Who gets the nod vs. HPU?

Guard Brocke Stepteau, center, was often at the center of Hawaii's fortunes the last two seasons.

Who’s it gonna be?

The Hawaii starting lineup and rotation for tonight’s exhibition against Hawaii Pacific is anyone’s best guess. You could see many as nine different Rainbow Warriors getting the nod for the first five, based on who’s played with the first group in recent days.

The ‘Bows have indulged in some lineup potpourri, sometimes with as many as three guys with UH starting experience playing on the second unit.

Regardless of who’s out there first, UH’s anticipation for this moment has been palpable coming off the Green and White scrimmage, then a closed-door scrimmage against a local D-II team.

“As a team we’re real excited to finally get on the court, first time playing a game situation against an opponent in front of the fans,” redshirt freshman point guard Drew Buggs said. “So we’re excited to get out there and show the fans what they can expect this year.”

Here’s some possible starting combinations:

>> Buggs, Leland Green, Brandon Thomas, Mike Thomas, Gibson Johnson
>> Buggs, Brocke Stepteau, Sheriff Drammeh, Mike Thomas, Johnson
>> Stepteau, Green, Samuta Avea, Mike Thomas, Johnson
>> Buggs, Drammeh, Jack Purchase, Mike Thomas, Johnson

You get the idea. It’s been that way in practice, with only the 4 and 5 positions pretty much locked in. And whatever UH shows today, it can change again in 10 days for the regular-season opener.

“Everybody on the team brings something special,” Buggs said. “We’re just working on those lineups because we can go with any lineup at any time, depending on what we need. So we’re trying to build that chemistry and work together.”

HPU lost a lot from its NCAA II Tournament round of 32 team, which went 29-3. Its top returning scorer is Jonathan Janssen, at 5.7 ppg. However, the Sharks added three D-I transfers, including former UH guard Larry Lewis Jr. The Sharks were picked in the middle of the PacWest.

“That’s a program, one we have a lot of respect for, a coach (Darren Vorderbruegge) we have a lot of respect for,” UH coach Eran Ganot said this week. “We had a lot of respect for them before that run. Programs lose guys and continue to stay relevant and competitive, and that’s what will likely happen with those guys.”

It’ll be interesting to watch Lewis operate against his old team. With his physical tools, Lewis has the chance to have a meaningful senior season with the Sharks, his fourth college team.

Buy a ticket for the UH women’s basketball 5:30 p.m. exhibition vs. Hawaii Hilo, and you can stay in your seat for the nightcap. It’s general admission.


Ganot has joined the 30-person Coaches vs. Cancer council, UH announced today.

This is the next step in his support for the movement, which he’s been passionate about since he took the UH job. He put on a fundraiser for it with North Carolina coach Roy Williams last fall.