UPDATED: Warriors roll past BYUH in exhibition
With eight new faces and only three returning ones, the 2016-17 University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team still managed to produce a familiar result Thursday night with a resounding 97-74 exhibition victory over Brigham Young-Hawai’i.
A small-but-delighted crowd of about 1,800 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched Sheriff Drammeh scored a game-high 19 points, Noah Allen add 15 points and eight rebounds, and Leland Green contribute 13 points as the Rainbow Warriors faced their first competition in public since last season’s historic 28-6 campaign. The newcomers include Allen, Green and Gibson Johnson, who added 12 points and eight boards. Another newcomer, Matt Owies, scored 12 points and grabbed three rebounds. Jack Purchase, who sat out last season as a redshirt, contributed 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.
“Obviously, a good win,” UH coach Eran Ganot said. “We’ve got a young, new group — both in experience and age — and new to each other, and I think there’s been breakthroughs and natural progression in practice time playing against each other. And now, playing against another team in front of a crowd. I’m just pleased overall.”
There was much to be pleased about, almost from the very beginning.
The Rainbow Warriors jumped out to a 12-4 lead in the first four minutes and never looked back. Their first three baskets were made by newcomers Allen (6-foot-7 transfer from UCLA), Green (6-2 freshman from Redondo Beach, Calif.) and Johnson (6-8 transfer from Salt Lake Community College).
Green’s 3-pointer broke a 2-2 tie and sparked a 15-2 run capped by Allen’s 3-pointer that put UH ahead, 17-4, barely six minutes into the game. Two minutes later, the score was 24-9 and the Rainbow Warriors had made 11 of 16 field goals (68.8 percent) off of seven assists and out-rebounded the Seasiders, 13 to 1.
“We’re really pleased in the way our team plays in terms of playing unselfishly and sharing the ball, that’s been a big part of what we’re about, and it’ll stay that way,” Ganot said. “We’ve got to find our identity defensively, especially defending the 3(-point goal). We got exposed in some areas there, it’s something that’s been coming, and it reared its ugly head there.”
After Hawai’i stretched the lead to 27-9, the Seasiders started to claw back and eventually closed it to 32-25 after Shad Watson’s baseline jumper with 4:19 remaining in the first half, but that was as close as they would get despite draining 16 shots from beyond the arc.
A layup by Purchase and mid-range jumper by Drammeh bookended an 11-2 run that put the Rainbow Warriors ahead, 43-27, with 1:14 before halftime.
Hawai’i extended the lead to 44-30 by intermission and BYUH could not close the gap in the second half.
Drammeh, the only active returnee who saw significant playing time last season, made his debut at point guard and looked mostly comfortable in finishing with three assists, three turnovers and two steals.
“I thought Sheriff did a good job,” Ganot said. “The thing that’s great about him is he knows what he’s doing well and he knows what he needs to work on. He’s being thrown in the fire in a tough position, with a new group, at the most important position. But we’re going to continue to work with him because it allows him to get better. When your team shoots 55 percent (from the field) with 21 assists, it starts at the point guard position. He’s become a student of the game, he really wants to get better and he takes pride in it. A lot is on his plate — we don’t use excuses for that, and neither does he — but I’m very pleased with his approach thus far.”
For his part, Drammeh rated his performance as “solid.”
“It was a solid game and we came out with a win,” Drammeh said. “We always come out and try to compete. We treated this game like it like a real game.”
Allen, who played sparingly in three seasons at UCLA, said his UH debut “was a lot of fun.”
“It was good for to get out there as a team, in front of the fans, and do some of the things we wanted to do,” Allen said.
Ganot acknowledged there still is much work to do before the Nov. 11 season opener vs. Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.
“There’s a lot of things we need to clean up, but there’s been so much thrown at this group,” Ganot said. “There’s been breakthroughs and there’s been struggles, but our big thing is to fight through those and enjoy moments like this.”
The Hawai’i roster lists 15 players, but four did not see action in the exhibition: Mike Thomas (redshirting due to wrist injury), Drew Buggs (knee), Darryl Matthews (ankle) and Zigmars Raimo (suspended).
(Game photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com)
Leave a Response
You must be logged in to post a comment.