Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Season’s end produced emotional overflow

HENDERSON, Nev. — University of Hawai’i senior Mate Colina walked into the media interview room Friday night at Dollar Loan Center still wiping away tears and wearing his game jersey, some 30 minutes after the final horn of the Warriors’ 58-46 Big West Conference semifinal loss to Cal State Fullerton ended his college basketball career.

“For us, we’ve been so proud to put on the UH jersey, thankfully I got to do it for the past five years,” said Colina, a 7-foot post from Melbourne, Australia. “It just hits hard when you’re finished and you see all the boys in the locker room and you’re seeing them for the last time. I’ve still got my jersey on, because I don’t want to take it off yet.”

Throughout an unusually tumultuous year that began with season-ending injuries to key players Samuta Avea and Juan Munoz and ended with another sudden injury causing leading scorer Noel Coleman to miss the final six games, the constant theme was togetherness. In between those events, the Warriors also lost sophomore post Bernardo da Silva for several weeks in December due to a hand injury, later saw Colina sidelined for six weeks due to COVID-19 protocols, and then starting forward Kamaka Hepa missed a key late season game to attend his grandmother’s funeral in Alaska.

UH coach Eran Ganot said that every season has its challenges, but it was an extreme case for this year’s team that still managed to finish 17-11 overall, 9-6 (third place) in the Big West, and advance to the league’s tournament semifinals for the first time since 2016.

“Yes, we’ve had guys in and out (in the past), if you play and coach long enough you’re gonna have some of that, that’s part of the deal,” Ganot said. “But not to this extent. And usually there might be some laying down, but not this group. Even tonight, as tough as it was. So, I’m very appreciative of them. I’m appreciative of our student-athletes, appreciative of the staff, our administration, our fans, the band, the cheerleaders … can’t thank them enough.”

Colina said more than the victories and achievements, he hopes he and his teammates will be remembered for helping to build and sustain a positive and cohesive environment within the program.
“For me it’s about building a great culture, and continuing to put steps forward, not only bettering ourselves but the whole athletic department and just having an impact on people’s lives,” Colina said. “I think going forward, the boys can follow what we did and do the right things, and team-wise, I hope they win a championship.”

Junior Madut, a guard who will earn his degree and move on to pro ball, said that is his hope, as well.
“I definitely agree with Mate, it was more about culture and family this year,” said Madut, who is originally from Sudan and came to UH via Sydney, Australia and Florida. “I think we built a family and brotherhood environment, and I just want the boys to continue in building that. And the best is yet to come.”  

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