Archive for July, 2011

Some updates

July 31st, 2011
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Hey everybody, just got back from a family trip to Canada. Let's get caught up, shall we? Here's a smattering of UH basketball updates leading up to the team's departure for Asia on Friday:

>> No final word yet on the status of the last two signees for next season, Dillon Biggs and Gerry Blakes. UH coach Gib Arnold should know if they can get into UH by about the midpoint of the trip in mid-August. If they become the third or fourth academic casualties of the signing class, they will likely attend prep school for a year. Though their recruitment status would open up again, the feeling is they would remain in UH's court because of Arnold's early interest in them.

>> Because of some injuries, the team's practices leading up to the trip haven't been a full 5-on-5 among the 10 eligible players to travel. Sophomore forward Trevor Wiseman has a severe ankle sprain that Arnold said would likely put him out of all exhibition games on the trip (though he will still go). Also, sophomore center Davis Rozitis didn't practice this weekend because of a mild ankle sprain but is expected to return to action in the coming days.

>> Victor Bermudez, a 6-foot-3 combo guard of Las Vegas via University Park Academy in Texas, has given UH an oral commitment for 2011-12 but hasn't yet been academically cleared to play for the Rainbow Warriors. UH is high on Bermudez — who was primarily getting interest from Big Sky Conference schools — and may award a scholarship if and when Bermudez gets through.

>> Tyler McDaniels, the 6-foot-9 junior forward and son of UH assistant coach Benjy Taylor, is enrolled in the UH system with the goal of joining the team as a walk-on after summer school. Indications are positive there.

>> Junior forward Dominick Brumfield (who, yes, is still on the team) has some academic work to do at home in California before he can return to play at UH next season. He seems to be in a nebulous gray area; don't be surprised if this one goes either way by the time the team returns from Asia.

>> Junior center Vander Joaquim remains with the Angolan national team, which just placed third, behind host Portugal and Romania in the International Tournament of Guimarães. Angola, ranked No. 13 in the world, now travels to China for the Borislav Stankovic Cup. Arnold said there is a possibility Joaquim could link up with his UH teammates at one of the stops on the trip, but it is doubtful he would play in any UH exhibitions.

There is a possibility Joaquim will remain with the Angolan team and not return to UH in the fall — which would be a disaster for the Rainbows — but currently the expectation remains that he will be back.

>> Arnold still can't comment on the investigation into his program about allegations of unfair treatment made by a former player. One got the impression, though, that he wasn't overly concerned about it.

Newest Rainbow Warrior — PF Tyler Brown

July 13th, 2011
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Tyler Brown, a 6-foot-7, 245-pound power forward from Honaker, Va., will walk on with the Hawaii men's basketball team next season. The freshman out of the IMG Academy in Florida could provide the team with a little extra muscle and hustle down low in the wake of the news that freshman-to-be Ronnie Stevens will not be joining the team due to academics.

Brown's started open gym workouts with his new Rainbow Warriors teammates in preparation for their upcoming trip to Asia next month.

"I like to play in the post, I'm probably a 4 or a really short 5," Brown said. "I'm more of a post player, I feel like I've got a pretty good hook shot. ... I can hit the 15-foot jumper when I need to, I prefer to battle down low. I'm usually a rough player, physical."

"(With the UH guys) it's went well, I'm usually more of the hustle guy. You know, the one that grabs the rebounds and tries real hard, sets the screens. I really like setting screens and the pick-and-pop and pick-and-roll. I set pretty good screens."

After averaging about eight points and six rebounds in 15 minutes per game as a senior at Honaker High, Brown decided to go to the IMG Academy  for a year before going out for college.

"I was going to go to a local Division II school, but I figured I'd give it a try at Division I and see what I got, so here I am. I called the coaches and they told me to come on down. Once I got down here, they said I might as well stay and go China with them."

"Hawaii is a place I always wanted to go," Brown added, noting he'd never been here before. "When I was a senior in high school I always used to joke about, it'd be nice to go to school in Hawaii. ... (At IMG) the more I thought about it, the more I thought I'd like to try it. I really like the weather here. Florida was really nice, and I probably couldn't make it anywhere else."

Though UH has lost two 2011-12 signees to academic ineligibility, UH is putting together quite the walk-on crew. Last year's walk-ons, guards Pi‘i Minns and Jace Tavita, are joined by 'Iolani graduate Kainoa Chu (who is rehabbing a recent leg injury) and Brown. Shooting guard Brandon Jawato may or may not be promoted from walk-on to a scholarship player, and forward Tyler McDaniels, the son of UH assistant Benjy Taylor, is questing to be a walk-on by clearing some summer school classes.

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Some unexpected good news: I was recently informed the paper has committed to sending me to China and Japan for the team's Asia tour on Aug. 5 to 21. Looking forward to providing the readership with coverage from afar.

It's becoming a pretty intimate tour group — it seems an earlier figure of "about 30" fans going on the Panda Travel package was generous. That figure is down to about 13, though there is an unknown number of fans going on their own travel plans.

Stokes keeps it going

July 8th, 2011
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Make that two captivating summer league performances out of two for UH hoops newcomer Shaquille Stokes.

After going for 27 in his debut on Tuesday, Stokes followed it up with a 24-point outburst Thursday night in barely over a half of action with Wealth Strategy Partners. Stokes, who played for Army on Tuesday, suited up just before halftime with his unexpected new team and put on a show.

The 5-foot-10 freshman point guard from New York went right at former 'Iolani and Washington State standout Derrick Low of Electricians Hawaii, flashing and slashing his way to the basket for finishes several times and or pulling back for deadly 3-pointers. The unbeaten Electricians (6-0) got another win under longtime coach Artie Wilson, but not without surviving a hail of baskets from the plucky Stokes.

He got his pocket picked a couple of times by the veteran Low, but that's nothing to be ashamed of against a player of that caliber. Some of the Harlem native's finishes at the basket — a reversal and twisting shot off the backboard come to mind — were incredible.

"That's East Coast!" UH teammate Joston Thomas crowed from the sideline after a particularly nasty Stokes bucket.

Yes, it's just summer league, but there's plenty to be excited about with what Stokes showed so far. He's fearless going to the basket.

"I wasn't even supposed to play today, they just told me to get a shirt," Stokes said with a laugh. "I just played. I just felt good on the court, body loose. That (aggressiveness) is my game, but when I play with the (UH) guys, my game might be different. Zane (Johnson) can score, Davis (Rozitis). So we're going to be good, pretty good. Me at the point guard and Bobby (Miles), so it's been great."

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Tyler McDaniels, the son of UH assistant coach Benjy Taylor, made his Manoa summer league debut tonight. He said he still plans to walk on with the Rainbow Warriors if he can pass a heavy courseload during this second summer session.

McDaniels had four points for National Fire Protection, content to take a backseat while his Fire teammate, Thomas, enjoyed a scoring binge of 37 points in his summer league debut. McDaniels, 6-foot-9, went to the 3-ball a lot. He played unselfish, sometimes looking to break his man down 1-on-1 but generally passing it around instead.

As for California prepster guard Brandon Jawato, who may be joining the team for the fall, we'll have more on him soon.

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It was a huge contingent of UH players there tonight: Johnson, Trevor Wiseman, Stokes, Thomas, Jace Tavita, Pi‘i Minns, McDaniels. Others still came to cheer on their teammates: Rozitis and Miles.

Plenty of UH guys will be on display again on Saturday at 6 and 7:30 p.m. at the Manoa District Park gym, including another newcomer, Hauns Brereton.

Stokes, Brereton arrive

July 4th, 2011
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Here are a couple of items to supplement what will appear in Tuesday's paper about next season's UH basketball schedule:

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Two newcomers arrive

Two of the five UH newcomers signed for next season — freshman point guard Shaquille Stokes and junior forward Hauns Brereton — have arrived in Hawaii for summer school. Stokes said he arrived from New York on Monday.

The two are expected to join several of the UH returnees in the College Summer League at Manoa District Park.

The three Los Angeles-based players signed for next season — Gerry Blakes, Dillon Biggs and Ronnie Stevens — aren’t expected in until next month. They will likely not travel with the team on its upcoming international tour to China and Japan on Aug. 5 to 21.

Arnold said “probably” 10 players would travel to Asia. That would encompass most or all of the returnees, plus Stokes and Brereton. Point guard Miah Ostrowski won't go, as he'll be practicing with the UH football team.

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Though the July 1 start of the new fiscal period came and went without a finalized new contract for Arnold, he was positive about its progress.

“The administration’s been great. We’re just working out the final stages,” Arnold said. “I don’t see any rush, haven’t felt any rush from either side. Trying to put together a long-term commitment, and I think it’s going well. Really well.”

His contract can be made retroactive to start on July 1.