Hawaii men’s basketball: Webster sees point guard duty against Chaminade

Justin Webster drove past Chaminade’s Isaac Amaral-Artharee (55) in the first half Hawaii's 83-66 exhibition victory over Chaminade on Wednesday night. / Photo by Andrew Lee, Special to the Star-Advertiser

The question of what happens when Drew Buggs needs a breather was apparently answered on Wednesday night.

Hawaii will put the ball in the hands of true freshman Justin Webster.

It was baptism by fire for Webster, the Rainbow Warriors’ new secondary point guard, in an 83-66 preseason exhibition victory over Division II neighbor Chaminade at the Stan Sheriff Center.


The Silverswords were a small but tenacious outfit that pressed relentlessly for much of the game — meaning ball control was as important as the considerable size advantage the Rainbow Warriors enjoyed. The ‘Swords, recently picked to finish third in the PacWest Conference, tried to trap Buggs and Webster right underneath the UH basket every chance they could.

UH handled that fairly well overall, finishing with just 10 turnovers (correction: UH had 14 turnovers). But the night’s overall execution left a lot to be desired for Eran Ganot. UH shot 43.8 percent from the field, 20 percent from 3 and 56.5 percent from the line, leaving the fifth-year coach shaking his head and grateful there’s still another week to prepare for the Nov. 8 official opener against Florida A&M in the Outrigger Rainbow Classic.

Two of the team’s veterans, Zigmars Raimo and Samuta Avea, combined for 37 points in the win. UH was able to lean on its huge size advantage to snare 22 offensive rebounds, leading to a 27-3 advantage in second-chance points. Dawson Carper snared 14 rebounds. Raimo had eight offensively.

Webster, in his 17 minutes playing either the 1 when Buggs went to the bench or the 2 alongside him, was 2-for-7 from the field (0-5 on 3s), with four points, two assists, two rebounds, one turnover and a steal.

“He’s got a great mental fortitude about him. He comes back the next play with a great attitude about him, you don’t see him hanging his head,” Ganot said. “I don’t think he played (as) well as he would like to have played, he didn’t shoot it well. He’s a good shooter. But I feel like this is experience he needs to go through, that all guys before him went through.”

Avea and Raimo voiced support in the freshman Webster, as well:

Buggs was away from the team for a couple weeks of the preseason because of the tragic death of his mother, only resuming practices earlier this week.

While he was gone, it was senior Eddie Stansberry and three true freshmen — Webster, Jessiya Villa and Kameron Ng — taking reps at point guard.

It was a ripple effect of Ahmed Ali leaving the team due to a health condition midway through the preseason. Ali was expected to shoulder much of the playmaking duties this season, a successor of sorts for the graduated Brocke Stepteau.

The 6-foot-3 Webster, who came in as a shooting guard out of the Hargrave Military Academy (Va.), showed enough to earn the responsibility of running the offense for stretches by the time Buggs returned.

“Drew will tell you too … he wasn’t a point guard coming in. A pure point,” Ganot said. “And he’s become a guy who’s really good there, even though he didn’t play as well as he would’ve liked to today (11 points, 5-16 shooting, six assists, two turnovers, two steals). So there’s a learning curve there. He’s more of a traditional 2 guard. But I think with the way you want to play now too, it’s good to have two guys out there, even your 2 guard now, that has a mentality like a point guard, that can make good decisions, that can handle presses, that can play in ball screens.

“Guys are being thrown in to fires.”

It got dicey at times Wednesday night, as Chaminade came out with moxie and captured a lead at a few points. The Silverswords trailed just 37-35 at halftime and 52-51 with 14 minutes left. But Raimo, Buggs and sophomore Justin Hemsley helped the ‘Bows pull away for good and Ganot was able to empty his bench with a minute left.


  1. Loca1boi October 31, 2019 4:11 am

    Ganot should have looked at other options during this scrimmage at pg. The Chaminade press was giving UH fits.

  2. Warrior Lifer October 31, 2019 6:46 am

    1. Only 10 turnovers during the game against a team that full-court presses is pretty good. And Webster came in at point guard and only committed 1 turnover, while Buggs had 2. So only 3 total turnovers from your two floor generals against a team that presses a lot is impressive. I know the box score doesn’t show the whole story, but I think to say they were giving us fits might be an exaggeration. I think if anything, the press led to less offensive rhythm and flow, as shown in the lower shooting percentages.

  3. Kahuna October 31, 2019 9:34 am

    I don’t know if it’s me but I didn’t think UH showed much of their new offensive sets they showed at the Green/White scrimmage.

    They were fairly basic and simple in their offense. There were a few plays during the scrimmage that looked pretty nice. I am assuming that coach Gerlufsen was the one who put that in.

    Those new plays will give us a few more chance to score easy baskets so I hope the team continue to practice hard and improve.

  4. One Villa October 31, 2019 2:14 pm

    Hawai‘i had 14 turnovers last night according to the box score on the athletics website. Hawai‘i’s size advantage and depth were too much for Chaminade. Webster and Stansberry weren’t hitting 3s, and had they been, it would have been a much different game. I think we see more game where they hit than they miss. Webster did a great job last night. Would’ve been nice to see Jessiya and Kam stretch their legs against the press last night to test Chaminade against some speed. Biggest concern for the Warriors will be the front court. When they see legit D1 bigs throughout the season, they’re going to be tested for real. Da Silva looks like he’s going to help in the future. He’s a more modern day big. These other guys are back to the basket type players. Ball movement looked good at times last night, and that’s going to get the shooters good looks in the future. Ah…first game…never even count…let’s see where this team is at after Thanksgiving. Still sending prayers to the Buggs Ohana. Drew is a strong man coming back this soon after such a tragedy. More than a leader, that dude is a soldier!

  5. Hoosier October 31, 2019 2:15 pm

    Loved Hemsley energy and u can see potential with both Webster and da Silva. Not bad considering injuries, absences, etc. Webster shots looked good and was not afraid to put them up. Keep working hard and good things can happen

  6. James Manuel October 31, 2019 2:50 pm

    They had 14 turnovers when you count the ball was stolen from Ng when he tried to dribble the ball out however that to was not recorded in the boxscore.

  7. One Villa October 31, 2019 10:49 pm

    #6 Check the official box. It counts 14 turnovers. If they didn’t count that turnover you’re talking about then it would still be 14, and if they did count it, (let me see…carry the 1…) that would’ve been TO #15.

    Hemsley provided an awesome and much needed spark off the bench. Once his shot develops he’ll be tough. (Or he can do what Cartaino did all night and just take dudes to the hoop. Where’s the UH guy that puts opponents in the rim?)

    Exciting for this year. Webster and Da Silva look like they’ll be getting some awesome experience this season. Freshmen that play serious minutes usually see a big jump in development that pays off in year 2.

  8. Brian McInnis November 1, 2019 4:47 pm

    The turnovers were retroactively changed, apparently. The full box we were given the night of the game had UH with 10 turnovers and Chaminade 14. They’re working out a new stat system that’s probably going to have some kinks these first handful of games. … Actually, I take that back. Turnovers were correct in the box we were given. I’d pulled a stat from the wrong place. Turns out the kinks were on MY end.

  9. Brian McInnis November 1, 2019 4:53 pm

    Corrected story to reflect that there were 14 turnovers, not 10. Still just the one turnover for Justin Webster. Thanks for pointing that out, folks.

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