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Highlights from “Call the Coach” radio show

The “Call the Coach” radio show featuring University of Hawai’i basketball coach Eran Ganot was held on Monday night at the Ruby Tuesday restaurant in Moanalua, and broadcast on ESPN 1420 AM.

Here are some excerpts of what the Coach had to say …

On Sheriff Drammeh:

I think he’s made a step. You talk about efficiency, that was kind of a big thing we talked about with Sheriff coming into this year. He’s done a lot of jack-of-all-trades kind of thing for us. He’s our best lock down defender on the perimeter and he continues to do that. He’s a guy who can sniff out plays on the opponents scouting report, but his percentages weren’t really efficient. This year, right now, is the best he’s shot from the field, it’s the best he’s shot from 3, and it’s the best he’s shot from the line. He’s taking care of the ball and he hasn’t really taken that many bad shots. I think there’s room to grow there, but it’s all about moving in the right direction and he certainly is.

On Gibson Johnson:

Through eight games, averaging 10 (points) and 6 (rebounds) for our team. He’d probably like to have some baskets around the rim back, but that’s part of the progression that he’ll work through. He’s experienced now. Last year he didn’t have any of that experience and now he does. He started off the year well, he probably has struggled a little bit more than we like of late, but we expect him to respond. At the end of the day, he always does a lot of things for us. He takes charges, he’s effective on the glass, and his best will come.

On Mike Thomas:

He’s playing to his strengths and his strengths have improved. He’s in the best shape of his life. You look at the numbers and you see 13 (points) and 7 (rebounds), but he’s doing it in 22 minutes a game, so obviously I have to find him more playing time and he has to stay out of foul trouble. He’s our best defender, he’s our anchor defensively in his ability to keep people in front, defend ball screens, and be effective on the glass. That’s why we’ve improved on the boards. His game will continue to evolve. Because he continues to work, he’s one of those guys who will get better through the year.

On Brandon Thomas:

He’s going through some new experiences. He’s a good shooter. He can probably shoot it better than he has. He’s a solid defender. He plays right. He doesn’t turn it over. This is a guy who’s actually defended pretty well for a first-year guy in our program and he only has two turnovers in eight games. When you work your way in, you need to defend, which he’s done. You need to rebound and you need to take care of the ball … he’s had good looks, he hasn’t shot it recently well, but this is a good shooter.

On Ido Flaisher:

There are some good players playing behind good players. We have 12, 13 guys who we can play and with Mike Thomas at times playing some small 5 (center), and Zigmars we went to the other day. I think Ido has improved. I think he presses. I think that’s an issue you have sometimes with guys who want it so bad … I don’t think he’s played to the level he would like, but he does work. He’s one of our better workers. When he comes in, he makes his presence felt, but he does get frustrated.

On Samuta Avea:

You like where he’s at and you like where he’s headed because of his demeanor and his work ethic. He’s a high character guy. I think you probably could make the argument that he’s ahead of where Aaron (Valdes) was as a freshman, as a guy who was a late bloomer. That’s where he has to put in the time to be as good as Aaron and see if he can pass him. He’s physically strong as you can tell. As a 6-6, 195 pound freshman he’s not afraid.

On 3-point shooting:

When you say Jack (Purchase) and Leland (Green), it’s not like guys who shot it poorly in their careers. They have a history of shooting it well. Jack obviously coming off a 2 for 5 3-point shooting game, is not even close. Two guys who were over 40 percent from 3, overall for Jack and in conference for Leland, who I think was 44 percent from 3. Now they’re shooting 28 percent and 15 percent for Jack. If they get closer in the ballpark, we’ll make a jump.

On playing against full-court press:

The other day against Prairie View, we handled their press very well. We’ve had a lot of unforced turnovers. A lot, where we fall down, lazy passes. I think our press break has improved since the beginning of the year, I think we just have to be stronger with the ball and more careful with the ball.

On man-to-man defense:

We continue to work on it. We talk about their technique and their footwork and you obviously drill and simulate as much as you can. We do a lot of one on one, two on two, three on three things and drills. Sometimes it’s not just the guards, it’s the bigs. Point of attack is the biggest part. It’s changed. It used to be just one on one. Now point of attack is, can you guard one on one? Can you guard the post one on one? Can you guard ball screens? That’s just the way the game is played now.

On increased ball screens in college basketball:

You got the switch, you got the flat show, you got the hard hedge, you got the trap, you got the downing, where teams send you away from the ball screen. We obviously do a lot of work offensively so we know how to attack all of those. I think we’ve done a good job defending ball screens over the years. I don’t think you can always be good defensively if you’re just average at six different ways to guard things. We try to keep it pretty simple and stay with what we do.

On graduate transfers with one year of immediate eligibility:

It’s really hard to talk about right now with them currently playing for someone, but that’s something that’s always been on our radar and we’ve had success with. Two of the last three years, Sai Tummala, who was a key guy for us on a NCAA Tournament team, and then Noah Allen who was an all-conference player. I think its something that’s worked for us and something that’s worked for them. They flourished here. It’s a big part of the game now. It went from transfers to now these fifth year transfers. You had five one year, then 10, and then 50 of these fifth year transfers so its certainly changed the way people recruit.

On an upcoming Coaches vs. Cancer event:

We did our first event last year at Murphy’s, which is great. We raised $10,000 for a great cause … This year we’re going to do December 20 at 6:30 p.m. at the Outrigger Reef Bar and Market Grill. There will be more information in the next couple days. Like last year, it will be 100 dollars per person, I believe. We’ll have pupus and wine and beer. Obviously a great time. We’re going to have myself and our coaches and we’re looking to have most of the coaches that will be in the Diamond Head Classic.

On next opponent, Utah Valley:

This is a team that actually played Kentucky and the very next day played at Duke. Since that game they won six of seven, I believe. They have some guys we’re familiar with. They have a coach, when I was an assistant at Saint Mary’s, Mark Pope was an assistant with BYU. He does a great job, he’s done a great job. They have some guys who transferred from BYU, the Oklahoma transfer, really good shooting team, really explosive offensive team, and they have Gib Johnson’s brother on the team as well.

On playing Miami on opening night of Diamond Head Classic:

I think at the end of the day when you’re in these events, and they’re really well run, they have great programs and coaches every year, so you’re always going to see great competition regardless who you play.

You’re potentially looking at playing a top 5 team for three years in a row on our court. We’re talking about North Carolina last year, Oklahoma the year before. You gotta live for the competition. We’re excited for the event. It is not our next game so you don’t want to look too far ahead.

Caller asks about what the rest of the nation should think about this team:

One coach after a game one year said the ultimate compliment. This was actually Cal after we beat Cal in the NCAA Tournament, it was, your players, your kids look like they love each other. I think that’s what you want people to say. You want people to say man, that program works hard, man, they share the ball, man, they play like a team. They’re fun to watch.

On final exams at UH this week:

It’s something that every program is going through right now. The priority right now is, number 1 academics, number 2 recharging, getting us feeling good again .. and number 3 getting better. We have to continue to improve. This is a rare opportunity for us to have eight days between games.

1 Comment

  1. Nice recap. I didn’t see any announcement that that show was on before this. Is this going to be every week now like Coach Rolo?

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