Sunday’s only drama is Drammeh

Teammates help up forward Justin Hemsley for his chance at a four-point play against Mississippi Valley State. / Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Advertiser

The drama on the court was over quickly Sunday. Truthfully, it never was there to begin with against punchless Mississippi Valley State, which rates No. 350 of 353 Division I teams on

But the off-court drama? It lingered into the Manoa night, courtesy of one Sheriff Drammeh.

UH coach Eran Ganot said before the game that the senior guard is suspended for an unspecified violation of team rules.

After UH (6-4) dispatched MVSU (2-11) with ease, 76-51, the most pressing question was the status of the Swedish enigma.

Ganot did not elaborate much in the postgame press conference.

“I’ll just leave it as it is now,” he said. “Obviously when you shift gears from a game, revisit, and go from there. I’ll give you the word when we get to it. But out of respect to him, as we always do with our guys, we haven’t had many of those situations. And I think we do a good job of making sure we don’t. But we do right now, and we’ll handle it.”

In response to a follow-up question, Ganot confirmed Drammeh is still on the team.

“Currently,” he said.

UH coach Eran Ganot and his assistants questioned an official’s call during the second half. / Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Advertiser

So the question remains: Does Drammeh, one of only two players remaining who were active on the 2015-16 NCAA Tournament team (Brocke Stepteau is the other), come back in the fold, and when? Or is he done, with his Manoa legacy a disappointing finish to a meaningful start?

He was a key energy player on an experienced team as a true freshman — we’ll all remember the charges he took on Cal’s Jaylen Brown in the NCAA first round — and while he would never be confused for a star the last two years, he was better than the poor (31.6 percent) shooting this year would indicate.

Drammeh, the team’s best perimeter defender for much of his career, recently slipped on that end, too. The notorious charge-taker was benched for the entire second half in last week’s narrow win over Division II Hawaii Hilo. He was not at practices this week leading into the MVSU game. He was not seen in the arena Sunday, which probably isn’t a good sign; you can be suspended for games and still be on your team’s bench.

In Ganot’s four-year UH tenure, there have been two players who’ve left the program at midseason: Isaac Fleming (late in 2015-16) and Jaaron Stallworth (early in 2017-18).

If the ‘Bows were bothered by Drammeh’s absence against MVSU, they didn’t show it. There were smiles aplenty as Drew Buggs went behind his back to Zigmars Raimo for a first-half layup, and in the final minutes as Leland Green stuck a four-point play and Justin Hemsley nearly added one of his own, getting all but the free throw to go.

Eddie Stansberry was competent stepping into the starting lineup for Drammeh, supplying 11 points on 4-for-10 shooting.

Afterward, Buggs (13 points Sunday on 6-for-7 shooting) and Raimo (12 points, eight rebounds) felt good about the state of their team heading into the Diamond Head Classic.

“I think our team is just ready to get out there and compete again on the national stage, and show what we can do and (that) we can compete. We got some things to work on, but as you can see we’re making a stride in the right direction in this game in terms of our defensive effort, and rebounding too as well.”

Said Raimo, “I know all the guys are all really excited about Diamond Head. I know it’s Christmas time, but a lot of parents, a lot of families are coming to see their kids playing. It’s just a great time for us, for team, for program to play on Christmas. Enjoy the game. I know every single guy is really excited to play that and enjoy Christmas altogether.”


  1. cappie the dog December 16, 2018 8:52 pm

    I don’t think I can take another player defection.

    Does Isaac Fleming realize that East Carolina is not going to make the NCAAs?

  2. Jeezy33 December 16, 2018 8:57 pm

    Obviously I don’t know the situation but based on the past few years, I’m concerned Ganot runs way too strict a program.. not sure we’ll ever be able to land more talented recruits that might have a little edge to their personality the way Ganot wants his kids to be perfect disciplined that don’t make mistakes.

  3. Chicken Grease December 16, 2018 11:21 pm

    Is it playing time that Drammeh is (apparently) protesting over? Well. Ganot must needs to see that Sheriff is THE moneg maker of the team. Let him play!

  4. cappie the dog December 17, 2018 6:04 am

    There is drama in watching the bench warmers play.

    You get a gauge on how team chemistry is by the reaction of the starters re-warming the seats the bench warmers vacated.

    Justin Hemsley knocked down a three. And got fouled. From my vantage point, Drew Buggs looked really happy. That’s good if your starting point guard cheers on his teammates.

    Dawson Carper earned more playing time.

    I think Matt Colina feels a little pressure, being a redshirt freshman, and seeing the other two big men outperform him, at times. He just needs to settle down. I can see that he has more upside than the more polished Zigmars Raimo. Colina should realize that none of us who watch men’s basketball thought Raimo could be this functional, dare I say, good.

    It’s sad. If Tel Aviv was still the capital of Israel, Ido Flaisher would still be a “Bow. I think about him occasionally at odd times. I hope he is okay. Haim Shimonovich made it out alive. If Flaisher ever makes the Hawaii news wire, we will know why. I hope that day never comes.

    Brandon Thomas needs to figure out his skill-set. It’s not taking threes. This is the curse of the Golden State Warriors. Everybody wants to be Stephen Curry. Players who can’t shoot can be players who pass the ball, work hard on defense, drive to the basket, just about anything except settle for the three. He is 0-9. Add a shot. I like how when Stepteau is covered at the three-point-line, he does that Steve Nash thing. What is it called, the teardrop? I really admire this guy. A walk-on, and he is shooting 45% from three. Because of his height, and how he shoots the ball(from chest level), his three attempts are limited. I watched an ESPN segment on Stephen Curry, Del Curry worked on changing his son’s shooting style, which was from the chest, in high school, over the summer before his senior season. Davidson or walk-on at Wake Forest. Amazing. Stepteau’s game will not translate to the next level, not even international ball, but HE IS ONE HELL OF A GREAT COLLEGE BASKETBALL PLAYER. And that is better than a lot of D1 participants.

    Huthifah Abdeljawad. Not really hard to pronounce at all. I had more problems with Mindaugaus Bureneika. He is my favorite “last player on the bench” since Lance Takaki.

    Leland Green. Lots of team support. The team rallies about him. I don’t think Coach Ganot has to worry about Green for the rest of the season. He becomes the most important player on the team if Hawaii finds themselves one player down.

    I do not think Hawaii will make the post-season, but it’s the Big West. Unless UC-Irvine turns out to be a transcendent team. And you can never figure out Long Beach State because they schedule so many unwinnable games.

  5. Aiea 7 December 17, 2018 8:50 am

    this new incident comes just after the green incident; not a good sign. apparently there are some players on the team that are dissatisfied one way or another. don’t believe that ganot is being too strict, the players must learn that playing time is based on game performance and we cannot let a few individuals upset that standard. this standard applies to all teams, so this is nothing new. I trust ganot is going to do what is best for team in the long run, a team that believes in the coach is the best team.

  6. hilorain December 17, 2018 10:25 am

    My thinking is this may be a GPA/grade issue. With the semester ending Friday, it could be that Drammeh needed to get a good grade in a class to be eligible. Grades don’t get posted until today, if he were ineligible due to GPA or not enough credits earned, they would have to forfeit last nights game.

  7. shoots December 17, 2018 11:13 am

    can we hire gib arnold to be our recruiter again? we’re recruiting too many stiff white boys to be honest.

  8. Aaron December 17, 2018 11:15 am

    I will take the loss of Drammeh, Flemming, and Stallworth over the losses of Vander Joaquim (mid-game!), Trevor Wiseman, Bo Barnes, and everyone else who left during the dysfunctional times of the Gib Arnold era. i’d rather compete with good people and lose than maybe win with a team of questionable character (and then forfeit the wins).

  9. cappie the dog December 17, 2018 11:37 am

    What you have to remember about Gib Arnold is that all three of the embattled ex-coach’s prized recruits in his second season didn’t qualify academically. Contemporaneous to this time, the season after, I checked up on where these guys landed. To the best of my knowledge, they didn’t play at any level. What I like about Coach Ganot is that I don’t have to worry about Hawaii being put on probation. Those students must have been really sketchy academically.

    African-American players can be stiff, too. I hate calling out players. I’ll use initials. The longtime obsessive can figure it out.


  10. cappie the dog December 17, 2018 11:40 am


    I could have written this.

    You approach college athletics the right way.

  11. cappie the dog December 17, 2018 11:44 am


    The jaw-dropping night I saw the late Chris Gaines on the bench during the WAC opener against Air Force.

    Phil Lott stepped up and hit the go-ahead shot from the left corner against Reggie Minton’s club.

  12. cappie the dog December 17, 2018 11:47 am


    I don’t think our three 7-footers are stiff.

    They’re lost and confused, uncertain of what to do.

    I have seen all three of them do things that Hawaii’s prior 7-footers could not accomplish.

  13. cappie the dog December 17, 2018 11:55 am


    On the football side, I think June Jones did a great job finding at-risk players.

    Pisa Tinoisamoa panned out.

    Arguably, Devon Bess panned out, too.

    As a Warrior, he represented the university in fine fashion.

    I think Bess’ problems of recent times are beyond his control. His behavior does not jibe with the young man I would hear in interviews as a college player.

  14. Aaron December 17, 2018 12:31 pm

    Gerry Holmes!

  15. Aaron December 17, 2018 12:38 pm

    Cappie – I was kind of young, but I really liked the Phil Lott/Ray Reed backcourt… I wish Ray Reed avoided his troubles and injuries and had a more fruitful career…

  16. shoots December 17, 2018 1:35 pm

    Let’s face it, we’re not Duke, we can’t achieve both academic and athletic excellence. Let’s go back to the June Jones era when we receuited guys with blemishes on their record, but they could BALL! Let’s go back to the gib arnold times when we had ballers that could FLY.
    Been a UH fan all my life and graduated from Manoa, but I can be real and say that we got too many stiff ass white bois. Still gonna cheer for them though at HOME on my tv, with a 1% hope that they’ll make it to the big dance.

  17. Kika December 17, 2018 1:51 pm

    92-93 could have been a wondrous year had ray reed been back for his senior year. the prior year they beat New Mexico in the wac tourney quarterfinals and lost a heartbreaker in overtime to BYU in the semis. but no, the UH president at the time albert simone cowardly kicked reed out of school just days before the school year began. I say cowardly because simone wasn’t even in town when he kicked reed out of school, he was out of the country in israel. smh…

  18. cappie the dog December 17, 2018 2:26 pm

    Aaron- I’m not a septugenarian, but I am old enough to have stood in line at the Cinerama for “Return of the Jedi”. Now that I am older, I retroactively agree with Kenneth Mortimer’s decision. I can see now that the former president did not want even a whiff of scandal around the athletic program and had to do the unpopular thing.

    I was looking at(well, if we’re going to name names) Jim Bolla’s Wikipedia page. I did not know that Pam Tambini made a formal complaint to Herman Frazier, and was ignored.

    If this happened now, this incident would have made the national news wire.

  19. cappie the dog December 17, 2018 2:51 pm

    To the best of my recollection, none of June Jones’ players landed Hawaii on ESPN for any egregious transgressions with the law.

    All of them, pretty much, made the most out of their second chance.

  20. Hoosier December 17, 2018 3:29 pm

    Seriously? Gib Arnold still? Outside of the NCAA team (coached by Benny and Eran) Gibs recruiting was a revolving door of guys who didn’t exactly showcase some kind of “showtime” athleticism. Maybe I missed those high flying Gib teams. And not too cool to imply athletic black kids who can fly won’t be able to get it done academically. Easy on the racial stuff. Do I hope the UH bigs develop and contribute more? Absolutely! Keep it real by sticking to skills and not skin tone

  21. shoots December 17, 2018 3:44 pm

    19. You’re the one bringing skin color into this pal by implying that only non-white people aren’t stiff and can play. I absolutely did not mention at all that we should preferentially recruit non-white guys. I just said we are recruiting too many stiff white boys. The fact that I alluded to the old june jones days recruiting guys with blemishes should have rang a bell with colt brennan having the prior sexual assult accusation on his record. get off your high horse.

  22. shoots December 17, 2018 3:50 pm

    And where did me implying black kids who can fly won’t get it done academically come from? hah! Dude you should work on your reading comprehension because you are getting it TWISTED. I mentioned DUKE being able to achieve academic AND athletic excellence—have you heard of Duke? Have you seen them this year? Come on man, get serious.

  23. shoots December 17, 2018 4:55 pm

    Gib Arnold has coached 4 seasons at UH: stefan jankovic, isaac fotu (who is half white), christian standhardinger, stefan jovanovic, garrett nevels, rod bobbitt, aaron valdes, sheriff drammeh, isaac fleming, brocke stepteau.

    Eran Gabot in his already 3rd season at UH: only eddie stansbury is a baller.

    Borderline: leland, buggs.

    Stiff white boys that ganot recruited: ido, jack, colina, hulland, carper.

    I’m not a hater, I’m just a realist after getting infected with norm chow-itis. wake up and smell the coffee. Eran Ganot is a terrible recruiter! Sorry to be a debbie downer but I’m just bring real.

    I just hope we’re not gonna get lit up by UNLV. Am I gonna be surprised if it happens? Not at all.

  24. Warrior Fan in the Bay Area December 17, 2018 6:28 pm

    shoots – by saying ganot is recruiting too many stiff WHITE boys, you are bringing race into it…if you were to say ganot is recruiting too many stiff non-athletic basketball players, then you are 100% correct and not bringing race into it. But you didn’t do that…

    I’ve been a UH athletics fan for the past 30 years and I will say that ganot is unfortunately one of the worst basketball recruiters that we have had. The Big West has been a guard dominant league since UH joined (minus a few 7 footers on Irvine that have done IMO, only okay) and yet our guards are fairly average. Yet, we recruiting 3, 7 footers in the past 2 years?! I just don’t understand that logic. We should definitely be recruiting better guards/athletes rather than 7 footers that just don’t produce in a guard dominant league.

  25. cappie the dog December 17, 2018 6:34 pm


    We’re talking about race.

    This is my favorite song that addresses race.

    It is Nanci Griffith’s “It’s A Hard Life Wherever You Go”.

    This is the chorus: “It’s a hard life/It’s a hard life/It’s a very hard life wherever you go/If we poison our children with hatred/Then, the hard life is all that they’ll know/And then there won’t be no place for these kids to go.”

    Hawaii has made it to the NCAAs with predominantly white and predominantly black players.

    Let’s just leave it at that.

  26. cappie the dog December 17, 2018 6:40 pm


    I miss Butler as a mid-major.

  27. Aaron December 17, 2018 8:48 pm

    If Gib was such a great recruiter, why was his best PG a walk-on from the football team? I know he’s your dad and everything, but Gib was not good.

  28. cappie the dog December 18, 2018 4:16 am


    I agree.

    UC-Irvine got by without Mamadou Ndaiye. The year that the Anteaters made the NCAAs, Ndaiye only played 15 games. They finished second in the Big West with him mostly out of action. The team was led by guards Luke Nelson and Alex Young.

    They’re just freshmen. Give them time.

  29. cappie the dog December 18, 2018 4:21 am

    Aaron- I like you even better. I am always waxing rhapsodic about Miah Ostrowski. This was one intelligent young man. The guy comes off the football field and right at the outset he’s running the offense with aplomb. Ostrowski was an intuitive player. He was a point guard. Not as often as Anthony Carter, of course, but he was capable of making the same dazzling passes.

  30. cappie the dog December 18, 2018 4:27 am

    We don’t talk enough about the genius of Miah Ostrowski.

  31. cappie the dog December 18, 2018 4:36 am


    If Stefan Jovonovich was going to transfer, why not choose a team that had a legitimate chance to make the NCAAs. The WCC is normally a two-bid league. LMU was not going to get by Gonzaga and St. Mary’s.

    If he wanted to stay in Pacific Standard Time, he should have picked another Big West school, or explore options in the WAC and Big Sky. Had he stayed at Hawaii, he would have started under Eran Ganot and probably play upwards to 30 minutes.

    Decisions have a chain reaction.

    With Jovonovich returning for his senior season, Hawaii would have had a better record, and maybe Ganot could have picked up Long Beach State’s Edon Maxhuni.

  32. cappie the dog December 18, 2018 4:45 am

    Worst case scenario: Sheriff Drammeh leaves the team.

    Would a Hawaii DII team take him on mid-season?

    Chaminade is ranked #20 in the latest poll.

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