By Brian McInnis
It was unmistakably clear what the focus of Monday's team practice was for the Hawaii men's basketball team.
After a limited amount of team drills, Gib Arnold had his players shoot on the two standard Stan Sheriff Center rims, plus two portable baskets rolled in and placed facing one sideline. It's a setup not usually seen except in UH's summer kids clinics.
"I asked them if they could do that, and (arena manager) Rich Sheriff was good enough to set it up for us to where we could get more shots up and more free throws up," Arnold said.
The reason: UH was 1-for-18 on 3-pointers in its 77-63 loss at No. 24 UNLV on Saturday. The Rainbow Warriors were, however, a respectable 20-for-26 at the foul line.
What transpired over the second half of practice really did resemble an actual clinic. Arnold had each player make a quota of 100 3-pointers and 100 free throws before they were allowed to rest.
"We'll go up and down more tomorrow," Arnold said. "(Shooting) those are things if you work on, you'll get better at through repetition. We struggled from the 3-point line. ... So everybody made 100 and 100. Just get that rhythm going into this week (Saturday vs. Pepperdine)."
Junior forward Christian Standhardinger had no problem with the amount of shots hoisted. UH is now 29.7 percent on 3s as a team for the season.
"In a game like that, we need to make shots," said Standhardinger, who had game highs of 27 points and 10 rebounds in the loss. "We can't get a bad 3-point percentage like that again. That's why we're in the gym here now, and in the morning shooting in some individuals. Now we're shooting again in practice, trying to get it fixed.
"Shooting's all about repetition and self-confidence," Standhardinger added. "And self-confidence you get out of repetition. That's what we gotta do."
Arnold felt the majority of the team's 3-point looks were good ones.
"I thought so. We shot 18 and I would say 15 of them were good shots. Three maybe weren't great shots. But 15 were shots we should take, and will take again."
Senior center Vander Joaquim had an open 3-point look off a kick from Standhardinger with under three minutes to play, which would have knocked UNLV's deficit down to five. But the big man's shot hit back iron and UH did not score again in desperation mode.
Had the team's two halves been inverted, the positive tone of Monday's practice might have been much different. UH trailed by as much as 26 in the first period but played exceptionally better after halftime in the desert, allowing the 'Bows to come home with a feeling of self-respect, if not the victory.
"We could have easily just folded and put our tails between our legs and made a lot of excuses, but the guys continued to battle and continued to fight, and played really high-level basketball that second half, in a tough place against a tough team," Arnold said. "We didn't win, but it was really tight. I know they (UNLV) felt tight. I was just pleased with the effort. We get a couple 3s, it could have been a totally different game."
Keep your eye on the running 3-point tally on Saturday. It will be interesting to see how much more confident the 'Bows come out from beyond the arc against the Waves.