By Gary Dickman
November 12, 2019
What an exciting and entertaining beginning to the season for the University of Hawaii Basketball team this weekend! And what other team had to deal with so much adversity so early in a season? This team is already two players down from what they originally had, and two players are injured and have missed the start of the season. And then, two days before their first game, it was announced that Head Coach Eran Ganot was taking a temporary leave of absence. I know that all fans, myself included, send our thoughts to Eran and hope he gets well soon and returns soon. The acting head coach, former San Diego assistant Chris Gurlefson, just arrived in Hawaii two months ago.
Their first game, this past Friday, was against Florida A&M, a team that scored only 12 points in the first half as UH led, 32-12. They had their largest lead of 25 points, 59-34, and won handily, 75-62. Samuta Avea had career highs of 15 points, and 9 rebounds, including three 3-pointers made. You can already see the growth in Avea, both offensively and defensively. I can see Samuta having a monster year this season. A nice surprise was freshman Kameron Ng, former Hawaii state player of the year, who came in early in the first half and hit his first college shot (a 3-pointer of course).
It got a lot harder in their second game, versus South Dakota of the Summit league. Hawaii trailed throughout the game, only having a lead for 33 seconds in the first half. Eddie Stansberry, who struggled on Friday, only took one shot in the first half. Then it happened. Stansberry became the shooter everyone knew he could be. He hit 8 of 12 shots in the second half, scoring all of his 21 points in the stanza, as UH closed the deficit to 2 points but couldn’t complete the comeback, losing 81-75.
But Stansberry was just getting started. On Monday, vs Pacific, I know I became even more impressed with Eddie, as he played all 40 minutes, with a career high 26 points, including 4 3-pointers made. But to me, it was the way he played. He played with confidence, was aggressive, and basically took over the game with a look in his eyes that he wasn’t going to be stopped by anyone, as UH closed the game with a 26-13 run, and won 72-67.
My observations on the 2-1 start: If Stansberry can play like this, night in night out, he will set records for shooting 3’s, and be the best shooting guard in the Big West. Drew Buggs can drive to the basket on anyone that Hawaii plays. He’s quick, smart, and elusive with his dribble drives. Kameron Ng, once he gets more acclimated to D1 ball, will be the best walk-on in the conference. He can shoot with confidence and he can pass with the best of them. He just needs experience. Also, Justin Hemsley has gotten better over these three games. His future is bright.
Lastly, we need more fans to show up at the SSC. This team is good, the games are great, and the players deserve the support. Let’s make it like it used to be – 7,000 to 8,000 a night, every night. Check this team out. You won’t regret it.
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