Here’s the good news for Hawaii: it pulled out Thursday night’s exhibition, a 62-55 win over Hawaii Pacific. It was missing a few key players in doing so. And a few guys who aren’t used to starting roles got a chance to break them in in front of a friendly crowd. Forward Mike Thomas especially looked ready to take on a larger role this season. Guard Garrett Nevels struggled to a 4-for-15 night but hit the game-sealing 3 when it counted. And UH’s man-to-man defense was athletic and active enough to cause plenty of disruption.
The bad? Well, HPU shot 31 percent and still nearly won. UH’s moments of cohesion on offense were few, as you might expect given the team’s recent overhaul. And UH’s shallowness in the frontcourt was exposed for all to see late in the game when Thomas and center Stefan Jovanovic both sat with four fouls — leaving Aaron Valdes as UH’s tallest player on the court — and the Sharks made a run to pull within a point.
Oh, and there were the “exhibition” jerseys. UH’s official game jerseys aren’t in yet, so they went with their semiofficial practice duds. I hadn’t seen them wear those until last night.
Acting coach Benjy Taylor played an extremely tight rotation, going with only seven players (except for when Dyrbe Enos appeared for a minute in the second half).
Negus Webster-Chan (sore ribs) and Quincy Smith (sore back) should be available for Friday’s regular-season opener vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Despite the factors working against it, UH got to enjoy the feeling of pulling out a win. Of course, the competition ramps up from here, even against some low-tier Division I teams in the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic.
Also, kudos to the UH students for showing up in force, about 500, which was announced as a new student record for an exhibition. The UH football team would drool over those numbers right now.
If you were one of the roughly 2,500 in house at the Stan Sheriff, Who or what jumped out at you in the exhibition?