Huge home stand sweep revives Hawai’i men’s basketball’s season

Huge home stand sweep revives Hawai’i men’s basketball’s season

Huge home stand sweep revives Hawai’i men’s basketball’s season

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED FEB 10, 2024

HONOLULU — How about that? 

The University of Hawai’i men’s basketball team downed UC Davis (15-9, 10-3 Big West) on Saturday night, 87-70, to pick up the team’s fourth win in the last five games behind double-doubles from Bernardo de Silva and Justin McKoy and another Noel Coleman masterpiece. 

“Really proud of this team for tonight and this week, and really, leading up to this week,” Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot expressed postgame. “That was a heckuva team we just played, and we’ve talked about trying to put it together in all three phases… in the context of Thursday, in the context of today, [I] couldn’t be prouder.” 

Hawai’i (14-11, 6-7 Big West) spent the first half of the game unconscious from the field, making 15 out of 21 attempts from the floor including an unfathomable 9-of-11 from distance in the opening half as the ‘Bows worked the lead to double-digits at the break, 45-35. Everyone got in on the fun for UH as the bench poured in 12 points over the opening 20 minutes as freshmen Tom Beattie and Akira Jacobs went a combined 3-of-3 from long range in the period and reserve guard Kody Williams handed out three dimes. 

“We’ve said we’re a good shooting team [so] it was nice to see some breakthroughs,” Ganot said of his team’s scorching shooting performance. “This doesn’t just happen tonight. They’ve been shooting well in practice, shot it well the other night…we’ve still got a long road but hopefully we can build off of this.” 

While the ‘Bows offense cooled off a bit after halftime, the defense turned up the heat as Hawai’i held UC Davis to 8-of-31 shooting from the floor after halftime and a pitiful 2-of-13 from long range on a rare cold night for star backcourt duo Elijah Pepper and Ty Johnson. The Aggies’ backcourt was held to a combined 5-of-19 from the floor in the second half as the Rainbow Warriors dominated the glass for the second straight game. 

“You aren’t going to [completely] hold those guys down, they’re too good. Making them work for everything, making them work on the defensive end and [have the right matchups] … Give our guys credit for really working their tails off,” Ganot said of his team’s second half defensive chops.  

UC Davis was led by Pepper’s 27 points on 25 shots as the guard played nearly 36 minutes of the 40-minute contest. Backcourt duo Ty Johnson ended the night with 15 points and six rebounds in the loss. 

Hawai’i got double-digit performances from four different players as Justin McKoy and Bernardo de Silva recorded double-doubles with 17 points, 11 rebounds and 19 points and 12 rebounds respectively. Noel Coleman, who has been under the weather as of late, poured in another 18 points on an efficient 7-of-12 shooting before fouling out late while freshman Tom Beattie added 11 points off the pine for the ‘Bows. 

“Having been around [Noel] for a long time, it’s been fun to watch him grow and develop and he’s had great moments,” Ganot said of his starting shooting guard. “I said the other day [against UC San Diego] I thought it was his best game in a Rainbow Warrior uniform because you put it all in context… sometimes it takes so much out of you on the offensive end but he’s able to do it offensively, defensively against the best teams and the best schools. [That context]’s why I think you could argue it was his best week in this uniform.” 

After back-to-back wins against the Big West’s 2nd-place program, Hawai’i has suddenly catapulted itself back into the Big West’s top-4 conversation (also thanks in part to UC San Diego’s Division I reclassification period running through this season) as UH sits a game behind CSUN for the fourth seed in the Big West Conference tournament. The ‘Bows now hit the road for a two-game trip against a Cal Poly team that has begun to solve some things as of late and UC Santa Barbara, the program currently tied with Hawai’i on the conference ladder.  

Hawai’i wipes out Stanford in front of packed “White-Out” crowd for Alumni Night

Hawai’i wipes out Stanford in front of packed “White-Out” crowd for Alumni Night

UH floor captain Spyros Chakas goes for a ball in a matchup against #5 Stanford. | Photo Credit: Michael Lasquero, HSRN

Hawai’i wipes out Stanford in front of packed White-Out” crowd for Alumni Night

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED FEB 9, 2024

HONOLULU — Who said sweeping white-outs was only for wintry weather? 

The University of Hawai’i men’s volleyball team celebrated “Alumni Appreciation Night” in style, sweeping through the Stanford Cardinal in straight sets Saturday night, 27-25, 25-7, 25-20, in front of a season-high attendance of 8,930 screaming fans. Floor captain Spyros Chakas’ season-best 23 kills led the way as the UH attack dominated all evening to the tune of a hitting percentage of .594% while committing only three attack errors the entire night. 

The fifth-ranked Cardinal opened the match’s first frame by scoring three of the first four points of the night before seeing the ‘Bows re-find their footing to tie the set at five by notching four of the next six points. Much like the first match between the two on Thursday, neither side allowed for much breathing room as the teams traded point-for-point until a quick run pushed Hawai’i ahead by three, 13-10, and forced a Cardinal timeout. 

After Stanford knotted the match at 15, the tug-of-war, back-and-forth trading of points resumed as the ‘Bows and the Cardinal attempted to snatch the coveted first set point. Hawai’i got the chance first after a Chaz Galloway service ace but would need three set points in total to take the opening frame in extras, 27-25. 

For as closely contested as the first set was, the second frame was the exact opposite as the ‘Bows raced out to a 15-4 lead to go into the media timeout behind the amped-up Chakas and his 99th career ace, tying him with Naveh Milo for 10th-most in UH program history. After the stop in the action, Hawai’i held Stanford to just three more points en route to an impressive 25-7 win in the frame. 

Stanford tried to stave off the sweep with a quick start to the third set that mirrored the opening one, scoring three of the first four points before allowing Hawai’i to draw to a tie again. Once again, Hawai’i would jump ahead with both teams into double-digit points, 13-10, forcing a Cardinal timeout. The pause did not help matters much for the visitors as the UH lead grew to four points after a Tread Rosenthal kill and then again with a kill from Thursday’s star performer Alaka’i Todd making it 21-17. 

The ‘Bows would not play with their food, either. Hawai’i rattled off four of the next seven points to finish out the match with their third straight set win, 25-20. 

Everything was clicking for the Rainbow Warriors as Spyros Chakas set the tone with his 23 kills while Alaka’i Todd finished with nine kills on 15 swings. Freshman setter Tread Rosenthal tallied 33 assists throughout the match as he continued to spearhead a Hawai’i attack that leads the nation in efficiency. 

Hawai’i returns to action in 13 days when the Rainbow Warriors play host to Missouri S&T on back-to-back nights, looking to extend their nine-match winning streak to double figures. First serve for the first of the two matchups is scheduled for February 22 at 7 p.m. HT. 

Hawai’i turns on jets, hand Stanford second loss of year in four sets

Hawai’i turns on jets, hand Stanford second loss of year in four sets

Hawai’i turns on jets, hand Stanford second loss of year in four sets

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED FEB 7, 2024

HONOLULU — The University of Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors dispatched the fifth-ranked Stanford Cardinal in four sets Wednesday night, 21-25, 25-15, 25-22, 25-12, in the first of two meetings between the nationally-ranked programs in Mānoa this week.  

The visitors surprised UH out of the gate, taking control over the opening frame from the hosting Rainbow Warriors with a 5-0 run to jump ahead, 13-9. While Hawai’i stabilized, the Cardinal was more than happy to trade points on the way to an opening set win, 25-21. The ‘Bows hit just .185% on the attack, dropping the first set of a match for just the second time this season and the first inside Stan Sheriff Center. 

The third-ranked Rainbow Warriors responded with a vengeance, dominating the second set behind the consistent play of local boy and Punahou alum Alaka’i Todd to jump ahead by six at the media break, 15-9. Hawai’i continued to steamroll on the other side of the stoppage, closing out the frame, 25-15, on a rocket of an ace by outside hitter Spyros Chakas. The missile serve was the 98th ace in Chakas’ decorated collegiate career, placing him just one away from entering the top-10 in program history. 

The home team got an assist from the “Mānoa Roofing Company” deciding to open in time for the seesaw third set with five blocks helping to decide a closely contested frame and give a 2-1 set advantage to Hawai’i as Kurt Nusterer emphatically closed the door on a Cardinal comeback try with a solo block for the 25th and ultimate point. 

Stanford stuck closely with Hawai’i in the fourth set until the midway point when Keoni Thiim showed off the sizzling service skills to rattle off an avalanche of seven straight points and finish the frame on an 8-0 run, closing the heavyweight bout with a knockout blow, 25-12. 

Hawai’i, after hitting a ghastly .185% in the first frame, stabilized to finish with a hitting percentage of .346 on the night to hand Stanford its second loss in a row. The Cardinal were without the services of two-time All-American outside hitter Will Rottman as he did not make the trip to the islands as he deals with an injury to his lower extremities. 

Hawai’i was led by Todd’s career night as the Punahou alum finished with a match-best 17 kills to set a new career-high mark for himself. OIA product ‘Eleu Choy turned in his second double-digit digs match of the year, finishing with exactly 10 on the night.  

Chakas also finished with double-digit kills, posting 15 through four sets in front of the Rainbow Warriors’ biggest crowd of the season so far. 

Hawai’i (9-1) returns to the floor on Friday for a rematch against Stanford (7-2) with first serve scheduled around 7:00 p.m. HT. Fans are encouraged to wear white as the Rainbow Warriors look to sweep the Cardinal and win for the 11th consecutive time against their MPSF adversaries. 

Hawai’i uses strong 2nd half effort to pull away from Sharks, sinks HPU, 78-53

Hawai’i uses strong 2nd half effort to pull away from Sharks, sinks HPU, 78-53

Hawai’i uses strong 2nd half effort to pull away from Sharks, sinks HPU, 78-53

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED DEC 11, 2023

HONOLULU — The Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors (7-1) saw a spunky effort from Hawai’i Pacific University (5-2) sputter out in the 2nd half, pulling away from the Sharks en route to the ‘Bows seventh victory of the season, 78-53. 

The two teams, both of whom play their home games in Mānoa as HPU competes just up the hill from SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center inside the “Shark Tank” on the former campus of St. Francis, got off to a back-and-forth start, knotted at 20 points each with just over eight and a half minutes left in the 1st half. That’s when UH’s super-sub-Juan Munoz set the court ablaze with another magnificent shooting display to close the half, hitting all six of his attempts from the floor (including three from long-distance) to lead all scorers with 15 points at the break. HPU’s Dominique “Diggy” Winbush paced the Sharks through a competitive opening 20 minutes of play, scoring over a third of his team’s points as HPU entered the locker room trailing 40-28. 

The 2nd half of action was when Hawai’i was able to flex their might and muscle, dominating the game in transition and getting nearly anything the ‘Bows desired offensively. UH senior Noel Coleman comfortably ticked over the 1,000-career point threshold for his college career in the final half of action as the lead for the Rainbow Warriors grew to as many as 27 points. 

It was another relatively quiet night for HPU leading scorer Melo Sanchez, finishing with 10 points on 4-of-12 shooting from the field as UH limited the airspace of the dynamic sophomore guard. HPU returns to action for the “Hoops in Hawai’i Classic” from December 17-19, first game on Sunday, December 17 at 5:45 p.m. at the “Shark Tank”. 

Hawai’i saw 10 different players score, including three in double figures, as the Rainbow Warriors picked up their second win in as many weeks in December. UH will be back in action on Sunday, December 17 when the ‘Bows host the 7-1 Nevada Wolfpack for one last tune-up ahead of the 2023 Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic. 

Hawai’i men’s basketball falls to #23 St. Mary’s in Maui fundraiser exhibition

Hawai’i men’s basketball falls to #23 St. Mary’s in Maui fundraiser exhibition

Hawai’i men’s basketball falls to #23 St. Mary’s in Maui fundraiser exhibition

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED OCT 21, 2023

HONOLULUThe Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors men’s basketball team kicked off their season with an exhibition against a formidable opponent, hosting the 23rd-ranked St. Mary’s Gaels for a preseason tune-up that saw proceeds go on to benefit the relief and recovery efforts on Maui. 

The ‘Bows starting lineup, needing to replace two members from last season after the graduation of forwards Samuta Avea and Kamaka Hepa, included the three team captains in JoVon McClanahan, Noel Coleman and Bernardo de Silva just like last season. In place of Avea and Hepa were a pair of Australian hoopers in junior Ryan Rapp and sophomore Harry Rouhliadeff. 

Hawai’i won the tip and McClanahan quickly got the party started with a pull-up jumper from the midrange for the first points of the night. The preseason all-Big West selection made a move so nice that he did it twice, giving the ‘Bows an early 4-0 lead. 

That would be the biggest (and only) lead of the night for the exhibition hosts. 

A 13-2 Gaels’ run ensued as St. Mary’s moved out in front before Hawai’i could stop the bleeding with Justin McKoy’s first Rainbow Warriors’ bucket, a 3-pointer from the left corner to cut the deficit to four with 12:45 left in the first half. 

St. Mary’s answered with a 9-2 run of their own before the ‘Bows traded baskets with a pair of nice finishes inside from de Silva and McKoy. The first of the Rainbow Warriors’ 2023 recruiting class in Tom Beattie entered the game with 8:42 left in the first half and picked up his first points as a ‘Bow four minutes later with a driving right-handed finish between defenders to cut the Gaels’ lead to 12. Fellow freshman Akira Jacobs got his first Rainbow Warrior run for the last two and a half minutes of the opening twenty minutes of play, though he missed both 3-point attempts in that time as Hawai’i entered the locker room down by 17, 46-29. 

Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot toyed with different lineups throughout the second half, showing off different three-guard lineups with a stretch forward to go next to either de Silva or 7-foot-1 sophomore Mor Seck. The Rainbow Warriors also experimented with a “small-ball” lineup with Rouhliadeff at the 5 and Justin McKoy at the 4 while playing Beattie at the 3 and Coleman and McClanahan manning the backcourt. 

As the second half rolled along, St. Mary’s showed that it is a few steps above Hawai’i at this point in the year while displaying a strong post game supplemented by some elite outside shooting. The Gaels shot a blistering 59% from the floor and 50% from 3-point territory in the process of routing the ‘Bows, 92-58. 

“[St. Mary’s] gave us a hard lesson that we deserved,” said Hawai’i head coach Eran Ganot. “I do believe in our guys that they’ll use [the loss] the right way.” 

That lesson included being dominated in various categories unusual for Ganot-led teams, including being out-rebounded by 11 and turning the ball over 15 times to just nine giveaways by the Gaels. The ‘Bows were outscored in the points-off-turnovers category, 22-6, and offered little resistance against SMU’s attack to the rim with 42 points allowed in the paint.  

“They’ve been great, they are great, they will be great,” a solemn Ganot said of St. Mary’s after the game. “When you don’t bring it, good teams make you pay but great teams try to kill you and they’re a great team.” 

Ganot tried to keep as positive as possible but the frustration from the events of the night were visible on the faces and in the voices of seniors JoVon McClanahan and Justin McKoy. The ‘Bows were an elite defensive team in 2022-23, not allowing a single opponent to reach 90 points in a game and giving up over 80 points just once. That identity seemed like a far memory on Friday, though the seniors said that it would be fixed before the regular season begins, part of the benefit of playing such a high-level exhibition game over three weeks ahead of the Rainbow Warriors’ season opener against UH Hilo. 

“At the end of the day, it’s early but we’re going to find some guys that are going to play hard every possession, offensively and defensively,” McClanahan passionately said after the game. “[Another 34-point blowout loss] will never happen in the Stan because we will have guys that play hard… That’s what [St. Mary’s] did.” 

The Gaels were led by sophomore guard Aidan Mahaney, who finished the night with a game-high 25 points on 9-of-13 shooting and drilled four 3-pointers in the win. Augustas Marciulionis enjoyed a sweet-scoring night as well, racking up 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting and went a perfect 7-for-7 from the charity stripe. 

“I know [Mahaney] is going to be a pro so he just makes plays, he’s a tough guard and so is [Marciulionis],” McClanahan said of SMU’s backcourt. “Hats off to [them] because playing guys like that makes me better.” 

The ‘Bows point guard paced UH with 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the floor, knocking down his only 3-point attempt to beat the first half horn. Rouhliadeff followed behind with nine points of his own, going just 1-of-4 from the field but cashing in all six of his free throw attempts. Freshman Tom Beattie finished with six points in 23 minutes off the bench in his first action for UH. 

It’s back to work now for the team with fresh game tape to focus on working out the kinks of the newest edition of the Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors. 

Additional Hawai’i MBB notes: 

  • Juan Munoz made his official return to the court, suiting up and playing nine minutes in his first game in front of fans since a season-ending injury took him down a year ago. He scored his first bucket from the midrange on the right baseline in the second half, getting a nice cheer from fans. 
  • Akira Jacobs finished the night scoreless and looked to be adjusting to the college level at times. Have no fear, ‘Bows fans — that’s normal for freshman. The 6-foot-8 southpaw can shoot the ball well and looked more nervous than anything when he first entered the game. Even Ganot mentioned postgame the lefty’s shooting ability not being a concern in the slightest going forward. 
  • Matthue Cotton was held scoreless in his Hawai’i debut, recording one rebound in 12 minutes of action. The 6-foot-5 left-handed guard has flashed exciting athleticism and a nice 3-point stroke in practices but didn’t take a shot in his first game for UH. 
  • Mor Seck was strapped down by some foul trouble in this one but recorded a respectable five points and five boards in 14 minutes of action. He’s someone who can provide a real boost to the ceiling of this Hawai’i team but he needs to focus on avoiding fouls. He was whistled for four fouls in his few stints off the bench Saturday. 
  • Noel Coleman was held scoreless, only taking four shots throughout the evening. That happened at times last season too and the UH offense struggled immensely during those dry spells. He will need to be more aggressive looking to pull the trigger on opportunities behind the 3-point line to help open inside the arc for himself and others. 
  • Bernardo de Silva was his normal self: steady. He just goes out and produces in an efficient way and Saturday was no difference, putting up six points on 3-of-5 shooting to go along with a pair of rebounds. Like Seck, it’s vital that de Silva avoids the foul bug this season to help aid what can be a small Hawai’i backcourt at times. 
  • Ryan Rapp got the start for UH, scoring five points in his first chance in the opening unit. He is an intriguing piece that struggled with injury last season but has shown some nice scoring touch from all three levels early in the preseason. He’ll need to increase his physicality on the boards and defensively if he wants to remain with the starters, though.