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Practice updates on the seniors and juniors

Photo courtesy www.hawaiiathletics.com

Quietly and methodically, the University of Hawai’i basketball team continues to prepare for a 2020-21 season that still has no official opening game.

Due to precautions and guidelines in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rainbow Warriors have been conducting private practices since October 14. Head coach Eran Ganot said the first three weeks have been a challenge, and not just because of all the protocols everyone in the program has to follow to assure safety.

“We haven’t had any COVID cases, but we’ve had other issues,” Ganot said. “We’ve had guys out for different reasons at different times. That makes it tougher, but we continue to work and get better every day.”

Because of the various injuries and illnesses, the team has yet to even conduct any semblance of an informal intrasquad scrimmage. “We haven’t had enough bodies for that,” he said. “But we’re getting there. Guys are slowly coming back and so these next few weeks will be big for us.”

As for the non-conference schedule, Ganot said it is still a work in progress. The Warriors already have 20 Big West Conference games, with the first conference contest set for December 27.

The Warriors would be allowed to schedule a maximum of seven non-conference games between November 25 and December 26.

The video above features Ganot providing brief capsules of the seniors and juniors. Here’s a quick rundown (see the video for full interview):

Samuta Avea: “He’s bigger, he’s stronger, he’s gained five pounds or so … his shooting, which has improved every year, took another jump and he’s working on becoming more of a playmaker and versatile defender. He’s been one of the guys who’s been out, but he’s close to being back.”

Casdon Jardine: “He’s already figured things out pretty quickly. He’s picked things up really well … We wanted to add more shooting from every position and he certainly gives us that.”

James Jean-Marie: “He’s very strong, he’s a guy who we can move around to different positions and he’s a guy who over the last year has really worked to extend his range.”

Mate Colina: “He happened to have a setback right before he came back here and that kept him out for quite a bit, but he just recently came back on the floor … you can really see glimpses of the improvement he made.”

Justin Hemsley: “He had a tough stretch recently and hasn’t really been on the floor, but he’s a guy who really worked hard in the preseason … we’re hoping he’ll be back with us in the next week and he’s a guy who’s been in our program for four years.”

Manel Ayol: “He’s a new guy and he was already behind everybody, but we’re just starting to see his comfort level and his strength coming back. He gives us versatility as a guy who can attack the rim and step out to the perimeter.”

Junior Madut: “He’s a little bit of something we haven’t had and need. A guy who can play several positions and can guard several positions and can play make and has extended his range. It’s exciting to see where he’s at now and where he’s headed.”

A rundown of the sophomores and freshmen will be posted later this week.

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