Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

UPDATED: Warriors prep for conference with 89-66 rout of UH-Hilo

There are still a lot of unknowns surrounding the University of Hawai’i basketball team, but it’s safe to say that the Rainbow Warriors are the best team in the state.

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com

The Warriors proved it in an 89-66 rout of Hawai’i-Hilo on Saturday night at the SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center. Hawai’i improved to 2-0 with both wins over NCAA Division II programs from within the state (they also beat Hawai’i Pacific last week.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused the Warriors to limit its non-conference scheduling options, as well as prevent fans from attending games at the SimpliFi Arena.

“To be honest, we at one point didn’t  know if we’d have any non-conference games, so we’re going to lean on these two games,” head coach Eran Ganot said. “This is really a pivotal stretch to continue to learn more about this team. I think we are further along than where we were before these two games, but this team is still figuring each other out.”

Against UH-Hilo, the Warriors needed the first half to figure each other out before turning the game into a rout in the second half.

Co-captains Justin Webster and Casdon Jardine led a balanced offense that featured 13 players registering points. Webster scored a team-high 15 point in just 22 minutes of action; Jardine registered a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds.

“These two games were actually big for us,” Webster said. “It’s good to see where we’re at, good to see where our conditioning is, and how we have to play like a team.”

The Warriors received key contributions from their reserves, out-scoring UH-Hilo 42-11 on bench points. Leading the way were senior center James Jean-Marie with 12 points and five rebounds, and junior forward Justin Hemsley with 10 points.

All 14 players on the roster saw action, including sophomore forward/center Bernardo da Silva, who missed the opening game with an undisclosed injury. Da Silva finished with just two points but also grabbed nine rebounds in 12 minutes of action.

Led by Jardine, da Silva and junior center Mate Colina (seven points, seven rebounds), the Warriors out-rebounded the Vulcans 53-28.

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com

“I feel great just to see (da Silva) on the floor,” Ganot said. “I feel like even though maybe at times he didn’t play as well as he’d like, it’s again perspective. He’s out there. He did some good things on the boards, and he now has a game to lean on heading into this week.”

Also of note, freshman guard Biwali Bayles made the first start of his career and responded with six points, five assists and four rebounds.

“His impact was significant,” Ganot said. “He always plays with energy. That’s a big part of our identity, even though he’s a freshman. He’ll continue to reap rewards if he continues to do that.”

Similar to its win over HPU the week before, the Warriors appeared sluggish and tentative in the first half against the Vulcans before pulling away in the second half. Hawai’i raced to a 7-2 lead to open the game and stayed in front the entire way, but UH-Hilo managed to stay within close range for most of the first half.

The first half ended with Colina scoring on a putback just before the halftime buzzer to give the Warriors a 37-27 lead at intermission.

“We’re relaxing and waiting for them to throw a punch and waiting to react to it when in reality we should throw the first punch and make them react to it,” Webster said. “It’s all things we can be better at. We have to be better in the first half because we cannot do that, especially going against conference teams.”

The Warriors opened the game with a starting lineup of Bayles, Webster and Noel Coleman at guards, Jardine at forward, and Colina at center. Hemsley started the second half in place of Coleman, and scored on a dunk on UH’s first possession after intermission.

“That was the big focus of the second half – bring energy,” Webster said. “We can credit Justin Hemsley for sparking that.”

Webster scored eight points during a 21-8 surge in the first five minutes of the second half that increased Hawai’i’s lead to 58-35. UH-Hilo never got closer than 15 points the rest of the way.

Photo courtesy Brandon Flores / www.brandonfloresphotography.com

The Hawai’i reserves got extended action at the end of the game, but the ragged play was not pleasing to Ganot.

“I thought the first 10 minutes of the second half were good on both ends,” Ganot said. “I did not think we played well to finish the game the last seven to eight minutes … hopefully we learn from that as well.”

Aniwaniwa Tait-Jones, a 6-foot-6 freshman from New Zealand, was impressive in defeat for UH-Hilo. He finished with 18 points on 7-of-12 shooting, 10 rebounds and three steals. Sasa Vuksanovic, a 6-9 freshman from Serbia, added 14 points and five rebounds.

The game was an exhibition for UH-Hilo and will not count toward its season record or statistics. It was also the head coaching debut at UHH for Kaniela Aiona.

The Warriors are next scheduled to open the Big West Conference regular season with home games against Cal Poly on December 27 and 28.

“This week is real important starting with us and then prep for Cal Poly to continue to figure this out,” Ganot said. “If we can have consistent practices with all our guys for a week straight with no (school) finals, it’s going to be important that we make a push.”

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1 Comment

  1. I am waiting to see what Javon can do with the credentials he brings. He has not shown much in the two games. He can play point or 2 guard but we have not him seen him shoot with consistency.
    Bayles looks good for a freshman and Coleman looks like he can also handle the point guard position. Webster is not a point guard. He and Jardine can shoot the threes but they seem to be stand still shooters and cannot create their shot off of screens. If a defender clamps down on them, they wil be ineffective. I hope I am wrong. Center position is just adequate but I like Jean Marie’s attitude of attacking the rim. The person who looks the most explosive is Madut, even though he has not shown much yet. Too bad no more pre-season games to give them time to gel and know each other plays under pressure.

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