Midnight Madness Offers First Glimpse at Vulcan Hoops
There are a lot of new faces suiting up for the University of Hawai’i at Hilo in both men’s and women’s basketball this year.
A total of 19 newcomers, 10 on the men’s side and nine on the women’s side, will be representing UH-Hilo this year. Vulcan fans will have their first chance to familiarize themselves with each squad, especially the new faces, during Thursday night’s Midnight Madness event, which will start after the PacWest volleyball matchup between UH-Hilo and Notre Dame de Namur.
Fan interaction will be a part of the basketball kickoff event. There will be a shooting challenge, which will feature a player from each of the teams, as well as a fan. Giveaways will also take place throughout the night.
There will also be a three-point contest, and time permitting, a short up-and-down scrimmage with each of the two teams.
For David Kaneshiro, entering his sixth year at the helm of the women’s basketball program, it will feel like he is introducing a brand new team. All of his starters from last year graduated, and only four returning players are on this year’s squad, including junior point guard Alexa Jacobs, who appeared in 24 games last season. He’s happy with the progress that he has seen so far.
“We’ve done five weeks of conditioning. They are hard working and extremely coachable, so they have been very enjoyable to work with,” said Kaneshiro. “I know we’ve gotten better over the last month because of it.”
Highlighting the new faces on Kaneshiro’s squad is Pilialoha Kailiawa, a transfer from Umpqua Community College. Kailiawa graduated from Ka’u High School.
Newcomers joining Kailiawa in the frontcourt will be juniors Sydney Mercer and Asia Smith, along with freshman Patience Taylor.
Kaneshiro will have a crowded backcourt, with junior newcomers Lauren Hong, Vanessa Mancera, Renatta Olson, and Kimberly Schmelz. Ashley Duyao will join the team for her senior season after redshirting in 2014-2015.
Along with Jacobs, Kaneshiro’s returning players include guards Alia Alvarez and Keani Shirai, and post player Feli Kolb.
On the men’s side, third-year head coach GE Coleman will have at least a portion of his nucleus back for this season. Starting point guard Vandyon Lockett and forward Darius Johnson-Wilson return and will look to pick up some of the scoring lost by Tre Johnson’s decision to turn pro.
Hilo High School graduate Randan Berinobis returns as well, along with rarely-used Roel Marsigian and Maikai Gahan. Coleman, however, will have a wealth of guards to fill out his roster, including seniors Chris Holmes and Jordan Russell. Juniors Parker Farris and Ryan Reyes, along with freshmen Anthony Canecia, Philipp Beck, Patrick Ball, and Tolby Saito, a graduate from Pahoa High School, provide extra depth.
Up front, senior forwards Salim Gloyd, who was born in the Ivory Coast, and Nate Walker will add some size and power to a relatively small lineup.
And no, in case you are wondering, you won’t have to wait until midnight to see the festivities happen. The name only refers to the long tradition of season kickoff events around the country that would get underway at 12 a.m.
The first regular season home game will be played by the Vulcan women against the University of Alaska Anchorage. It will be played at the Afook-Chinen Civic Auditorium on Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. The men open their home schedule with a conference game against Brigham Young University-Hawai’i on Dec. 5 at the UH-Hilo Gymnasium. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.