Solar Universe wins it // UH player summaries

August 5th, 2012
By

Congratulations to Solar Universe, which took home the 36th College Summer League championship on Saturday night with a 114-102 win in overtime over Flipbooks Hawaii.

It was an incredibly intense game. It felt borderline out of control at times; only one technical foul was issued, but it felt like several more were warranted. The packed crowd lent to the frenzied atmosphere in the Manoa Park Gym, kudos to you if you showed up for the league finale.

Brandon Spearman came alive when his undermanned team needed him, scoring 43 points in the win. He made the game-saving block on Kaunaoa McGee's jumper attempt at the end of regulation, then scored six of Solar's first seven points in the extra period.

"It felt good man, it felt real good," Spearman said. "We fought hard, real hard. It's an amazing feeling. I haven't felt this way since I won states (at Simeon in Chicago) back in high school my senior year. It showed me how much I love the game. Even in a summer league game, you get so hyped up and wanting to win. I just came out here and gave it my all."

Solar Universe, coached by Artie Wilson, was playing without both Derrick Low and Bobby Nash, two veterans of the summer circuit. Nonetheless, Solar exerted control in the first half — it led by eight at halftime — and built it up to double digits soon after the break. But Flipbooks, with multiple go-to scorers, went on a 15-0 run midway through the second half and took the lead. The top seed went up by six points with a couple minutes left, only to see that erased as Spearman hit a 3 and Rashaun Broadus (33 points) stole the ensuing inbounds pass and fed Nick Demusis for a score.

Solar drew even with 48 seconds left when Spearman hit Nahshon George with a keen bullet pass inside to tie things up at 101. Each team had chances to go ahead from there, but it would be settled in OT.

Flipbooks was hurting in the extra frame without Christian Standhardinger's presence in its front line; the UH junior fouled out late in the second half. The regular-season champ (it had previously lost only to Grantco Pacific on a Julian Sensley buzzer-beating deep 3) scored only a point in the extra period, as shots from McGee and Leon Ballard became increasingly forced.

"We wanted to come out strong (in OT), but that's what we did like the first half," Spearman said. "We gave it our all."

Spearman shook his head at the game's intensity and physicality. He had success driving to the rim and getting fouled (hard), or occasionally stepping out for 3s as well.

"Real intense. It was unbelievable," he said. "I haven't been in a game like that, like I said, since my senior year of high school."

McGee led Flipbooks with 25 points, while Ballard and Standhardinger added 24 apiece.

—————

All in all, it was an exciting summer league season, one that effectively showcased the games of some of the incoming UH players fans otherwise wouldn't be familiar with.

Here's my take on what each Rainbow Warriors player in the summer league offered over these last few weeks:

>> Hauns Brereton was the league's scoring champ at 34.8 points per game. He had some ridiculous scoring outbursts (most notably his 47-point effort against Grantco Pacific on July 12). It won't be like that during the D-I season, obviously, but Brereton will still be counted on for more of a scoring role than he had last year. This was a positive sign in that regard — even if his shot selection in this kind of setting was sometimes forced and questionable.

>> Garrett Jefferson seems to have genuinely worked hard on his offensive game in the offseason, right down to his free throws, and it showed in several summer games. It still seems to be a work in progress, but by season's start expect Gib Arnold (and Jefferson) to have greater confidence in the springy one's overall role on the team.

>> Jace Tavita is currently in line to see plenty of minutes at point guard for the 'Bows. His summer league showings were a mixed bag. Sometimes he could find his Central Medical teammate Brereton for open shots consistently. Other times, he'd take 3-pointers, and that was a risky proposition. When he's feeling it, he can hit. One of his greatest assets is still his size at his position, allowing him to guard forwards and even centers.

>> Brandon Spearman saved his most impressive summer showing for last, when (as seen above) he went off in the summer league title game. It was hard to get too amped on Spearman's showings prior to this. But he's shown flashes of ability in enough areas of the game that it's obvious UH will count on him for production this coming season, either at the 2 or the 1.

>> Brandon Jawato was a little late to the summer party after an ankle injury, but he had a couple nice scoring games near the end. He's noticeably slimmed down from his redshirt freshman season and looks poised to compete for minutes at the 2.

>> Dyrbe Enos can shoot, and he's not afraid to pull the trigger. A nice combination. His youth and small stature will be tough to overcome to have a Miah-esque renaissance in college, but give it time and who knows? He may find himself thrown in there at some point. And at least in this summer setting, he's knocked down a few shots.

>> Isaac Fotu was something to behold in these games. That's probably already come across in these blog entries, but to reiterate, the New Zealander with the poofy 'fro was the most impressive UH player over these past few weeks. Perhaps not in terms of pure scoring, but Fotu made the most of his touches, consistently, either by finishing inside with his tractor beam-like hands or passing out to open shooters. It will be interesting to see how many minutes Fotu carves out for himself as a true freshman this coming season, with competition against ....

>> Christian Standhardinger let everybody in Manoa know how he plays, in any game, regardless of its meaning toward standings or statistics. Hard. The German gets into it with refs, opponents, you name it. But he also gets a few baskets a game just by outworking his man. He'll be the most expressive 'Bow by far this coming season, and a lightning rod for fans both at home and on the road.

>> Caleb Dressler was, by his own admission, overweight when he first arrived. But the true freshman seems to have rounded closer into shape through these summer league games and the regular open gym sessions on campus. He's not a quick player right now, but he's got an accurate lefty hook shot and a soft touch, even showing some 3-point range when he steps out. Dressler has stiff competition at his power forward position with Fotu and Standhardinger; it's possible he is a redshirt candidate.

>> Michael Harper came into the summer league as a total unknown, but he didn't leave that way. The left-handed Aussie can straight-up shoot. He's transitioning into being a point guard for UH, which could be problematic in that his ball-handling isn't his greatest attribute. But Harper is an aggressive player, helping make up for average speed. He could crack into the UH guard rotation this year.

>> Manroop Clair gets an INC for his brief summer league showing. He appeared in just one game late in the season after shaking off an ankle injury. But he barely got onto the court even then, putting up seven shots in about nine minutes. His form is pure (and off in that game), but it was impossible to make any kind of judgement on so small a sample size.

14 Responses to “Solar Universe wins it // UH player summaries”

  1. Kapanui:

    Many thanks for the superbly readable and informative coverage of the summer league, Brian.

    Looking forward to reading all your posts and articles as the year (and the team) progresses.


  2. chawan_cut:

    nice write up! how many days til midnight ohana????


  3. K-Bay:

    Brian,

    Thanks for the summer league coverage and player summary/analyses!

    Looking forward to Gib's most successful season ...
    This summer league seems to be showing improved talent and resources available to the coaching staff;
    When Riley and staff hit 'that level' (of having enough talent to actually do what coaches asked) good things started to happen...

    Look forward to your periodic updates and good to great breaking news...
    (even more help)


  4. Pauoa Boy:

    I think Fotu and Standhardinger is a major upgrade from Thomas and Wiseman. Don't think we'll be missing them at all this season. Plus with Vander back and Rozitis hopefully more improved, the frontcourt looks imposing.


  5. fan4mb2:

    Bravo, BM:

    For less than 40% of your total game-time participation, you gave a 100% accurate individual evaluation of the respective Warriors.

    Please keep going all the way 'til "The Season's Play-off finale".

    Good job, you all-in Warriors!

    Mahalo!


  6. poorboy:

    Pauoa Boy:
    I agree with you, total Upgrad from guys who left. Gib has a lot to work with up front, and if the backcourt holds their own, UH can be super competitive at home and in BWC, which is only 5 hrs flight away..son not those 8000mi roundtrippers to Ruston!

    Team buy into Gib's vision and DEFENSE, they going to be tough, me the eternal optimist, however at beginning of spring, with guys that left, I was worried, now, bring it on..can't wait till Nov 9 2012 and start of season..

    Great job Brian, very objective,,have to wait and see JMO on Dressler, maybe Gib let's him suit up for mandatory games, if no playing time or key Big does not go down..always good to have a body, even not the quickest, who takes up space, gets a few boards, and the kid can shoot, way better than Kurtz or Rouge Harris!


  7. K-Bay:

    I'd bet (and I'll be mentally tracking) that because so many players just have the built in discipline of playing hard and consistently that more times than not, they'll be playing from ahead rather than behind....that alone gives them a better chance of winning-- playing 40 for 40...

    If they actually outperform a given team in most statisical categories (as they were doing last couple of years) that, plus consistent effort and defense should trigger a majority of wins in 50-50 games ... They are likely to have a talent advantage in the majority of games (unless as Al points out, they get dominated in the one or three positions) Not likely to be outclassed at 2, 4 or 5.... And Defense and Depth should hold down the margin versus opposition's stars...we can't be giving up Triple Doubles like last year...

    Will they be Good enough to forge a Winning Road Record?
    The schedule and Big West Travel might help....

    Here's One...Even Garrett looks like a reliable 60%+ shooter and other weak shooter is gone...
    How many more games could they win by converting three more free throws ?

    What's LIKELY Better?
    - Free Throws
    - Depth (at least numbers, but likely also depth with talent)
    - Shooting (NO Zane, but EVERY guy on the court can hit out to 15ft and 25-30% 3's, maybe better);
    - Size
    - Discipline
    - Focus
    - Chemistry (I expect to see fewer guys scowling at each other)
    - Defensive consistency (also an offshoot of fresher legs and depth if a player just ain't playing')
    - Leadership (Last year's "leaders" we're often busy fighting their own battles)
    - Coaching- HE IS Another Year Smarter and more experienced as a head coach -- Double what he was a year ago, and probably less arrogant, more humble (13-13) and maybe (based on recruiting?) even More Driven...

    Potential Losses:
    - Emotional Highs (but also lows)
    - Drama (but Christian will try to turn to positive)
    - NYC Connection (Always a Risk if doesn't work out even for the right reasons)
    - WAC Travel (and Great that they avoided even Worse MWest Travel)

    COMMENTS? Any Others?


  8. al:

    well we've got some potential down low with vander and his new friends.

    however, we still have not addressed our weakness.
    who's gonna get the ball to the bigs?

    while we've some numbers at the 1 and 2, we are still lacking in this area. not that kind to take us to the next level. we still have the same problem from last year.

    a solid pg who can command the floor, play tough defense, and shoot the frees and some threes. we need a tom henderson-ac carter incarnate.

    an out right shooter at the 2 who can also handle the rock and put the brakes on the opponents best 2-3 position players.


  9. K-Bay:

    Agree -- Recruiting of Bigs was good...but surprised we weren't attracting more first-round pick guards.

    Artie thinks Jawato's threes are gonna surprise some; the players have been talking up his shooting since last year. He also mentioned today that he thinks Dyrbe could end up being a good point sooner than people think.

    Spearman (my spellcheck just suggested 'Superman' which is way better than Satan for Saban) appears to be a solid combo guard; as long as the guards pass and move smartly, you don't necessarily need a full-floor solo dribbler (very few Bobby Hurleys).

    Tavita has me concerned; although Brereton backs him up, he doesn't seem basketball quick... I like that he seems to be able to get open for threes, but I haven't yet seen a similar skill for passing--breaking away or getting open to free up teammates for easier shots... That likely should impove with set plays and coordinated offensive sets, in system...

    WE won't know or be able to confirm for ourselves for awhile, but Gib calls 'Roop a "true point guard" with excellent handles, vision and passing...

    Like you, I'd feel more comfortable with three points, and two with JC or D-1 experience or high point guard pedigree...(I thought Shaq, similar to Troy Bowe, was probably another year away from getting it...).

    Tom Henderson, A.C., Reggie Carter...Next Generation, Please Show Up, Please Step Up...

    Even a Mark Campbell (Gib would get him to shoot) would work...

    ONE like that would...


  10. protector:

    Brian, I like your assessments. And I do think that Christian and Isaac will both be impact players. I totally agree about Stanhardinger's non-stop motor and intensity. The other day. the Sports Animals were "ragging" on
    Fotu, saying he's no Christian Stanhardinger. Gimme a break. He's a Freshman who is unbelievably skilled and coordinated, cool-headed and poised for one so young. At times, against more experienced players, he was unstoppable and he's only going to get better. Although Spearman is athletic, he hogs the ball a little too much. Fotu, Tavita, Joaquim and Rozitis are unselfish types that will look for their teammates. Spearman seems to be the "black hole" type. On his hot-shooting days, I see him being a heady player that can keep us in games while on his poor days, he's going to put us in the hole if he sticks to his tendencies. I liked Harper's aggressiveness and toughness and I saw him hit many key shots. Caleb Dressler is indeed a work in progress, but I did see improvement in his stamina and efficiency. He's another good-sized body that can give others good respite and I see him being a good contributor in another year or so. I liked Tavita's toughness, ability to guard against the other teams' bigs and his unselfishness and team-work orientation. Aside from Brereton, I did not see Tavita get that much help from his Summer League Team. Last year, they seemed more well-rounded and his game flowed much more. I wonder if they'll give him a scholarship (or have they already given it to someone else? Have yet to see Clair and Jawato. I do see that Jefferson continues to work on his game; I like the kid.


  11. al:

    the roop needs to gain 20-25 lbs...he's probably a year or two away from playing tough with the big boys. from what i am hearing, the birdies are saying he needs to have the pg mentality and confidence to go along with the physical transition from hs to d1.

    time will tell.


  12. K-Bay:

    Depending on Training Table, and Master Trainer & Staff (plus 'Roop) 10-15 of those pounds can be right "now" before this season, all muscle and much fast-twitch...

    Handling the physicality should become a daily realization, exercised and internalized against the likes of Shamburger, Tavita, Spearman, Jefferson, all with D-1 experience, even Brandyn Akana, Jawato, Harper, with their drive and athleticism ... IDEALLY (although cannot confirm until the stats and scores Count) the Daily challenge is as hard or harder than the game time challenge... That's the Responsibility of Teammates.....

    I figured even Shaq was one or two years away from "getting it"...
    Troy Bowe took 'til Senior Year to be reliable for an effective drive and assist instead of a prime time Offensive Charge...


  13. K-Bay:

    I was thinking, for a guy that talks about (and shoots like) practicing a thousand shots a day, which is a lot even for a gym rat... IF there's a little shock and confidence factor going on, with speed, quickness or physicality, good hard work is one of the best responses and ways to bridge that gap...

    ...kinda like Shaq's response last year to diminished PT...

    ....if (better chance with Gib?) Clair can stay on or near fellow Canadian Carl English's developmental progress, he should be o.k....(time will tell)

    As Al noted the Question Mark or Risk appears greatest in the backcourt/pg...(Wins/losses will tell...)


  14. K-Bay:

    As Brian reported, congratulations to Chis McMillian as New Director of Basktball Operations...

    Chris, Please find a way to pass your knowledge of physiology, your own phyicality and point guard knowledge to today's guards and team, the type that resulted in Chasing And Winning (MWC) Conference Championships...