Hawaii basketball: Rainbow Warriors play ‘Fabulous’ in defeat of San Francisco

Hawaii’s Drew Buggs went to the basket as USF’s Jimbo Lull (5) defended on Friday. / Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Advertiser

The Hawaii men’s basketball team made it a season-long emphasis to honor its past — more so than usual, being that it was the 100th season of Rainbow Warrior hoops.

While every home game to this point has had an honorary captain from the past (including some very recent players), Friday night’s game against San Francisco was special in that regard.

Four members of the “Fabulous Five” — John Penebacker, Bob Nash, Dwight Holiday and Jerome Freeman — plus three other players on those teams were on hand to be honored before the game, appearing next to the modern ‘Bows on the team bench. At halftime, they were presented in front of standing and cheering fans. The other three players were Artie Wilson, Jim Wienstroer and Dennis Sallas. The fifth member of the Fabulous Five, Al Davis, was unavailable to make the game but has appeared at other get-togethers in the recent past.

Members of the UH Fabulous Five teams of 1970-71 and 1971-72 on hand Friday night were, from left to right, Artie Wilson, Jim Wienstroer, Dennis Sallas, John Penebacker, Bob Nash, Dwight Holiday and Jerome Freeman. / Photo by Brian McInnis

UH played inspired against previously unbeaten San Francisco, dealing the Dons an 85-75 defeat.

They did the old-timers proud, shooting 50.9 percent from the floor (52.9 percent from 3) and slowing the run-and-gun Dons to a manageable pace. The Fab Five was used to controlling things at home, going 37-1 at the Blaisdell in 1970-71 and 1971-72 in making the NIT and NCAA Tournaments.

“It just makes you want to give your all to the university because you know that they gave their all before you,” said point guard Drew Buggs, who registered a career-high 25 points and six assists before fouling out. “There are plenty of teams that have done the same. So we just wanted to continue to carry on that legacy.

“Just having them there means a lot, people who helped lay that foundation and build this program up to what it is. You want to give everything, you want to give your all for it.”

Chris Gerlufsen, the acting head coach who hadn’t been a part of the program until two months before the season started, did his homework.

“We wouldn’t be here without them and we strive to be like they were like,” Gerlufsen said. “That was inspiring for us to have them in attendance and hopefully we can get them back more often.”

At least one member of the Fabulous Five addressed the team during the team’s pregame shootaround, and they were to share a meal with the current players after the win.

UH resumes play against Hawaii Pacific at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Not to be forgotten, the Rainbow Wahine basketball team was in action as well Friday. But they came up short in a 66-60 loss to North Texas in what was expected to be their most manageable game of this weekend’s three-day Heineken Showdown. They continue play against No. 12 North Carolina State at 2:30 today.


  1. Matt November 30, 2019 4:42 pm

    You know, for a time, this was a San Francisco team that pretty much has had Hawaii’s number, but the fact that they were to overcome Lull’s 16 first-half points was astonishing. Hawaii did a much better job with distribution of the ball, and Drew Buggs finally got a good game that everybody wanted to see out of him. For a time, Drew in 5 of his 6 games, he struggled in terms of shooting (Except Portland State, shot 75% on field goals). A bit close to 60% on field goals for Drew’s part, but that’s the kind of efficiency I feel like the team could use in conference play. However, that being said, the team played inspired basketball and did enough to pull through. Avea still contributing a good pace with Raimo backing up with steady scoring. It looks like the team has finally came together after the Illinois loss. Looking forward to the HPU game on Sunday.

  2. Warrior Lifer November 30, 2019 11:45 pm

    1. Buggs was hitting his mid-range area shots as mentioned by Gerlufsen. Lots of floaters and purposeful drives to the basket. Looked like USF didn’t want to help off 3 point shooters like Stansberry and Avea, so Buggs was able to take advantage. Great game by Buggs and a very solid team win for UH.

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