Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Second Annual Tip-Off event raises funds, creates buzz

It was “one-paddle, two-paddle — three-paddle,” and more Wednesday night at the Stan Sheriff Center, as University of Hawai’i men’s basketball fans raised their green paper oars to pledge monetary support for the Warriors program.

That was just one exciting part of a festive Second Annual Tip-Off event designed to raise much-needed funds towards healthy/nutritious student-athlete meals, summer school tuition, and recruitment and retention. An estimated 400-plus people attended the $125 per plate, $1,500 per table dinner that featured a hearty buffet, hosted drinks, player/coach interviews on stage and several different fund-raising vehicles that resulted in donations ranging from $25 to $6,000.

“It was very overwhelming to see that kind of support in Year Two,” Warriors coach Eran Ganot said. “There’s always a vision — in terms of our program, in terms of our strategic plan — to be able to grow our program, brand our program and (do) the things we need to do to make sure we continue to be consistent with trying to be an elite-level program. We introduced the Tip-Off event last year, and it was a success, and Year Two was about making it bigger and better, and I feel we did that.

“To be where we’re at this quickly, it’s just overwhelming. It’s real exciting, and I feel like there’s a good vibe going on right now.”

That vibe was tangible during two new event features — a live auction and a “Warrior Ask,” in which UH radio play-by-play announcer Bobby Curran announced a donation amount and asked audience members to raise a green paper “paddle” provided at each seat to indicate their willingness to donate that amount. The first amount, $1,000, drew seven raised paddles — including one held up by Ganot, who then raised his paddle several more times at both the $1,000 and $500 levels. His total pledge was estimated at $5,000.

“This program means a lot to myself, my family and a lot of people,” Ganot said. “I’ve always said to create something special, you have to find a special team and a special support system, and we have that here. So if people are willing to sacrifice their time and their money to help our program, then we should do that, as well. My family, we’re very happy to do that, and we hope to continue to do more of that. This program means a lot, it’s family to us, and we care deeply about this program’s short-term and long-term future. It’s become a big part of our hearts.”

As with last year’s inaugural event, Wednesday’s program began with a short welcome by emcee Kanoa Leahey followed by an introduction of the players and coaches. Attendees then lined up for dinner and to bid on silent auction items that included multi-night stays at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Boyd properties (California, Main Street Station or Fremont) in Las Vegas, dinner at Alan Wong’s, autographed memorabilia, clothing and accessories, etc.

The program resumed after dinner with on-stage interviews of players and coaches by the Spectrum TV pre-game and halftime crew of Scott Robbs, Kawika Hallums and Johnny White — a bald trio introduced by Leahey as “bolo head row.”

Then came the event’s first new twist, a live auction conducted by Curran that featured high-priced packages topped by a trip to the 2018 Final Four in San Antonio, including added tickets to the San Antonio Spurs-Houston Rockets game with access to pre-game warm-ups and post-game locker room visitation. That package was duplicated and sold for $6,000 each, including a winning bid by longtime UH supporter Don Murphy.

Afterward, Leahey announced the new “Warrior Ask,” starting with the initial amount of $1,000. After that drew seven paddles, a person in the audience asked to donate $2,000, and did.

“It was awesome — there are some things you don’t know at the start of something, and we took some risks,” Ganot said. “We have a template, and we like it. We’re very interactive with the players and coaches, both at the tables and up on the stage. As excited as people are to celebrate at the end of the year, they are as or more excited to celebrate the start of the season, and what could be.”

Besides Ganot, other notable donors were Curran ($500), Leahey ($200), and former Hawai’i players Eric Ambrozich ($500), Lance Takaki and Hallums ($200 each). Even current point guard Drew Buggs pledged $200.

“It’s about culture, and culture is about people,” Ganot said. “The alums are always welcome, and they’re part of our family. These (current) players need to feel that, so that when they leave, they’ll feel that, as well.”

Ganot said the event itself was a team effort all the way around.

“I can’t thank enough people — something like this takes a lot of work and sacrifice,” Ganot said. “There’s committees, there’s Sodexo, there’s Rich Sheriff and the arena (staff) … there’s so many people (involved) to make this click and make it happen at a high-level.”

Photos courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com


  1. Good report. They put money where their mouth is.
    Bows picked to finish 5th in BW poll.

  2. What was the estimated total raised? $100K. I don’t think any other BW program could raise $100K for Men’s basketball in one event. Go Bows.

  3. Dayton,

    Thanks for the “Play-by-Play”…

    Eran was clearly overcome with Appreciation!
    I told him, “Hey, You’ve ALREADY Had Your Worst Season “EVER”
    (I SAW our “Long Recovery” from “Probation” with Larry Little)
    To Pull US OUT of Badness or even Mediocrity “This Fast” is Amazing,
    Typical Coach-of-the-Year type stuff…
    It‘s mostly uphill, The Big Climb To Respect and Relevance,
    Even LITE-Ness, hereon Up…”

    THAT SOLD-OUT Fund-Raiser Crowd WAS Putting Up…

    And I Expect with “This Much” Talent and This (LA Rams Type) Really Good Coaching Staff
    That This Team WILL Make Quite a Few Teams “Shut Up”!

  4. Gotta give a shout out to Buggs for donating $200 and he didn’t even play in a game yet! That is pretty awesome.

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