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Basketball starts with New Year's bang!

by Chuck Cordill, Sports editor


HPU men’s basketball brought a 10-1 record into the New Year, after downing nationally ranked Alaska-Fairbanks twice, with an average 11-point per game margin of victory.

Although the team has yet to play its all important conference schedule, new Head Coach Russel Dung is happy with what he’s seen thus far. “So far I’m seeing a lot more team play, which was something we wanted to accomplish this pre-season,” said Dung. “The guys are getting used to depending on each other. They’re comfortable giving up the ball, passing more, knowing that other people are capable of scoring too. Conference play is our next step.”

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HPU’s first real test is Jan.10 at Laie for the conference opener against long time rival Brigham Young-Hawai‘i. The Seasiders, picked as pre-season favorites in the Pac-West Coaches Poll, also enjoyed the yuletide season, racing to a 6-1 start. BYU-H should give head coach Dung a good initial reading on his Sea Warriors.

“Conference play is what counts. That’s when you have to raise your game to a higher level,” said Dung. “We haven’t played on the road yet, but if we continue to play the way we have been, I don’t see any reason why we can’t be successful. I told the guys, it doesn’t matter what gym you play in, what shoes you’re wearing, all of that; they just need to focus on the things it takes to win the ballgame. Execute, play our game the way we’re capable of, play to our strengths. If we can do that for 40 minutes without a lot of lapses, it should carry us through.”

While the Sea Warrior head coach is satisfied with the team’s performance to date, he wants to see increased emphasis in some fundamental areas.

“I want the guys to pay closer attention to mental focus, to look at what they need to do for each game,” said Dung. “Physically, I think we’re in shape. I just want them to be prepared for their assignments in each game.

“Last season, all four Hawai‘i teams were in the mix until the last week,” said Dung. “I don’t expect it to be any different this year. We have a lot of talent out there and anything can happen. We just have to focus on one game at a time.”

Dung credits his seniors for helping the squad gel as a tam. He praises co-team captains Nate Block and Nic Walters for their assistance in motivation and espirit de Corps. “The tone that they and the seniors have established for this team has been the difference.”



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