Warrior Insider

The Inside Source for Hawaii Men's Basketball

Warriors just want to keep playing, and winning

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

The Holiday Season might be in full swing, but the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team is not really in a holiday mood. The Warriors would rather be working, as in, playing games.

And that is just what they will do again on Wednesday, playing host to Texas A&M-Commerce for UH’s third game in six days. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. in SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center.

“The more games we have, the more productive I am, off the court as well,” said Warriors junior guard Noel Coleman. “I just get into a mindset of being focused on stuff that I have to get done. So having games around this time is definitely a plus.”

It helps that Hawai’i (5-1) is winning most of those games, with the only loss coming in overtime to Yale on Nov. 14. The Warriors captured two victories this past Friday and Saturday in winning the inaugural Patty Mills North Shore Classic in La’ie.

“If we didn’t have a game (Wednesday) in this gap, we wouldn’t have played between the 26th of November until Dec. 7 (against UNLV in Henderson, Nev.),” UH coach Eran Ganot said. “That would have been too long a gap. This is a challenge for us in a different way that we’re looking forward to again — how do we handle a quick turnaround, a different style, and get better as we move forward with this non-conference (schedule). Right now we’re obviously not in Finals week yet, so it’s good to be able to play a game before our next trip, and then coming back for one more game (Dec. 11 against St. Francis) before we finish (the semester) strong academically.”

The matter at hand is Texas A&M-Commerce, a public university of some 12,000 students that was founded in 1889 (18 years prior to UH’s birth). For most of its history, until 1996, the school was known as East Texas State, with its campus situated about 65 miles northeast of Dallas.

Photo courtesy Chris Kadooka

The Lions competed in the NAIA and NCAA Division II levels until last year, when they joined the Division I Southland Conference, and arrive in Honolulu with a 3-4 record including a 101-46 home victory over Arlington Baptist on Monday.

“Commerce comes in here pretty confident, they won at Air Force (in overtime), they beat an Eastern Kentucky team that is only a couple years removed from winning 20-plus games,” Ganot said. “They play with a lot of confidence. This is a Commerce team that is well-coached, we have great respect for their program. Half of their shots are from 3’s, they have (good) front court players, they force turnovers and they run even more of a spread (offense) than we’ve seen. 

“Those are the challenges and different kinds of styles that we want our guys in, because that’s what they will see (later).”

The Warriors are coming off a 74-61 win over Sacramento State last Friday and a 72-65 victory over Texas State on Saturday. 

“I just want to see continued growth,” Ganot said. “When we leave a practice, or a game or event, it’s basically, ‘Did we compete? Did we get better?’ Leaving (La’ie), I can answer those with a ‘Yes,’ and check both of those boxes. So I’m proud of where we’re at, proud of where we’re headed. I’m looking forward to us making our next jumps, which we need to, as we have quick turnarounds again coming up, and areas we need to get better to be where we want to be.

“Quick turnarounds, being able to handle that, different styles, is really important to have a successful year. As you know, there will be quick turnarounds in (the Big West) as we’re playing a 20-game gauntlet in Conference, Thursdays and Saturdays, and in some cases a Saturday-Monday-Thursday-Saturday. So you hope these (quick) turnarounds will help us with that.”

Coleman said the limited time between games forces the Warriors to stay focused.

“It’s gonna be a quick preparation,” Coleman said. “I think we just have to do a good job locking in on the personnel. We only have one big practice to focus on ourselves, so I think it’s going to be important to have 100 percent focus in practice. We have to continue to lock in to what every team brings, who their key players are and stuff like that. And I think it’s going to be important for us to really lock in on our defense and our rebounding.”

Ganot said the game experience also helps shrink the periods of lulls that sometimes emerge in two or three-minute spurts.

“I do think every minute, we’re watching that closely,” Ganot said. “Every rep, every minute you get is important. You’re fighting human nature, it’s a long game and it’s a humbling game. When you’re up, you gotta keep extending, you gotta keep defending, gotta keep playing right. When you’re down, a lot of times you gotta keep playing right, no home run plays, let’s just chip away at this thing. There’s nothing that does it like game reps. Practices are great, but now we’re getting to do it in games … that’s really helpful for us.”

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