It was hard to miss Hugh Hogland in the Stan Sheriff Center on Friday night.
Besides his actual time on the court against Hawaii in his second official college basketball game — and first against a Division I opponent — the Portland Pilots big man and 2017 ‘Iolani graduate could be seen often behind the Diamond Head basket of the Stan Sheriff Center. That’s where giant Hogland head cutouts were waved enthusiastically by friends and family.
Hogland’s final line read: 2 points (0-1 FG, 2-2 FT), 3 rebounds, 1 assist in 15 minutes played in the 82-64 loss to the Rainbow Warriors. They weren’t his first career stats, as he had a basket in Portland’s first game of the season, a win against non-Division I Multnomah before heading out to the islands for the Rainbow Classic.
The Waimanalo native redshirted last year to fill out his 6-foot-9 frame. He made good use of the time, adding about 20 pounds of muscle. He also got to try out with the Japanese national team.
“I mean, it’s pretty special, coming off the redshirt and just waiting a whole year to play and getting some minutes in an actual college D-I basketball game,” Hogland said on his way out of the arena Friday night. “Especially at home, is really special. I mean, you saw all the family here, all the big heads. Right behind the basket, too. That’s always special. I’m glad my parents and all my friends and family could come out. You know, I wish we could’ve gotten the win for them, but hat’s off to Hawaii, they played a hell of a game.”
Portland sophomore guard Marcus Shaver Jr., a Hawaii resident through the eighth grade, led the Pilots with 19 points.
Hogland offered up a “shoots, brah,” to friends leaving the arena.
UH sophomore forward Samuta Avea wasn’t directly matched up with Hogland — whom he faced in the 2017 state semifinals, won 51-48 in overtime by Avea’s Kahuku team — except for a free-throw box-out. It was still a rare sight to see two Hawaii high school products playing rotation minutes on opposing sides in a Division I basketball game.
“We played club together for a long time,” Avea said. “Seeing him in summer league this past summer was the first time seeing him in a long time. So it was really cool to see him out there and see his mom in the crowd, just like mine was. It’s really cool to see.”
Hogland gets another chance to post a win in his home state Saturday, as the Pilots (1-1) face North Texas (2-0) at 4:30 p.m. The Mean Green stomped Division II Humboldt State, 93-48 in the first Rainbow Classic game Friday.
In Hogland’s court time Friday, when he was matched up with the likes of UH’s rugged forward Zigmars Raimo, Pilots coach Terry Porter saw some flashes of the reasons he went after Hogland once a coaching change at UC Santa Barbara re-opened Hogland’s recruitment going into the 2017-18 season. Porter wants Hogland to focus on his low-post offense, rebounding and shot blocking.
“He rebounded well. I thought he got some good low-post position. He had some good opportunities,” Porter said. “I thought he played pretty good, we just need him to be a little bit more aggressive and take advantage of the opportunities he gets.”
The rough-and-tumble banging of actual D-I ball was a little jarring for Hogland, even after spending last season practicing against 7-foot-2 Philipp Hartwich, UP’s all-time leading shot blocker.
“For sure I gotta protect the ball more. Raimo blocked me because I thought no one was there and I had a wide-open layup,” he said. “But just the physicality of a Division I game is different than practice. It’s a lot more concentrated, and a lot more, I don’t know, they were just — strong.” He laughed. “So, just have to dig deep, get in the trenches and get some boards.”
Portland was 10-22 and 4-14 in the West Coast Conference last season. The exceptionally young Pilots — they don’t have a senior — were picked to finish last in the WCC this year.
Hogland sees room for growth.
“All of our returning people, they’re a year older,” he said. “You got some redshirts coming off the bench in me and Taki (Takiula Fahrensohn), hopefully Shawn (Crisshawn Clark) comes back too. We have a good freshman in Theo (center Akwuba). We have the pieces. We just need more time and more practice to get us to jell. Get those Division I reps, because none of us in the front line, except Tahirou (Diabate), has ever played in a game like this. So the more experience we get, I think the better we’ll do.”