Let us pause and take a moment of appreciation for the Hawaii basketball team’s steadiest performer.
That would be fourth-year junior point guard Brocke Stepteau, the 5-foot-9 walk-on wonder who delivered once again for the Rainbow Warriors coming off the bench on Wednesday night.
Stepteau is shooting an eye-popping 64.5 percent from the field through seven games for UH (5-2) going into tonight’s contest against Hawaii Hilo at the Stan Sheriff Center.
His season-high 16 points on 3-for-5 shooting (7-for-8 free throws) against Prairie View A&M was his team-best fifth game of 2017-18 in double-figure scoring. He came off the bench in four of those games.
He’s had just one game — at Utah — where he’s shot under 50 percent from the field. That was 1-for-3.
Then there’s the fact that Stepteau has come up with some downright clutch buckets — consistently — to bail his team out in late-clock situations. And they typically haven’t been easy looks.
So, UH prepares to take on its Big Island counterpart, which has made some noise this early season by knocking off No. 19 Western Washington in Bellevue, and regular PacWest contender Concordia in the Pacwest.
The vertically challenged Vulcans (3-4) top out at 6-8, but are dangerous behind the arc at better than 35 percent. (That’s 10 percent more accurate than Manoa, a significant figure.)
Ten minutes before tipoff, the Stan Sheriff Center is looking a little sparse. Honestly, it’s hard to fault people for not turning out for the fifth straight year to see UH-UHH.
This is the fourth time in five years UH is playing two Division II teams in the regular season. The Rainbow Warriors already topped Adams State (Colo.), 87-77, in the program’s first game against an out-of-state D-II team since opening the 1989-90 season with a win over Alaska-Anchorage in the Great Alaska Shootout.
As I wrote in today’s print edition, freshman forward Justin Hemsley will redshirt the season.
This makes sense for everybody involved. Playing time figured to be scarce this year for Hemsley, who is still growing into his frame. He seems to have the right mind-set about the extra time before officially launching his college career.
For the rest of the team, roles this year are a little more sharply defined.