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Highlights from latest “Call the Coach” radio show

The latest edition of “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.

Below are some excerpts of what the Coach had to say on various topics. Note that it is not the complete transcript of the entire show.

On heading to California for at least two weeks …

I hope it works well for us like it did (in 2016). Last year, because we didn’t know where we’d be, we didn’t find out our tournament fate until the last game of the year, so we were struggling to find a hotel. Now we’ll be back to the hotel we were a couple of years ago, and hopefully it will be good luck for us again.

On uncertain status of UC Davis star player Chima Moneke …

He’s still been on their bench. At the end of the day you have to prepare for both scenarios. I don’t think we’ll know and I don’t think you want to predict or assume anything, so you just have to be prepared.

On preference of an opponent for the Big West Tournament …

I respect the question … we’re going to be ready for who ever we got. I think even more so in this league, the parity is at an all time. You can see with us, we’ve beaten some of the top teams and we’ve lost to some of the teams that are right now at the bottom of the standings.

You see it with other teams as well. I want our team to be fired up about whatever comes our way, but in the moment, we just have to work on the things we’re doing well and cleaning up the things that we’re not.

On Thursday opponent UC Davis …

It’s a team that two out of the last three years have been undefeated at home and they were on pace to do it again. In the early part of the Moneke (suspension), they lost two in a row at home. When you have time to adjust without a guy like that, it’s tough early, but they found their niche again.

On UC Davis point guard TJ Shorts II …

He’s stepped up in Moneke’s absence. But its been coming on for him. He’s probably one of the best competitors in our league and he’s probably the fastest player in our league. One of the keys for us in the first match-up is we did a good job obviously on Moneke and containing Shorts early in transition. He got us late, but I thought the first 35 minutes we did a really good job on him.

More on Chima Moneke …

He’s the preseason player of the year. We were obviously giving him a lot of attention in our first meeting. We forced him into nine turnovers and we weren’t going to let him go one-on-one. I think we did a pretty good job with our situation on collapsing in the post and supporting each other. He had probably one of his rougher games, and that obviously helped us get the win in that one.

More on UC Davis …

Defense and rebounding is the key. I think they’ve been a little inconsistent at times defensively with the turnover here and there, but they play hard and they share the ball; a united front. They won the league a couple years ago, then took a little step back, but came back and won the (Big West) tournament. It’s a program that’s used to winning games, especially at home.

On Saturday opponent, Cal State Fullerton and shooting guard Kyle Allman Jr. …

Probably the best performance we’ve seen against us in the last three years, and did it on a high percentage. We’ve done a good job of taking out key players, I think. Sometimes when a guy like that gets his numbers, we usually make them shoot poor percentage to do that. He was able to do that and get a great percentage.

We did a good job on the rest of their team in terms of Jackson Rowe and Khalil Ahmad but that’s why they’re a good team because you can’t take out one and think its over. … we have to do a better job this time around.

On the “Senior Night” loss to UC Irvine …

I think sometimes we have a bunch of good guys obviously, and pleasers, and sometimes they press because maybe they’re not doing it to their level. But there are so many ways to impact a game and these guys are experienced. These guys have been clutch for us.

For all seniors everywhere, there’s so much that hits you in the course of a game. They picked up a foul early and that maybe got them out of rhythm. I think a lot of that more so, you have to give Irvine credit.

On preparing for the Big West Tournament …

I think we can go in there hopefully at the healthiest we’ve been this year. Now we’ve got Mike (Thomas) back in the fold and Brocke (Stepteau) has a couple more weeks with that wrap on his finger. The hope moving forward is that we’re playing at our best and feeling our best.

On point guard Drew Buggs’ chances of Big West Freshman of the Year …

Obviously I’m biased. I’m going to be pushing him hard and rightfully so. When you’re going 10 points, four boards, four assists, close to two steals, and at the hardest position and close to a 2-to-1 assist to turnover ratio, I think that’s pretty impressive. He’s also on an upward climb, too. He’s handled some early struggles well, which speaks to his toughness, and I expect him to continue to grow and get better.

On Brocke Stepteau …

You talk about the efficiency level. I don’t know that many guards in the country are going 50 (percent field goals), 40 (percent 3-pointers) and 80 (percent free throws), and he’s over those three.

On Jack Purchase’s improved defense …

I think number one with Jack, you always want to get these guys to be complete players, to be known as basketball players on both ends of the floor. Those two, (Stefan Jankovic) and Jack, have obviously moved in that direction. Jack initially when you think about it, got his confidence going to accentuate strengths, which are shooting and passing. But I think he’s become a vastly underrated defensive player. I think he’s one of the best on our team in terms of understanding our system. He’s stepped up to some challenges.

On freshman forward Samuta Avea …

He’s gotten stronger. It’s all about getting comfortable. I don’t know if any freshmen have been thrown so many things at them like this freshmen group has just because we’ve had to mix up our defenses, we’ve had to support our bigs inside. There’s so many concepts that Samuta has had to learn. I’ve talked about this, there’s a pressure because he’s a local guy and I hope he doesn’t feel that because I think he’s done a good job. I think he’s letting the process happen and he’s earned his way to getting more minutes of late.

On sophomore forward Zigmars Raimo …

He helped ignite us during that stretch. I always say … you don’t want to hand things to guys. You want them to earn it and they earn it in practice … he’s done it the right way. He’s the ultimate testament to team, to attitude, to belief, to conviction. He hung in there. You notice when he wasn’t playing he was the ultimate teammate. He was consistently working to get better. I think all the young guys who are watching and all the young guys on our team should watch that because that’s the way it should be.

On recruiting philosophy …

There’s been phase 1 and phase 2. Phase 1 was to make sure we bring in guys to our program to fix the foundation, which they have. Moving forward, this 2018 class is the first class that we’ve really been ahead of where we haven’t had any limitation. We got the three guys we wanted and we got them early.

There’s guys you always hit on and you miss on and you learn from. Our recruiting philosophy is the same as in terms of what you hire. Great players, great talent, great people, people who want to be here. I think we’re now ahead of where we’re supposed to be and its exciting moving forward. I can understand some of the frustration maybe in the short term, and that’s something I have to live with but I don’t think we’ve missed a step in the kind of people we brought in.

On junior forward Trevor LaCount …

Yes (redshirt). He came from junior college. His deal is he hadn’t played this year and you could have maybe got him in some of these games, but why would you waste it at this point of the year? It wouldn’t be the right thing to do for him. He’s had a tremendous attitude. He’s helped us in practice, he’s gotten better … you can tell he’s fit in well with the guys.

On upcoming postseason banquet …

April 11, Hilton Hawaiian Village. Tickets will be on sale soon. I don’t think anyone does a tip-off banquet better, I don’t think anyone does Senior Night better and I don’t think anyone does a postseason banquet better.

On number of missed layups …

Yes, it seems like we’ve missed a lot of short shots and layups. That’s a fact. How do you fix that? The encouraging thing is those are the kinds of shots you want to get. We continue to work with them on finishing with contact, both the guards and bigs. I do think we’ve improved there.

On practices this week …

The big thing today was sometimes you’re rocked by a tough loss but here’s the perspective – we defended well enough to win that game. After that (losing) skid, that’s the positive thing, we’re back to that defensive (and) rebounding mindset which will give us a chance in every game.

Offensively, the emphasis was execution, number one, in terms of setting up our cuts, our ripping the ball on the catch, everybody playing with confidence and everybody looking to score.

On recruiting an athletic scorer …

What we did in the preseason with the bigs is put us in position to hone in on that position – the athletic scorer, whether it’s a combo guard, or a big guard. We kind of need to get it all in one in terms of a scorer who can shoot it. I think we want an impact guy so that normally leads you to a junior college kid or a graduate transfer, and we’ve had success with both. Sometimes it could be a high school kid, if it’s one of those guys that we believe so much in down the road.

On recent FBI investigations of NCAA basketball …

The NCAA is obviously going through a lot right now in figuring out how to stop the bleeding in this regard. I don’t know what’s true or not. It’s all hearsay. I know I’m proud of the way we run things. I think the game is awesome. I take a lot of pride and I know our staff does and our players do, of representing this game, this university, the NCAA well and I think it s a tough time right now. But it was good before this and it will get better after this.

1 Comment

  1. And there you go, Ganot confirms Lacount is redshirt. Doesn’t exactly sound like an impact player though. Maybe he will become next year’s Buscher … or maybe not. I don’t think he’ll be able to bring in a whole section of fans like Buscher did.

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