By Brian McInnis
Amid some commotion about whether Hawaii freshman guard Isaac Fleming would be able to play in the College Summer League on Saturday, two former Rainbow Warriors floor generals stepped to the forefront for one evening.
Fleming shook off the hit on a pick he took on Thursday, contributing seven points and three assists for Clark Hatch Fitness. But across the court, ex-'Bow Miah Ostrowski was putting on a show.
The pass-first guard put up 21 points, hearkening back to his old Punahou days, to keep Wealth Strategy Partners in the game before Clark Hatch eventually won 102-89.
Ostrowski, who took the reins of UH's offense in midseason coming over from football season in both 2010-11 and 2011-12, said in a recent interview he's been itching to get back onto the court.
"I'm just trying to find my rhythm," Ostrowski said. "It's been a while. But just gotta get back into it. It's been great fun being able to play competitive ball again with the guys we played with back in the days.
"But we just want to come out here and get a win. That's the main thing. Other than that, just trying to have fun and try to get these people to come out for a basketball show."
Later, Ostrowski's successor as UH point guard, Jace Tavita, scored a game-high 24 points in Chosen Few's 82-67 victory over Solar Universe.
While Chosen Few has had a defensive backstop in another ex-'Bow, Bill Amis (except this Saturday), Ostrowski and defending league champion Wealth Strategy have had to make do without last year's playoffs MVP Julian Sensley, who had his knee scoped a few weeks ago. To top it off, W.S. was missing it's other main scorers, the Broadus brothers, in its most recent game.
"We're definitely doing good (without Julian)," Ostrowski said. "I feel like we have a great team and guys play together really well. We pass the ball around and I feel that's going to get us pretty far, playing as a team. So we'll see."
Ostrowski is transitioning to a new phase of his life — working man.
"Right now I'm trying to get into selling medical equipment," he said. "There's definitely a lot to learn and it's definitely been taking up a lot of my time. But just trying to get back out here and play, have a good time, try to find my rhythm and get some wins, you know.
"It may be just summer league but we take it very serious and definitely want to win. It hurts, you definitely feel it at the end when you lose. Definitely not a great feeling. We just gotta come out and play better next time. Like I said, defending champs, I wasn't here last year but I want to be a part of a championship team this year. Just trying to stay hungry."
In Tavita's case, he's trying to stay fit and fresh for an upcoming professional stint in the Philippines. He intends to follow a path similar to former 'Bow Jared Dillinger, who is a dual citizen and has played pro there since finishing up his college career at UH in 2008.
Tavita redshirted at UH for a year and a half, then had the starting point guard job for most of the 2012-13 season.
"It's fun. It's fun to be back here," Tavita said. "Fun to see some of the new guys. There's not too many of them, but it's fun to see some of them like Dyrbe (Enos). Dyrbe's improved. It's good seeing Christian (Standhardinger) again. Seeing all types of people I used to see before. So it's nice."
In the summer setting, Tavita is much more aggressive looking for his shot than the average UH fan probably remembers from his college days. There, he seldom pulled the trigger, even if he was wide open.
Currently, Chosen Few has the lead at 4-1 at the league's midpoint.
"I didn't get to play with Bill in college, so to play with him now is nice," Tavita said. "You can do a lot of different things. Defensively he's huge. It's fun."
Once of Tavita's biggest assets is his 6-foot-4 size at his position. That could be a major asset for him in the Philippines, where at 6-5 you can play power forward in the Philippine Basketball Association.
"Right now, I'm waiting for some paperwork to be finalized to go to the Philippines," Tavita said. "I'm working on a dual citizenship. My mom is Filipino. There's some teams interested out there. It's just kind of a waiting process. But that's pretty much it. Just staying in shape, getting ready for that."
He said he hadn't talked to Dillinger, who is again a member of the Philippine national team.
"A lot of people have been telling me (about him), to kind of pick his brain. I'll probably reach out to him pretty soon."
Fleming showed some toughness with his willingness to play so soon after his stinger-type injury on Thursday. But he wasn't operating at full capacity, as he struggled with his shot and rarely looked comfortable Saturday.
"I felt like I could fight through the pain and just play. I wasn't really worried about my shoulder too much. ... It affected me, but it ain't nothing serious. I'll be right back in the gym on Monday with workouts, doing everything."
He acknowledged he had to adjust on the court with some lingering soreness on his right (non-shooting) side.
"I think it was a good thing it was on my other side. It still affected me, because as I was playing I was trying to avoid getting hit. It was messing me up with some layups and jump shots I normally can make."
He said he'd be re-evaluated on Monday, and if he still feels pain he'll go in for an MRI.
"I'll feel good, so I won't need an MRI," he said.
Still, he had a few nice dump-off passes for buckets. Chemistry between Fleming and CHF mainstays like Kaunaoa McGee, Leon Ballard and Scott Kato has improved after his rocky first game with them.
"I like my team. I feel like we can win this whole thing," Fleming said. "If we come together and play as a team, we'll be fine. I don't think there's a team in here who can beat us. ... (Strong teammates down low) is a good advantage. I mean, we got guards and we got big men. A lot of teams don't have both, and we'll just use that to our advantage."
As for the other 'Bows on Saturday, Enos scored nine first-half points for Solar Universe on three 3-pointers, but was held scoreless after that. Zach Buscher has seen his playing time dry up for Chosen Few. He was inserted only in the final moments of Chosen's blowout win.