Hawai’i defense to be more detail-oriented under new DC Dennis Thurman

Hawai’i defense to be more detail-oriented under new DC Dennis Thurman

Hawai’i defense to be more detail-oriented under new DC Dennis Thurman

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED JULY 22, 2024

They say the little things matter in life.

They’re also the difference in a football defense getting off the field or giving up the big play.

With new defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman joining the University of Hawai’i football coaching staff, attention to detail has been a major point of emphasis from day one of spring ball.

With 35 years of coaching and counting across the collegiate and NFL ranks, and an eight-year NFL career as a defensive back before that, Thurman has seen it all on the gridiron.

“There’s a big difference,” safety Peter Manuma said during Mountain West media days. “It’s great learning from him, his IQ, his level of the game and what he brings to the table for us.”

In 2023, the Rainbow Warriors allowed 32.2 points per game in 13 contests when they went 5-8 overall and 3-5 in conference play. They also allowed 4.6 yards per rushing attempt and only had seven interceptions on the season.

On the first day of spring ball, Thurman acknowledged to the media that there was work to be done.

“We’re young, we’re new to what we’re trying to do,” he told reporters in late January. “For the most part the guys are locked in, they’re paying attention. It’s just the small details. It’s the details to assignment. It’s knowing our assignment. It’s running to the football. It’s getting there with a purpose.”

Thurman also said that he sees the defense’s desire to get better.

“They’re on point as far as that’s concerned. They’re easy to coach as far as their enthusiasm, their want to, their desire, wanting to be good, wanting to do things right, they’re on point. The thing is, that doesn’t win us football games.

“What wins football games is focus, discipline, courage, understanding … which is communication. When we get on the same page and all of our guys are doing what they’re supposed to do, we’re going to be hard to beat.”

Cornerback Cam Stone noticed early on that coach Thurman is attentive to even minor details when asked earlier this year when asked what was different with his new DC.

“Just how much he follows us and pays attention to every little thing,” said Stone, who is one of six returning starters on the defensive side of the ball. “It might be a good rep, (but) he’ll point something out. As little as it may be, it makes a difference, and just seeing that he cares and he wants us to work on these little things, it’s really big.”

During Mountain West media days, Manuma delved into deeper topics about the defense and coach Thurman.

“I feel like it’s complex and simple in a way,” said Manuma. “For us, it allows us to play more freely. It’s fun. I love flying around if you couldn’t tell, I just run around … but this defense allows us to do that. It’s great.”

Manuma added that they watched NFL clips of the new defense during the installation period. Thurman held DC titles for the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills, and previously served on Deion Sanders’ staff on at Jackson State and Colorado.

“In the NFL, they don’t make things harder than it is. If you’re in Cover 4 (defense), you’re in Cover 4, but they tweak things where you can play it a certain way where you would be in the right spot.”

The freedom to make plays in Thurman’s defense comes from the ability to read and predict what the opposing offense is going to do.

“There’s like little details that he tells us, how to play certain thing, when a person is giving away their route based off how they align. It’s those little things that we’re really taking in,” Manuma said.

Training camp for the Rainbow Warriors begin on Wednesday as they get ready for their season opener against Delaware State on Aug. 24.

‘Bows get out in the community with meet-and-greet at City Square

‘Bows get out in the community with meet-and-greet at City Square

‘Bows get out in the community with meet-and-greet at City Square

BY HSRN STAFF
PUBLISHED JULY 20, 2024

Fans got to meet some of their favorite University of Hawai’i players and coaches in a meet-and-greet event at the City Square Shopping Center in Kalihi Saturday morning.

Members of the UH football, men’s volleyball and women’s and men’s basketball teams were featured.

Hawai’i football coach Timmy Chang and associate head coach Chris Brown made appearances, as well as Micah Alejado, Tylan Hines, Pofele Ashlock, Elijah Palmer and Peter Manuma.

“It was great to come out here and meet the community, meet the people you play for and just sit down and talk story and get to meet everybody,” said Manuma. “Just hearing some of their stories means a lot to us, how much we impact them.”

It was also the football team’s last weekend off before training camp starts up next Wednesday, a near month before their season opener against Delaware State on Aug. 24.

“We’re really excited,” said Manuma, a defensive back. “Everybody can’t wait to go at it against each other. Couple more weeks and we don’t got to play each other no more, we can finally play against another team.”

The UH Men’s volleyball program was represented by players Kurt Nusterer, Eleu Choy and Presley Longfellow.

New UH women’s basketball guard Mia ‘Uhila was in attendance with teammates Brooklyn Rewers, Jade Peacock, and Imani Perez, along with over a dozen members from the men’s basketball team.

Proceeds from the event, which ran from 10 a.m. to noon, will go towards UH athletics.

EA Sports College Football 25: the Hawai’i Rainbow Warrior fan experience

EA Sports College Football 25: the Hawai’i Rainbow Warrior fan experience

EA Sports College Football 25: the Hawai’i Rainbow Warrior fan experience

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED JULY 17, 2024

For the first time in 11 years, college football returns to video game consoles.

Set to release on July 19, EA Sports College Football 25 will be the first college football game made since 2013, although fans and gamers who purchased the deluxe edition of the game have been playing the game since Monday.

Your friends at Hawai’i Sports Radio Network got a chance to play the game ahead of Friday’s release to give you a preview of what to expect and to see if it’s worth it as a Hawai’i Rainbow Warrior football fan.

One of the biggest positives about this game is how authentic the game feels on the field. (Key word, on the field, we’ll revisit that later.) 

Each team has their own individual playbooks that fits their current schemes, so fans of the run-and-shoot offense will have fun airing it out with Brayden Schager at the controls to receivers like Pofele Ashlock and Steven McBride. Gamers that are familiar with the Madden video games will notice that EA Sports College Football 25 is more fluid and emulates real-life movement a bit more accurately. Fatigue also plays a factor as if a player is on the field for longer, they are more susceptible to injury and turnovers.

Playing as Hawai’i is scarily similar to real life too. Like on the actual gridiron, the virtual Rainbow Warriors have difficulty running the ball, but have no problem launching bombs down the field… when protection holds up on the offensive line.

As a whole, the ‘Bows are rated as a 74 overall team, with offense being 71 overall and defense being 72 overall. McBride and Ashlock are the highest rated players on offense at 86 and 84 respectively while safety Peter Manuma headlines the defense with a rating of 82. Offensive line is one of the weakest positions in the game with everybody at center, right guard and right tackle all rated under 70.

Not every ‘Bow is in the game though however. Players that opted to have their NIL in the game were compensated with $600, but those that didn’t (or that EA just didn’t bother) are replaced with a fixed generated player in their stead. 

The stadium that Hawai’i plays in is also fake. In-game commentators say that it’s in Aiea and it’s listed as T.C. Ching Athletic Complex, but the product on screen does not emulate the old, condemned Aloha Stadium or the facility is currently on lower campus.

Is this a dealbreaker? 

For me personally, no. As a gamer, I favor a game that runs and plays well over something that looks good and 100 percent authentic. I will remind folks that our current stadium situation is only temporary and the stadium that the game gives Hawai’i actually looks better than what we currently have. 

There is a mixture of online and offline game modes for everybody to enjoy. I actually am glad that they prioritized content that you can play offline because a lot of modern games now requires an internet connection to do anything in the game.

Fan favorites that played the older college football games will be happy to know that game modes like dynasty and road to glory are still in the game. They both can be played offline, but dynasty also has an online dynasty option that allows you to compete with friend.

Dynasty mode lets you create a coach and allows you to coach the school of your choosing as you try to build or maintain a program’s winning ways. You are also tasked with recruiting and making sure players are happy or else they might transfer out of your program.

Road to glory is in a similar vein, although this time you create your own player that can sign a letter of intent to the school of their choosing. There are many different ways to play the game mode, ranging from an established starter to working your way up the depth chart as an underdog.

You can also play online against other players with any team of your choosing, but be aware that they can also pick any team as well. The game lists three tiers in the game, with Hawai’i being in the lowest tier. There are only 10 teams in Tier 1, which is revered for the elite teams like Alabama and Michigan. In Tier 2, there are around 44 teams, while the other 80 FBS teams are in Tier 3 like Hawai’i. When you do play online, you can choose to have your opponent be from any tier, or in a specific tier to help with competitive balance.

Ultimate team is the last game mode that is available to play. The game mode has you building a team with player cards that feature current players as well as former college athletes. Like many ultimate team game modes in the EA family of games, more cards are released as the weeks progress that gamers can try to unlock. 

You progress in ultimate team by playing through various challenges to unlock more player cards and get in-game currency, although card packs are purchasable in the game store that requires real-world currency. This game mode is largely a pay-to-play game mode when going up against other online players, but played can grind through various challenges.

There is some intrigue in the game mode however. One of my current goals in the game mode is to build a lineup that features just players that have Hawai’i ties. Having Mililani alumnus and current Oregon quarterback Dillon Gabriel throw touchdown passes to the likes of current Hawai’i receiver Koali Nishigaya is something that can only happen in a video game and I’m all aboard that train. Fans that always wondered how Hawai’i would look like if everybody stayed home can now live out that reality, albeit in a video game.

All-in-all, should you get the game? I think so. With a standard price of $69.99, there is enough in this game that makes you get your money’s worth. Unlike Madden that only has 32 NFL teams, this game has 134 FBS teams to chose from so the possibilities are endless. Dynasty mode is one too that devoted gamers have spent countless hours on too as well as a 20-year run at the helm is totally possible.

And for Hawai’i fans that aren’t gamers themselves and might struggle with the game mechanics, you can always adjust the sliders and settings to make the game easier. If the Rainbow Warriors lose a game this season, feel free to take your frustration out on the same opponent virtually.

Either way, the game is worth it and will continue to get better with updates throughout the year that will keep the game fresh during the college football season.

Fourth annual Chace Numata Senior All-Star Game ends in walk-off fashion

Fourth annual Chace Numata Senior All-Star Game ends in walk-off fashion

 

Fourth annual Chace Numata Senior All-Star Game ends in walk-off fashion

BY HSRN STAFF
PUBLISHED JULY 16, 2024

The first Chace Numata Senior All-Star Game at Les Murakami Stadium went out with a bang.

Hilo’s Legend Lancaster delivered a two-out single up the middle to cap a four-run bottom of the ninth inning to help the Aloha Stars rally over the Hawaiian Stars, 10-9, Friday night in the fourth annual event.

The game honors the memory of Chace Numata, a 2010 graduate of Pearl City. Numata was a 14th-round draft pick by the Philadelphia Phillies before landing in the Detroit Tigers organization. He died in 2019 from injuries in a skateboard mishap while he was playing for the Tigers’ Double-A team, the Erie SeaWolves. Numata was 27.

Hawai’i’s Jacobs named to Japan national team for 2024 Paris Olympics

Hawai’i’s Jacobs named to Japan national team for 2024 Paris Olympics

Hawai’i sophomore Akira Jacobs made the senior Japanese national team ahead of the 2024 Paris Olympics. The 20-year-old will be the youngest player on Japan’s roster. | Photo Credit: Michael Lasquero, HSRN

Hawai’i’s Jacobs named to Japan national team for 2024 Paris Olympics

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JULY 8, 2024

HONOLULU – Hawai’i sophomore forward Akira Jacobs made the official 12-player Japanese senior national basketball team for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, Akatsuki Japan announced Sunday. The 20-year-old will be the youngest player on the Japanese roster for the country’s 8th appearance in the Olympics for basketball. 

“Representing Japan has always just been like something that’s really important to me,” Jacobs said in a Zoom with local media following the selection. “The senior national team has always just been a dream of mine … My goal was always [to make the Japan senior national team for] the 2028 Los Angeles Olympics, but given the opportunity, the chance came a lot earlier.”

Jacobs was among the final 16-player pool being considered for Japan across four tune-up games against Australia and South Korea. The final Japanese roster will play two final warm-up games ahead of the Olympics against defending world champion Germany in Berlin on July 19 and world-ranked fourth Serbia two days later in Belgrade. 

The 6-foot-9 forward appeared in 28 games as a true freshman for Hawai’i in 2023-24, averaging 2.4 points and 1.0 rebounds in 6.7 minutes per game. Jacobs found more consistency towards the end of his first year, contributing a pair of 8-point outings against UC Davis over the final month of the season. 

Hawai’i’s Akira Jacobs cheers on his teammates from the bench. The forward appeared in 28 games as a true freshman for Hawai’i last year. | Photo Credit: Michael Lasquero, HSRN

Japan qualified for the 2024 Paris Olympics by finishing as the top team from Asia during the 2023 FIBA World Cup, going 3-2 and winning the final two games in the tournament to secure their spot for this upcoming summer. Jacobs was among the final few players cut for Japan ahead of the World Cup and now makes the team just one year later. 

“I’ve gotten physically stronger, like that one year in Hawai’i with Tanner [Hull] really helped me with my strength,” said Jacobs of the one-year difference. “Being able to take more contact while playing a forward position … practicing against guys like Justin [McKoy] and playing against the bigs in the Big West, that was one of the biggest [differences] I’ve seen.”

With the newfound strength has also come more confidence for the soft-spoken sharpshooter, who knocked down multiple 3-pointers in each of his Olympic warm-up games with Japan.

“I know my role, it’s as a shooter,” Jacobs said. “In the first practice game against Korea, I started the game off really bad, missed a couple shots in a row. I feel like a couple years ago, I would’ve stopped there and just not shot the ball. [Now], I have a more of a belief in myself that even if the first couple of plays don’t go well, to be able to work on that next play mentality … I think that’s one of the biggest improvements that I’ve had, which has helped me get to this point.

The experience for the 20-year-old is one made of dreams: fellow Japan national team member and Los Angeles Lakers forward Rui Hachimura is one of Jacobs’ basketball idols. Hachimura returned to play for Japan for this Olympic Games after not playing in the 2023 FIBA World Cup. 

Hachimura and former NBA swingman Yuta Watanabe headline the Japan national team for the 2024 Paris Olympics. Former ‘Iolani standout Hugh (Hogland) Watanabe also made the final 12-man roster for Japan. With more high-level hoops on the way, Jacobs has already gotten introduced to the senior national team level in a baptism-by-fire matchup in practice.

“The biggest [challenge] for me was my first time matching up with Rui Hachimura,” the 20-year-old forward said with a smile. “He’s been someone who has been so important in my basketball journey … I started watching him when he was at Gonzaga. So, the first time matching up against him and how much faster and how strong he is, his decision making … It was like something that I want to be at. So playing against him – like the first practice – year, it felt like I was getting cooked.”

Akatsuki Japan will be in Group B when the Paris Olympics begin, looking to advance to the quarterfinals out of a loaded pool that includes Germany, Victor Wembanyama-led France and the 12th-ranked squad in the world in Brazil. Japan faces off against Germany first on July 27 at 1:30 a.m. HT to begin the group stage. 

Dutch guard Van der Knaap commits to Hawai’i ahead of ‘24 season

Dutch guard Van der Knaap commits to Hawai’i ahead of ‘24 season

International guard Jacopo Van der Knaap signed with the Rainbow Warriors for his college choice. | Photo Credit: Hawai’i Athletics

Dutch guard Van der Knaap commits to Hawai’i ahead of ‘24 season

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JULY 3, 2024

HONOLULU – The ‘Bows are swimming in international waters again. 

Hawai’i received a commitment from Dutch guard Jacopo Van der Knaap on Wednesday, who became the sixth member of the ‘Bows 2024 signing class. The 6-foot-5 guard started 25 contests last season, averaging 13 points and three rebounds per game for Tobarra BC. Van der Knaap’s club is in Tercera FEB, part of the professional basketball league system in Spain. 

The 21-year-old will join the Rainbow Warriors with four years of eligibility after serving as a consistent scorer for Tobarra in 2023-24, surpassing the 10-point mark in 17 games. His final season overseas peaked with a four-game stretch of 20-or-more points where Van der Knaap led his club to three wins in four games. He emerged on the ‘Bows radar last summer after dropping 26 points against UC San Diego during the Tritons’ international tour despite meeting with many of his teammates for the first time just before the game. 

“[Hawai’i and I got in contact] through a common friend after [the UC San Diego game] and I thought about going to college,” Van der Knaap said in a phone interview. “I wanted a chance to continue my career as a student and as an athlete and Hawai’i gave me the best opportunity to do it in a good environment.” 

The strong international presence among players stuck out to the half-Dutch, half-Italian guard, discussing the draw of playing with others from different backgrounds internationally. 

“I love playing with people from all over the world,” Van der Knaap said. “It’s like it doesn’t matter once we get on the court, we all have the common language of basketball.” 

The 6-foot-5 guard is a scorer, showing off a nice, repeatable shooting stroke with the tendency get hot from behind the arc. He hit three or more 3-pointers seven times last season from with various shot types, both off the bounce and spotting up off the ball. Van der Knaap shows off the ability to be a three-level scorer, equipped with a quality mid-range pull-up game and the capability to get downhill and all the way to the basket. 

Seasoned with on-court experience and physically ready at 21 years old, Van der Knaap could compete for minutes early in the year with a quality preseason. While he shows potential to initiate with the ball in his hands, Van der Knaap is more suited to be a scoring guard than a true table-setting point guard. 

Born to a Dutch father and Italian mother, Van der Knaap lived in Italy for the first 16 years of his life before moving to Amsterdam. The move progressed his basketball career with chances to play for the Dutch national team, including a 3×3 venture this summer that would provide a bid into next year’s U21 World Cup event depending on his team’s placement. 

College in the US became an option that Van der Knaap would consider just over a year ago. The 6-foot-5 guard said that he had interest from other schools and programs, but Hawai’i stuck out from the group and long was the scoring guard’s top option.  

“I’m excited,” said the incoming freshman. “It will be a whole new experience. It’s on the other side of the world, it’s different style of basketball and with new people. I’m ready for it.” 

The commitment of Van der Knaap brings the ‘Bows recruiting class to six members with three transfers and three high school commitments. The Dutch guard joins Salesian three-star guard Aaron-Hunkin Claytor and prep forward Roy Igwe – along with early enrollee AJ Economou – as players with multiple seasons of eligibility joining Hawai’i next season. 

Stay up to date on Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors basketball recruiting with updates from our recruiting tracker, here.