Rainbow Warriors ready for holiday hoops

The Hawaii basketball team has got next … and next … and next …

“Holiday hoops is what it’s all about,” said head coach Eran Ganot, whose Rainbow Warriors play Nevada-Las Vegas in Saturday’s opening round of the eight-team Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic.


This will be the ‘Bows’ third three-game tournament. Earlier, they played in the Rainbow Classic to open the season at home and the John Wooden Legacy during the Thanksgiving weekend in Fullerton, Calif.

“I think players should always want to keep playing, and play forever,” Ganot said. “If there are guys who are tired by multiple games and all that, they have to get their priorities right.”

After a day off on Tuesday, the ‘Bows practiced for about two hours on Wednesday. The focus was on defensive coverage, with emphasis on slowing the point of attack and back-side rotation.

Ganot noticed improvement in both areas, a process that he has referred to as “chip away.” After struggling against UH-Hilo, the ‘Bows were better defensively in last weekend’s game against Mississippi Valley State.

“The part about chipping away is it’s just a step,” Ganot said. “It’s not like we chip away, we’re good, it’s over. It was a step. That’s all it was.

“When you put yourself in a position we had, we have a ways to go. We’re moving in a good direction. We can’t be stagnant. We can’t go one step forward and two steps back. We’re very much in the chip-away phase.”

There has been no update on the availability of Sheriff Drammeh, who was suspended for the last game because of what was termed a violation of team rules. Eddie Stansberry, a skilled deep shooter, replaced Drammeh in the lineup. It was Stansberry’s best defensive outing.

“It’s just this group of guys,” said Stansberry, who transferred from City College of San Francisco this summer. “On the defensive end, they’re pushing and encouraging me to do better every single day.”

Point guard Drew Buggs said Stansberry is becoming more “comfortable in our principles and learning our defensive schemes.

“He’s known as an offensive player, but he also can defend, too,” Buggs said. “He’s an under-rated defender. It’s just something that’s new.

“Defending at the Division I level is different than defending at JUCO or high school. There’s different refereeing, there’s different schemes. Players are better offensively, as well. It’s something each of us has to improve on.”

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