Hawai’i Pacific elevates from within, promotes Flabel to associate head coach

Hawai’i Pacific elevates from within, promotes Flabel to associate head coach

via HPU MBB

Hawai’i Pacific elevates from within, promotes Flabel to associate head coach

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JUNE 18, 2024

HONOLULU – A Hawai’i Pacific men’s basketball coaching search has ended with the answer in-house all along for the 2nd consecutive year. 

Cam Flabel was officially named as the Sharks’ new associate head coach on Monday, elevating the Boise, Idaho native after a nationwide search following the departure of former associate HC Patrick Frost. After three years in various roles on staff, the 25-year-old Flabel heads into his 4th season with Hawai’i Pacific as one of the youngest collegiate associate head coaches in the nation – regardless of level.  

“I am really excited about promoting Coach Cam,” said Sharks head coach Jesse Nakanishi. “He has done great work with our program for three years and has earned this opportunity. He has been instrumental in our recruiting efforts turning this program around. He has great relationships with everyone around him, he’s led our work in the HPU and Honolulu community and he epitomizes the grind, having to work multiple jobs to stay in this profession and work the ladder [to this point].” 

Originally brought on by former HPU head coach Darren Vorderbruegge ahead of the 2021 season as a graduate assistant, Flabel spent the past two years as an assistant coach for the Sharks. He remained with the program after Coach V’s retirement in 2023 when the then-associate HC Nakanishi was promoted to the head coach’s chair, taking on an even bigger role for the program’s day-to-day operations and recruiting endeavors.  

“To be able to stay at Hawai’i Pacific and continue to build this program with Coach Nak is a dream come true. I am extremely grateful and excited for this opportunity,” an exuberant Flabel said. “I don’t take [this role] lightly and it’s something I plan on giving my all to, every single day.” 

Following a 20-win season and the most success for the program in more than a half-decade, Flabel takes over a substantial portion of defensive game-planning duties for HPU while continuing the Sharks’ preparation of scouting and film sessions. Other responsibilities for the 25-year-old coach include overseeing the player development of the Sharks’ guards and wings and continuing to lead HPU’s recruiting. 

“I’ve had some great mentors at HPU – Coach Nak, Coach V and Coach Frost. After being here for three years and slowly working my way up, I’ve gained a ton of experience in every single facet of this program,” said Flabel. “[My time at Hawai’i Pacific] has developed me into being a reliable piece of the staff that has experienced everything from recruiting to player development to scouting to coordination. I feel really prepared for this next step.” 

His immediate boss agreed. 

“The program continuity [Flabel] provides, his loyalty and work ethic made this an easy decision. His best years are still ahead of him and we are just fortunate to have Cam around,” Nakanishi definitively stated. 

Off the court, Flabel is expected to continue planning and coordinating community service projects for HPU while serving as a travel and coordination checkpoint for the program. Last season, the Sharks participated in a mentorship program throughout the school year with two local elementary schools among multiple other community outreach projects through Flabel’s efforts.  

“I really pride myself on doing things the right way – treating people well, recruiting good dudes, giving back to the community and putting the work in on the court with our guys,” Flabel said when asked about his core values as a coach. “I want to continue to build this program the right way with the right people. My first year [in Hawai’i] taught me to not take anything for granted and that it’s always a grind to success.” 

After seeing five departures from last season’s roster coming from various routes, HPU has re-loaded again with five new pieces that can help the program this year and in the future. 

“The program is trending in the right direction and I feel like we have the staff, players and resources to turn [Hawai’i Pacific] into a perennial powerhouse,” an enthusiastic Flabel said. 

HPU picks up pair of big-time wings in Division 1 transfers Brashear, Kuzmanovic

HPU picks up pair of big-time wings in Division 1 transfers Brashear, Kuzmanovic

Guards Sherman Brashear (left) and Pavle Kuzmanovic (right) committed to Hawai’i Pacific over the weekend, adding a pair of big scoring guards to the roster.

HPU picks up pair of big-time wings in Division 1 transfers Brashear, Kuzmanovic

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED JUNE 2, 2024

HONOLULU – The remodeling of the Hawai’i Pacific University men’s basketball team gained a pair of eye-popping pieces from the transfer portal this weekend as the Sharks gained the commitment of former Division I guards Sherman Brashear and Pavle Kuzmanovic for the 2024-25 season. 

The addition of the two 6-foot-5 guards adds a pair of reliable scoring threats with size on the perimeter to the rotation for HPU. The Sharks, who lost 6-foot-3 shooter Tyrease Terrell to graduation and saw 6-foot-4 wing Melo Sanchez enter the transfer portal, immediately gain two players who will be able to contribute in a big way from Day 1 in the Shark Tank to fill the void as Jesse Nakanishi’s program looks to take the leap from playoff participants to playoff performers next season.  

Brashear, a 6-foot-5 left-handed shooter from Rockwall, Texas, was a 2020 graduate who spent his first year out of high school at Panola College, a respected junior college in Texas before transferring to Western Kentucky for his freshman season. Following a year with the Hilltoppers, another transfer was in the works to a better home in UTRGV where he spent the last two seasons in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) playing for the Vaqueros. He shot 40.2% from 3-point range last season across 31 appearances. The guard provided a scoring threat with defensive upside in various roles for the Vaqueros in his two seasons, totaling 43 steals in 63 contests while playing just under 20 minutes a night.

Last season against the University of Hawai’i, Brashear knocked down a triple and came away with two steals in a reserve role, working his way to the line five times in a 7-point outing. In the Vaqueros’ second-to-last game of the season on March 7, Brashear enjoyed his best showing of the year in a 79-74 loss against Utah Tech. The silky-smooth shooting guard tallied a career-best 24 points on 9-of-14 shooting (6-of-9 3PT) while pulling down five rebounds, collecting a trio of steals to go along with three assists in 37 minutes of action. 

Kuzmanovic, a 6-foot-5 wing from Loznica, Serbia, committed to Boise State ahead of the 2020-21 season after enjoying an incredibly successful international career in his youth. Before heading to the perennial NCAA Tournament contenders in the Broncos, Kuzmanovic helped lead the U18 Serbian National Team to the 2018 FIBA U18 European Championship and helped the U19 team advance to the 2019 FIBA World Cup quarterfinals the very next year. 

During the 2018-19 season, the rising Serbian star shot 44.8% from 3-point range for OKK Beograd, a feeder club for Mega Basket that plays in one of Serbia’s top-level basketball divisions, Basketball League of Serbia. With the sharp-shooting touch of the young Kuzmanovic, OKK Beograd finished with the organization’s second-best placement in league standings ever. 

He spent his final year before college playing in the highest-level professional league in Montenegro, Prva A Liga, for KK ABS Primorje and appeared in 11 games for the team. The Serbian sharpshooter drilled over 38% of his 3-point attempts while playing about 27 minutes per contest, averaging 11.2 points as a 19-year-old against grown men before heading to the United States to play college basketball. 

In three seasons with Boise State, Kuzmanovic and the Broncos made the NCAA Tournament two times while making the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) in the other season. After his junior season with the Broncos, Kuzmanovic transferred to Arkansas-Little Rock and appeared in eight games, dealing with a nagging foot injury. 

The commitments of Kuzmanovic and Brashear wrap up the offseason recruiting cycle for the Sharks after adding five fresh players via the portal and high school commitments.

Hawai’i Pacific sees season end in 6-4 loss to Point Loma in PacWest baseball tournament

Hawai’i Pacific sees season end in 6-4 loss to Point Loma in PacWest baseball tournament

Hawai’i Pacific sees season end in 6-4 loss to Point Loma in PacWest baseball tournament

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED MAY 9, 2024

AZUSA, Calif. — Tough way to go out.

Hawai’i Pacific gave up five unanswered runs in a do-or-die game as Point Loma eliminated the Sharks, 6-4, in the PacWest baseball Championships Thursday afternoon at Cougar Baseball Complex.

The Sharks (30-22) took the lead in the top of the third on Skylar Agnew’s three-run homer and led by three after Cooper Donlin’s RBI single in the fourth before their bats started to cool down.

They had a stretch through the fifth and eighth when 11 straight batters were retired in order, which allowed the Sea Lions (37-10-1) an opportunity to tie it after seven innings.

Point Loma, who was seeded first in the tourney, then plated two runs in the bottom of the eighth to take the lead for good to complete the comeback.

HPU had runners on the base paths in seven of the nine innings, but could only cash in on two of those frames against the Sea Lions’ pitching staff.

Starter Austyn Coleman went seven innings and settled down after the fourth to keep Point Loma in reach. Kaden Lewis came in for one out to start the eighth before Christian Williams (4-1) pitched the next two innings to earn the win. Sashin James then faced just four batters in the ninth to earn his 16th save of the year.

Esai Santos was the one Sea Lion that was a thorn in HPU’s side as he started the day 4-for-4 and accounted for half of Point Loma’s hits. His solo home run to right center put the Sea Lions on the board in the bottom of the first and he later scored on a wild pitch in the fourth for the second Point Loma run of the game. Santos’ RBI double to left field also tied the game in the seventh.

Outside of the home run given up to Santos in the two-hole, HPU starter Jack O’Brien was solid in his time on the mound going through the Point Loma batting order just once before giving way to Scott Armstrong in what appeared to be a scheduled pitching change.

Armstrong struggled however as his day was over in just 2/3 innings pitched. After getting the final out of the third inning, he gave up back-to-back singles to start the bottom of the fourth and then walked a batter to load the bases with no outs. Santos then scored on a wild pitch before a sacrifice fly made it a one-run game.

Notable closer Ryan Inouye, the all-time single season saves leader for HPU with 13 on the season, came in to finish the inning as he pitched 2 and 2/3 innings of scoreless ball to take HPU through the sixth.

Mac Leisher (7-5), the season leader in innings pitched, entered in the seventh and was charged with the loss after giving up three runs in the final two innings.

Kota Suzuki led the Sharks at the plate with three of the team’s 10 hits.

HPU was making its first postseason appearance since 2010.

HPU Baseball drops first game in PacWest tournament to Concordia, 5-0

HPU Baseball drops first game in PacWest tournament to Concordia, 5-0

HPU Baseball drops first game in PacWest tournament to Concordia, 5-0

BY MICHAEL LASQUERO | HSRN
PUBLISHED MAY 8, 2024

AZUSA, Calif. — Not much you can do against arguably the best pitcher in the conference.

Hawai’i Pacific was held scoreless in its opening game of the PacWest Baseball Championships as Concordia cruised to a 5-0 win Wednesday afternoon at Cougar Baseball Complex.

Jake Covey, who earned conference Co-Pitcher of the Year and Newcomer of the Year honors, went the full nine innings for the Golden Eagles with eight strikeouts while allowing just four hits.

The Sharks were held without a hit until the bottom of the fifth with a Chase Taylor single.

Concordia held a slim 1-0 lead after a David Baruch RBI in the the top of the third, but broke the game wide-open in the top of the sixth with four consecutive hits on HPU starter Conor Hourigan. The fourth hit in that stretch was a three-run homer that accounted for the final score.

HPU will play Point Loma in a must-win game to extend its season Thursday morning at 8 a.m. (HST). The loser’s season is over while the winner will play the loser between Azusa Pacific and Concordia at 4 p.m. (HST).

The Sea Lions swept the Sharks in the regular season.

Chaminade competes, never retreats in first full season in over 40 years

Chaminade competes, never retreats in first full season in over 40 years

Chaminade competes, never retreats in first full season in 40 years

BY PAUL BRECHT | HONOLULU
PUBLISHED APR 29, 2024

HONOLULU – Following a weekend that saw rival HPU sweep them, the Chaminade Silverswords had smiles on their faces. 

On Senior Night, the team celebrated a pair of seniors that had a bit of a different experience through their final year of eligibility. No, they hadn’t helped them win the game that night, but the team relished the opportunity to be out on the field together playing baseball. 

The final record for the Silverswords is an uninspiring one at first glance, an expected casualty of a program in phase one of a total rebuild after more than four decades away from the diamond. Upon further inspection, it’s easy to see how Chad Konishi’s team has built a foundation for the future. 

“Really proud of [the team’s] efforts. I tell people that I don’t think our record is indicative of how hard we played,” the first-year skipper for the Swords said after Chaminade’s Senior Night game. “Success isn’t built on one-year wins and losses. I think the experience that the young kids got, the [Junior College] kids taking it to the next level, all that kind of stuff [is important].” 

Built up of 26 first-year college athletes, a various number of transfers and a few local boys returning to suit up for baseball in Hawai’i once again, the Swords scratched across 15 wins while providing plenty of scares to other teams – including the University of Hawai’i during a 2-0 loss on April 16 at Les Murakami Stadium where the Chaminade pitching staff only allowed four hits all night. While Konishi’s hope was to eclipse the 20-win threshold, struggles closing out close games crushed those chances as CUH fell 12 times by two runs or fewer with nine of those losses coming by a single run. 

Typically, “experience” for young players at each level includes a fair share of mistakes. This year’s edition of the Silverswords were no different as they tied with UH-Hilo for the most errors committed in the PacWest this season with 84 blunders while the youthful pitching staff allowed a league-high 286 earned runs across 48 contests as they worked on honing their craft. 

“Could we work smarter? Yeah, but I was really proud of their competitiveness. Some days we lacked execution, some days we didn’t,” Konishi reflected. 

The seeds for success are sprinkled all throughout the season for Chaminade, who tied for the least amount of total home runs allowed this season with just 27 long balls against the Swords’ staff. The offense of the Swords, while lacking power, was built upon patience, finishing the season with the 3rd-most walks drawn by any team in the conference. 

“We don’t have our own field, we practice at the Ala Wai and not one day did [the team] ever complain practicing there or whatever,” Konishi proudly said of his team. “They showed up early in the mornings for practice, they worked hard.” 

That hard work didn’t come accidentally. A sizable portion of the Chaminade roster felt overlooked or underrecruited, coming to put on the blue and white for an opportunity to prove themselves at the next level, either from JUCO or high school. With them, Konishi needed some senior leadership for his foundational team. He found exactly that when Kailua product and Cal State Fullerton transfer JT Navyac gave Konishi and staff a chance to help him close out his college career at home. The pitcher/infielder spent three seasons in California, appearing in 102 games before joining the Silverswords’ historic first group back on the field for his final year of eligibility. 

He gave eight games of pitching to the Swords while appearing in the field for 44 total contests, racking up 36 hits at the plate. Playing one final time at home inside the friendly confines of Les Murakami Stadium, Navyac twirled a 1-2-3 inning with three strikeouts in his final pitching appearance and recorded an RBI single in his final at-bat. 

Navyac said the highlight of the season for himself came during those final seven frames against HPU. 

“Being able to start, get three strikeouts and then my last at-bat having an RBI single is awesome,” the senior said. “Being able to play in front of my family and friends was awesome. Coach Chad [Konishi] gave me the opportunity and I thought ‘why not?’ and I had a great time. We improved a lot, had fun and as a first-year program I think we made a lot of steps forward. A lot of things to work on and understand but I think there’s a good future for Chaminade.” 

Konishi acknowledged it being important to bring the utility man home for the future of the program, even if it only meant one year of having Navyac on the roster. The longtime baseball coach was extremely thankful that the Saint Louis alum gave his program a chance over other local competitors HPU and UH-Hilo. The veteran leadership of Navyac allowed for continued growth of three high-school shortstops into a first year of college by showing them the right way to go about their business on and off the field. 

Chaminade’s other senior, Haruki Kitazaki, was an example of taking your chance and running with it after he worked his way into the lineup midseason and never let go of the spot. After originally being on the block to not travel with the team, Kitazaki changed his season at Biola with a 2-for-4 day at the plate and a run scored in the second game of a doubleheader, starting the final 12 games of the year after that performance. 

“His time came up and he was put into the lineup, and he started to have some success. He hadn’t come out of the lineup until we took him out in honor of his senior inning,” Konishi shined about Kitazaki. “[Navyac and Kitazaki] couldn’t be two better kids that played for us for one year … [we were] fortunate enough to have both of them.” 

While the two leaders will graduate and move on, Chaminade returns multiple intriguing pieces such as first-year catcher Joe DeCoeur, who smacked a solo homerun out of Les Murakami Stadium’s confines in the Swords’ season-ending double-header against Hawai’i Pacific for his first long ball of the year. Fellow first-year Evon Williams showed glimmers of potential at third base and at the plate with hits in five of his final eight games. On the mound, first-year right-hander Rhyn Chambers “emerged” as a standout with a 1.66 ERA, allowing just 11 hits to 26 strikeouts across 16 appearances for the Silverswords. 

“I think the future is bright,” Konishi said. “I know we’re not there … we’re close but yet we’re not close, you know? I think we’re on our way, but we have to make some strides.” 

The head skipper pointed to the weight room as a key area for the Swords to invest time in during the offseason as the team hit a conference-low 12 home runs in 48 games. With more than 20 high-school players seeing considerable time in the field, Chaminade’s core was made up of a more youthful collection than opponents. 

A full offseason program for strength and conditioning for his young players will go a long way, says Konishi. With added strength and stamina, an already talented group looks to increase production and ranking among PacWest participants. 

“As I said in the beginning of the fall, I think putting a team out on the field was an accomplishment in itself,” Konishi stated. “We’re hoping that guys return and that they enjoy their experience here in Hawai’i, at school and the with program. We’ll start to fill in the holes that we think we need to replace.”