On the move

August 2nd, 2014
By

Hey all, I wanted to give the Hawaii hoops fans a heads up on a new level of coverage from the Honolulu Star-Advertiser for all UH sports.

We're going to launch the new Hawaii Warrior World on Sunday.

I hope everybody likes the new web page. I think it has a lot of potential. You'll be seeing a lot of UH football coverage for starters, being that fall practice is just starting up. There will also be UH volleyball and UH soccer posts. Video footage (for football to start) is part of the new package.

Think of Hawaii Prep World, but based entirely around UH sports.

I'll be adding my regular blog posts (which should be much easier to find) as well as other content on a regular basis.

The new web page is here.

Now, if anybody goes to this blog from a bookmarked URL, it has changed. My blog can be accessed at http://hawaiiwarriorworld.com/court-sense/, or just go to the main Warrior World page and follow the link.

Hope everybody enjoys. Thanks to the tireless Adam Sparks for putting the site together.

—————

As for the College Summer league on Saturday night, it was pretty much a dud.

Dyrbe Enos was in for Solar Universe in the first game of the night, and Solar went on to win easily over Wealth Strategy Partners. It was Solar's third straight win with Derrick Low in the lineup.

In the nightcap, Chosen Few (without Bill Amis) steamrolled National Fire Protection. Natl Fire was without Michael Thomas, who was resting his back after a hard fall in his last outing. Thomas said he'd be good to go by next week.

The playoffs begin for the lowest-seeded four teams on Thursday at Maryknoll, and last-place National Fire will definitely be playing in that group.

Enos' silent productivity

August 1st, 2014
By

You get your fair share of trash talking and complaining about calls in the College Summer League — and that's just from the coaches. Players generally have more leeway with the referees than you'd see in a Division I game, and guys tend to take full advantage of it, pleading their case on every call (or no-call).

Dyrbe Enos

Dyrbe Enos

Then again, some guys just go out and play. Hawaii third-year sophomore Dyrbe Enos falls into that category.

It's true that being a point guard means you need to be a vocal player out on the court, helping direct traffic and getting teammates to the spots where they can maximize their effectiveness. That's one aspect of the job that doesn't come naturally to Enos, but one he's worked on improving.

What does come natural: pure shot-making. That's been on full display this summer, especially one game in which he dropped six 3-pointers in a half.

On Thursday, Enos scored 10 of his 12 points in the second period as Solar Universe pulled away for a 95-81 win over reeling Grantco Pacific, which dropped its fifth straight after a 3-1 start.

Veteran baller Derrick Low led the way with 26 points, helping Solar get back to 4-4 with two straight wins. He was absent from some of Solar's previous contests.

"What really helped was Derrick," Enos said. "I mean, that was one of our biggest keys to the game. I guess with him running the point and stuff, we become more confident and we can do more. And the results are showing, we're getting W's now."

Enos is listed at 5-9, which means the Kamehameha alumnus won't be in the mix at shooting guard come UH's preseason practices.

But the battle at point guard will be wide open with the departure of Keith Shamburger. Last year's backup Quincy Smith and combo guards Isaac Fleming and Roderick Bobbitt will be vying for playing time in the backcourt. There's also newcomer Brocke Stepteau (who scored five points for Grantco on Thursday) and last year's redshirt, Niko Filipovich.

And, of course, there's the humble Enos. He served as the third-string point guard as a redshirt freshman in 2013-14, and shot well on 3s (10-for-27, 37 percent) in a limited setting.

He was asked how the position might project now, and where he saw himself among that mix.

"Just be thankful for the guards they got coming in, I guess," he said. "And then, just playing my type of ball. And hopefully it'll play out throughout the season. So, yeah."

Once again, Enos doesn't go out and talk. He just goes to work. Quietly, he just might carve out a larger role for himself with the Rainbow Warriors in the coming season.

—————

The first game of the night went to Wealth Strategy Partners, 103-93, over Chosen Few behind a combined 56 points from William Broadus and Waly Coulibaly. Wealth Strategy (5-4) has displayed some great ball movement lately and moved into third place with one game to play in the summer regular season.

Bill Amis scored 30 points in the loss for Chosen (6-2), which still has the inside track to the top playoff seed. UH incoming freshman Zach Buscher watched this one from the sidelines.

The highlight (lowlight?) of the game: a couple players got ejected for fighting in the second half.

—————

Look for the Hawaii women's basketball team 2014-15 schedule to be released on Friday. A couple of teasers: the Rainbow Wahine will open on the road again, and there's some big-name opponents coming to the Stan Sheriff Center again.

Fans of Laura Beeman and the Wahine should be quite pleased.

 

Burgeoning respect

July 30th, 2014
By

Tuesday's docket in the College Summer League offered hoops watchers a chance for the two most productive Hawaii players in the competition, Isaac Fleming and Michael Thomas, to go head to head.

Fleming and the more veteran Clark Hatch Fitness team got the better of this contest, and it wasn't close, 136-93 over National Fire Protection.

Isaac Fleming

Isaac Fleming

Fleming's 31-point total wasn't his personal best in the league, but between that and some consistently good passing for easy buckets, it was probably his best all-around effort.

"It was me just telling myself, play my game," said Fleming, a 6-3 combo guard and incoming freshman. "I came out here for a reason ... I came out here to play my game. So I just let all the thinking go and just let myself play my game and wasn't thinking about anything."

He and summer vets Kaunaoa McGee and Leon Ballard combined for 94 points alone.

The sophomore Thomas, meanwhile, was on his way to another solid game before a hard fall and some back pain forced him out in the second half. He finished with 16 — his highlights included some silky midrange shots and an emphatic dunk off a standing jump.

Thomas said he'd be OK afterward. On the court, he looked bothered by contact to his sensitive skin where we was burned a couple of times, and he had his hand wrapped at one point, but brushed that off as any influence on his play.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas

"I'm all right. It's just a little sore," he said.

Both UH players gave the other high marks after the game, though they didn't directly cross paths during play very often. One such play came on Thomas' attempted block of a Fleming layup early on; Thomas was whistled for a foul.

"He was impressive. He was shooting real well, attacking and being aggressive," Thomas said, adding with a laugh, "I'd like to see him go right a little more. Nah, he played well. Really well."

Fleming has been impressed by the 6-8 Thomas' progress since seeing him last year on a visit to UH and playing with him in an open gym setting.

"From last year to this year, he's a hell of a player and he deserves a lot of (looks) this year," Fleming said. "I have so much respect for his game now. You seen him between last summer and now, he's developed a whole lot. I love his game."

As for other UH players in action on Tuesday, freshman point guard Brocke Stepteau had a brief appearance in Grantco Pacific's destruction at the hands of Wealth Strategy Partners, 118-91. He scored six points. That has to be frustrating for him, as Grantco lost its fourth straight. Volume scorers Christian Standhardinger and Geremy Robinson were totally unable to combat Wealth's better ball movement. Amazingly, it was a 30-point game by halftime.

—————

In case you missed it, I reported on Tuesday a twofold scheduling update to go with a story on the NCAA's ongoing lack of resolution to its investigation of UH.

First, UH's season opener on Nov. 14 in the Outrigger Resorts Rainbow Classic has been swapped from Cal State Bakersfield to Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The 'Bows will play Bakersfield — now of the reconstructed WAC — on the second day, which was the previous slot for the UAPB game. The High Point midnight game is unaffected.

And the most likely replacement for the Florida Gulf Coast game that never was finalized is Southeastern Louisiana of the Southland Conference. UH has penciled in a "TBA" slot on Jan. 2 on its schedule, so you can expect the game to appear at that date, one day earlier than the supposed FGCU game.

Thomas keeps it rolling

July 27th, 2014
By

The emergence of Michael Thomas is fast becoming the best Hawaii-related storyline at this year's College Summer League.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas

He's getting it done on both ends, even in a loss for his National Fire Protection team on Saturday night.

"What?" you say. Michael Thomas, two-way force? After last season's relative no-show, that might give even the most diehard of supporters pause.

But Thomas kept his impressive showings going, scoring a game-high 34 points in National Fire's 108-99 defeat to Solar Universe. In three games, he's averaged 33 points, roughly double-figure rebounds and several blocks per game. He very nearly carried the "Hydrants" to 3-0 with him, after National Fire's 0-5 start without him.

"Frustrated we lost," Thomas said. "I mean, I don't want to lose any games. We showed heart, but we turned it over a lot. Just kinda disappointed we lost."

Thomas is in an ideal situation. He's on a National Fire Protection team in need of a go-to scorer. He's in a league without much in the way of size. And he's got something to prove.

Thomas realizes all of the above.

"It's playing to your strengths," he said. "Taking small guys down there (to the block) or guys that aren't as skilled down there. Going to work on offense and on defense blocking every shot you can, or affect every shot."

That last part is something that wasn't necessarily seen last season. But he's been swatting shots regularly in this setting, or at the very least contesting with his long wingspan on his 6-8 frame.
Weak-side shot blocking might be one of his niches for the Rainbow Warriors in the coming season, as he's probably the lightest big man on the UH roster, but should compete for decent minutes.

"Yeah I mean, it's pursuit of the ball," he said. "I feel like I can't really give any (easy) buckets."
Against Solar, he was often tangled up with a shorter but very physical defender in ex-HPU swingman Kawika Smith.

He did a pretty good job playing through the chippiness. He went 12-for-16 at the foul line. But a great bounce pass on a fast break to Chris Summers (27 points) summed up his overall impact.

"I think (I adjust) by making sure it stays a team game," Thomas said. "You get caught up in a mental battle with a person instead of a team, (you gotta) making sure your teammates are still involved in that challenge."

The normally mild-mannered Thomas even yelled out once or twice after physical plays and pounded the basketball hard.

It made for a pretty interesting matchup, though veteran Derrick Low had his best game of the summer season, 33 points, to carry Solar to the win. Third-year UH sophomore Dyrbe Enos added 15 points.

—————

In the nightcap, Chosen Few outlasted Clark Hatch Fitness in another physical battle, 78-75, to improve to 6-1. Bill Amis and Co. held on after Isaac Fleming's team had a couple chances to tie it up in the final seconds.

Fleming wasn't able to replicate his 33-point outing from Tuesday, finishing with 11. The UH newcomer drove the ball right at Amis a couple times and was turned away.

—————

Roderick Bobbitt

Roderick Bobbitt

The one Rainbow Warrior who's on the island but hasn't played in the summer league, Roderick Bobbitt, was on hand to watch both Saturday games with UH teammate Brocke Stepteau, whose team had a bye.

Bobbitt is still recovering from the broken left (non-shooting) arm he suffered in the spring for Indian Hills CC in the junior college playoffs, and is not yet cleared for contact basketball.

The break was pretty severe, and in an unusual spot for a broken arm. He's got a long surgery scar running the distance of his bicep.

"I have an X-ray Oct. 1, so I'll go see how it's healed," Bobbitt said. "I can't go full contact for another month or so. I've just been in the weight room, strengthening it up. ... before I left Indian Hills, my trainer gave me some stretches and things to do to start getting it moving correctly and everything. I had it in a sling for so long that it wouldn't drop and bend all the way. Now I'm just strengthening it up with the weight coach and getting it in with the trainers here."

In the meantime, he's been attending summer classes and taking in the island lifestyle. Saturday was the second night he'd watched the summer league.

"It's been different," he said. "I'm adjusting. But for the most part, I like it. It's been cool. It's been cool, I've started classes, so I'm trying to get the feel for everything so far.

"Only thing different is the team's not here. The guys are still at home. When they get here, that'll bring everybody together and we can start to move forward. I feel like I'm good with everything."

Bobbitt was an all-around contributor at Indian Hills (15.9 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists) and is expected to have a similar role as a 6-3 combo guard for the 'Bows.

Bobbitt offered up a shot in the arm, so to speak, for anyone doubting he'll be ready for the start of the 2014-15 season.

"I'm fine. I know I'm going to be ready for the season," he said. "I have no doubt in my mind. Just gotta get my arm back stronger."

Cold War

July 25th, 2014
By

The most interesting aspect of Thursday's games at the College Summer League, besides another strong effort from Michael Thomas, was a matchup of two of the best big men in the league — former Hawaii players Bill Amis and Christian Standhardinger.

It turned into the kind of physical, defensive battle that's more common in an actual Division I game than what you'd expect in summer league.

Standhardinger finished with 24 points to Amis' 18, but Amis' Chosen Few squad got the win, 83-77, over Grantco Pacific and remained in the league lead at 5-1.

Standhardinger has averaged over 40 points this summer, and was coming off a 49-point outing. He found the going much tougher inside this time.

Bill Amis Photo credit: UH

Bill Amis
Photo credit: UH

It might have been Amis' greatest accomplishment since this.

"I played against Christian (when he was) in college," said Amis. "We were never teammates but we would go against each other. Work out almost every day. We were definitely familiar with each other's games, I think that helped me out a little bit. I knew Christian was going to be aggressive every play so I knew I needed to be ready tonight. I really just wanted to focus on defense. Shots didn't really fall for me or him tonight, so it was kind of an ugly game for both of us."

Amis punctuated the victory with a second half alley-oop flush from point guard John Lane.

Standhardinger, ever the competitor, had to offer his rebuttal afterward.

Christian Standhardinger

Christian Standhardinger

"Bill did a great job of playing against me 1-on-1 in his off time, and knowing on my moves and just adjusting in the game," Standhardinger said, loudly enough for the nearby Amis to pick up. "But I'm adjusting again. See, that's how you get better, 'cause, I play and then he's adjusting, and then I adjust and he's adjusting and I adjust. And then you've got the Cold War and it's perfect and everybody has great weapons."

If that's not classic Standhardinger, I don't know what is.

Amis chuckled when told about Standhardinger's streak of scoring binges.

"I mean, he's been playing really well in summer league so I just tried to do my part to shut him down once," Amis said. "We're a good team (Chosen Few). It wasn't just me guarding Christian. We all kind of did our own part. I had a lot of help coming.  I love playing with these guys. I'm happy I got picked up with Coach (Dave) Patterson because we play a really good team game. A lot of the teams are a lot more 1-on-1 basketball."

Amis is coming off a down-and-up pro season in which he began with a team in Germany, was cut, then finished up the 2013-14 year for a club in Cyprus which made its league playoffs, Keravnos. That season was Amis' re-introduction to pro ball; the prior summer he had a full-time real estate job in Hawaii.

"(Last season), I mean, it was frustrating at times," he said. "I'd needed to get my confidence back after the beginning of the year, getting cut from Germany. They kind of had me playing at the 3 position, and I lost my confidence doing that. I'm not a 3-point shooter, I'm more of a post man so they had me shooting a lot of 3-pointers and it wasn't really my role. But once I got my confidence, I finished the year really strong (in Cyprus)."

He said he just signed a contract with Steaua Bucharest in Romania for the coming season.

"I'm really excited, they signed a couple other good big players, so it'll be a good chance to learn from veteran big men on the team. I'm looking forward to that," Amis said.

Standhardinger said he is still working with his agent to find a team in either Italy, Germany or Spain for his first action as a professional.

—————

Amis is coming off his inaugural Bill Amis and Miah Ostrowski Basketball Skills Camp. There was a showing of 40 kids this year, and Amis said he's game for another camp (or two) next summer.

"The camp went great," he said. "There were a lot of familiar faces for me because I worked the Nike camp and the UH camp ... we had a lot of fun. I think the kids got a lot better and it was a good learning experience.  I was worried it might not run smoothly but everything went really smooth. My parents were in town helping out, so that helped out as well.

"Miah did a great job with the kids. He did a lot of the agility drills and everything. We had Christian come out for a day, Jace (Tavita) was out for a day. Nick Milan (former UH team manager) was there for a day. We had a lot of familiar faces helping out."

—————

Back to summer league. Now, it's hard to give Thomas too much credit in his latest outing, as he went against a severely undersized team in Wealth Strategy Partners. He was able to score easily inside most of the way for a 28-point night, and helped his National Fire Protection team to its second straight win, 105-103, after the "Hydrants" (my new nickname for NFP) dropped their first five games without him.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas

But it was some of the other things Thomas did — ranging out to challenge shooters, running the floor well, and generally displaying aggression on the court — that bodes well for his sophomore campaign.

Combined with his 32-point debut in the 2014 edition of the summer league, it's been some promising improvement out of Thomas (especially given he's not totally healed from the burns he suffered, and has to play wrapped on his hand and leg).

If he can keep it going through the summer league playoffs, it could be a nice springboard for him into preseason battles for playing time in the UH frontcourt.

—————

Brocke Stepteau

Brocke Stepteau

Brocke Stepteau got the start for Grantco for the first time on Thursday, though he actually played less than his previous 19-point outing off the bench last time out.

Stepteau scored just eight this time. However, a couple of his baskets came on some pretty flashy finishes against much larger defenders.

"I've been small my whole life," said Stepteau, who will probably measure around 5-9 on the official UH roster for the coming season. "I've been playing against older dudes and bigger dudes, so I've learned how to take the angles and finish over the bigs. I still gotta go in there and try to make plays, so I learned how to finish through contact and all that."

Grantco (3-4) has lost three straight, which has been frustrating for the point guard from Dallas Jesuit High, since that unfortunately coincided with his arrival for the summer league.

"It's all about, when I'm on the court, trying to make plays and help my team win," he said. "I just don't think we're playing team basketball right now; I think that's why we lost the last three games. Someone gets it in isolation, and it's not really working for us. The guy has to move it. But I played all right. Didn't hit my jump shots today, though."

He didn't mention anyone specific, but Standhardinger gets the bulk of the touches for Grantco. The team's other primary scorer, ex-UH guard Geremy Robinson, hasn't been present of late.

"We can definitely turn it around. We have some good players on our team," Stepteau said. "We just gotta get together, play together as a team and I think we can turn it around easily."

—————

And lastly, Sammis Reyes hasn't given up on Hawaii yet. On Friday, he messaged "Yessir! Working on it still," when asked about acquiring an NCAA waiver to get to UH.

It's a positive that the big man with a penchant for dunking is still in play. But leaving it in the NCAA's hands right now has to make for some nervous moments at the Manoa Lower Campus.

Breakout night

July 23rd, 2014
By

Well, that's more like it.

Hawaii basketball's representatives in the College Summer League finally had an honest-to-goodness explosive night as a collective group on Tuesday.

First, Michael Thomas reintroduced himself to local hoops fans in a big way. Thomas played like a new man in his debut for National Fire Protection — not the seldom-used freshman people only caught glimpses of last season.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas

Thomas scored 32 points in National Fire's first win of the season, 119-109 over Grantco Pacific. He blocked about five shots, including Christian Standhardinger on two consecutive attacks at the rim, something I don't remember ever happening in practices last season. Standhardinger still got his numbers and then some (49 points), but Thomas was the difference in the ledger on this night.

 

"It felt great to finally get some run," Thomas said. "Just going out and competing. I think that was a big thing with me and Christian last year. Always competing, always going at it. It made me a better player. And so I just wanted to show it to him and show it to the rest of the fans out here."

It all came perhaps as a bit of a surprise, given his aforementioned quiet first campaign at UH and his absence from previous summer league games because of some two-pronged misfortune: getting sick last week, then burning himself while cooking a meal later that same night.

He said his stove malfunctioned while cooking fish in a skillet. He burned both his hands and dropped the skillet, which gave him some third-degree burns on his calf. His roommate took him to the ER.

"Quite a week," Thomas said.

He seems close to fully recovered, as long as he keeps his leg bandaged. At one point during play, he wrapped his hand/wrist area as well.

Sprinkled in to his game Tuesday night were a couple of fast-break dunks and 3-pointers. He showed off a nice fadeaway shot, as well. The 6-foot-8 Thomas is still on the gangly side, but he appears to have put some muscle on his frame.

"I want to come into the season ready to go," he said. "Getting my body completely right, getting it healthy, stronger, faster. I think, being more athletic. Being an athlete. A lot of times (last season) I shied back and just stayed on the ground, which I shouldn't have, being an athlete. I think getting my shot right, playing defense, guarding, getting low, everything."

Last season, the El Camino Real High graduate was in for an average of 5.6 minutes in 20 games, never scoring more than four in a single game. That clearly didn't sit well to him.

He went through a workout regimen back in Los Angeles with a high school friend for a good month and a half once the spring semester ended.

"We lifted twice a day and got in the gym for at least four hours a day," Thomas said. "It was good. Absolutely (I saw results)."

On his first night of summer league action in 2014, so did everyone else in the Manoa Park gym.

—————

As a pleasant second act, freshman Isaac Fleming worked his way into a good game for Clark Hatch Fitness after a sluggish start against Solar Universe. His jumper was off early, and he had two separate 0-for-2 trips to the foul line that had him shaking his head.

Isaac Fleming

Isaac Fleming

But Fleming stuck with it, showing some of the same determination that had him playing two days after his scary stinger injury last Thursday. He finished with 33 points, and hit the go-ahead free throw with four seconds left as Clark Hatch prevailed 68-66. Each point was needed as Clark Hatch (the "Buffs," as I'm nicknaming them as of now) were missing Leon Ballard, and their other regulars were having off nights.

 

Fleming himself had a subpar game last time out on Saturday, as he struggled to seven points.

"Started off a little slow," Fleming said, possibly referring to his overall summer performances and Tuesday's game at the same time. "I knew coming in, my coaching staff at UH know that I can shoot, I can shoot off the dribble, do a lot of things. It was just, I had to come out and prove it to everybody because I kind of know for the first couple weeks people probably thought I could (only) drive it. They didn't know if I could shoot or anything. So, game by game my whole game is starting to come out and starting to show that I can pretty much do it all."

He pretty much threw his team on his back down the stretch. The 6-foot-3 combo guard crashed for rebounds and started fast breaks himself.

"I learned from my AAU coach ... whenever I'm in the game, you can shoot, so don't stop," he said. "Don't let one miss stop you from finding your rhythm. And once you find it, keep going at it."

Fleming clutched his right shoulder a couple of times after contact, some slightly concerning moments serving as echoes from his brick wall pick mishap last Thursday. But he brushed those moments off.

"I was feeling good," Fleming said. "It was just like when I got hit too hard it started tingling again. It's just one of those annoying pains. But it's not going to stop me. I'm a hard worker."

Fleming said he could have gotten an MRI on Monday if he felt he needed one, but he told the UH trainers he was feeling fine.

In a reserve role, freshman point guard Brocke Stepteau had a productive night — 19 points for Grantco Pacific. He was the second-leading scorer on his team, to (who else?) Standhardinger, who may have broken the summer league's record for fouls drawn in a game, if it kept official records. The 49 by the ex-'Bow of recent vintage stands as a high for any player in the summer league's 2014 edition.

Third-year sophomore Dyrbe Enos scored seven points in a losing effort for severely undermanned Solar Universe.

—————

Warren Oishi, who served as a team manager for the 'Bows last season, hasn't given up on becoming a full-fledged player. You might remember that in this space around this time last year, I wrote about how he came up a little short of his goal of walking on. But Oishi has played well in spots for National Fire in the summer league, showing off some deadly range from well beyond the arc. He scored five points on Tuesday, but made some nice all-around plays as well.

After the game, he said he will be trying out for Gib Arnold again. There's a fair number of walk-ons already, but with a year of familiarity with the coaching staff, he might have a shot.

—————

UH appears to be trying to pick up an additional big man. Verbalcommits.com reported that UH has offered Quadree Smith, a 6-foot-8 forward out of Potomac (Md.) High. Smith, listed between 280 and 250 pounds on various sites, has some serious bulk down low.

Keep your eye on this one. It might be one of UH's only chances to add some size this late on the calendar. If Sammis Reyes doesn't make it into school, the already shaky frontcourt situation becomes all the more dire and the need for a late pickup becomes essential.

 

Old PGs go to work

July 20th, 2014
By

Manoa calm before Saturday night's storm

Calm at Manoa Valley District Park before Saturday night's storm

 

Amid some commotion about whether Hawaii freshman guard Isaac Fleming would be able to play in the College Summer League on Saturday, two former Rainbow Warriors floor generals stepped to the forefront for one evening.

Fleming shook off the hit on a pick he took on Thursday, contributing seven points and three assists for Clark Hatch Fitness. But across the court, ex-'Bow Miah Ostrowski was putting on a show.

The pass-first guard put up 21 points, hearkening back to his old Punahou days, to keep Wealth Strategy Partners in the game before Clark Hatch eventually won 102-89.

Miah Ostrowski Photo credit: UH

Miah Ostrowski
Photo credit: UH

Ostrowski, who took the reins of UH's offense in midseason coming over from football season in both 2010-11 and 2011-12, said in a recent interview he's been itching to get back onto the court.

"I'm just trying to find my rhythm," Ostrowski said. "It's been a while. But just gotta get back into it. It's been great fun being able to play competitive ball again with the guys we played with back in the days.

"But we just want to come out here and get a win. That's the main thing. Other than that, just trying to have fun and try to get these people to come out for a basketball show."

Later, Ostrowski's successor as UH point guard, Jace Tavita, scored a game-high 24 points in Chosen Few's 82-67 victory over Solar Universe.

While Chosen Few has had a defensive backstop in another ex-'Bow, Bill Amis (except this Saturday), Ostrowski and defending league champion Wealth Strategy have had to make do without last year's playoffs MVP Julian Sensley, who had his knee scoped a few weeks ago. To top it off, W.S. was missing it's other main scorers, the Broadus brothers, in its most recent game.

"We're definitely doing good (without Julian)," Ostrowski said. "I feel like we have a great team and guys play together really well. We pass the ball around and I feel that's going to get us pretty far, playing as a team. So we'll see."

Ostrowski is transitioning to a new phase of his life — working man.

"Right now I'm trying to get into selling medical equipment," he said. "There's definitely a lot to learn and it's definitely been taking up a lot of my time. But just trying to get back out here and play, have a good time, try to find my rhythm and get some wins, you know.

"It may be just summer league but we take it very serious and definitely want to win. It hurts, you definitely feel it at the end when you lose. Definitely not a great feeling. We just gotta come out and play better next time. Like I said, defending champs, I wasn't here last year but I want to be a part of a championship team this year. Just trying to stay hungry."

In Tavita's case, he's trying to stay fit and fresh for an upcoming professional stint in the Philippines. He intends to follow a path similar to former 'Bow Jared Dillinger, who is a dual citizen and has played pro there since finishing up his college career at UH in 2008.

Tavita redshirted at UH for a year and a half, then had the starting point guard job for most of the 2012-13 season.

Jace Tavita Photo credit: UH

Jace Tavita
Photo credit: UH

"It's fun. It's fun to be back here," Tavita said. "Fun to see some of the new guys. There's not too many of them, but it's fun to see some of them like Dyrbe (Enos). Dyrbe's improved. It's good seeing Christian (Standhardinger) again. Seeing all types of people I used to see before. So it's nice."

In the summer setting, Tavita is much more aggressive looking for his shot than the average UH fan probably remembers from his college days. There, he seldom pulled the trigger, even if he was wide open.

Currently, Chosen Few has the lead at 4-1 at the league's midpoint.

"I didn't get to play with Bill in college, so to play with him now is nice," Tavita said. "You can do a lot of different things. Defensively he's huge. It's fun."

Once of Tavita's biggest assets is his 6-foot-4 size at his position. That could be a major asset for him in the Philippines, where at 6-5 you can play power forward in the Philippine Basketball Association.

"Right now, I'm waiting for some paperwork to be finalized to go to the Philippines," Tavita said. "I'm working on a dual citizenship. My mom is Filipino. There's some teams interested out there. It's just kind of a waiting process. But that's pretty much it. Just staying in shape, getting ready for that."

He said he hadn't talked to Dillinger, who is again a member of the Philippine national team.

"A lot of people have been telling me (about him), to kind of pick his brain. I'll probably reach out to him pretty soon."

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Fleming showed some toughness with his willingness to play so soon after his stinger-type injury on Thursday. But he wasn't operating at full capacity, as he struggled with his shot and rarely looked comfortable Saturday.

"I felt like I could fight through the pain and just play. I wasn't really worried about my shoulder too much. ... It affected me, but it ain't nothing serious. I'll be right back in the gym on Monday with workouts, doing everything."

Isaac Fleming

Isaac Fleming

He acknowledged he had to adjust on the court with some lingering soreness on his right (non-shooting) side.

"I think it was a good thing it was on my other side. It still affected me, because as I was playing I was trying to avoid getting hit. It was messing me up with some layups and jump shots I normally can make."

He said he'd be re-evaluated on Monday, and if he still feels pain he'll go in for an MRI.

"I'll feel good, so I won't need an MRI," he said.

Still, he had a few nice dump-off passes for buckets. Chemistry between Fleming and CHF mainstays like Kaunaoa McGee, Leon Ballard and Scott Kato has improved after his rocky first game with them.

"I like my team. I feel like we can win this whole thing," Fleming said. "If we come together and play as a team, we'll be fine. I don't think there's a team in here who can beat us. ... (Strong teammates down low) is a good advantage. I mean, we got guards and we got big men. A lot of teams don't have both, and we'll just use that to our advantage."

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As for the other 'Bows on Saturday, Enos scored nine first-half points for Solar Universe on three 3-pointers, but was held scoreless after that. Zach Buscher has seen his playing time dry up for Chosen Few. He was inserted only in the final moments of Chosen's blowout win.

Can't catch a break

July 18th, 2014
By

Isaac Fleming's first game in the College Summer League was a frustrating experience. His second was a painful one.

The incoming Hawaii freshman got some meaningful playing time for Clark Hatch Fitness on Thursday night, in contrast to some sparse minutes in his debut. He even got to go head to head against UH teammate Brocke Stepteau, who was showing his stuff in the league for the first time.

Isaac Fleming

Isaac Fleming

But that came to a crashing halt with about two minutes remaining in the game, when Fleming ended up on the wrong end of a truck-like screen by ex-UH hooper/footballer walk-on Tyler Brown.

He yelled out a few times and was down in pain for several minutes while being attended by league staff. His right (non shooting) arm was placed in a makeshift towel sling. But he was reasonably composed and on his feet in the moments after the game.

"He (Brown) was setting a screen, and I don't know if he did it on purpose but he threw his shoulder (into me)," Fleming said. "I talked to him after the game, he apologized. I respect him for that. He's a good guy. It was just one of those things where, accidents happen. No love lost. I love everybody here, I'm just happy to be here.

"(My shoulder) felt like it moved back. When it hit, it felt like it moved and I lost all feeling. That right there, I just went black and I got so scared, because I just want to be healthy this year."

It was surmised by one person on the scene that Fleming has a stinger, and not a dislocated shoulder, but Fleming was to be examined by the UH trainers on Friday.

Fleming said Friday morning: "I'm feeling better just a little sore I'll be good."

Fleming finished Clark Hatch's 92-86 victory over Grantco Pacific with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists. He shot 5-for-13 from the field and 5-for-6 at the foul line, with one steal and two turnovers. His slashing game was on full display until his setback.

In general, Fleming seems optimistic heading into the season.

"I'm feeling good. I'm getting used to the islands, getting used to the type of environment," he said. "I'm getting my feet back under me. I'm getting there. It's going to take some time, but I see progression every day. So, I'm ready to be at the peak of my game."

Stepteau's line for Grantco was OK for a reserve playing with a brand-new set of teammates. He had six points on 2-for-7 FG, 1-2 FT, with two rebounds, an assist, a steal and two turnovers.

Brocke Stepteau

Brocke Stepteau

"It felt really good to finally get out here and play with my team," Stepteau said. "It was first game, I never played with any of those guys and they never played with me. Coach (Alan Silva) hadn't seen me play. But he said he liked what he saw, and I felt I played pretty good, nowhere near as well as I could play. I missed some shots I normally make. But all in all, it's just a good first game."

He and Fleming guarded each other for several minutes of the game. Fleming has a good few inches on Stepteau, but Stepteau possesses some quickness with the ball.

"It's been good. We've been going at it in open gyms and practices the last couple weeks, giving each other a couple bruises and stuff," Stepteau said. "But he's definitely a really good player, and it's fun going up against him in this setting."

Stepteau reacted with worry when Fleming, his roommate, went down.

"He was screaming, so I thought it was something really bad, a dislocated shoulder or something," he said. "Hopefully it's nothing. He seems to be pretty good now (after the game). But yeah, I was worried. He's my roommate, so you know we've been getting close together. And you don't see anything like that happen, so hopefully he's good."

Will he miss time in the summer league? It seems quite possible, but it's too early to know for sure.

Kaunaoa McGee led Clark Hatch with 28 points, while Leon Ballard added 22. Christian Standhardinger kept up his average, going for 40 points in the loss for Grantco.

—————

Bill Amis approached triple-double status in Chosen Few's 90-85 win over National Fire Protection. He had 25 points, at least 10 boards and about eight blocked shots. Poor National Fire remains winless at 0-5.

Michael Thomas was to make his summer season debut for National Fire on Thursday, but Thomas can't seem to catch a break. He missed the previous game because of an illness, and missed the most recent game because he burned himself and is on the mend from that.

"Yeah healing it now ... I should be back to full play by the end of the weekend so you'll see me in Tuesday night," Thomas said in a message.

—————

It's all added up to disappointment for those looking to see the next wave of UH players at an early stage. With  mishaps for Fleming and Thomas, Sammis Reyes not here as he attempts to work out his admission to UH, Roderick Bobbitt still recovering from a broken arm, and most of the rest of the team spread around the world, that aspect (UH participation) of summer league has been a dud thus far.

Senque very much

July 15th, 2014
By

After weeks of rumors and speculation about his status with Hawaii, former Loyola Marymount and Fresno State assistant Senque Carey became a Rainbow Warriors assistant coach on Tuesday.

Carey did not have direct experience as a coach with any member of the UH staff, but had mutual contacts through his eight years on the coaching circuit. That, and his recruiting reputation, earned him the spot vacated by Scott Fisher earlier this summer.

Senque

Senque Carey

"Looking forward to working with the staff and the administration," Carey said.

In a 10-minute conversation, his confidence in his recruiting abilities was a recurring theme. He spoke about grooming Paul George and Greg Smith at Fresno State into NBA players.

And "Coach Q" spoke about there being no good reason why he couldn't do that at Hawaii, too.

"You have those mentalities that you’re in Hawaii and you only can recruit certain types of players? Times have changed. We’re going out there and competing and try to get the best players in the country," he said.

Carey takes over as recruiting coordinator for the 'Bows, and will oversee the team's point guards. Those duties previously were in the purview of Benjy Taylor and Brandyn Akana, so it will be interesting to see how roles shift somewhat for the coming season.

Here's the statement Gib Arnold gave about the addition of Carey:

"Thrilled to have Senque Carey join our staff. He has a great reputation as a recruiter and his ability to develop point guards. I have known Senque a long time and even recruited him a bit back in the day. I have been impressed by his work as an Assistant Coach. He recruited Paul George and Greg Smith two NBA players to Fresno. He has a great work ethic and major recruiting ties around the country. He will be relentless in his recruiting and his dedication to the University of Hawaii. We are very fortunate to have him join our staff."

Carey is taking a long-winded recruiting road trip immediately, starting in Atlanta. From there he'll head to Dallas and Las Vegas.

It's no surprise that Carey is the hire; it was going to be a matter of when, and not if. Staff-wise, the only real questions left are if the NCAA will levy any kind of sanctions against Akana (for the violation that kicked off its investigation of UH) and if the team will fill its director of operations position by the start of the season.

Look for a full version of the Senque-to-UH story in Wednesday's edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

 

Fleming's first taste

July 13th, 2014
By

From any perspective, Isaac Fleming's first action in the College Summer League left something to be desired.

From Fleming's point of view, more minutes on the court for Clark Hatch Fitness. For the spectators in the old Manoa Valley gym, sharper play out of the new Hawaii guard that some surely came to see specifically.

Fleming

Isaac Fleming

Fleming had a couple of nice drives to the hoop on Saturday night in the rickety, old Manoa Valley gym, displaying an explosiveness off the dribble that could add a new dimension to the Rainbow Warriors' attack in the coming season.

But he also seemed to force the action at times, perhaps aware that he needed to show something in his brief time on the court to remain there.

In about 10 minutes of action off the bench, Fleming scored six points on 2-for-6 field goals and 2-for-2 free throws, with two rebounds, one assist, one block and one turnover.

"It wasn't kind of tough (to get into a rhythm), it was more so me getting comfortable," Fleming said. "I felt I couldn't get comfortable because it was like I was in there a short period of time. I felt like if I could get comfortable it would have been a whole different type of environment."

The 6-foot-3 combo guard from the Massanutten Military Academy (Va.) wasn't in for the game's decisive stretches when Clark Hatch closed out a  98-95 win over National Fire Protection. Chaminade alum Leon Ballard scored 29 points to lead the way.

Taking a secondary role was a new experience for a player used to being a focal point. It probably doesn't help that as the only member of UH's 2014 signing class in action here this summer, he might shoulder elevated expectations.

"It was OK. For me, knowing myself, I know I can do twice as much as I did today," he said. "But I just felt like I didn't get a chance. It was always something. I don't know. I just didn't think I had the chance. So, I don't know, it's something I'll have to talk over with Coach Gib about this league and if problems continue to come up out there. I know I'm a high-caliber player, getting average-player minutes."

He brightened up when it came to discussing some of the open gym sessions between the on-island newcomers and returnees, with some veterans thrown in.

"The open gyms are great," Fleming said. "We get some good run in. Earlier, we had open gym with Christian Standhardinger, Derrick Low, a lot of good guys. I showed them that I could play. It was more so me just not being comfortable tonight with the opportunity I know I should get."

Fleming will likely return for more summer league action. Whether it will be with the same team — Clark Hatch has a pretty tight-knit core — remains to be seen. Teams swap players all the time.

"I feel totally confident. This never dulled my confidence," Fleming said. "It's something players go through. I'm not really tripping about it. I know what I can do and I know what I bring to the team."

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The lone UH returnee in for summer school from the mainland, Michael Thomas, would have been in action on Saturday for National Fire. But he explained he was feeling sick, and would be in action on Thursday.

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In Saturday's nightcap, Solar Universe edged Wealth Strategy Partners, 89-86. Aukai Wong bombed some deep 3s to score 30 points in the victory.

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As I tweeted on Friday, UH's Jan. 3 home game vs. Florida Gulf Coast, initially on the UH schedule release, is now a no go. UH is attempting to fill the hole. This is a disappointing turn of events for anyone hoping to see the residuals of Dunk City from two years ago. FGCU was still competitive last year, winning 22 games and making the NIT. And that's one fewer team that made the postseason last year on UH's schedule ... and the schedule wasn't exactly rife with those to begin with.

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Hearing UH might be close to finalizing Senque Carey as its new assistant, filling in the position Scott Fisher vacated. Carey coached at Loyola Marymount last season, and Fresno State before that. He also has some high school coaching experience.

 

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