Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

UPDATED: Warriors pull away from HPU in exhibition win, 90-70

The University of Hawai’i scored 90 points, won by 20, had five players score in double-figures, and got minutes for all 14 players in uniform.

Most times, that would be more than satisfying. But the Rainbow Warriors were looking for ways to improve following a 90-70 exhibition game victory over Hawai’i Pacific on Wednesday night. A crowd of around 2,000 at the Stan Sheriff Center watched the Warriors pull away from the Sharks in the closing minutes, allowing the reserve players to take the court to close the game.

“Overall I was pleased with our offensive execution, pleased with our balance inside-outside, pleased with the way we started the game defensively and ended it,” head coach Eran Ganot said. “In the middle, we got exposed to some errors. If we want to be where we want to be, it’s going to have to come on the defensive end, and on the glass.”

Gibson Johnson had a perfect shooting night – 7 for 7 on field goals, 4 for 4 on free throws – and scored a team-high 18 points to lead Hawai’i.

“From my spot as a big, it comes off what the other players are doing,” Johnson said. “So if I have a good game, that’s a reflection of my teammates.”

Senior forward Mike Thomas, who sat out all of last season as a redshirt due to a wrist injury, added 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting, and grabbed six rebounds. Redshirt freshman Drew Buggs contributed 13 points, six rebounds and five assists; sophomore guard Leland Green also scored 13 and had four assists; junior guard Sheriff Drammeh added 10 points.

Hawai’i shot 52.2 percent from the field (35 for 67) and 93.3 percent from the free-throw line (14 for 15). It should be noted, however, that none of the statistics or the result of the game will count toward this season.

Hawai’i will officially open the 2017-18 season on November 10, when it hosts Arkansas-Pine Bluff on the opening night of the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic.

“We can’t be passive and soft on the defensive and rebounding end if we want to get where we want to get,” Ganot said. “I thought we showed flashes … I thought (HPU) was more physical than us in stretches.”

The Warriors maintained the lead for virtually the entire game against HPU, but the Sharks kept it relatively close for the first 35 minutes. Hawai’i led by as many as 12 points midway through the first half, but HPU managed to cut the UH advantage to 41-36 at halftime.

Sparked by Buggs, Hawai’i opened the second with a 14-6 surge to increase the lead to 55-42 with 15:04 remaining. Buggs did not start the game, but took over point guard duties to start the second half.

Ganot opted to go with experience to open the game, starting with Brocke Stepteau, Green and Drammeh at guards, and Johnson and Thomas at forwards.

In the end, eight different players received at least 20 minutes of game time, and no one reached 30 minutes.

HPU rallied to get within 65-59 with 7:18 remaining, but Drammeh responded with a 3-pointer to all but end the threat. The Warriors closed the game with an 18-5 run in the final 5:30 to finish off the Sharks.

The NCAA Division II Sharks shot just 37 percent from the field (20 for 54), but stayed in it with aggressive play that led to 24 for 28 shooting from the free-throw line.

Jonathan Janssen led HPU with 19 points. Larry Lewis Jr., who played at UH last season then transferred to HPU, finished with 15 points for the Sharks.

CLICK HERE to view boxscore

(Game photos courtesy Matt Osumi)

CLICK HERE to view more photos


  1. Good highlights. Nice to see Mike Thomas back and looking solid. Sounds like Buggs is our PG. The HPU defense looks very slow in the highlights so have to remember that they are a D2.

  2. True, this team has the offensive arsenal to score. On the defensive end they looked no better than HPU. But it’s early and they will come around.

  3. Good cuts to the basket by Drew and good passes to him.

  4. Eran to his credit and discipline, what a great first year with Janks and company for sure.
    2nd year lot of new guys however really hard working team similar to Wallace team with Danny Furlong and Anthony Harris one of nation’s highest scoring guards.
    I am hapy that Zach, Brocke and MT love Hawaii and we love them!

    My guess:?

    With 10 returning athletes knowing Eran’s system on and off court.
    Hawaii can win 20 games and have shot at BWC tournament title and NCAA bid.
    Yes consistency and experience means a lot. Hope 4500 or more in attendance.
    Warriors have great season.
    Would love to see Zach and Samuta Avea play together sometimes.

    Go Bows!!

  5. By season’s end team better have some really big rings.

  6. I like the depth and parity of the team. Looks like we have 10 guys that can contribute which will help to keep people fresh over the long haul. The only potential issue that I see is who our go to scorer will be when we need a bucket at critical junctions in the game. Someone needs to emerge as that guy.

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