POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 3, 2012
LAST UPDATED: 1:50 a.m. HST, Nov 3, 2012
An infusion of new blood was just enough to keep the Hawaii men's basketball team kicking against Hawaii Pacific.
In an exhibition to launch the 2012-13 season, the Rainbow Warriors received quite a test from their Division II neighbor. They needed the full 40 minutes to put away the scrappy Sea Warriors in a 75-67 decision before a crowd of about 3,000 at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Christian Standhardinger, a high-energy transfer from Nebraska who redshirted during last year's 16-16 campaign, carried the 'Bows with a triple double of 20 points, 15 rebounds and about 10 full-body dives to the hardwood. Four other 'Bows scored in double figures, including three (Brandon Spearman, Brandon Jawato and Isaac Fotu) playing their first game action for UH.
But shakiness at the free-throw line (23-for-39, 59 percent) and the absence of injured senior center Vander Joaquim made it impossible to call this tune-up a rousing success. The real opener is next Friday vs. Maryland-Eastern Shore in the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic.
"I thought overall these guys did a nice job," third-year UH coach Gib Arnold said. "It's probably nothing to write home about, but it's something to build from. And for that I'm pleased."
HPU, down 14 just a few minutes into the game and again early in the second half, chipped away all night and put a scare into its second D-I opponent in four days. The Sea Warriors lost 64-63 at Santa Clara on Tuesday.
They came within 68-64 on a Marko Cukic tip-in with 1:09 left, but Spearman, freshman Manroop Clair and Standhardinger put it away at the stripe.
Standhardinger, this season's projected starting power forward, was the difference.
"I can just say that every night the fans can expect one thing from me, that I give 100 percent and I have all the hustle plays, and that I compete," the junior from Germany said. "Sometimes the shots fall, sometimes the shots don't fall, but I will always compete and always give you all I got."
UH came in totally new at the point guard position with senior Jace Tavita, a Utah transfer who has sat out games for nearly two seasons. Converted point guards Garrett Jefferson and Clair split the workload behind him. UH finished with three assists and five turnovers from its point guards.
"Some good things and some things we need to work on from all three of them," Arnold said.
Without injured top returnee Joaquim — the senior center is out at least another week with a right MCL tear — senior forward Hauns Brereton was the only active player from last season in the starting lineup. Brereton fouled out with 15 points with 3:11 left, putting the onus on the newcomers to finish off the Sea Warriors.
"I think we took a very important step today. They didn't take the lead the whole game," Brereton said. "We want a build on that, but we took that first step. We want to build leads."
Tavita, Spearman, Standhardinger and Fotu got the other starting nods. Fotu, an afro-sporting true freshman from New Zealand, had a big block on Malte Ziegenhagen with three seconds left to help seal it. He and Standhardinger led the way on the backboards for a 48-25 advantage.
What was less convincing was UH's execution on both ends, but Arnold said he expected that with a young team. The 'Bows fouled three HPU players on 3-point attempts, but the Sea Warriors had to be respected from distance; they buried seven of 15 from long range, compared to two of 12 for UH.
"UH is a pretty good basketball team," HPU coach Darren Vorderbruegge said. "What hurt us was just our consistency. It was a game of runs and momentum, and I thought they sustained better than we did."
There would be no quick start for the Sea Warriors in this one. HPU's top scorer and rebounder against Santa Clara, Ziegenhagen, battled foul trouble early and UH went up in short order, scoring its first seven possessions. He finished with a team-high 19.
But the PacWest Conference visitors kept at it. They closed the half on an 8-0 run, capped off with a Michael Pierce corner 3-pointer to beat the halftime buzzer and make it 36-32 UH.
Last year's season-opening exhibition between these teams was similarly close, won 62-56 by the 'Bows.