Hawaii men’s basketball: Bernardo da Silva ahead of schedule, needed against Washington in Diamond Head Classic

Hawaii’s Bernardo Da Silva made the go-ahead layup against UTEP on Sunday night. / Photo by Cindy Ellen Russell, Star-Advertiser

Projects almost always take way longer to develop than promised in Hawaii. Maybe if we’re lucky that rail thing will be done 75 years from now, in time for our yet-to-be-born children to ride when they get too old to drive.

But University of Hawaii freshman forward Bernardo da Silva showed he is way ahead of schedule Sunday. While he also showed he is far from being a finished product, UH’s electrifying 67-63 comeback victory over UTEP in the first-round of the Diamond Head Classic would have been impossible without him.

>> PHOTO GALLERY: HAWAII VS. UTEP

The 6-foot-9 Brazilian with the 7-foot-2 wingspan displayed a very non-freshmanlike fearlessness and court presence that could have him and the Rainbow Warriors flying even higher, sooner than expected. His contribution of a game-high 17 points — the most in his 11-game college career — plus five rebounds were among the biggest reasons UH pulled off the upset of their old WAC rivals.

Imagine if he’d made more than one of the eight free throws he took. And da Silva certainly doesn’t want to think about how he’d have felt if the technical foul he was tagged with for excessive celebration after a dunk had cost his team the game.

Fortunately for him and the ‘Bows, he didn’t have to learn that lesson the hard way.

“Bernardo grew up a lot tonight. … He wasn’t scared,” acting coach Chris Gerlufsen said, after UH improved to 8-3.


Hawaii fans should hope da Silva can keep it up against No. 22-ranked Washington in Monday’s semifinal game. The Huskies start four players with F for forward in front of their names. Jaden McDaniels, Hameir Wright and Isaiah Stewart are all listed at 6-9. Nahziah Carter is the little guy at 6-6. The three players who are the same height as da Silva averaged 17 points, nearly six rebounds and three blocks apiece as the Huskies dissected Ball State 85-64 to advance to the semis.

“He’s the only one on our roster that looks like their guys look,” Gerlufsen said. “Bernardo is by far our most athletic big. We’ve got to beef him up a little bit and put some weight on him but, no, Bernardo has a chance to match up physically with some of their bigs tomorrow.”

Hawaii’s three 7-footers aren’t as quick as the Washington front liners, so this might not be the kind of game for which they’re suited.

Samuta Avea? The junior from Kahuku is just 6-feet-6, but plays way above the rim. And he also had the best game of his UH tenure against the Miners, with a career-high 16 points and team-high eight rebounds. If not for his seven-point surge with the second-half winding down, and UH seemingly out of it, the ‘Bows would be playing in the consolation bracket Monday instead of prime time.

“He’s gotten so much better and will continue to get better,” Gerlufsen said of Avea.

These performances — and the poised and clutch efforts of point guard Drew Buggs — were sorely needed as leading scorer Eddie Stansberry was limited to just seven points. Other ‘Bows had off games, including Justin Webster — after the freshman displayed the poise of a veteran with 12 and 15 points at Oregon and Samford, UH’s third guard looked overmatched against UTEP … his stat line was nearly empty except for three turnovers in 10 minutes of play. He will bounce back, as will Stansberry.

“Him being in the corner, his man’s going to hug him all night,” Avea said of Stansberry. “So whether he’s scoring points or just being out there for our team, we just do our job and whoever scores the ball we’re just happy for each other.”

COMMENTS

  1. H-Man December 23, 2019 7:00 am

    Dave, come on now, 75 years, somewhat of an exaggeration. I would say more like 40 or 50 years.


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