Yup, it’s that time of year again. People formulate Halloween costume ideas, early holiday season plans and, most important of all, wild conspiracy theories on the content of UH basketball’s now-annual Ohana Hoopfest.
What can we expect this year? A “Gangnam Style” performance? Gib Arnold vs. Laura Beeman in 1-on-1? All the Rainbow Warriors’ international players singing “It’s a Small World After All” complete with costume?
Don’t rule anything out, but Friday night’s activities are slowly coming into focus. And whatever happens, UH will have the benefit of some recruits taking it in; Arnold said Monday he was expecting “probably two guys in there” for the festivities.
They’re expected to be high school players. It’s a pretty effective recruiting tool, what with all the Stan Sheriff Center crowd and bells and whistles not seen by recruits in other typical weeks. Last year, Caleb Dressler verbally committed to UH soon after visiting and taking in the Hoopfest.
Besides a previous UH announcement that a dunk contest would happen, Arnold said on Monday that a 10-to-15 minute freshman vs. upperclassmen scrimmage would be played to highlight his new-look team.
“It’ll be the Freshmen Challenge. We’re going to have the eight freshmen challenge the eight upperclassmen in a game,” Arnold said. “An actual green and white game. We’ll have celebrity coaches, refs and judges, but the actual game’s going to be more of a true scrimmage. So many questions about the new guys, I think it’ll be good for the fans to come out and actually see them play a little bit.
“I want to give the young guys a chance to play in front of a big crowd. You have so many new ones, I think it’ll be advantageous for us to go out and compete a little bit. It’ll be a fun night and a casual night. I want to see how the guys respond.”
It will take the place of the men’s celebrity game of the last couple years. The UH women’s basketball team should still have a celebrity game of its own, but these things are subject to change. We’ll see.
The UH men wrapped up their final strength and conditioning testing of the preseason.
“Everybody improved,” Arnold said. “The whole goal of that was to get bigger, stronger, faster. … Guys that needed to put on weight put on weight, the guys who needed to lose weight lost weight. Everybody had their times run, it was all quicker and faster.
“I think they’re really looking forward to (practices starting). Everybody’s excited and everybody’s ready to go. Gotta get a couple guys more healthy. Obviously with Vander (Joaquim, MCL tear) and Manroop (Clair, sore knee), banged up a little bit. Everybody else is pretty healthy. They are excited, as are we the coaches.
On yet-to-be-NCAA-cleared freshman Aaron Valdes, Arnold said: “Still waiting. So we’re obviously hoping that’s something cleared up by the 12th.”