First thing’s first, congrats to Hawaii coach Benjy Taylor on receiving the midseason Hugh Durham Award for mid-major programs.
CORRECTION: Taylor received the true annual Hugh Durham award, so disregard the part of the below paragraph which states there is another Hugh Durham award handed out after the season. There was some confusing wording on the Hugh Durham award’s website. Taylor will be recognized at the CollegeInsider.com postseason banquet in Indianapolis on April 3.
The award was handed out Monday at the conclusion of nonconference play nationally. It’s not the same as the Hugh Durham National Coach of the Year award which is handed out in April, after the totality of the season. But Taylor is definitely in the running for it, and it’s a boost for the program to know that its surprising season thus far has not been lost on the national conscious.
Taylor seemed genuinely honored by it Monday. He said in a statement: “I am humbled by this award. The team, my staff, the administration and all of the diehard UH basketball fans share in this honor. It’s amazing what you can accomplish when everyone works together. When UH basketball wins, we all win. Go Hawaii and go ‘Bows!”
Guard Isaac Fleming was pleased with how it reflected on the team.
“That’s great. We’re finally starting to get recognized,” Fleming said. “Starting to get the recognition that we deserve to get. It’s good. We just want to pick it up from here and get more accomplishments.”
The Durham award has been handed out since 2005. Past winners include Gregg Marshall when he was at Winthrop and retired Pacific coach Bob Thomason.
Shooting guard Garrett Nevels was to get his cast off on Tuesday, one day ahead of originally scheduled.
But will he play Wednesday against Cal Poly? That depends on whom you ask. Nevels himself will tell you that yes, absolutely, he’s playing. Taylor, meanwhile, seems intent on taking the cautious approach. Nevels hasn’t been doing any cardio since getting the cast, so as to keep his thumb locked in place. He also hasn’t practiced for a week, which is a key difference to when he played with the cast on against SWAC teams Southern and Prairie View A&M.
The team has named freshman Isaac Fleming the starter in Nevels’ stead in the meantime. If Nevels plays (still unlikely, but with him you can’t rule it out) it could be as a reserve.
Beyond Fleming, junior Brandon Jawato or freshman Niko Filipovich could see more time. Taylor could elect to go with his “twin towers” alignment of Stefan Jovanovic and Stefan Jankovic more often.
Swingman Negus Webster-Chan has been a full practice participant and has shown no ill effects of the right ankle he tweaked against Prairie View. Forward Aaron Valdes‘ right wrist has been wrapped of late, but he’s still going after every dunk.