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Notes and quotes from “Call the Coach” radio show

The final scheduled “Call the Coach” radio show of this season took place on Monday night, featuring University of Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot and host Bobby Curran. It was recorded live at the Ruby Tuesday restaurant in Moanalua, and broadcast on ESPN 1420 AM.

Here are some of Ganot’s responses on the show (note that this is not a complete transcript):

On last week’s two home wins …

Respecting the game, obviously. I think it’s league play. You heard me talk about how much respect we have for the teams in our league, the coaches, the talent. You see it every night in all league play. That’s a Cal Poly team that our recent game against them didn’t go our way a year ago, and then a Riverside team that beat us at their place and that’s really good offensively, so I’m proud of the way our guys locked in (last ) week.

On facing a UC Santa Barbara team that already beat Hawai’i …

This journey is tough, the grind is tough. That was a tough moment for us. Experiences are good for us, good and bad. Sometimes you’re on the other end of it. I said after the game, you have to give them credit. They’re a good team. They’re one of the better rebounding teams in our league, they’re well balanced, they have good offensive firepower and they’re very good defensively. We kind of weathered a lot in the first half, and then they separated in the second half. We were exposed in some areas, but I think we’ve made some adjustments since then.

On Hawai’i’s recent run of low turnovers  …

It’s a big part of our success, obviously, and will be moving forward. It’s something we’ve taken ownership of. I think it travels with you – not just defense and rebounding, but taking care of the ball. Rebounds, it starts with your bigs,; (turnovers) it starts with your guards. Right now Drew (Buggs) and Brocke (Stepteau) at our point guard play are going 3 to 1 assist to turnover rate, which is phenomenal.

I think Drew is 77 assists to 20 turnovers in league, which is unbelievable. And he’s the leading assist guy in the league, and then Brocke is 35 assists, 15 turnovers. The combination of those two have done a good job. Collectively we’ve done a good job.

On recent improvement in rebounding …

Riverside was coming in as the No. 2 or 3 rebounding team in the league and then Santa Barbara is plus six, close to plus seven on the year. I think the theme this week was to get back to defending and rebounding. We got a lot of comments on our offense, the way we share the ball, the way we take care of it, the way we shoot the ball. But we weren’t going to create much separation if we didn’t defend and rebound. This week we did a good job defensively and won both games on the boards.

On priorities for the upcoming game against UC Santa Barbara …

I think there’s a reason they’ve been really good this year. We talk about having balance and they have an inside-outside attack and they have a lot of firepower. (Max) Heidegger who was a 20 a game scorer last year has battled some injuries this year. He’s worked his way back and become a threat again. You add that with Amadou Sow, a freshman, had 20 against us.

They have (JaQuori) McLaughlin, (Devearl) Ramsey in terms of the guard play. Ar’mond Davis, the grad transfer from Alabama. So they pose some threats. At the end of the day, we have to do a better job at the point of attack. We have to do a really good job in transition because they can really attack you there. And I think we can make them work a little better on the other end.


On UCSB’s current three-game losing streak  …

Like I said, it’s league play. (UC) Davis was supposedly down, but all our coaches in the league knew Davis was a good team. They returned four of their starters and the player of the year, so it was a matter of time. They’re clicking right now. They won five in a row. Irvine’s obviously been off to a great start, and then Riverside with the danger in the way they shoot the ball. They shot it really well against (UCSB) like they did against us earlier.

On the travel to Santa Barbara …

We go earlier so by the time we get to the hotel we’ll be there in good time. We had a great practice today. We’ll get some rest and then we’ll get after like we do with our normal routine. I think it’s tough to go on a later flight when we get in there later with that drive ahead, so we’re under control here.

On possibility of top seeds receiving byes in the Big West Conference Tournament …

I think there’s been talk about it. I think there’ been talk about all nine teams being invited as well … I think it’s good to reward performance obviously in conference play.

On closing the regular season …

We play at Davis for their senior night, then we play at Fullerton for their senior night. Fullerton actually doesn’t play that week. Look, five games (remaining), one at home, four on the road. It’ll test us quite a bit and I think our guys are looking forward to the challenge.

On UCSB’s freshman forward Amadou Sow …

I think our point of attack, one on one, we have to do a better job on him. He’s actually one of the stronger guys in our league with great quickness and explosiveness. The combination of those things and the shooting (teammates) around him where you can’t really help at times. So we have to do a better job at the point of attack making it uncomfortable for him and giving him different looks with different guys.

On freshman Dawson Carper …

He’s 18. You forget that sometimes because he’s so big. I think we’re really excited about all our young bigs. They’re tough. It’s hard for freshmen, and it’s hardest for freshmen bigs. They’ve had experiences, good and bad, all of them. Those opportunities, those reps, at this age will help them long term. It’s already helped a guy like Dawson. The other guys will get their cracks and be ready to roll. The other thing is they get to go against each other every day. … we’re looking forward to their continued growth.

On freshman Mate Colina running the floor ..

He’s an elite there. One of the best all time we’ve ever had. Let alone one of the best we’ve seen at that position, but one of the best we’ve had period. And we’ve had some good ones there. He’s elite running the floor. The rest of his game will catch up and he’ll work because he’s a good worker. They’re all great workers.

On Samuta Avea …

Remember he’s a sophomore. He’s come from eight to nine minutes a game as a freshman and now 15 plus minutes as a sophomore and the growth is happening for him. He came in fairly raw, a great athlete and now he’s starting to shoot the ball well. He puts in as much time as anybody, if not more than anybody in the gym. I really like where he’s playing the 3 and 4 spot for us. Sometimes you’ll see him back up Jack and then all of a sudden he’s on the wing, He’ll come in and make big plays as he always does with his hustle and on the boards. He’s under rated on the block. … I think this is a guy who continues to develop and we’re happy to have him.

On Eddie Stansberry …

He’s been huge for our team. He came out one of the unique guys, first year to come out the gates the way he did. Now he’s getting scouted and there was maybe some frustration there early but he’s feeling that better now and it was only a matter of time. Different guys at different times are going to face guard him and Jack. It’s opened up the floor for us. People will make their comments. Criticism is part of the deal. We all get it. But I do think he does a lot more for us. When he doesn’t score and they’re face guarding him, it spreads the floor for our drivers, our rollers. He’s starting to do a better job rebounding the basketball and another thing is he doesn’t turn the ball over. He’s had five or six turnovers in 11 league games.

On Leland Green …

We got some guys coming off the bench who started for us and have made big plays for us. They’re playing behind some good players. We found a rhythm right now with our rotation and Leland’s been huge off the bnech for us. He’s really worked on his shot and shot it real well in league play. He gives us a different dynamic as a guy who can take it off the bounce and get in the paint. He’s got experience guarding some of the guys in our league.

On the team’s bench production …

Brocke’s come off the bench for us, Sheriff’s come off the bench for us. Dawson ,like we said, the lift he’s bringing, and Leland of late. We need to continue to stay healthy and we joked before the last game that it was a matter of time before they’re all clicking at the same time, and I think that’s what you saw the last game.

On the young players who haven’t played much …

I think they all have bright futures. You look at our team and I think this is the program we want to have where guys develop. That starts with them with the sacrifices they make. Providing the resources and environment where they’re all gym rats, they’re all pushing each other. Iron sharpens iron. We’re finally back to that point. You look at Zigmars and Brocke, they didn’t play early in their careers. People always forget that … let these guys develop. It’s fun to watch.

On Zoar Nedd …

I think he’s had a heck of a freshman year. He’s dominated some of our conditioning tests. He’s the youngest player I’ve ever coached. Justin (Hemsley) was 17 until end of October of his freshman year. Zoar is the end of December … you see how big and strong he is and he really works on his game. He’s such a great teammate. He’ll continue to improve because he’s got some talent to work with and size to work with, too.

On Sheriff Drammeh …

The three we brought in our first year, it was Jack Purchase first, and then I forget the order, but Sai Tummala and Sheriff Drammeh. We have a staff that recruits internationally with all different parts … Coach Jacobsen and Montgomery did a great job in Europe identifying him. I know he’s so big and strong now, but he was really skinny then. (laughs)

Sheriff came in and his start as a freshman played behind some good guys, but don’t forget that he ended up playing about 10 to 15 minutes a game the rest of that first year on that NCAA tournament team and saved some of his biggest plays for the conference tournament and NCAA tournament.

I love his energy, … but there’s no one who’s aged me more than Sheriff. He’s a great teammate, he supports his guys, he’s incredibly vocal, he’s a terrific competitor, his energy is outstanding. People forget he came in as a guy who was a what can he bring us? And then he became a gnat, a defender. One of the best I will ever coach at taking charges.

He took three in the tournament game against Jaylen Brown (of California). I remember Jaylen Brown didn’t get to play much in that game. Sheriff had his impact all over that game. His ability despite that lack of weight to sacrifice his body to throw it around, it’s impressive.

I think he’s a smart intelligent young man too, so he’ll be successful in whatever avenue he chooses. His sister plays basketball as well. I think his game has evolved to being an offensive threat at times. I know he’s had a unique senior year with some of the injuries here and there which has limited him at times. Hopefully he has a great finish. The combination of his intelligence at times defensively … his improved offensive game, I’m looking forward to him being successful at whatever he chooses.

On Jack Purchase …

It’s hard not to be proud of him. To have that moment, to see how happy people were for him both in the arena and his teammates. They all have great qualities. If there was one for each of them in terms of leadership, Sheriff is the energy, Brocke is the composure and Jack is the teammate. He’s all about the boys. He’s always taking care of the boys, he always wants to make sure the boys are OK.

He’s gone from a guy who was somewhat of an unknown who had lost some confidence to be as good a shooter and passer at his position in our conference, probably one of the best out there. And then he’s rebounded better this year, he’s very intelligent defensively … people talk about our shooting and passing and how we share the ball and it’s contagious. It starts with him.

If they took him off the 3 and they took away his pass, then maybe they reward some other things for him. But you have to give him credit. The guy continues to evolve and improve and he’s become a hard cover because he’s now making plays off the bounce.

We’re talking about an 11-game slate (in league), he’s shooting 55 (percent) from the field, 48 from 3, and 80 from the line. That’s incredible.

On Brocke Stepteau …

He’s got such a big heart. He’s such a great story, but he continues to write chapters in that story. When Sheriff and Jack were brought in, Brocke didn’t play. We practice, and I don’t care if the guy is a walk on, if he’s out-playing the guys ahead of him, he will play. And he’s been great to make us look good for rewarding him with that.

But that starts with him. He earned the right to play, then he performed and earned the right to play more, then he performed and earned the right to start and he’s been really difficult to keep out of there. He’s “late-clock Brocke” for a reason. He makes big plays late for us.

From his first year here to his last year, the improvement of his shot, now people have to get up tight on him and he’s so quick and he’s so clever and crafty with the ball. Like Jack, he doesn’t force many shots. He takes great shots. He’s an underrated defender for us. He’s just been a huge part of our program. These three seniors … they have been here for four years and Brocke for five years. … they’ve been here through a lot of the ups and downs in the history of our program. Jack and Sheriff came under the clouds of uncertainty and clouds of clarity, neither of which were great. But they were here through that and have moved us in a position where we are built for long term sustained success. That starts with those three guys.

On possible postseason play in CIT or CBI tournaments …

I think we probably have to talk about that here soon. It’s not something where we’re single minded on where we want to end up. It’s something we have to talk about with our administration because we have put ourselves in position to play in postseason play. We have to finish strong obviously, but right now it’s something that our administration will sit down to see if it’s something we’re set up for either way.

On Drew Buggs …

When you combine how he fills the boxscore and then the defensive assignments he has every night, I think he’s moving into that category. He’s already shown glimpses of the special player he can be. He’s the head of the snake in a lot of areas. He’s vocal, he’s very intelligent, and he can get a lot better and that’s a good thing because he’s really good right now.

He’s. leading the league in assists as a sophomore. He gets four or five rebounds a game, a couple steals, he gets to the line. Jack Purchase and Drew Buggs are definitely elite passers and the best passers at their position in our league.

He’s a power point guard. Drew’s a facilitator. He can score on the block. If they double him like they did the other day, he can find the open man from any angle on the floor. It’s fun to watch because he’ll zip the ball across the court, throw it over his head and read the defense. That’s what you want to see.

The point guard play and ball screen play and shooting has changed the game and he has seen it and is now able to read any kind of coverage and make the right decision.

Closing with four of five games on the road …

I want to embrace it and let’s go. It’s a great challenge and a great opportunity for our team. You hope that everything we’ve done has built us for this. That by that point, our habits our nails – that we defend and rebound every day, that we take care of the ball, that we share the ball.


2 Comments

  1. Mahalo for this report! I missed it. Yesterday was holiday.

  2. Warrior Insider, do you know the status of Hulland ? Was going to text the question in but forgot the show was yesterday.

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