Saturday, October 28, 2017

Hawaii basketball champions

Eran Ganot talks all the time about the history of the Hawaii basketball program, and honoring it. A lot of times doing so is an intangible act, a frame of mind.

Not this time. This time it feels very tangible.

The Rainbow Warriors recently completed a Ganot project — spearheaded by assistant coach John Montgomery and SID Neal Iwamoto — to honor all 13 of UH’s past NCAA or NIT teams by giving each a unique plaque.

They went up on Wednesday in the Stan Sheriff Center tunnel leading to the Bows’ locker room (where other improvements were added in the summer). The wall has been painted green with a background photo design of UH’s second-round NCAA Tournament team of 2015-16, with the plaques laid over it halfway up the wall, spaced equidistant from each other and placed chronologically.

It’s undeniably cool.

“It’s really important to know what you represent, and the people who came before you,” Ganot said this week. “It’s turned to now feeling it, whether it’s bringing back teams, alums are coming by, players, teams, coaches. To be able to visually see that — we’ve done some work in our locker room, now in our halls leaving the locker room.”

Fabulous Five. Tom Henderson. Dynamic Duo. English and Savo. Believabows. They’re all there, with archived photos of each team and notes of season and player highlights.

“It’s a huge thing for our guys. There’s a lot of levels it touches,” Ganot said. “It starts with your current student-athletes to understand what they’re part of. They will be appreciated when they depart from here. For alums who come by here and there, it’s such a great place to show them and obviously it’s honoring them. We gotta continue to do that. And then for recruits, to see that we value the history of this program. To build it, it can’t just be talk. You gotta do some special things and (adding the plaques) was a next step in our initiative there.”

The plaques, combined with the locker room improvements, cost between $15K to $20K. That’s money well spent. Frankly, UH has lagged behind its peers in the area of visually paying respects to its past.

“It’s really cool to see all the past (teams),” said point guard Brocke Stepteau, a member of the 2015-16 team. “It’s one of the things this coaching staff’s really big on, is knowing the history and celebrating the history of the program. It’s good to see that (plaque) of the team I was on a couple years ago that made it to the tournament. To see that celebrated is good; it’s good to build the culture and keep moving that forward.”

Because the average fan visiting the Sheriff won’t have access to the lower tunnel, here’s shots of all 13 team plaques (five NCAA, eight NIT).



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