By Brian McInnis
Former UH hoops player Bill Amis, who will be a member of OC Sports' pre and postgame UH men's basketball shows this season, quickly demonstrated a keen media eye upon his arrival at the Stan Sheriff Center on Monday.
"Where's Christian?" Amis wondered within minutes of studying the Rainbow Warriors' zone defense drills.
It didn't take too long to find out. Christian Standhardinger arrived halfway through the session in street clothes and his right elbow taped up thoroughly. The junior forward will miss an estimated two weeks with a staph infection, which will take him up right around the Nov. 9 season opener. In other words, he's now in the same boat as Vander Joaquim.
Standhardinger's elbow swelled up pretty good over the weekend since he first noticed an inflamed area on Friday, and he visited a hospital Monday to have it treated.
"This is bad luck. I was here the whole preseason and summer league, and I never missed a practice," the Nebraska transfer said. "Now I'm out until close to the season (start). A little bit unfortunate. But you just gotta play the cards you (are dealt) as good as possible. Trying to be back as soon as possible."
He said he will try to learn the team's implemented schemes in the meantime, and work on his left hand if he is allowed.
Freshman Ozren "Ozi" Pavlovic was moved to power forward in the first group in Standhardinger' stead. It's somewhat out of position for the lean Croatian, but he showed competence, especially on offense.
"It's pretty tough," Pavlovic said of the situation. "Coach moved me to power forward with Hauns (Brereton), because we lack big players now. It's good injuries hit us now in the preseason and not the middle of the season. Vander is our best player. I think he'll be back when our season starts. And Christian is really good. He's going to play a good role for us. We expect him back pretty soon too."
For more on the adjusting the 'Bows had to do on Monday, including coach Gib Arnold's take on the situation, check out Tuesday's edition of sports.
Other takes from Monday's practice, the first to be opened to the media:
>> Freshman forward Isaac Fotu has transferred the confidence and comfort he showed during the Manoa summer league to Arnold's practices. He may not be starting once both Joaquim and Standhardinger return, but rest assured "The Fro" will see minutes regardless.
>> Junior guard Brandon Spearman was hitting his shots from the outside, a good sign. He was especially hot once the team went to a 5-on-5 to end practice.
>> Don't be surprised to see more zone defense in games this season. Arnold said it will be a core theme both used by and against some of UH's bigger lineups (an expected strength of the 'Bows).
>> Garrett Jefferson had a slick no-look pass for a teammate's open layup in halfcourt drills. Not sold yet on the junior defensive stopper as a point guard, but that's the kind of play he'll have to make offensively to keep teams honest when he has the ball in that role.
>> Freshman Aaron Valdes is still not yet cleared by the NCAA, but he can practice with the two-week waiver he was given. However, those two weeks are almost up. We'll see where it goes from here.
** TUESDAY UPDATE ** Valdes has exhausted his number of allowed practices by the waiver. He had to sit out Tuesday's practice and will for the rest until the NCAA makes a definitive ruling on him.