Gameday: Hawaii Hilo

Hawaii big man Stefan Jankovic is a scratch against Hawaii Hilo with a sore back.
Hawaii big man Stefan Jankovic is a scratch against Hawaii Hilo with a sore back.

In what has become a familiar sight, UH Manoa takes on UH Hilo at the Stan Sheriff Center tonight.

There is no TV for this 7 p.m. game, which was a late addition to the schedule. It was originally to be played on the Big Island before the logistics fell through. You can head over to BigWest.TV for internet streaming, catch it on KKEA 1420-AM, or follow my live tweets.

UPDATE: UH forward Stefan Jankovic is a pregame scratch with a sore back. It will be a new starting lineup for the Rainbows, who’ve had the same five in each game so far this season.

It is the third straight year the sister schools meet up in an official game, and fourth in five seasons. UH is a perfect 7-0 in such meetings going back to the first in 1980. (However, as rules have allowed the last handful of seasons, Hilo and coach GE Coleman can count this as an exhibition on their end, and will for the third straight year.)

For 5-1 UH, it is the start of the “PacWest tour” part of the schedule. The Rainbow Warriors follow against Hawaii Pacific on Saturday, the last game before the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.

Remember what happened last year between UH and UHH at the Sheriff? Roderick Bobbitt went for a triple-double (12 pts, 10 ast, 10 stl) in an 89-71 win, just the second in the program’s recorded history. The steals were a team record. Aaron Valdes scored 31 points on 11-for-15 shooting.

Hilo’s best player last season, forward Tre Johnson (25 pts, 10 reb last meeting) is gone. So are a couple of the Vulcans’ frontcourt players on this year’s roster due to injuries. Hilo’s top threat is 6-foot-4 guard Parker Farris (19.6 ppg, 51.7 FG%, 42.4 3FG%, 84.6 FT%). The Vulcans have actually played at the Sheriff once this season, coming over to play Montana State as part of the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic. MSU, a mutual opponent with UH, beat Hilo 90-85 in a tight battle. Farris had 29 in that one, including eight 3-pointers.

It’s been a struggle for the injury-hit Vulcans (0-5, 0-1 PacWest) since, despite six players averaging double-figure scoring. They play two more league games on Oahu on this road trip.

“Everything that can go wrong has gone wrong as far as injuries,” Coleman said. “We’re still missing two guys, our 4 and 5 men (Salim Gloyd and Darius Johnson-Wilson), so that’s really hurt us.”

Hilo’s remaining roster is very small. After 6-6 Nate Walker, there’s no other size.

“For us, we just really want to get better (out of this game),” Coleman said. “We’ve really struggled rebounding the ball. Obviously going against a team like Manoa and the way they rebound it is going to be a good test for us. Realistically, if we can improve on some things and get ready for our game Thursday against Chaminade, that will be good for us.”

For UH, Mike Thomas (back spasms) was back with the first group in practice the last couple days. He exited early in the second half of the Rainbow Warriors’ last game against Arkansas-Pine Bluff but should make his customary start tonight.