By Brian McInnis
Every team needs them, and the 2011-12 Rainbow Warriors have several.
Two of them won't be seen on the court by UH fans this season, however. Senior point guard Jace Tavita and junior forward Christian Standhardinger will both redshirt 2011-12 to help the 'Bows down the line. But they'll also be of help this year, too, as staples of the scout team.
In Tavita's case, the Utah transfer could have been eligible for the second half of the season but, after conferring with the UH coaches, agreed it'd be a better deal for him to sit out the entire season and get to play a full year next year instead of burning his final year of eligibility on a half season.
Tavita was impressive with the scout team during a 40-minute scrimmage on Monday. He consistently pushed the primary point guards, Shaquille Stokes and Bobby Miles, to play him honest at both ends. The 6-foot-4 Tavita, a walk-on at UH, has the build of a linebacker. He was known as more of a physical defender with the Utes but showed off some nice takes to the basket, too.
"I'm going to try to push these guys and make them better every day," Tavita said. "(Sitting out) is hard, but I'd rather play a full year than a half. If I use it wisely, I think it'll be good for me, continue to work on my game, get all my academics caught up.
"(Competing for playing time) is the way I look at it. I'm trying to compete for a spot for next year. I want to show the coaches every day what I can do. Just push myself and go hard every day."
In Tuesday's morning practice, it was the Nebraska transfer Standhardinger who drew the accolades from UH coach Gib Arnold. The 6-foot-8 forward made the going tough for starting center Vander Joaquim by actively using his body and hands to bother the taller player.
"If I play or not play, I can always bring high energy," Standhardinger said. "Some days the shot will not fall. But you can always affect how you hustle, how you sprint, how hard you go. That's what I'm trying to bring to this team this year. I'm not playing — trust me, it's very hard for me. But I will get these guys at the next level, I will play hard against them. Every practice, so they don't get days off. ... I'm trying to do whatever I can do help this team win, even if I cannot be on the floor. I will be the best cheerleader there is."
That sort of effort from the two wasn't lost on Arnold.
"They play a much bigger role than anybody can imagine," the coach said. "The saying we say often here is, 'Be responsible for the energy you bring to the room.' And those two guys bring a lot of energy to the room. It's their job. They're not going to score any points for us, get any rebounds for us this year. But they can make us better this year, and it's what they're supposed to do and why those two guys are really good for us.
"I expect our guys who are playing to match their energy and it's hard, because those two guys have a bunch of it, especially Christian. Both of them, but Christian has as good a motor as anyone I've ever coached. If those two can continue to do that, then I think our team will be that much better."
Another redshirt possibility is freshman shooting guard Brandon Jawato, who's effectively third on the depth chart at his position behind senior Zane Johnson and sophomore Garrett Jefferson.