In a somewhat expected move, Hawaii coach Gib Arnold said after team practice today that the remaining UH practices this week would be closed to media and the public.
Tuesday’s session in Gym 1, the team’s first coming off its 0-2 Big West road trip was also closed.
Arnold has closed UH practices in the past three years when his teams have hit difficult stretches of losses, as well as during one preseason while new players got accustomed to things.
However, not including gameday walkthroughs, the only previous practice to be closed this season was on Thanksgiving.
UH (11-5 overall) trailed wire-to-wire in a 77-65 defeat at Cal Poly last Thursday, then was unable to muster the go-ahead basket in the final minute of a 79-78 loss at Cal State Northridge on Saturday.
“First day back, we usually work on ourselves, what we gotta work on to get better at,” Arnold said. “We’ll spend the next three days on (UC) Riverside (Saturday’s opponent). It was about UH and about us getting better. You learn a lot on the road. Saw some weaknesses of some things. Tried to emphasize that and get a little bit better.”
Due to there being no outside eyes inside the practice, Arnold was asked what specific things the team tried to address Tuesday.
“I thought there was parts of one of our presses that we did that wasn’t as efficient, and so we worked a lot on one of our presses,” he said. “One press was really good, especially against CSUN near the end of the game. Worked on that, (and) I thought our transition basketball wasn’t as aggressive offensively as I’d like to see. So we did a lot (of that) too. A lot of getting up and down, a lot of running and playing at a higher pace, both offensively and defensively.”
In final minute of the Northridge loss while trailing by a point, UH had a missed front end of a 1-and-1 free throw by Brandon Spearman, a missed layup by Keith Shamburger and an errant 16-foot jump shot by Christian Standhardinger at the buzzer.
“One of those go in, obviously it’s a great road trip,” Arnold said. “But that’s part of the road, and part of the learning curve. I thought we got better from Thursday to Saturday. So you’re always looking for that improvement. I’m hoping this Saturday we’re even better than we were last week.”
UH newcomer Stefan Jankovic, the ex-Missouri forward, was at Tuesday’s practice, though he wasn’t suited up in a practice uniform and isn’t yet on the Rainbow Warriors’ roster. He’s enrolling at Manoa this semester (this is the first week of spring classes) and is expected to be eligible to play in December.
Arnold said Tuesday he could not comment on Jankovic.