’m asking too much and maybe the guys are max’d out doing all that they do. But just in case, I thought I’d mention it. Just another angle.

  8. That is a good point akuhead2. It does seem like this basketball team does not have strong players and they sure don’t look like they lift weights. I know Drammeh is natural skinny but even guys like that should be able to put on little bit of muscle and he looks like he didnt.

    I don’t know who the strength coach is but who ever it is probably should be fired because now that I think about it, the UH basketball teams have not looked strong at all. Even last years great team could of been even better if guys like Janks and Jovanovic had more strong play inside.

  9. Even you are rich,whether you earned it or inherited it – It’s your luck but,
    you got no right to demeaning the poor!

    We are honored by their presence and diligence of these young gentlemen.

    Happy Holidays to all!

  10. You guys have hit some key points. Experience is the best teacher and for a lot of these guys, they are getting they’re taste of D1 for the first time. Definitely a lot of room for improvement. It’s good they have a stretch of practice time this month going into these tournaments. I agree about the strength and conditioning.. Need Quincy Smith to come show these guys how to put some work in!! I will say though we got a few strong body’s on the team. Everybody just needs to play tough like it’s their last game!

  11. Hate to say it but the only reason why this win was 20 points was because we got a lot of calls and made a lot of free throws. If not for that this may have came down to a one or two possession game….the coaching staff definitely has its work cut out for them come conference play! At this point I’m just hoping we make the playoffs and go on a late season run, because that’s about how long it’s going to take for this team to get on the level they need to be.

    Allen – Most athletic but not sure if he’s up for the challenge of carrying the team after playing a reserve role for the past 3-4 years. He’s going to need a support player to step up and reduce the pressure if we hope to see him play his game.

    Drammeh – Seems more comfortable at the 2 where he’d be most effective anyways. Takes good charges but maybe on too many attempts, when he’s an excellent defender.

    Stepteau – He deserved the start but played too safe. Seems to perform better when he comes off the bench. Been cold as of late, hopefully he finds his shot again soon.

    Johnson – Always gives a full effort and does his job but isn’t great around more athletic bigs.

    Owies – Higher energy boost off the bench, plays with passion and confidence but his lack of D1 experience sometimes shows in his decision making.

    Purchase – Prob the best 3 point shooter on the team but aside from that not much else to contribute. Would like to see him have a stronger presence down low and change shots.

    Green – Seems to have D1 skills but tends to get into foul trouble early. Still waiting for him to have his breakout game.

    Flaisher – Good for relief minutes when our bigs get tired or into foul trouble but needs to pack on some pounds to box out the boards better.

    Lewis – The sooner he learns the playbook, the better. He could step up in a big way and will be a key factor come conference play.

    Raimo – Seems to be a poor man’s Balocka at this point…the effort is there but the D1 level play is not.

    Buscher – Has played key reserve minutes but the fact that he even see’s the floor commonly in first halves speaks volumes about the current state of the team.

    Garrett – Is this dude on a scholarship?

    The Pearl Harbor invitation is going to be a legitimate test, but hopefully we will pass! I believe in this team but only time will reveal their true colors. Let’s GO BOWS!

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