By Brian McInnis
A discouraging College Summer League debut a few weeks ago is a distant memory for Keith Shamburger.
The Hawaii basketball team's starting-point-guard-in-waiting has flourished in his recent games for Clark Hatch Fitness, most recently uncorking a 22-point night on Tuesday in a 119-82 blowout of outmanned Grantco Pacific.
He's been given the keys to the Clark Hatch offense, which has resulted in five straight wins since an 0-4 start. He's clicked on the go with CHF teammates Kaunaoa McGee and John Avila, while having a few opportunities to dish to UH teammate Michael Thomas, who's been coming off the bench.
"It's gone well. Everybody knows their roles now. They're looking for me to dish it to them at the certain spots that they like it, and that's where I'm giving them the ball," Shamburger said. "We're making a lot of 3s, a lot of shots. Playing hard defense. I mean, just playing good out there."
One could make a case that Shamburger doesn't have too much to gain in the summer league — he's already as entrenched in the UH PG job as a player can be without playing a minute of game action for the Rainbow Warriors, and injuries do happen here — but he doesn't see it that way.
"It's good for me because this is like pick-up ball, and I'm used to the guys already," Shamburger said. "So imagine when we get into the system with the guys and play with Coach (Arnold's) system, it's going to be that much better. I like playing with these guys here, but when season comes around, I think this will be good for all of us to transfer over to that."
The game was a laugher. McGee and Scott Kato added 18 points apiece.
The silver lining in the loss for Grantco (2-7) was again Aaron Valdes. The UH redshirt freshman scored 31 (albeit 25 in the blowout of a second half). UH won't want him handling the ball extensively like he's doing in this setting, but he's making the most of this opportunity to showcase a little bit of everything.
Shamburger, who's likely to throw more than a few lobs Valdes' way come the regular season, offered his take on what the springy wing has shown so far this offseason:
"Aaron is our most improved player. Aaron didn't even shoot the ball last year (in practice) and now he's making 3s out here as you can see. He's doing everything, everything Coach asked him to work on this summer. Coach told him he's going to have to play the 4 if he didn't work on his shot, work on his dribbling. He took that in a positive way, and he worked out hard this summer as you can tell. He's impressed me with the confidence with his shot.
He's one of the top up there as a dunker. He can do any type of dunk you want, he can dunk in traffic. He can do anything. Most high flyers don't like to dunk in traffic because they don't like the contact. But Aaron likes the contact. I like the way Aaron has heart and he just puts it all out there on the floor."
UH big man Caleb Dressler was back in action for Grantco. He scored eight, including a putback dunk in the second half on which he unleashed a roar as he jogged back upcourt. Everyone laughed (his team was down somewhere between 30 to 40 at the time).
After dropping consecutive games, Central Medical Clinic returned to its winning ways by outlasting National Fire Protection 90-87 in Game 1 Tuesday.
National Fire/UH junior guard Garrett Nevels had a pull-up, double-clutch straightaway 3-pointer to tie from coming out of a timeout, but his shot hit iron and another 20-plus-point night (21 this time) went for naught.
Kyle Pape scored 26 and Bill Amis 21 in the win.
UH sophomore guard Michael Harper just arrived from his visa-delayed trip from Australia. He scored seven points in limited action for CMC (6-3).
Sadly, injured 'Bows players Quincy Smith (foot), Brandon Jawato (foot) and Isaac Fotu (knee) were all out of action for teams they'd normally have played for on Tuesday. The last two dates of the 10-game regular season are this Thursday and Saturday, and then it's on to the playoffs.