This Wednesday, the NCAA is expected to provide a possible time line for the college basketball season.
“The one thing we’ve all been told is … the 16th, we’ll get more direction from the NCAA in terms of the potential start date,” Hawaii head coach Eran Ganot said.
The Rainbow Warriors were scheduled to open the season against Washington State on Nov. 11, the first night of the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic. But the Pac-12, of which WSU is a member, announced a month ago that it would postpone all sports competition through the end of the 2020. Since then, there has been a softening of the stance, offering hope the Pac-12’s basketball delay will be revisited if the COVID-19 situation improves. As of now, the UH schedule lists San Diego, a member of the West Coast Conference, as the opening opponent on Nov. 15.
“Everybody in the country is, right now, ready to pivot in whatever direction we’re told,” Ganot said. “In the meantime, everybody is kind of preparing contingency plans.”
But Ganot said there is widespread confidence there will be a season. “The messaging has stayed the same, in terms of what we’ve heard, that (NCAA leaders are) doing everything they can to protect the NCAA Tournament,” Ganot said. “And so there’s more and more momentum there will be a season however impacted it will be. We’ll get at least some more direction (on Wednesday).”
In previous years, the start of the basketball season was preceded by 30 practices in a 42-day period. The ‘Bows currently are in the six-week workout phase leading to the start of fall training.
The ‘Bows are following the state’s safety guidelines during on-court workouts. Every player uses his own ball. Players and coaches wear masks during drills. Coaches also wear gloves. There is no access to the locker room.
“We try to get away from the frustrating part of not being able to do more and be more appreciative of what we’re allowed to do,” Ganot said.
Despite the restrictions, the ‘Bows have displayed skill and versatility during on-court workouts, Ganot indicated. The ‘Bows have seven newcomers, not including combo guard Junior Madut, who redshirted last season. Guard Noel Coleman and forwards James Jean-Marie and Casdon Jardine are Division I transfers who are eligible to play this season. Guard JoVon McClanahan and post Manel Ayol were productive scorers and defenders in junior college.
“Even though we have a lot of new guys, the experience is there,” Ganot said.
Last year, the ‘Bows had three 7-foot centers. But Dawson Carper and Owen Hulland left the program during the offseason. Mate Colina returns for his third UH season. Bernardo da Silva, a 6-foot-9 post with a 7-2 wing span, gained 20 pounds during the offseason. Ayal and Jardine can slide into the post.
“You’re seeing way more 6-5, 6-6 multiple-position guys,” Ganot said. “It’s moved more in the direction of spreading people out and multiple play makers. There’s still a place for playing inside. It’s nice when you can play both ways. It’s hard to guard. And you have the ability to have multiple guys defend multiple positions, as well.”
Eddie Stansberry, last season’s top outside shooter, completed his eligibility. While Stansberry was “an elite shooter,” Ganot said, “we might (now) have a larger amount of shooters on the floor.”
Ganot said Samuta Avea, Justin Webster, Jardine, McClanahan, Coleman and Jean-Marie are proven deep shooters. Ganot said Madut also can be a sharpshooter.
“You can see the jump Junior’s made,” Ganot said. “Junior’s been kind of the under-the-radar guy. We’re really excited about him. He’s a multiple-position guy, and he has good size (6-5), and he gives us something different that what we’ve had recently.”