Archive for October, 2010

'Bows Q&As: Joston Thomas

October 31st, 2010
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Hey guys, here's the second Rainbow Warrior Q&A from the preseason. Reminder: just six days left until the Chaminade exhibition. And have a happy Halloween, everyone.

Today's player is sophomore forward Joston Thomas.

Q: What was your journey like coming to Hawaii as a junior college player?

A: I was kind of prepared for it. The College of Southern Idaho got me a lot better, though. It was a very humbling experience going to a junior college. Coming here with Coach Gib (Arnold), me and Coach Gib known each other for a long time. He’s been recruiting me since February, so I felt very comfortable coming in with him. I felt like this is a good program for me, because everybody is rebuilding. We got the freshmen coming in, they’re buliding theirself up. Get their name up in this program, along with everybody else. Coach Gib, a first-year coach, is building his name up. And we’re trying to turn UH basketball around from last year. I feel like this is a good opportunity for me and my teammates, along with the rest of the coaching staff.

On improving his game:

It’s all about behing humble and wanting to get better. If you look at every situation like you’re better than that situation, then you’ll never get better. You’ll stay at the same rate. That’s one thing that me and Coach Gib got together and talked about. I shot 46 percent from the 3-point line at the College of Southern Idaho. And I thought that was pretty good, almost 50 percent from the 3. Almost every other 3 is going in. First thing he (Gib) said, he want to better that. And he’s making me more versatile. I’m very versatile in a sense of playing both the 3 and the 4. He wants me to be solid at both positions. It;s very hard to do, but he’s giving me the opportunity to do that. And the only thing I can do is work hard. It’s just a work-hard experience for me.

What are your thoughts of being at UH so far?

I just like the program, period. I come here every day. Seven o’clock in the morning, working hard, in the afternoon, working hard. With all my teammates, cheering each other on. That’s what we taking it from.

How good do you think this team can be?

We’re very good in every position. We got three good point guards. Hiram (Thompson), he's experienced, Anthony (Salter), he was one of the top point guards in junior college. Bobby (Miles), he was nominated to be a McDonalds All-American.  Zane (Johnson) went to the Sweet 16 (at Arizona) while I was still in high school. So he’s very experienced. You got Bo (Barnes), he’s shooting from 30 feet, consistently. Me, Bill (Amis), everything inside the 3-point line, Bill can shoot those with his eyes closed. Vander (Joaquim), very versatile, many moves in the post. Doug (Kurtz), 7-1, strong, rebounding machine. Setting screens. You go to the bench, you got Jordan (Coleman), extremely athletic. We really talented. We just gotta bring everything together. We bring everything together, we going to be a force.

On playing on a talented Montrose Christian (Md.) team that included Kevin Durant and Greivis Vasquez:

It was very intense. Very intense. You had no choice, but to go hard or get embarrassed. (laughs) So I mean, that was it. You were going to get embarassed that day, or you were going to go hard that day. You’d better come with a go-hard attitude.

I was a sophomore and he (Durant) was a senior.

On Durant:

He’s gotten tremendously better since he got in the NBA. He was very good in high school though. He was the No. 2 player in the country in high school. The thing with Kevin, he’ll tell you, basketball’s his life. When you come in there, he wants you to go hard and get better as well, as well as pushing you to get better. Greivis Vasquez is the same way. First mess-up, Greivis is down your throat. Kevin was kinda like, he was real humble, didn’t say that much. He just like showed them with his actions. But being around that type of talent, it just shows you how to carry yourself at a professional level and when it’s time to go on the court, it’s time to go on the court and play basketball. Nothing else matters, just basketball. And that’s what we did.

On adapting to Hawaii:

It’s different. It’s very different. The people is a lot friendlier. I like that. I love it out here. I love the fan base ... I love them. I’m just trying to please. I’m working hard to please the fans.

On Arnold's coaching style:

The way Coach Gib coaches, it fits my game to a tee. There’s a lot of things I can do out there. I can come off screens for the shot, I can come off screens to the basket. I can post up. I can knock down the open jump shot. And that’s the way he plays, the way he wants us to play. That’s what he coaches. Along with everybody else. Everybody else can do the same thing. So I think, he is the coach for me.

'Bows Q&As: Zane Johnson

October 30th, 2010
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Here's the first of seven Rainbow Warrior Q&A sessions conducted during the preseason as we count down toward the Nov. 6 exhibition vs. Chaminade next Saturday:

Junior shooting guard Zane Johnson is up first.

Q: How did you prepare yourself in the offseason/coming back from a knee injury?

A: Definitely put in the work in the offseason, as far as getting my leg stronger from surgery and lifting and working on the things that I really needed to work on, as far as basketball and one-dribble pull-ups.

I worked out with the guys over here, (manager) Nick (Milan) and (strength coach) Chris (McMillian). But I just focused on the things that I felt I really needed to work on to improve my game this year, which as off the dribble and quickness laterally.

On his role at Arizona:

Yeah, it was just situational, I just pretty much stayed in the corner and shot 3s. My role is just as a role player, not anything special. Just go out there and do my job, just make 3s. That was my role, to make 3s and play defense.

(I want to be) more of an all-around player, be able to score off the dribble. Just doing whatever I can do to help us win, and not just being labeled as a shooter.

When were you last a well-rounded player?

In high school I did everything, post up, brought the ball up the court. But that’s high school, a totally different level than college. It’s a lot slower; when I was in high school, I did everything, pretty much.

On last year and rehabbing during the season:

It was really difficult. Luckily I had a lot of people to talk to who had surgery, and had seen people through sitting out. But it was definitely tough just sitting there ... the thing about it was knowing that I couldn’t go out there and play. I wanted to, but I was in my cast. The whole year. It was the longest year ever. I’m so glad it’s over with. It honestly was. With not only sitting out, but all the stuff that went on last year. Just that whole situation last year, was just a long year.

How is the knee now?

(The left knee) is 100 percent. It’s never felt better, actually. My left patellar tendon. Honestly, it feels stronger than my right leg, now.

Any previous injuries?

Not like that, nothing that I had to sit out long periods of time. Just a sprained ankle. This was definitely, probably the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced in basketball.

On the coaching change:

It couldn’t have worked out better for me. It really couldn’t have. When he (Gib Arnold) recruited me in high school, I really wanted to go to USC and play for him. It just didn’t work out for a couple reasons, but I really wanted to. He was the main reason why I even considered USC. It was just a dream come true, honestly, because playing for him, this is great. A great situation.

What is it about Coach Arnold that works for you?

I think both (his style and his sets). Coach's style is great because he wants to score. Get up and down the court, which is good for me, ‘cause I like to get up and down and just shoot. ... The sets we have worked on, it’s definitely shooter-friendly and playing in the 80s really helps my game.

You want to be all-around, but your bread and butter is still the 3?

Of course. Ever since I was in eighth grade and I started working out hard with my buddies. I shoot every day. I shoot 3s every day. That is my bread and butter, like you said. Every day no matter what I’m always in gym, shooting. I figure if I can make 3s, that helps my whole game. If I can knock down 3s, that opens everything up for the 2, ‘cause they’ll have to play me for it. That’s definitely what I work on the most.

Who's worked with you on your shot over the years?

There’s plenty of people who’ve helped me (on form). I mean, just since I’ve been here, little things. Coach Chris helps me out a lot. I just watch basketball, and any guy who can shoot, I try to take things from there, their game and see how they do it. Just as far as getting my shot off quicker. That’s the main thing I look at. Like Reggie Miller, he comes off screens and he’s already set to shoot. When he has the ball, he’s already shot it.

What are you looking forward to most this season?

I’m just looking forward to games. I can’t wait. It’s been so long since I’ve played. I really just want to play. I look forward to practices, when it’s not limited competition.

I’m counting down the days. I’ve played so much pick-up ... I almost forget what it was like to play in a real game.

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Enjoy the UH football game, everybody. Look for another Q & A tomorrow.

Klummin' it on Friday

October 29th, 2010
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The Rainbow Warriors took to the homely confines of Klum Gym for practice today, a first this season.

Gib Arnold put the guys through myriad inbounding plays and had the team practice their press breaker.

Sometimes the defending five would trap point guards Hiram Thompson and Bobby Miles on the inbounds pass, putting the onus on other 'Bows to bring the ball upcourt.

Freshman forward Trevor Wiseman embraced the task. Wiseman, at 6-foot-7, was essentially a point forward at Golden Valley High in California, and he looked at home running the fast break.

"It felt great. I really don't get to do it here at practice, that was like one of the first times," Wiseman said. "It felt great to do that. This year I'm just looking to help the team out best as I can."

But when the ball's in his hands ...

"Yeah, I definitely feel confident," he said.

———

Tomorrow marks a week until the team's exhibition vs. Chaminade. I'll start counting down each day with a Q & A session with a UH player conducted this preseason.

Quick turnaround // A Janevia Taylor update

October 28th, 2010
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After a grueling intra-squad scrimmage with referees Wednesday evening, the Rainbow Warriors were back at it this morning. It was a less strenuous day than usual, however, as coach Gib Arnold focused primarily on non-contact and transition drills following a lengthy film breakdown of the scrimmage.

Arnold used the quick turnaround as a lesson for his guys.

"After this morning I said, 'Are you tired? Are you sore? Are you hurting?' They all said, 'yeah,' and I said, 'Perfect. We wouldn't be doing our job if you weren't tired, sore, or hurting.' And we talked about how there's times when it's gonna flow, and times when it's gonna grind. And this part of the season is the grinding season.

"And there's going to be another during the season, when you're playing back-to-back games, or you're on the road and you just got off a plane trip and you're tired, sore and hurting, and you gotta come to work and still gotta grind."

The workload has increased for senior point guard Hiram Thompson, who's just one of two active point guards (along with freshman Bobby Miles) now that Anthony Salter is sidelined about two weeks with a tear in his left heel.

"It's pretty tough after a hard day like yesterday then waking up early, but once you get loose and everything, it's not as bad as you think in the moment. It gets better," Thompson said.

On Salter's injury, he said: "It's definitely a bummer that Salt's out. It's nice to have another point guard out there to run the rotations, but me and Bobby need to take advantage, get more reps, and work even harder to learn and get better."

The Rainbows practiced in Gym 1 for the first time this season. It's usually used by  the UH volleyball teams, but some renovation work was being done on Gym 2 yesterday.

"A lot of us didn't have full legs. Luckily we were in Gym 1 with the 9-foot goals, so we were actually able to dunk a few," senior forward Bill Amis said. "I know if we were in Gym 2, it would have been all layups. ... Zane (Johnson) was dunking."

———

A couple readers inquired about former UH women's basketball player Janevia Taylor in Wednesday's blog entry. I realized it had been a while since I had heard anything as well, so I asked former Wahine assistant coach Serenda Valdez, who visits Nevi just about every time she's in California.

She said Janevia, who has been in a coma for about three and a half years (since an auto accident in summer 2007), is in a care facility called  All Saints in North Hollywood. In Serenda's last visit in July, Janevia appeared to understand some of what was being said to her; Serenda said Janevia was tearing up a bit when the subject was on Wahine basketball.

Sadly, as far as progress on emerging from the coma, there hasn't been anything big that I'm aware of at this time.

———

In regard to comments — the very first time you comment on this blog, I have to manually OK your post. But once I do that, I think you can post freely from that point on.

Sorry for the inconvenience on that, I try to check it regularly.

Good news, bad news day for UH hoops

October 27th, 2010
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The UH men's basketball team got a big verbal commitment today in Serra High (Calif.) power forward Ronnie Stevens, but got some bad news as well in the MRI results of junior point guard Anthony Salter.

Hawaii coach Gib Arnold said Salter, who felt his left heel pop on Monday, would wear a cast (boot) on his foot for two weeks.

That would take him out of action right up to the season opener against Montana State in the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic on Nov. 12.

The timing is bad for Salter, who was competing for a starting job and minutes in the Rainbows' backcourt. UH's other two point guards, senior Hiram Thompson and freshman Bobby Miles, will see all of the minutes at the point in practices.

———

I pulled what I wrote on the Star-Advertiser's breaking news section on Stevens:

Ronnie Stevens, a highly regarded power forward at Serra High School in Gardena, Calif., confirmed tonight he's given his oral commitment to play basketball at the University of Hawaii for the 2011-12 season.

The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Stevens averaged 12.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 4.9 blocks per game as a junior in helping Serra to the CIF Division III state championship.

Stevens was one of two players to visit Hawaii during the weekend of the UH Ohana Hoopfest. He was sick the night that UH coach Gib Arnold and the UH players performed separate haka dances, but Stevens didn't take that as a bad omen.

He said Arnold has kept in touch with him throughout high school.

His final decision came down to UH and Cal State Northridge, which he visited last weekend. He said distance wasn't a factor.

"They (my family) were really excited, my mom was tearing up a little bit," Stevens said. "They were happy."

Stevens doesn't plan on signing a national letter of intent until the spring (late) period.

"I got this little promise, me and my friends have had for a while," Stevens said. "All of them got recruited by other schools and stuff. We want to all commit at the same time. It'll be nice to have us all up there signing."

He wasn't a featured offensive player in Serra's title run — he got many of his points on putbacks — but certainly will be this year as the team lost 10 seniors from last season.

Stevens is also an avid volleyball player. Serra coach Dwan Hurt estimated his vertical leap at 35 inches. The right-handed player often goes to the basket strong with his left hand, and can block shots with either.

"He's very versatile, and I think he'll be a tremendous asset to the University of Hawaii," Hurt said. "I'm going to tell you, the University of Hawaii's going to be very, very happy with Ronnie Stevens. He's just a great kid, and he's so mild-mannered. He has a lot of fight in him, that's why I said his better days are ahead of him. And he has a lot of talent that's untapped right now."

Stevens is the second oral commitment gathered this fall by UH. The first was point guard Gerry Blakes of Morningside (Calif.) High.

The Rainbows currently have one scholarship remaining for the 2011-12 season.

———

The team scrimmaged today with referees for the second time, and implemented some of the zone offense they've worked on this week.

Miles hit the sudden-death game-winning shot, a fadeaway from the left baseline, in the third overtime to win it for the Black squad, 62-60.

Freshman guard Bo Barnes was instrumental in the Black comeback win with four 3-pointers in an abbreviated second half; a few Rainbows were cramping up in the humid Stan Sheriff Center, so Arnold cut the session short.

"There was progress. I think our execution was a little bit better," Arnold said. "Our man-to-man defense was a little bit better. ... Our zone offense looked good, but it was probably because our zone defense looked so bad. But we'll go half-full on that and say our zone offense looked good."

Tuesday practice: Salter out

October 26th, 2010
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It's been a tough few days for the Hawaii men's basketball team, which has made do with an assortment of players coming and going in the practice lineup due to ailments.

Junior point guard Anthony Salter was the latest casualty. He said he heard a popping sound in his left foot near the end of Monday's practice, and sat out all of today's morning session. He was given a boot to wear and said he was told by the training staff it was plantar fasciitis.

Salter, one of three point guards competing for playing time along with senior Hiram Thompson and freshman Bobby Miles, said he's getting an MRI on his foot later today.

That's all for now. Will try to update his status in Wednesday's edition of the Star-Advertiser.

'Bows get a boost on Monday

October 25th, 2010
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Welcome back to Court Sense, hope you had a good weekend.

A day off Sunday for the Rainbow Warriors was a chance for the team to recover from some bumps and bruises.

Sophomore forward Joston Thomas was back in action from a tweaked heel suffered on Friday.

"I don't think anybody likes being hurt, so I was happy to get back out there," Thomas said. "I could bring a lot more energy. Try to, anyway."

Senior point guard Hiram Thompson was also back after missing almost half of the team's scrimmage on Saturday from taking a rough charge.

Freshman forward Trevor Wiseman was back in action from a neck strain.

Sophomore forward Dominick Brumfield is still working his way back from a fractured kneecap injury that's kept him out from contact drills all preseason.

Some of the main points of emphasis today: zone offense and a new series of plays. About 30 UH booster club members observed the afternoon practice. The UH players and coaches greeted them after their practice.

Thomas wasn't bothered by the extra eyeballs.

"When I'm on the court, I'm locked in. So every time I start going, it's empty seats," he said. "The only time I ever really hear a crowd is when I'm at the free throw line. ... You really don't pay attention to the crowd when I'm out there. But I'm glad they came."

————

Serra High (Calif.) power forward Ronnie Stevens said today he enjoyed his visit to Cal State Northridge over the weekend, and was considering one more visit before making up his mind between UH, CSUN and a few other schools around Nov. 1.

He visited UH the weekend of the Ohana Hoopfest, but was sick for much of the trip.

———

On senior forward Bill Amis' birthday, it's a good time to give a shout out to the Amis-directed cult classic Neighborhood Ninja, starring former Rainbow Ji Xiang.

Warning: some profanity at 1:45 into it. Definitely worth your time though.

Saturday scrimmages

October 23rd, 2010
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Today's intra-squad scrimmage in the Stan Sheriff Center was a major opportunity for players to distinguish themselves and show the progress they've made to the coaching staff.

In two 20-minute halves, the Rainbow Warriors were scrutinized by referees for the first time this preseason. The Black squad benefited from a halftime trade for senior forward Bill Amis, who put in 28 points, including the game-winning tip-in at the buzzer for a 74-73 win over the White squad.

Look for more details on the exciting scrimmage in tomorrow's edition of the Star-Advertiser.

>> Freshman forward Trevor Wiseman was back in action after hurting his neck and missing practice the day before.

>> Sophomore forward Joston Thomas remained out from a rolled ankle suffered in yesterday's practice.

———

The UH women's hoops team also held a scrimmage with referees today.

Turnovers (35 in 40 minutes) were a concern for coach Dana Takahara-Dias against a group of male UH students known as "Da Braddahs." Ball control against fullcourt pressure — actually, make that ball control, period — was a problem, but the Wahine closed the second of two 20-minute sessions strong with a 9-4 run.

"We're excited to get in for a regulation game," Takahara-Dias said. "Obviously we have many things to work out, but I like our effort. I like the pride that we show. But there's so many things we have to work on, so we have to get going."

The first Wahine group was point guard Keisha Kanekoa, shooting guard Shawna Kuehu and a three-forward lineup of Breanna Arbuckle, Allie Patterson and Julita Bungaite.

Newcomer forward Carlotta Mingo impressed  Takahara-Dias in the second group with her hustle and rebounding.

Senior shooting guard Megan Tinnin, a likely starter, was on leave this weekend for a family-related trip, while junior center Katie Wilson continues to rehab a shoulder injury that will keep her out for significant time.

UH hoops Friday: Brumfield in (some), Thomas, Wiseman out

October 22nd, 2010
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Hey all,

The Rainbow Warriors plan to hold their first full intra-squad scrimmage overseen by referees tomorrow, but the feasibility of such a game took a hit at practice on Friday.

Freshman forward Trevor Wiseman was held out of practice after hurting his neck during a weightlifting session.

He expressed doubt that he'd be able to play in the scrimmage.

Sophomore forward Joston Thomas tweaked his right ankle early during halfcourt drills and hobbled off the court. He watched with his taped foot up on a table, and didn't return to action. He's also doubtful for tomorrow.

The Rainbow Warriors were down to 11 available players for contact drills with sophomore forward Dominick Brumfield still recovering from a knee injury, but Brumfield participated in non-contact activity, including new inbounding plays.

"It was real good to be out there," said Brumfield, who hurt his knee playing pick-up ball at UCLA before arriving in Hawaii. "I feel that right now I'm on pace to come back in a couple of weeks. I don't want to rush anything, but it's feeling good right now. It's just a matter of me staying in shape and continuing my strength and conditioning."

———

Speaking of conditioning, strength coach Chris McMillian was kind enough to provide team statistics from the team's latest round of testing on Sept. 20.

Freshman point guard Bobby Miles posted the best standing and one-step vertical leaps of 34.5 and 37 inches, respectively. Freshman guard Jordan Coleman was second with 33.5 and 35.

Junior shooting guard Zane Johnson and Coleman tied for the fastest three-quarter court sprint at 3.39 seconds.

Thomas proved himself the strongest player by bench pressing 185 pounds 25 times, followed by senior center Douglas Kurtz with 19.

Brumfield, because of his knee injury, was the only 'Bow not to participate in the strength and speed drills.

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Have a good weekend!

UH basketball Thursday

October 21st, 2010
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What's up everybody,

It was back to a morning session for the Rainbow Warriors today in the Stan Sheriff Center. (The general plan for practices this fall semester: afternoon practices on Monday-Wednesday-Friday and morning practices on Tuesday-Thursday.)

Turnovers, not surprisingly, go along with what the team does at this early stage as the players try to learn new sets in the halfcourt and, as a byproduct, aren't always in the right spots at the right times.

Today, those giveaways were the primary source of Gib Arnold's ire. He repeatedly asked volunteer manager/coach Nick Milan (who keeps individual player stats every day) what the team turnover count was during the session. The response would, without fail, cause Arnold to shake his head.

His message, translated for public consumption: take care of the rock.

If a turnover epidemic lingers with a team, it can undermine an entire season (for reference, recall last year's 10-20 UH squad under Bob Nash, which averaged 14.3 of them per game).

"Our defense is farther along than our offense, so it doesn't always run smoothly," Arnold said after practice. "We just gotta keep getting better, we just gotta keep taking small steps forward. ... You gotta value the ball. It's something that I can see right now looks like one of our weaknesses. Our turnover-to-assist ratio. That has a lot to do with the time of the year, the timing of your offense. And usually the defense knows the play. Even with that said, there's two or three things that you just can't do. Occasionally, we've been repeating them and repeating them to where it becomes a problem. So, that's something as a staff we're going to key on and limit those as much as possible, especially in this early season.

"Hopefully we can be a very fundamentally sound offensive team."

On the bright side: point guards Hiram Thompson and Anthony Salter posted three-to-one assist-to-turnover ratios today.

"We have to take care of the ball, and the offense is new to everyone," Salter said. "We getting a little better with it, there's going to be times where we have turnovers, but (Arnold)'s just trying to limit the turnovers. We going to turn it over to ourselves in practice, being that we know the set and things like that. When it come to game time, there shouldn't be as many turnovers. We just gotta execute the plays."

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Harvard-Westlake School (Calif.) forward Damiene Cain, a highly touted UH recruit who had his official visit postponed last weekend, is now slated to visit in early November. He's set to take a visit to Colorado between then and now.

Ronnie Stevens, a power forward out of Serra High in Gardena, Calif., is set to take a visit to Cal State Northridge this weekend. He visited UH last weekend but couldn't enjoy much of the trip as he was ill during the UH Ohana Hoopfest.

———

Before I forget, I wanted to include an item on a local 'Bow from the last three seasons, Beau Albrechtson.

Beau, a former walk-on under Nash, met with Arnold before fall workouts and told the new coach he decided to focus on his schoolwork at UH. The Kaimuki grad made it a point to thank the fans and boosters for their support over the last few seasons.

Albrechtson is a busy guy. He's also trying to become a firefighter and has a band, Local Uprising, that performs gigs every couple of weeks. Best of luck to him.