Wednesday, November 25, 2015         


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Smith has adjusted, going from the Valley to Vulcans

By Cindy Luis


» Justin Smith
» Hawaii-Hilo
» Senior forward

The adjustment from "The Valley" to "The Volcano" hasn't been a difficult one for Justin Smith.

The senior forward from Reseda, Calif., has found a home on the Big Island and on the court with Hawaii-Hilo.

"I think it was easier since I was older when I came," said the 22-year-old, whose junior college was about 20 miles from his San Fernando Valley home. "Maybe the hardest adjustment was the food, not being able to have a home-cooked meal from my mom. I miss her macaroni and cheese.

"Rice is served with everything here. I just don't get it."

But what Smith has gotten since transferring in last year from College of the Canyons is bigger and stronger. The next step is to become strong on the boards, according to Vulcans coach Jeff Law; heading into last night's game against Texas A&M International, Smith was averaging 7.2 rebounds, up from his 7.0 as a junior.

"Justin has a lot of skills," Law said. "He comes to work hard every day. He could be a little stronger on the boards, maybe not 10-12 rebounds, but he's athletic enough that he could pick up his rebounding without much trouble.

"He's a very likeable guy. People in Hilo like him and his warm smile. I'm very proud of how he has grown up, not just his basketball but his academics and how he is as a person. He has learned how to be accountable, not just for himself but for our other players."

That role included a rare stint from the bench last Friday against Hawaii Pacific. Smith fouled out with 24 seconds left in regulation and UHH ahead 66-65; the Vulcans went on to win in overtime 79-78.

"That was very hard to be on the bench," said Smith, who has fouled out three times in his Vulcans career. "But we came through, stayed composed. And Dirk (Snel) hit some big 3s at the end. He had been in a slump lately. I told him to keep shooting and he buried them."

The communications major hopes to take his game to the next level. But first things first.

"I want to take this team to the conference title and see how far we can go after that," he said.


Weekly honor to 'Swords' Hanson

Chaminade senior forward Shane Hanson was named the PacWest player of the week in men's basketball after helping the Silverswords to the championship of last week's Hawaii Challenge.

Hanson averaged 21.5 points and 10.5 rebounds in the wins over Hawaii Pacific and Brigham Young-Hawaii, shooting 63.6 percent from the floor (14-for-22). He also hit 12 of his 20 3-point attempts.



Steven Bennett, CU: Senior guard averaged 13.5 points and 7.0 assists in the Silverswords' 2-0 week, including 6-for-6 at the free-throw line.

Tsung-Hsein "Jet" Chang, BYUH: Junior guard averaged 15 points for the Seasiders, who went 1-1 in the Hawaii Challenge, finishing second.

Mamadou Diarra, CU: Junior center helped the Silverswords to the Hawaii Challenge title, averaging 13 points and 11 rebounds.

Jason Jackson, HPU: Junior forward averaged 15.3 points and 8.7 rebounds as the Sea Warriors went 0-3 last week.

Justin Smith, UHH: Senior forward helped the Vulcans to third place in the Hawaii Challenge, averaging 15.3 points and 7.0 rebounds.

Marques Whippy, BYUH: Senior guard averaged 15 points and 10 rebounds with six steals for the Seasiders last week.
Zach Wilde, UHH: Junior forward averaged 11.5 points and 7.5 rebounds for the Vulcans last week.



PacWest Magazine, The TV Show, 8 p.m., OC 16

Hoop 'N Surf Women's Classic: Charleston (W. Va.) vs. Hawaii Pacific, 3 p.m.; Fayetteville State vs. Brigham Young-Hawaii, 5 p.m.; Kilauea Recreation Center.

Men: Texas A&M International vs. Hawaii Pacific, 7:30 p.m., Blaisdell Arena; Western Oregon at Hawaii-Hilo, 7:30 p.m., Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.

Hoop 'N Surf Women's Classic: Charlesdon (W. Va.) vs. Brigham Young-Hawaii, 12:30 p.m.; Fayetteville State vs. Hawaii Pacific, 2:30 p.m.; Kilauea Recreation Center.

Men: Western Oregon at Brigham Young-Hawaii, 7:30 p.m., Cannon Activities Center; Texas A&M International at Chaminade, 7:30 p.m., McCabe Gym; North Central College at Hawaii-Hilo, 7:30 p.m., Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium.

Women: Chaminade at Alaska Anchorage, 7 p.m.

Women: Chaminade at Alaska Anchorage, 3 p.m.



Hawaii 72, Hawaii Pacific 50
Hawaii Challenge
BYU-Hawaii 82, Hawaii-Hilo 69
Chaminade 74, Hawaii Pacific 56
Third place
Hawaii-Hilo 79, Hawaii Pacific 78 OT
Chaminade 87, BYU-Hawaii 76
Hawaii Pacific 62, Hawaii-Hilo 51
Beijing Normal (China) 74, BYU-Hawaii 63 (exhibition)

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