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Highlights from “Call the Coach” radio show

The first “Call the Coach” radio show of the season took place on Monday night at the Ruby Tuesday restaurant in Moanalua Shopping Center. Head coach Eran Ganot answered questions from radio host Bobby Curran and fans of the Hawai’i basketball team, and the show was broadcast live on ESPN 1420 AM.

Here are some excerpts (note that this is not the complete transcript of the show):

Opening comments from Eran Ganot:

I think we’re improving. It’s always tough to talk after a loss, obviously, because that’s who you are and what you’ve done today and most recently. But perspective always comes in. We won seven of eight until we lost that last game and had a couple of possessions (against UC Riverside), could’ve gone the other way for us. We talk about chipping away in terms of taking care of the ball and we’ve been tremendous. On the road to turn it over seven times and nine times ; to score and be so efficient like we’ve been, and we haven’t lost the boards since UNLV.

At the end of the day though, all the stats, all the numbers in the last game, to shoot like we did, to rebound like we did, take care of the ball, you must have been really deficient in one
area … we didn’t defend the 3 very well and that’s what can happen. That’s a credit to Riverside and something we can work from and learn from. But I do think this group has been playing well of late.

On UH’s defense at UC Riverside:

Our defense is about dictating and what shots we’re going to give up. I think sometimes we had some lapses; we didn’t have as many as I thought. When you see the ball goes in, I want our mentality of our team to be what can we do to get better. … I think we can always do something to make that harder. When you give up that many (3-pointers), 13 is a lot.

On UC Riverside’s zone defense:

I said after the game, I still do believe that we were effective against the zone. We shot over 50 (percent) plus in both halves. If anything, they took us away from the 3 and they did maybe take some more clock … Sometimes what a zone can do to you is get you to crawl the ball up the court. We had great pace early and pushed it. We did a good job against the half court, but we lost our transition, if anything, and that’s something we need to work on.

On Jack Purchase’s shooting against UC Riverside:

He’s prolific there. He’s got a lot of flexibility we give him as an experienced guy and a guy who can obviously shoot. We’ve always talked about his ability to pass (but) his size, he can shoot over the top of a zone and all those shots obviously went in and felt good. We give him the flexibility to read. We got two experienced point guards and Eddie (Stansberry) as well. He may not have had as great a game by his standards, but he opened it up for other guys. Those guys locked in on our shooters and it left Jack in the middle of that zone.

On UH’s team play:

They’re getting better and it’s fun to watch them grow. There’s no difference between man and zone (defenses) in terms of how important spacing is. When Zigmars (Raimo) and our bigs seal inside, that opens up and those (opponents) have to honor that. We all want one guy guarding two guys. So if guys aren’t in the right spot … there’s a 4 man like Jack who can pass and shoot, Zigmars is working his tail off to find the creases, on top of that, you have Drew and Brocke who are really experienced at reading those and making the right decisions.



On the upcoming schedule:

You know your schedule, you try not to get too far ahead. Obviously, you talk about a four-game homestand and things like that, the good teams we’re playing in this stretch, but we take it one game at a time. It’s easy to say, hard to do. You’ve seen the scores in our league already, how close and how hard fought they are. I think it’s great.

On Wednesday’s opponent, UC Irvine:

Why are they good? Why are teams good? They have a good inside out attack. That’s a team that’s tops among the league every year and tops in the country, up there, in terms of defending and rebounding. But they have great experience. Five or six teams in our league return three to five starters and they’re at the forefront of that – they return all five starters.

You talk about (Eyassu) Worku who’s a really good player and Max Hazzard has made a jump, he’s one of their leading scorers. Inside, (Tommy) Rutherford and (Jonathan) Galloway, the combination of those guys. You got Evan Leonard, Robert Cartwright, a grad transfer from Stanford. They have a team right now that’s playing 10 guys in double-digit minutes. Very experienced and used to winning and doing what they do.

On All-Big West forward Tommy Rutherford:

He’s as good as it gets when he gets it around the rim and you leave him one on one. We might have to try different things and throw some different bodies at him. But like I said they’re good because they have inside outside balance, they have experience, they have shooting and they do the important things in terms of defending and rebounding.

Biggest concern going into the game against UC Irvine:

I think it’s our ability to defend inside out. You saw a little bit against Riverside, with the size that they have. But when you have size and shooting, there’s a dilemma there. Our ability to have great conviction and mix things up against them so they’re not comfortable and a mentality that we can do it all, which is not easy to do in terms of helping our posts at times, and also getting out to shooters.

Caller question – How many scholarships for next season:

We have three seniors and we have Jessiya Villa coming back, so right now we have two (scholarships to give).

Caller question – Recruiting in the Bay Area, and any porential transfers:

We always want to sign guys early when we can, more so when we have big classes. Everybody is kind of adjusting their recruiting based on this transfer, grad transfer market a little bit.

I think we’ll have five (scholarships) for the following class so that’s a year we’ll definitely want to sign several early. But we have two and you want to be smart with that. It’s been good for us recently. We got Jack Purchase in the Spring, Eddie Stansberry, Gibson Johnson, Sheriff Drammeh, Noah Allen. I don’t want to live off the Spring, I just want to make sure we have balance.

I think the Bay, NorCal, obviously Eddie Stansberry is a good one who’s in our program right now from the San Francisco-NorCal area. I think that’s been one of our niches. Internationally, Austrlalia, New Zealand, and then the Bay and Southern California has been good to us. But the grad and transfer market is something you have to wait and see a little bit.

Caller question – Scheduling with Mountain West teams:

I think we have one close to committed for next year. We’re going to try and get a Mountain West (opponent) every year. Boise is actually in the Diamond Head Classic. I think the WCC schools, the Mountain West schools, the Pac-12, which we played the last couple years, that’s been a focus for us.

Caller question – Is there too much passing, at times, in the offense:

I think that was something that happened a lot more last year. When that happens, we’re not very good, individually or collectively, when we play late shot clock. We haven’t had many late shot clock possessions this year, not that we don’t want to be in those. But the guys have been more aggressive in those situations this year than in the past. Jack and Eddie, every good shot they have to let it rip.

Drew’s mindset, I think his involvement offensively, point guards now days have to be better scorers and I think it’s coming on for him. We throw him in different spots, but I do think he plays to his strengths a little bit … he has more of a facilitating mindset. He leads our league in assists right now. I love where he’s at. I definitely want all of our guys to be aggressive and play to their strengths.

Caller question – Who is the most improved player:

I think it’s hard to argue there are many more improved players in our league than Zigmars. I’ve said this all year, it’s been great to watch, from the transformation of his body to the experience he had the last couple years going against Gibson (Johnson) and Mike (Thomas), to then needing some breakthroughs and having those breakthroughs.

It’s been something we really needed. We have some young bigs right now, and so he’s had to really step up and those guys are getting the luxury of learning from him and Jack.

More on the recruiting process:

What’s tough is there’s been a couple years when we could have taken one or maybe at semester but we didn’t have a scholarship. Last year was the first year back to 13 (scholarships). When you have 11 and 12 you’re operating with, you have to be careful having too many guys sitting out for you.

Obviously you know what we inherited in terms of the APR and we’ve done a great job with that. We couldn’t mess around. We had a scholarship and a post season ban, all that nonsense. At the same time you’re managing this APR situation. But the last three years we’ve been 952, 978, 1000. I think we’ll be close to that again. So you’re not dealing with that, you’re back in so many areas where you can take maybe a (transfer player) situation, maybe two, because those are ways you can get some high level talent that we can develop for that year they sit out.

On UC Davis:

Tough non-conference but they’re rounding into form. They had a lot of close losses. Bottom line, this is a team that won the league without Chima Moneke and so everybody else from that team is back,. TJ Shorts is the returning Player of the Year, they have been shooting with (Stefan) Gonzalez ad they have (Joe) Mooney playing well of late.

On Long Beach State:

(Deishuan) Booker is at the forefront there in terms of improvement. He was a 10 (points) a game guy last year but he’s up to 15 or 20 this year and has several 30 point games. (Temidayo) Yussuf has been hurt recently, but they have great experience. Bryan Alberts is a two-year grad transfer so he’s picked it up. They beat Irvine, I believe at Irvine. They always have one of the tougher schedules, but I think the combination of an experienced backcourt and Yussuf and other people being back in there, they have some guys.

On UC Santa Barbara:

They had the combination the year before of transfers and grad transfers. They return (Max) Heidegger, they have a freshman Amadou Sow who has done a great job being an impact rebounder. They have four dynamic scoring guards. They have Heidegger, Ar’mond Davis, the transfer fron Alabama, (JaQuori) McLaughlin, the transfer from Oregon State. I think the combination of those guys makes them a threat and they’re off to a great start.

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