Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Highlights from the latest “Call the Coach”

Here are some excerpts from ESPN 1420 radio’s “Call the Coach” show with Eran Ganot on Tuesday night (note that these are just highlights, and not the entire transcript) …

On the two road losses:

“The road trip did not work in our favor, obviously. I think we’d been getting better going into our conference, and I really like the way we’ve come out of the gates, especially at Fullerton.


“(But) we did not handle the early success well, and then we took a hit, and then we compounded the problem with those hits by losing our composure a little bit by the way we played during those stretches. I appreciate the way we fought back in the Fullerton game, but they have as good a guard lineup as any in our conference, with a guy like Khalil Ahmad coming back.

“Then you shift gears with a different dynamic with the best team in our league — a team that’s been balanced on both sides, offensively and defensively, and have size and shooting and Luke Nelson back, and that changed the dynamic. Again, proud of the way we came out of the gates, and then (we) took a hit. (We) hung in there and took a three-point lead, and then the way we finished the half — that set the tone.

“We started to lose composure, we started getting ‘3-point happy’ again, we stopped defending at the level we had been defending. And give Irvine a lot of credit. I think their biggest difference from last year is their depth and their rebounding. They were an average rebounding team (last year) and now they’re the best rebounding team, and that’s how you win championships.”

On getting “3-point happy”:

“You’re not going to get to the (free throw) line … I think that’s the big difference. I thought we did a good job early on (at Fullerton) breaking down their defense, we played inside-out. But one of the things we’ve done poorly is, there was a stretch in the first half where we missed two front-end (free throws) and they made their front end; we missed two layups, (and) they made two layups. And it goes from a tie game to a 10-point differential, and we did not handle it well after that.

“It started with not being OK with the fact that we were getting good shots, we just didn’t make (them). But you still gotta play right.”

On freshman Leland Green’s development:

“I think some of it was the short-term pain leading to success later on. He’s continued to believe. One of the things that was key for him, is his fouls. He’s been able to stay on the floor, he’s had some breakthrough performances to end up non-conference (play), which has given him some confidence going into conference. He’s been aggressive, and I don’t think anybody’s good when they’re on their heels. He’s been aggressive, he’s been taking it to the rim and he has an opportunity — as he continues to learn — to be an elite defensive player.”

On sophomore forward Jack Purchase:


“There’s things he gives you, but moving forward we can’t be a good team if we don’t rebound the basketball. It’s not one of Jack’s strengths. But he’s a first-year guy (seeing action at UH), and he’s improved in other areas, his ability to shoot and stretch the floor, his ability to pass the ball. I think we’re at our best when he’s out there, because — a lot of times you don’t realize it, but we’re able to penetrate gaps out there because he stretches the floor. But he has to continue to improve on the defensive end, and as a rebounder, because you can’t be at your best if you don’t do those things. That’s just fact.”

On junior forward Gib Johnson:

“He’s played against bigger guys — he’s usually playing against bigger guys, let’s be honest on that. Usually it’s 6-9, 6-10, but against Florida Atlantic he hit the game-winner against a 7-footer. But against (Irvine) it was 7-2. I liked early how he was attacking, you want to go at him, not over him, especially with Gibson. But Gibson is a capable 3-point shooter, and he has not shot it well, and those were what Irvine was gonna give up. We didn’t hit them, and that was tough for us, because obviously we have limited options. We gotta continue to help him and find ways to score, transition help, second-chance shots help. Gibson a guy who continues to make passes in the post as well.”

On preparation/scouting:

“I think it’s what we need to do — it helps our guys, we gotta continue to help our guys and do more. And that’s what we do — you’ve got your struggles, (but) you gotta continue to believe, stick with the routine, (and) you gotta find other ways to help the guys. But a lot of this is so this young group gets more reps, and so for future years they know the way it works. Some of the guys have struggled, but perspective’s everything, and there’s some guys who are getting better. And give Irvine credit, and Fullerton’s done a nice job adding some pieces.”

On freshman guard Matt Owies:

“I think what you see in our program, you see it with the current guys, you saw it last year. Guys do what they’re supposed to do in practice, they certainly have earned the right to play in games. Now you have to perform in games, and after you perform in games, can you do it consistently.

“I think Matt Owies had a good week, he earned the right. Obviously, you saw him not just play well in the second half (against UC Irvine), but he earned an early look in the first half. Like I said, I give him credit for doing his part in terms of being ready to go, and then performing against a top team like Irvine on the road.

“He always will play hard, and he has a tenacity about him, and a voice about him, and a spirit about him. Some of that we need. As we struggle from 3, he gives us a guy who can shoot and he obviously did well against those guys.”

On freshman forward Zigmars Raimo:


“He gives us a physicality that we need, and he’s got to play against some of the bigger teams in our conference. You saw him play effectively against North Carolina with their size. He’s been effective in terms of he blocks out his guys. He’s getting comfortable knowing how to defend.

“I think the thing for him is, can we score with him on the floor? Sometimes he makes a good move and it goes over the rim. He gets a good offensive rebound, and he obviously has some hesitation with his own lack of lift or lack of length. We have to continue to help him and work with him because there’s some things he does that help us, especially with the depth we need when teams go bigger. He can certainly keep guys from getting a deep catch. He can show on ball screens really well, and he moves his feet fairly well for his size.”

On freshman center Ido Flaisher:

“He’s done a really good job inside … Some things he did over in Israel is they did a lot of individual work with light skill and he didn’t do enough 5 on 5 and up and down so he hits the wall pretty quick. His max limit is about 12 to 15 (minutes).

“I thought the Stefs we had last year were the biggest eaters I’d ever been around and Ido puts them to shame. In a good way, he’s gained 20 pounds since he’s got here, it’s been strong and muscle, but in a bad way he hasn’t quite made a move on the conditioning level, so we have to find a balance there. When he’s out there he’s been effective. He scores on the block, he can finish with both hands … for him to make a move he has to get in great shape.

“Remember some of the things he’s going through. He’s going through the challenges of the youth in addition to a new level and new rules with youth around him. And he’s got the English barrier to some extent.”

On the plan to renovate practice facilities:

“It’s something we take great pride in. As you know and everybody knows, we’re building and continue to add to our program, both on the floor and off the floor. Media, marketing, branding, facilities improvement. We fight as hard as anybody in the country, I think, to raise money to make things better. That rendering (of the renovations) sits right next to my desk and will sit there.

“I remember years ago, it was the arena, Stan Sheriff Center, that was kind of a baby for Coach (Riley) Wallace. That rendering is kind of the next piece for us.

“To finally understand that we’re getting the money that it needs for a lot of capital improvement projects at UH, especially starting with the Gym 2 rendering and renovation. I’m about to get an update in the next week or so, but we’re still operating under the Fall 2018 opening date. I think that’s such a game changer for our situation.

“The biggest statement was its going to happen. It was something you talked about for so long, but after our season last year and understanding that that will happen is certainly a shot in the arm.”

On team’s struggles to finish shots near the rim:

“We have got some good looks. I don’t know if I’ve been around where we had five to 10 missed bunnies around the rim per game. Usually you have one every couple games. One of the things that’s been a challenge in the current situation is not going against size within our program. An undergraded hit we took was Michael Thomas not being out there, not even being cleared for contact. I think that’s hurt them. He’s not as big as the guys we’ve seen but he’s certainly bigger than the guys we have currently.”

On the benefits of last season’s success:

“I think a lot. One of the things that normally would help, and it has in some ways maybe for the (2018) class or (2019) classes. One of our goals was to become nationally relevant and when you do what we did last year, and then when you perform on the national stage, both on national TV and the conference tournament, during the course of the year, the Diamond Head, and then obviously in the (Big West) championship game and doing well against Cal, being one win away from being in the Sweet 16. There’s a branding going on. I don’t think you’ll feel it as much in the short term because at the same time we’re one of the few teams to do that and go through what we’re going through (with the NCAA) now.


“Two things that have never happened before – we got money from the (Legislature) and then this capital improvement plan. The money we got, I think it was $13 million toward that, one of which was the Gym 2 project, and then the Gym 1 project. … I think there’s just so many good things going on, I think its’ really helped with some of the future recruiting classes. Its tough (now) when you’re selling a ban and then you have scholarship reductions.”

On senior forward Noah Allen:

“There’s so many things he’s going through for the first time as a senior, it’s unique. His versatility does help him. He can defend, he’s one of our best rebounders. I think on an offensive standpoint, he has to find those other ways to help because I think he settles for shots and when he doesn’t make the shots from the perimeter he doesn’t score. Whereas he can attack the rim, he can use his size, he can get on the offensive boards, he can run in transition, he can get to the line where he’s a very good free throw shooter. He’s a good player, he’s a great kid, we’re not going away from him. It’s going to happen.”

“Right now what you’re seeing with Noah is that approach is not a matter of time because its not going to happen unless he finds the spark and the fight and the passion. It’s not really in his natural personality, but its certainly in there. He’s got a good heart. He needs to have some breakthroughs and one thing is I think he needs to have a string of good practices. I think that will lead him. We will be at our best when Noah Allen is at his best out there.”

On potential of getting scholarships back from NCAA:

“Two back is my understanding. We basically took one scholarship reduction my first year, we took two this year, and we took two for (2017) year. That’s tough, because there’s always a way.

“We won an appeal. The appeal was ruled in our favor. It got sent back to the Committee on Infractions. I’m not naïve to the NCAA process, but the appeals process is new. Usually you think when an appeal is ruled your way it will be turned around quick. It hasn’t happened that way. There’s nothing we can do about it.

“How do you quantify the damage that’s been done? We already lost signing guys in the early period or maybe getting a (transfer) at semester. There’s no use pouting about it … when guys want to commit already and we can’t offer them a scholarship because the situation is what it is, so we have to go on to the next one and that’s it.

“If this does operate the way its been moving, we should get two back. Should and are are a different deal, in life and in reality, and certainly in this ugly and unique situation.”

On starting lineup:

“Well, the one right now has for five straight games gotten us off to a great lead … I think what’s going to happen is it could change during the course of the year. I’ve said we’re going to change styles during the year, but right now that’s the group that’s been getting us off to good starts.”

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