Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors look for improvement vs. UH-Hilo

Willing to count its holiday blessings during this strangest of preseasons, the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team is thankful and eager for Saturday’s non-conference game against in-state rival UH-Hilo.

Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center, and again no fans will be in attendance. The game, which is the Warriors’ second and last scheduled non-league matchup before starting Big West Conference play at home against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Dec. 27, will be broadcast live on statewide TV via Spectrum Sports (Channel 12) and on radio through ESPN1420AM.

“All of these games — we don’t have many — every minute, every second of these live game situations are important for every guy and important for our team as we come together and learn each other and learn the right way to play,” UH coach Eran Ganot said. “The challenge every year is to get a group to come together … and it’s been a bigger challenge this year. We didn’t have the summer (workouts), we didn’t have the fall, and we’ve had very unique circumstances in our current practice situation. … We have a great challenge and much work to do, but it presents a great opportunity.”

Senior co-captain Casdon Jardine said he appreciates the chance for the Warriors to do more fine tuning before final preparation for the Big West season opener.

“Really it’s all just preparation for conference,” said Jardine, a graduate transfer forward from Utah Valley. “We’ve done the absolute best with the opportunities we’ve been given, and we’re going to have another opportunity to play on Saturday against UH-Hilo. We’ve got to focus on us executing our stuff and us getting a good feel for each other and growing that chemistry.”

Ganot said the Warriors’ 83-50 victory over Hawai’i Pacific last Saturday was a good start overall.  

“It was a moment, and we’re celebrating every moment we can have,” Ganot said. “It’s not where we need to be, but just getting on the floor (in a game setting) for the first time, we really haven’t had many officials at practice. So getting the guys used to the day before the game, the game day routine … it was definitely different for all of us. (Piped-in) crowd noise, no fans, different seating arrangements … But it’s funny, once the ball was tipped, it felt normal.

“It was a step in the right direction, we’ve got work to do, but it always starts with a step.”

UH’s starting five versus HPU was Junior Madut, Justin Webster and Noel Coleman at guard, Jardine at forward and Mate Colina at center. As of Tuesday morning, Ganot would not say who will start against Hilo on Saturday, but hinted that there could be changes.

“It’s always good when you can keep it consistent, but I think this is going to be the most evolving group we’ve had,” said Ganot, who is in his sixth season at the helm. “There’s been a lot of guys, seven or eight guys, who haven’t had the significant practice time that others have. I hope that the healthy competition continues throughout, (and) I don’t want to make any determinations now because there are some guys who haven’t practiced in a while who can help us down the road.”

Transfer forward James Jean-Marie, who led all scorers with 21 points, filled the stat sheet by going 8 for 10 from the field, 4 for 4 from the free throw line, grabbing 11 rebounds (seven defensive), and blocking one shot in just under 20 minutes of action.  

“We brought in a lot of newcomers, but he’s one of the three key (new) guys who’s had Division I experience, so we expected those guys to be ahead,” Ganot said of Jean-Marie, a 6-foot-8 junior who transferred from San Diego. “It doesn’t always work out that way, but Casdon, Noel, James … obviously are far along and I’m happy for their success thus far.”

Ganot said Jean-Marie still has a high ceiling yet to be reached.
“He’s kind of a late-blooming player,” Ganot said. “I think his potential down the road is significant. He has versatility, he’s more of a hybrid ‘5’ we can play inside and play on the perimeter, you saw his ability to stretch the defense. … The versatility he provided, he and Mate, obviously set the tone on the interior last game.” 

Overall, Ganot said he was pleased with the team’s effort in the second half against HPU, in which the Warriors turned a 32-25 halftime lead into an 83-50 rout.

“I think the first half wasn’t very good on either side (offense and defense),” Ganot said. “I know our defensive numbers were good in the first half, but I think we were fortunate because we had quite a bit of lapses where the shot just wasn’t there for them. Our whole deal is about process and execution, and results will come in the course of time. We don’t want to get lucky with anything. I think the second half was more complete on both ends, we were doing what we do and playing right, and I think that’s something we need to build off of. I think our team needed to see that.” 

“It’s still a process, because we’re not as far along as we would normally be in terms of comfort with our stuff,” Ganot said. “And so there are expectations on the ups and downs as we go, like there always are. The big thing is that we play hard — that shouldn’t change; that we play together — that shouldn’t change. We might have some lapses in execution, because there is a lot we need to get comfortable with. But the effort, attitude, playing together … that should be absolute.” 

UH-Hilo will be making its season debut under first-year coach Kaniela Aiona, a Big Island native who prepped at Honoka’a.  

When: Saturday, Dec. 19, 7:00 p.m.  HT
Where: SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center – Honolulu, HI
Television: Spectrum Sports – Channels 12 (SD) and 1012 (HD)
Streaming Video: BigWest.TV (Must be a Spectrum cable subscriber to stream in Hawai’i)
Radio: Live on ESPN Honolulu (1420 AM/92.7 FM), KRKH (Maui), KPUA (Hawai’i Island), and KTOH (Kaua’i)
Audio Webcast: ESPNHonolulu.com/Sideline Hawai’i App.
Live Stats: HawaiiAthletics.com

Leave a Response

Login or fill in the fields below to comment. (New user? Register)