The past, present and immediate future of the University of Hawai’i men’s basketball program will collide Thursday night in SimpliFi Arena at the Stan Sheriff Center.
The Warriors will don brand new adidas “retro” jerseys featuring 1970’s-style lettering and Rainbow trim when they play host to UC Santa Barbara, which will be playing at the moment at 16-3 overall and 7-1 atop the Big West Conference standings. . Tipoff is set for 7:07 pm, and fans are encouraged to wear retro type UH attire.
UH (15-5, 6-2) hopes to draw inspiration not just from the sharp-looking white uniforms with green letters and numbers, but also from alumni in the crowd and an impressive 67-63 road victory last Saturday at then-league leader UC Riverside.
“It’s always a great thing to just rep who has been here before you,” said junior point guard JoVon McClanahan. “Obviously they paved the way for us, so it’s only right to show our respect by rockin’ the retros or just playing hard and just showing that we still want to fight for Hawai’i and what it means to be an islander. I think it’s deeper than just being here, it’s obviously fighting for a bigger cause. I feel like that’s what we’re out here representing.”
Warriors head coach Eran Ganot said it is important for his players to learn about and appreciate the program’s rich history, which includes five NCAA Tournament and eight NIT appearances going back some 52 years.
“This is the second time we’ve done the retro uniforms, the first time was during the 100th year anniversary season (2019-2020),” said Ganot, in his eighth year at the helm. “The line has been, ‘To build for the future, you have to honor your past, and to honor your past, you have to know your past.’ We’re just trying to add to the story.”
This particular retro jersey is modeled after the ones worn by the 1973-74 “Green Machine” team that went 18-9 and advanced to the second round of the NIT. The point guard on that team was former Olympian Tom Henderson, who was named a first-team All-American by several outlets and was selected at No. 7 overall in the NBA Draft. The shooting guard was current TV analyst Artie Wilson.
“You look over (and) you see there are plaques leading up to our locker room for a reason,” Ganot said. “There have been such great uniforms and designs that have really tried to reflect this beautiful state and our program and athletic department and things like that, in different ways. So some years you combine parts of (the uniforms), and there’s a lot of ideas we have for the future as well. I think it’s pretty cool, and I think these guys do, too.”
For McClanahan, it’s not just about the look of the retro uniform, but the feeling he will have while wearing it.
“It’s huge because it gives you something else to play for (other) than yourself,” McClanahan said. “I’m here to do good, obviously, but if you think of the bigger picture, I think it gives you even more of an edge to just play harder and know who you’re playing for and all the beautiful fans that we have . I feel like with me… I know a lot of our teammates have felt the energy. It’s just been great to see all the fans, all that type of stuff, it gives me more to play for because I know that they love Hawai’i and they love our team and they just love everything about it. It just gives us an edge.”
HAWAI’I (15-5 overall, 6-2 Big West) vs. UC SANTA BARBARA (16-3, 7-1)
When: Thursday, January 26, 7:00 pm Hawai’i Time
Where: SimpliFi Arena at Stan Sheriff Center, Honolulu, HI
TV: Spectrum Sports (channels 12/1012 in Hawai’i)
Video streaming: ESPN+
Radio/audio streaming: ESPN Honolulu (92.7 FM, 1420 AM, espnhonolulu.com, Sideline Hawaii app)
Promotions: Fans are encouraged to wear retro University of Hawai’i apparel; men’s basketball roster cards and Hawaiian Airlines calendar posters will be distributed for free at Gate A, while supplies last.