‘Bows break in Gym II

The sparkling new Gym II. / Photo by Brian McInnis

It had that new car smell.

Lighting, acoustics, temperature, playing surface, shot clocks, cameras, you name it. The new and improved Gym II was an upgrade in all facets over the previous version of itself.

The Hawaii men’s basketball team became the first outfit to use the refurbished, climate-controlled facility this afternoon.

“Unbelievable,” was the general takeaway from the players and coaches.

The place looked pretty accurate to the mock-up (if you click that link, scroll down for the photo) that was posted in coach Eran Ganot’s office shortly after the 2015-16 season.

“I think we have one of the best in the country in that regard,” Ganot said after Thursday’s two-hour practice. “Certainly one of the best in the West.”

“Live Aloha, Play Warrior,” indeed. The increasingly ubiquitous slogan around the athletic department is painted on the far wall.

ESPN play-by-play man Roxy Bernstein, a regular to these parts for the Diamond Head Classic, regularly calls Pac-12 games. He sat in on some of the UH practice and compared the new practice facility favorably, or on equal footing with every team in that Power Five league, with the exception of Utah.

The work, which began over the summer, was completed on schedule, just in time for the DHC. Work will begin in early January on Gym I for a similar renovation, to complete a roughly $9 million project allocated by the state legislature and undertaken by Layton Construction.

“I think two words come to mind: one, incredible, and two, a little bit surreal,” Ganot said. “There was a vision and a dream and they don’t always happen. As you know there’s been a rendering in my office for some time. There’s been faith and belief that it will happen. And to get to today, where we actually practice in this gym, is unbelievable. So, it’s a great testament to team, in terms of the work this group put in to make this top notch over the last five, six months. And then also the lege — I can’t thank everybody from the legislature enough. It’s a game-changer.”

Seniors Brocke Stepteau and Jack Purchase, who’ve been with the program for five and four years, respectively, were blown away when they stepped through the double doors today.

And also a little bittersweet, as they only get to use it for a few months before their careers come to an end.

“When I walked in there before practice, I was in shock. Happy, but in shock,” Stepteau said. “I’ve been in Gym II for four (previous) years, and it’s hot. Not to say it wasn’t nice, but it wasn’t what it is now. It’s a great feeling to see that but it’s a great step for the program, as well as the coaching staff who works hard every day, the players who work hard every day. To get something like that, it puts things in perspective and makes you want to go to work even more.”

Purchase said, “Just walking in there was amazing. It looks so good in there. You walk in there, there’s a freshness, it’s cold straight away when you get in there. The AC’s great. Been in a lot of sessions in Gym II. Going from what it was to what it is now, it’s amazing. So much better. Great for the program, I think it’s going to help us out a lot in the future.”

Both players noted the lack of floor slipperiness from condensation that would previously make Gym II a dicey proposition in rainy weather, as well as the omnipresent mounted shot clocks (instead of the portable variety). Stepteau and Purchase rated it well with any of the other facilities they’ve practiced in on the road.

“It’s up there with anything I’ve seen,” Stepteau said.

Stepteau thought there was a “60, 50 percent” chance that it would be completed while he was still here. “I was a little unsure, because they said it was going to be done a little earlier at the beginning. … Just to get it for a couple months is a blessing.”

Here it is.

There are now eight baskets in Gym II, including four of the wall-mounted variety. The ceiling glass is now blocked out for all artificial lighting.
UH wrapped up its first practice in its revamped facility — and was the first team to make use of it, even with other Diamond Head Classic teams in town.
There is sound-dampening padding around the gym that makes on-court communication easier. The walls are adorned with a tapa design.
There are eight high wall-mounted cameras that will be accessed for cutting up film, replacing a mobile “tower” that had to be set up and manned by a manager.


Besides the team breaking in its new digs, there was another revelation Thursday — senior Sheriff Drammeh was back at practice after missing the Mississippi Valley State — and several practices — while being suspended for a violation of team rules.

It sounds like the guard will have a way to go to get back to his usual playing time and starting role, but having him back in the fold should only help as the team approaches conference play.


  1. Warrior Dave December 20, 2018 6:24 pm

    “Construction project completed on time.” This doesn’t happen to often. Congrats to all that were involved.

  2. cappie the dog December 20, 2018 9:05 pm


    Four words: Softball stadium. Sight lines.

  3. cappie the dog December 20, 2018 10:27 pm

    You show up a half hour before tipoff at the Iolani Classic when the host team is playing Montverde.

    What do you think happened?

    My friend and I did not plan this well.

    Got to see Scottie Pippen though.

    At least I got to stand next to the Montverde team.

    The woman guarding the entrance must have thought we were trying to sneak into the game.

    We were.

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