By Brian McInnis
To quote Gene Hackman in "Hoosiers," let's see what kind of hand we've been dealt here.
Gib Arnold added two players this week — forward Ozren Pavlovic of Croatia and guard Aaron Valdes of La Jolla Prep in California — which should finalize the 2012-13 Hawaii roster.
The team's got its full complement of players in school and has initiated open gym sessions. UH also updated its online roster with this year's jersey numbers (listed in parentheses below). Let's break it down, with the caveat that we're at a very early stage and players' roles could change drastically by November.
Senior Jace Tavita (1) is the clear frontrunner to fill Miah Ostrowski's shoes despite being on the shelf for game action for the last season and a half, when he transferred out from Utah in the middle of the 2010-11 season. Some combination of junior Brandon Spearman (32) and freshmen Manroop Clair (33) and Michael Harper (24) will be expected to provide backup ball control duties, or possibly by committee; none of those three is a pure point guard. Kamehameha graduate Dyrbe Enos (10) could also get some spot looks at the position as a freshman walk-on. Junior Keith Shamburger (0) was a solid pickup for Arnold but he will be out this season as a transfer from San Jose State, so he will strictly be a practice player for 2012-13. purposes.
With the loss of Zane Johnson (who was only UH's single-season and career 3-point leader), the Rainbow Warriors will be looking to replace a large chunk of their offense. Junior Garrett Jefferson (2) and redshirt freshman Brandon Jawato (3) offer vastly different skill-sets at the position (one defensive- and slashing-minded, with the other shoot-first). The aforementioned platter of Spearman, Clair and Harper will get run at the 2-spot, with the emphasis on Spearman. Late pickup Aaron Valdes isn't yet on the official roster but could compete for minutes.
This position is owned by senior and returning starter Hauns Brereton (21). He'll be expected to expand on his 7.7 ppg role he had as a junior, and possibly shoulder some ball-handling duties as well. Brereton took on a gunner's mentality in the recent college summer league, so look for him to continue that and be one of the team's top 3-point and scoring threats, albeit to a much lesser extent than his ridiculous 40-point scoring outbursts against that competition. Junior Christian Standhardinger (34) is more of a power forward but in a larger lineup could slide over to this position. Freshman Ozren Pavlovic (23) has the shooting game of a typical European big man. He could see minutes behind Brereton, especially if the incumbent's shot isn't falling.
Standhardinger, with his hustle and energy game, will be expected to come up with the production the team is losing from Joston Thomas turning pro (13.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg). But look for freshman Isaac Fotu (42) to be increasingly handed responsibility in the post as the season progresses. He already looks polished and should complement the center position well when the two are on the floor together. Freshman Caleb Dressler (25) isn't as game ready as Fotu at this stage and might be a redshirt candidate as many players are straight out of high school. However, big men tend to be more foul prone and Dressler could get looks if UH's frontcourt depth is tested.
UH fans rejoiced when Vander Joaquim (15) returned for his season, and rightfully so. There's no reason he shouldn't put up a nightly double-double in the Big West. The biggest question will be if Joaquim can be the 'Bows' top offensive threat game in and game out; he split that role with Johnson and Thomas last year. Is it reasonable to expect another leap similar to the one he made from his sophomore to junior season? Hard to say yet, but UH's season could hinge on it. Junior Davis Rozitis (13) is a solid backup for Joaquim at a legit 7 feet, and brings plenty of entertainment value in and out of games.