Weekend practice roundup
New coach Eran Ganot and the Hawaii basketball team went hard for three straight days to begin the official practice period. They are resting up Monday and Tuesday to prepare for the grind that lies ahead.
The Rainbow Warriors will watch the Los Angeles Lakers and Utah Jazz duke it out at the Stan Sheriff Center on Tuesday night.
UH missed Roderick Bobbitt on Friday and Isaac Fleming on Saturday when they weren’t feeling well, but both were in back in action on Sunday — the first practice with all 15 players active.
It was good to see Bobbitt out there making some of his customary disruptive plays on defense. His offseason jaw injury and subsequent missed time during fall workouts made it tough to know exactly what kind of shape he’d be in when he returned.
“It felt good to be out here with the guys, going 5-on-5, getting back in the flow of things,” Bobbitt said over the weekend. “Yeah, I’m feeling good. Feeling real good.”
Ganot has marveled at Bobbitt’s ability to jump right in and make a difference on defense.
“You can see the flashes there, obviously,” the coach said. “He’s had a unique offseason, I don’t think we need to go into too much detail, he’s been battling through some adversity. So you see the flashes, you see the slippage. All that’s natural because he hasn’t had as many reps as the others, and he hasn’t had as many reps in the system as the others. I do know he’s picked things up fairly quickly. Even with that it’s still a matter of him getting more and more comfortable and more reps. These guys need it. And they’ve had a lot of it, and he hasn’t had as many.”
The former Saint Mary’s assistant compared Bobbitt very favorably to other defensive playmakers he’s coached.
“His anticipation skills — he’s got this unique combination of anticipation, and quick hands. Some guys have one or the other. … Defensively, it’s pretty impressive. Probably about as good as I’ve been around in terms of that area.”
Last year’s Big West Defensive Player of the Year thrived in UH’s freewheeling scheme under Benjy Taylor. But with UH making a return to a more structured system, will that affect what made him great?
Bobbitt didn’t seem worried about it, saying the time spent with Ganot upon his hire in April through the end of the spring semester helped.
“It’s been cool learning new things,” the guard said. “That’s going to benefit us in the long run,” he said. “If we just keep listening and focusing in, we’ll be good.”
Forward Mike Thomas, meanwhile, was taking the lumps and bumps of the first few days in stride.
The learning curve has been somewhat steep, but it doesn’t have all to do with new sets and schemes. Team demeanor and habits have played in there, as well.
“It’s a lot. Learning how to fight through a lot of things,” Thomas said. “Learning to stop complaining. … I think it’s going well. We’re progressing offensively I see already.
“On the defensive end we’re picking up (where we were). Getting steals, stuff like that. I think offensively we’re learning fresh. … We’re playing a little more open, so it’s definitely a learning process.”
Thomas is one of a few players on the team who’ve had to absorb three head coaches’ systems and philosophies in a three-year period (Gib Arnold 2013-14, Taylor 2014-15, Ganot 2015-16). Ganot favors a four-out, one-in offense popular in international circles.
“Gotta adapt, try to be a student of the game,” Thomas said. “The coaching, style of play around you, everything’s going to change all the time. You just keep playing the game.”
Thomas compared the conditioning aspect of practices to those of Arnold, but the other content was “pretty different.”
“But the way we’re playing is pretty different. It’s like spring and summer to really get to this point. We still got a lot of work to do.”
Ganot has largely kept things positive these first few days. He lauded his players’ attitudes and said the walk-ons have been especially hard workers.
“It’s not just putting in your system on both ends of the floor but continuing to shape the character of this team, and the grit and really who we want to be,” Ganot said.
UH had a guest speaker address the team at the end of Sunday’s practice. It was ex-NBA player Casey Jacobsen, the younger brother of UH assistant coach Adam Jacobsen.
Jacobsen went to Stanford and was the 22nd overall pick in the 2002 draft. He played a few years for the Phoenix Suns and Charlotte Hornets, then several more years in Europe.
He was pretty animated when he spoke to the team.
“I thought it would be relevant to speak on some of the lessons I’ve learned throughout the course of my basketball career, that I wish I had learned earlier, like in college,” Jacobsen said. “So I talked to them about a couple things about work ethic and what that really means. Because when I was in college, even though I was a very good player, I thought I worked hard until I got to the professional level and I saw how they do it. My eyes were really opened to how hard people worked. I played with guys like Steve Nash, and against players like Kobe (Bryant), Ray Allen, who I saw firsthand. A lot of fans don’t get to see how those guys work. I saw it. And they worked harder than I worked. Not only were they physically better than I was, like had more physical gifts, but their work ethic was even better. So that was a lesson that I learned that I try to pass on.”
Jacobsen is a little over a year into a sports broadcasting career. He called Pac-12 and West Coast Conference games last season for Fox Sports 1, the Pac-12 Network and Time Warner Sports.
Great story Brian. Eran’s first venture as a head coach and it looks like he’s been preparing for this moment for a long time. Hope he sees the kind of success Hawaii’s fans are hoping for. If they can inspire the fans with their play the Stanley will rock this season.
Awesome Taking care of business Warriors !
Sure would like to know why the basketball team/coaches has not been updated?, still shows last years players and coaches? watup ladat?
Must be tough on a team to transition to a third coach in three years. Each distinctly years in contrast. Indeed these years have been a serendipitous roller coaster.
Ganot appears to know what he wants and has a viable scheme.
Players indicate they are making the change and whether that can translate into a wholesale buy-in remains to be seen. Ganot himself commented that “bad habits” are difficult to break. What he is throwing out is the challenge to learn his system.
Ganot must show as much tolerance and flexibility as he expects his players to show commitment and discipline. Its a two-way street. Both forces will be scrutinized by fans. Like Halloween, this season could be a Trick or Treat’ year.