Roderick Bobbitt knows a thing or two about the press that the Hawaii basketball team will face tonight against Portland State.
He was a part of it. Or, rather, the version of it that PSU coach Barret Peery employed at Indian Hills (Iowa) Community College when he and Bobbitt were there in 2013-14.
“It’s going to be good. I came to try to spoil my former coach’s visit to Hawaii,” said Bobbitt, the point guard of UH’s 2015-16 NCAA Tournament team who will be on hand tonight to be introduced as the Rainbow Warriors’ honorary game captain. “I’m gonna talk to the guys to just go out there, I know what type of coach he is. He’s going to play hard, and if you match their intensity you always have a chance to get the ‘W’.”
Peery, a cousin of former UH coach Gib Arnold, used that intensity and the press to get IHCC all the way to the NJCAA championship game in 2014, with the Bobbitt the head of the snake.
“It was something I’ve never been a part of before,” Bobbitt said. “I’ve never pressed so much with any team ever in my life. Committing a lot of turnovers (on the other team), scoring a lot of points, a lot of layups. I know it can be hard for the opposing team, but all presses can be broken, you know, with passes. So, if you take your time and not force it, don’t dribble and get caught in certain spots on the floor, where it’s nearly impossible to get the ball out of. If you stay out of those spots, you’ll be fine.”
Bobbitt went on to become unquestionably one of the best point guards to play for UH, during a volatile time in the program’s history no less.
He took Big West Defensive Player of the Year as a junior in nearly leading the Benjy Taylor-coached ‘Bows to the NCAAs, the season that began with Arnold’s firing. He was a BWC first-teamer as a senior when he, Stefan Jankovic, Aaron Valdes, Mike Thomas, Quincy Smith and the rest helped UH reached the promised land for the first time since 2002. Bobbitt was the first player in Big West history to lead the league in assists and steals in consecutive seasons. He finished with a UH-record 168 career thefts (including an even 100 as a junior).
Since leaving UH, he’s bounced around in Europe to a few teams.
“It’s been eventful,” Bobbitt said to sum up his pro experience to date. “I’ve been overseas, so it’s been different situations I’ve got into. Some good, some bad. But it’s all been a learning experience, and I’ve been riding with it.”
This past season, with Spanish club Zornotza, Bobbitt enjoyed one of the better situations. He averaged 10.5 points, 2.3 steals and 1.9 assists per game for Zornotza, according to Eurobasket.com.
“Spain, it was dope. I enjoyed my teammates, I had a couple Americans on my team so it was easy to communicate,” he said. “And the Spaniard teammates that I had, they also spoke a little English as well. They were pretty dope, they were pretty cool. Just exploring Spain — our road trips weren’t the best, it was long road trips, probably six, seven hours. Yeah, for the most part I liked Spain. I liked it a lot.”
He anticipates a return to Europe for the coming season (he doesn’t know where yet), then plans to try his hand a the G League back in the States.
Bobbitt, an Oakland native, had his horizons broadened when he came out to Hawaii for Division I ball; he’s tried to make it back once a year to see old faces and learn new ones. Being in Europe only expanded his perspective further.
“I think the main thing, when I first got over there, I just realized that there are people in Europe who probably never get a chance to come to the U.S. Things like that,” Bobbitt said. “Probably never leave their country, or (that) city, really. So I always think about that when I go over there. It’s just a blessing to be able to travel and keep playing basketball.”
The point guards of UH past and present exchanged pleasantries after Thursday’s practice in the Stan Sheriff Center. Drew Buggs, who watched Bobbitt play at UH during Buggs’ time as a recruit, is in the same same fantasy football league with him along with some other members of the Tournament team like Thomas and Brocke Stepteau.
Buggs, UH’s eventual successor to Bobbitt at the point, is now in his fourth year in the program, third as an active player. He’s coming off a memorable defensive play involving some ball pressure himself.
“I remember Rod being just like a killer on the court. He just always had control of the team, never backing down from a challenge,” Buggs said. “Also, having a lot of steals. That’s something I remember Rod (for). I remember my freshman year I wanted to come in here and try to get a lot of steals like he did.”
As for the prospect of Portland State’s press, Buggs displayed no fear — something out of the playbook of the oft-unreadable Bobbitt.
“We know what they do. Our coaches did a good job of scouting it. We have a pretty good feel. We just gotta be prepared,” Buggs said.