By Brian McInnis
Before the Hawaii men's basketball team's closed scrimmage against BYU-Hawaii on Thursday, they held a 30-minute intrasquad scrimmage on Wednesday night in the Stan Sheriff.
Wanted to get details of the scrimmage (with refs) up sooner, but was experiencing some technical difficulties on the blog — since resolved.
It was a pretty exciting battle. The "first" team that day (those that got to wear the black jersey) were coached by Benjy Taylor against Brandyn Akana and the green team. Head coach Gib Arnold was moderator and called his own timeouts where necessary, when he saw something that needed addressing.
The Black team was Jace Tavita at point guard, Brandon Jawato at shooting guard, Hauns Brereton at small forward, Ozren Pavlovic at power forward and Isaac Fotu as a forward/center. This five played the whole way.
"That was something else, but I loved it," Brereton said. "We were figuring out how to fight through fatigue, and that's what we did."
The Green team was basically a four-guard lineup — Garrett Jefferson, Brandon Spearman, Keith Shamburger and Michael Harper — plus Caleb Dressler at center. Manroop Clair and Dyrbe Enos subbed in as reserves.
Fotu excelled for the Black team with 24 points, while Jawato added 17, Brereton 11 and Pavlovic 10. Tavita focused on assists and finished with a lone 3-pointer.
Spearman led the Green team with 23 points and Jefferson 20. Harper started off slow but finished with 14. Shamburger focused on distributing, while Clair had four points and Dressler a lone free throw.
"Everybody played hard, from the Black team to the Green team," Spearman said.
Vander Joaquim (MCL) and Christian Standhardinger (staph infection) sat out. Davis Rozitis had a class and had to leave before the scrimmage. Aaron Valdes sat out because his waiver expired and he's back in NCAA limbo.
It turned out to be very balanced. With the Black team up 62-59 in the final seconds, Spearman ended up having three chances at 3-pointers to tie it up. He missed on the first two but nailed a top-arc line-drive at the buzzer after Fotu was called for traveling on a rebound.
"The third time I knew it was going in," Spearman said. "You can't give me too many chances."
Arnold called for a one-minute overtime period, but no one scored. The referees were about to head out with the game called a dead heat, but the players protested and the coaches relented. Arnold ruled a sudden-death, first-to-score scenario was in order.
Green got the ball on the tip, but Fotu redeemed himself with a big block on a driving Jefferson, snared the rebound and fired an outlet pass to Tavita. Tavita dished to Brereton on the right wing, and he coolly buried a trey for the game-winner.
"(Spearman) hit a great shot, so we had to answer back," Brereton said. "I ran the floor and Jace found me. He knows where to find me and he gave me the perfect setup."
The team departs today (Friday) for its retreat to Molokai. I'm sure they'll be full of entertaining stories upon their return.