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Cold War

July 25th, 2014
By



The most interesting aspect of Thursday's games at the College Summer League, besides another strong effort from Michael Thomas, was a matchup of two of the best big men in the league — former Hawaii players Bill Amis and Christian Standhardinger.

It turned into the kind of physical, defensive battle that's more common in an actual Division I game than what you'd expect in summer league.

Standhardinger has averaged over 40 points this summer, and was coming off a 49-point outing. He found the going much tougher inside this time.

Bill Amis Photo credit: UH

Bill Amis
Photo credit: UH

It might have been Amis' greatest accomplishment since this.

"I played against Christian (when he was) in college," said Amis. "We were never teammates but we would go against each other. Work out almost every day. We were definitely familiar with each other's games, I think that helped me out a little bit. I knew Christian was going to be aggressive every play so I knew I needed to be ready tonight. I really just wanted to focus on defense. Shots didn't really fall for me or him tonight, so it was kind of an ugly game for both of us."

Amis punctuated the victory with a second half alley-oop flush from point guard John Lane.

Standhardinger, ever the competitor, had to offer his rebuttal afterward.

Christian Standhardinger

Christian Standhardinger

"Bill did a great job of playing against me 1-on-1 in his off time, and knowing on my moves and just adjusting in the game," Standhardinger said, loudly enough for the nearby Amis to pick up. "But I'm adjusting again. See, that's how you get better, 'cause, I play and then he's adjusting, and then I adjust and he's adjusting and I adjust. And then you've got the Cold War and it's perfect and everybody has great weapons."

If that's not classic Standhardinger, I don't know what is.

Amis chuckled when told about Standhardinger's streak of scoring binges.

"I mean, he's been playing really well in summer league so I just tried to do my part to shut him down once," Amis said. "We're a good team (Chosen Few). It wasn't just me guarding Christian. We all kind of did our own part. I had a lot of help coming.  I love playing with these guys. I'm happy I got picked up with Coach (Dave) Paterson because we play a really good team game. A lot of the teams are a lot more 1-on-1 basketball."

Amis is coming off a down-and-up pro season in which he began with a team in Germany, was cut, then finished up the 2013-14 year for a club in Cyprus which made its league playoffs, Keravnos. That season was Amis' re-introduction to pro ball; the prior summer he had a full-time real estate job in Hawaii.

"(Last season), I mean, it was frustrating at times," he said. "I'd needed to get my confidence back after the beginning of the year, getting cut from Germany. They kind of had me playing at the 3 position, and I lost my confidence doing that. I'm not a 3-point shooter, I'm more of a post man so they had me shooting a lot of 3-pointers and it wasn't really my role. But once I got my confidence, I finished the year really strong (in Cyprus)."

He said he just signed a contract with Steaua Bucharest for the coming season.

"I'm really excited, they signed a couple other good big players, so it'll be a good chance to learn from veteran big men on the team. I'm looking forward to that," Amis said.

Standhardinger said he is still working with his agent to find a team in either Italy, Germany or Spain for his first action as a professional.

—————

Amis is coming off his inaugural Bill Amis and Miah Ostrowski Basketball Skills Camp. There was a showing of 40 kids this year, and Amis said he's game for another camp (or two) next summer.

"The camp went great," he said. "There were a lot of familiar faces for me because I worked the Nike camp and the UH camp ... we had a lot of fun. I think the kids got a lot better and it was a good learning experience.  I was worried it might not run smoothly but everything went really smooth. My parents were in town helping out, so that helped out as well.

"Miah did a great job with the kids. He did a lot of the agility drills and everything. We had Christian come out for a day, Jace (Tavita) was out for a day. Nick Milan (former UH team manager) was there for a day. We had a lot of familiar faces helping out."

—————

Back to summer league. Now, it's hard to give Thomas too much credit in his latest outing, as he went against a severely undersized team in Wealth Strategy Partners. He was able to score easily inside most of the way for a 28-point night, and helped his National Fire Protection team to its second straight win, 105-103, after the "Hydrants" (my new nickname for NFP) dropped their first five games without him.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas

But it was some of the other things Thomas did — ranging out to challenge shooters, running the floor well, and generally displaying aggression on the court — that bodes well for his sophomore campaign.

Combined with his 32-point debut in the 2014 edition of the summer league, it's been some promising improvement out of Thomas (especially given he's not totally healed from the burns he suffered, and has to play wrapped on his hand and leg).

If he can keep it going through the summer league playoffs, it could be a nice springboard for him into preseason battles for playing time in the UH frontcourt.

—————

Brocke Stepteau

Brocke Stepteau

Brocke Stepteau got the start for Grantco for the first time on Thursday, though he actually played less than his previous 19-point outing off the bench last time out.

Stepteau scored just eight this time. However, a couple of his baskets came on some pretty flashy finishes against much larger defenders.

"I've been small my whole life," said Stepteau, who will probably measure around 5-9 on the official UH roster for the coming season. "I've been playing against older dudes and bigger dudes, so I've learned how to take the angles and finish over the bigs. I still gotta go in there and try to make plays, so I learned how to finish through contact and all that."

Grantco (3-4) has lost three straight, which has been frustrating for the point guard from Dallas Jesuit High, since that unfortunately coincided with his arrival for the summer league.

"It's all about, when I'm on the court, trying to make plays and help my team win," he said. "I just don't think we're playing team basketball right now; I think that's why we lost the last three games. Someone gets it in isolation, and it's not really working for us. The guy has to move it. But I played all right. Didn't hit my jump shots today, though."

He didn't mention anyone specific, but Standhardinger gets the bulk of the touches for Grantco. The team's other primary scorer, ex-UH guard Geremy Robinson, hasn't been present of late.

"We can definitely turn it around. We have some good players on our team," Stepteau said. "We just gotta get together, play together as a team and I think we can turn it around easily."

—————

And lastly, Sammis Reyes hasn't given up on Hawaii yet. On Saturday, he messaged "Yessir! Working on it still," when asked about acquiring an NCAA waiver to get to UH.

It's a positive that the big man with a penchant for dunking is still in play. But leaving it in the NCAA's hands right now has to make for some nervous moments at the Manoa Lower Campus.

Breakout night

July 23rd, 2014
By



Well, that's more like it.

Hawaii basketball's representatives in the College Summer League finally had an honest-to-goodness explosive night as a collective group on Tuesday.

First, Michael Thomas reintroduced himself to local hoops fans in a big way. Thomas played like a new man in his debut for National Fire Protection — not the seldom-used freshman people only caught glimpses of last season.

Mike Thomas

Mike Thomas

Thomas scored 32 points in National Fire's first win of the season, 119-109 over Grantco Pacific. He blocked about five shots, including Christian Standhardinger on two consecutive attacks at the rim, something I don't remember ever happening in practices last season. Standhardinger still got his numbers and then some (49 points), but Thomas was the difference in the ledger on this night.

 

"It felt great to finally get some run," Thomas said. "Just going out and competing. I think that was a big thing with me and Christian last year. Always competing, always going at it. It made me a better player. And so I just wanted to show it to him and show it to the rest of the fans out here."

It all came perhaps as a bit of a surprise, given his aforementioned quiet first campaign at UH and his absence from previous summer league games because of some two-pronged misfortune: getting sick last week, then burning himself while cooking a meal later that same night.

He said his stove malfunctioned while cooking fish in a skillet. He burned both his hands and dropped the skillet, which gave him some third-degree burns on his calf. His roommate took him to the ER.

"Quite a week," Thomas said.

He seems close to fully recovered, as long as he keeps his leg bandaged. At one point during play, he wrapped his hand/wrist area as well.

Sprinkled in to his game Tuesday night were a couple of fast-break dunks and 3-pointers. He showed off a nice fadeaway shot, as well. The 6-foot-8 Thomas is still on the gangly side, but he appears to have put some muscle on his frame.

"I want to come into the season ready to go," he said. "Getting my body completely right, getting it healthy, stronger, faster. I think, being more athletic. Being an athlete. A lot of times (last season) I shied back and just stayed on the ground, which I shouldn't have, being an athlete. I think getting my shot right, playing defense, guarding, getting low, everything."

Last season, the El Camino Real High graduate was in for an average of 5.6 minutes in 20 games, never scoring more than four in a single game. That clearly didn't sit well to him.

He went through a workout regimen back in Los Angeles with a high school friend for a good month and a half once the spring semester ended.

"We lifted twice a day and got in the gym for at least four hours a day," Thomas said. "It was good. Absolutely (I saw results)."

On his first night of summer league action in 2014, so did everyone else in the Manoa Park gym.

—————

As a pleasant second act, freshman Isaac Fleming worked his way into a good game for Clark Hatch Fitness after a sluggish start against Solar Universe. His jumper was off early, and he had two separate 0-for-2 trips to the foul line that had him shaking his head.

Isaac Fleming

Isaac Fleming

But Fleming stuck with it, showing some of the same determination that had him playing two days after his scary stinger injury last Thursday. He finished with 33 points, and hit the go-ahead free throw with four seconds left as Clark Hatch prevailed 68-66. Each point was needed as Clark Hatch (the "Buffs," as I'm nicknaming them as of now) were missing Leon Ballard, and their other regulars were having off nights.

 

Fleming himself had a subpar game last time out on Saturday, as he struggled to seven points.

"Started off a little slow," Fleming said, possibly referring to his overall summer performances and Tuesday's game at the same time. "I knew coming in, my coaching staff at UH know that I can shoot, I can shoot off the dribble, do a lot of things. It was just, I had to come out and prove it to everybody because I kind of know for the first couple weeks people probably thought I could (only) drive it. They didn't know if I could shoot or anything. So, game by game my whole game is starting to come out and starting to show that I can pretty much do it all."

He pretty much threw his team on his back down the stretch. The 6-foot-3 combo guard crashed for rebounds and started fast breaks himself.

"I learned from my AAU coach ... whenever I'm in the game, you can shoot, so don't stop," he said. "Don't let one miss stop you from finding your rhythm. And once you find it, keep going at it."

Fleming clutched his right shoulder a couple of times after contact, some slightly concerning moments serving as echoes from his brick wall pick mishap last Thursday. But he brushed those moments off.

"I was feeling good," Fleming said. "It was just like when I got hit too hard it started tingling again. It's just one of those annoying pains. But it's not going to stop me. I'm a hard worker."

Fleming said he could have gotten an MRI on Monday if he felt he needed one, but he told the UH trainers he was feeling fine.

In a reserve role, freshman point guard Brocke Stepteau had a productive night — 19 points for Grantco Pacific. He was the second-leading scorer on his team, to (who else?) Standhardinger, who may have broken the summer league's record for fouls drawn in a game, if it kept official records. The 49 by the ex-'Bow of recent vintage stands as a high for any player in the summer league's 2014 edition.

Third-year sophomore Dyrbe Enos scored seven points in a losing effort for severely undermanned Solar Universe.

—————

Warren Oishi, who served as a team manager for the 'Bows last season, hasn't given up on becoming a full-fledged player. You might remember that in this space around this time last year, I wrote about how he came up a little short of his goal of walking on. But Oishi has played well in spots for National Fire in the summer league, showing off some deadly range from well beyond the arc. He scored five points on Tuesday, but made some nice all-around plays as well.

After the game, he said he will be trying out for Gib Arnold again. There's a fair number of walk-ons already, but with a year of familiarity with the coaching staff, he might have a shot.

—————

UH appears to be trying to pick up an additional big man. Verbalcommits.com reported that UH has offered Quadree Smith, a 6-foot-8 forward out of Potomac (Md.) High. Smith, listed between 280 and 250 pounds on various sites, has some serious bulk down low.

Keep your eye on this one. It might be one of UH's only chances to add some size this late on the calendar. If Sammis Reyes doesn't make it into school, the already shaky frontcourt situation becomes all the more dire and the need for a late pickup becomes essential.

 

Old PGs go to work

July 20th, 2014
By



Manoa calm before Saturday night's storm

Calm at Manoa Valley District Park before Saturday night's storm

 

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.

Miah Ostrowski Photo credit: UH

Miah Ostrowski
Photo credit: UH

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.

Jace Tavita Photo credit: UH

Jace Tavita
Photo credit: UH

"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."

Isaac Fleming

Isaac Fleming

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.

Can't catch a break

July 18th, 2014
By



Isaac Fleming's first game in the College Summer League was a frustrating experience. His second was a painful one.

The incoming Hawaii freshman got some meaningful playing time for Clark Hatch Fitness on Thursday night, in contrast to some sparse minutes in his debut. He even got to go head to head against UH teammate Brocke Stepteau, who was showing his stuff in the league for the first time.

Isaac Fleming

Isaac Fleming

But that came to a crashing halt with about two minutes remaining in the game, when Fleming ended up on the wrong end of a truck-like screen by ex-UH hooper/footballer walk-on Tyler Brown.

He yelled out a few times and was down in pain for several minutes while being attended by league staff. His right (non shooting) arm was placed in a makeshift towel sling. But he was reasonably composed and on his feet in the moments after the game.

"He (Brown) was setting a screen, and I don't know if he did it on purpose but he threw his shoulder (into me)," Fleming said. "I talked to him after the game, he apologized. I respect him for that. He's a good guy. It was just one of those things where, accidents happen. No love lost. I love everybody here, I'm just happy to be here.

"(My shoulder) felt like it moved back. When it hit, it felt like it moved and I lost all feeling. That right there, I just went black and I got so scared, because I just want to be healthy this year."

It was surmised by one person on the scene that Fleming has a stinger, and not a dislocated shoulder, but Fleming was to be examined by the UH trainers on Friday.

Fleming said Friday morning: "I'm feeling better just a little sore I'll be good."

Fleming finished Clark Hatch's 92-86 victory over Grantco Pacific with 16 points, five rebounds and five assists. He shot 5-for-13 from the field and 5-for-6 at the foul line, with one steal and two turnovers. His slashing game was on full display until his setback.

In general, Fleming seems optimistic heading into the season.

"I'm feeling good. I'm getting used to the islands, getting used to the type of environment," he said. "I'm getting my feet back under me. I'm getting there. It's going to take some time, but I see progression every day. So, I'm ready to be at the peak of my game."

Stepteau's line for Grantco was OK for a reserve playing with a brand-new set of teammates. He had six points on 2-for-7 FG, 1-2 FT, with two rebounds, an assist, a steal and two turnovers.

Brocke Stepteau

Brocke Stepteau

"It felt really good to finally get out here and play with my team," Stepteau said. "It was first game, I never played with any of those guys and they never played with me. Coach (Alan Silva) hadn't seen me play. But he said he liked what he saw, and I felt I played pretty good, nowhere near as well as I could play. I missed some shots I normally make. But all in all, it's just a good first game."

He and Fleming guarded each other for several minutes of the game. Fleming has a good few inches on Stepteau, but Stepteau possesses some quickness with the ball.

"It's been good. We've been going at it in open gyms and practices the last couple weeks, giving each other a couple bruises and stuff," Stepteau said. "But he's definitely a really good player, and it's fun going up against him in this setting."

Stepteau reacted with worry when Fleming, his roommate, went down.

"He was screaming, so I thought it was something really bad, a dislocated shoulder or something," he said. "Hopefully it's nothing. He seems to be pretty good now (after the game). But yeah, I was worried. He's my roommate, so you know we've been getting close together. And you don't see anything like that happen, so hopefully he's good."

Will he miss time in the summer league? It seems quite possible, but it's too early to know for sure.

Kaunaoa McGee led Clark Hatch with 28 points, while Leon Ballard added 22. Christian Standhardinger kept up his average, going for 40 points in the loss for Grantco.

—————

Bill Amis approached triple-double status in Chosen Few's 90-85 win over National Fire Protection. He had 25 points, at least 10 boards and about eight blocked shots. Poor National Fire remains winless at 0-5.

Michael Thomas was to make his summer season debut for National Fire on Thursday, but Thomas can't seem to catch a break. He missed the previous game because of an illness, and missed the most recent game because he burned himself and is on the mend from that.

"Yeah healing it now ... I should be back to full play by the end of the weekend so you'll see me in Tuesday night," Thomas said in a message.

—————

It's all added up to disappointment for those looking to see the next wave of UH players at an early stage. With  mishaps for Fleming and Thomas, Sammis Reyes not here as he attempts to work out his admission to UH, Roderick Bobbitt still recovering from a broken arm, and most of the rest of the team spread around the world, that aspect (UH participation) of summer league has been a dud thus far.

Senque very much

July 15th, 2014
By



After weeks of rumors and speculation about his status with Hawaii, former Loyola Marymount and Fresno State assistant Senque Carey became a Rainbow Warriors assistant coach on Tuesday.

Carey did not have direct experience as a coach with any member of the UH staff, but had mutual contacts through his eight years on the coaching circuit. That, and his recruiting reputation, earned him the spot vacated by Scott Fisher earlier this summer.

Senque

Senque Carey

"Looking forward to working with the staff and the administration," Carey said.

In a 10-minute conversation, his confidence in his recruiting abilities was a recurring theme. He spoke about grooming Paul George and Greg Smith at Fresno State into NBA players.

And "Coach Q" spoke about there being no good reason why he couldn't do that at Hawaii, too.

"You have those mentalities that you’re in Hawaii and you only can recruit certain types of players? Times have changed. We’re going out there and competing and try to get the best players in the country," he said.

Carey takes over as recruiting coordinator for the 'Bows, and will oversee the team's point guards. Those duties previously were in the purview of Benjy Taylor and Brandyn Akana, so it will be interesting to see how roles shift somewhat for the coming season.

Here's the statement Gib Arnold gave about the addition of Carey:

"Thrilled to have Senque Carey join our staff. He has a great reputation as a recruiter and his ability to develop point guards. I have known Senque a long time and even recruited him a bit back in the day. I have been impressed by his work as an Assistant Coach. He recruited Paul George and Greg Smith two NBA players to Fresno. He has a great work ethic and major recruiting ties around the country. He will be relentless in his recruiting and his dedication to the University of Hawaii. We are very fortunate to have him join our staff."

Carey is taking a long-winded recruiting road trip immediately, starting in Atlanta. From there he'll head to Dallas and Las Vegas.

It's no surprise that Carey is the hire; it was going to be a matter of when, and not if. Staff-wise, the only real questions left are if the NCAA will levy any kind of sanctions against Akana (for the violation that kicked off its investigation of UH) and if the team will fill its director of operations position by the start of the season.

Look for a full version of the Senque-to-UH story in Wednesday's edition of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.

 

Fleming's first taste

July 13th, 2014
By



From any perspective, Isaac Fleming's first action in the College Summer League left something to be desired.

From Fleming's point of view, more minutes on the court for Clark Hatch Fitness. For the spectators in the old Manoa Valley gym, sharper play out of the new Hawaii guard that some surely came to see specifically.

Fleming

Isaac Fleming

Fleming had a couple of nice drives to the hoop on Saturday night in the rickety, old Manoa Valley gym, displaying an explosiveness off the dribble that could add a new dimension to the Rainbow Warriors' attack in the coming season.

But he also seemed to force the action at times, perhaps aware that he needed to show something in his brief time on the court to remain there.

In about 10 minutes of action off the bench, Fleming scored six points on 2-for-6 field goals and 2-for-2 free throws, with two rebounds, one assist, one block and one turnover.

"It wasn't kind of tough (to get into a rhythm), it was more so me getting comfortable," Fleming said. "I felt I couldn't get comfortable because it was like I was in there a short period of time. I felt like if I could get comfortable it would have been a whole different type of environment."

The 6-foot-3 combo guard from the Massanutten Military Academy (Va.) wasn't in for the game's decisive stretches when Clark Hatch closed out a  98-95 win over National Fire Protection. Chaminade alum Leon Ballard scored 29 points to lead the way.

Taking a secondary role was a new experience for a player used to being a focal point. It probably doesn't help that as the only member of UH's 2014 signing class in action here this summer, he might shoulder elevated expectations.

"It was OK. For me, knowing myself, I know I can do twice as much as I did today," he said. "But I just felt like I didn't get a chance. It was always something. I don't know. I just didn't think I had the chance. So, I don't know, it's something I'll have to talk over with Coach Gib about this league and if problems continue to come up out there. I know I'm a high-caliber player, getting average-player minutes."

He brightened up when it came to discussing some of the open gym sessions between the on-island newcomers and returnees, with some veterans thrown in.

"The open gyms are great," Fleming said. "We get some good run in. Earlier, we had open gym with Christian Standhardinger, Derrick Low, a lot of good guys. I showed them that I could play. It was more so me just not being comfortable tonight with the opportunity I know I should get."

Fleming will likely return for more summer league action. Whether it will be with the same team — Clark Hatch has a pretty tight-knit core — remains to be seen. Teams swap players all the time.

"I feel totally confident. This never dulled my confidence," Fleming said. "It's something players go through. I'm not really tripping about it. I know what I can do and I know what I bring to the team."

—————

The lone UH returnee in for summer school from the mainland, Michael Thomas, would have been in action on Saturday for National Fire. But he explained he was feeling sick, and would be in action on Thursday.

—————

In Saturday's nightcap, Solar Universe edged Wealth Strategy Partners, 89-86. Aukai Wong bombed some deep 3s to score 30 points in the victory.

—————

As I tweeted on Friday, UH's Jan. 3 home game vs. Florida Gulf Coast, initially on the UH schedule release, is now a no go. UH is attempting to fill the hole. This is a disappointing turn of events for anyone hoping to see the residuals of Dunk City from two years ago. FGCU was still competitive last year, winning 22 games and making the NIT. And that's one fewer team that made the postseason last year on UH's schedule ... and the schedule wasn't exactly rife with those to begin with.

—————

Hearing UH might be close to finalizing Senque Carey as its new assistant, filling in the position Scott Fisher vacated. Carey coached at Loyola Marymount last season, and Fresno State before that. He also has some high school coaching experience.

 

.

 

Acclimatizing

July 11th, 2014
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The waiting game continues for those looking to see a new Hawaii basketball player see significant action in the College Summer League. In the meantime, some of those Rainbow Warriors have started acclimatizing to their new digs.

Guard Brocke Stepteau has absorbed close to a week of island life and summer school, and his summer team, Grantco Pacific, was in action on Thursday night in the old Manoa District Park gym. But Stepteau said he'd not yet had the mandatory physical to play in the league, so he couldn't suit up.

Brocke Stepteau

Brocke Stepteau

The incoming walk-on from Dallas Baptist High said he took a visit here three weeks ago to affirm his decision to commit to UH. Unlike Tyler Harville and his quick stop here last week, Stepteau decided he was in.

"I feel great, I love it out here," Stepteau said just outside the Manoa Valley District Park's older gym as Wealth Strategy Partners and Chosen Few battled behind him. "It's going real well. Started working out individually on Tuesday. Tomorrow we're going to run a mile. So basketball and school's going really well right now."

With most of the 2014-15 team still scattered around the world, it's left a group of six on the island — Stepteau, Isaac Fleming, Roderick Bobbitt, Mike Thomas, Zach Buscher and Dyrbe Enos — to get to know one another through training.

Five of the six will participate in the remainder of the summer league. The exception being Bobbitt, who is still recovering from a broken arm from the end of his junior college season at Indian Hills.

"I can't wait to play (next game)," Stepteau said. "I was surprised how many people come out to watch these games. It's going to be fun. Hopefully I can come out here and play the way I'm capable of playing. Just play good, get some wins and have some fun out here."

He expressed some surprise at the relative hustle and bustle of Honolulu after seeing only Maui on a trip when he was younger.

"I was thinking it was going to be quiet (like that). I didn't realize how big of a city Honolulu was. That definitely surprised me, but it made me love it even more out here."

Fleming accompanied Stepteau to Thursday's summer league games.

Fleming

Isaac Fleming

"It feels great (to have arrived)," said Fleming, of Delaware and the Massanutten Military Academy in Virginia. "I like the environment. We had a couple good workouts this week. I just feel like we're going to have a good season. I love the islands. ... Same vibe from my visit. I just feel like it's stronger now that I'm here. I'm just ready to come and make an impact."

He'll be in action on Saturday with Clark Hatch Fitness.

"It's pretty good competition (in the league)," he said after watching Wealth Strategy's 106-102 double-overtime victory over Chosen. "I feel like I can come in on Saturday and just give everybody a show."

In the meantime, Enos put on quite a show for Solar Universe in Thursday's second game. He drilled six first-half 3-pointers in seven attempts and finished with seven long balls for 21 of his 26 points. But Solar fell, 109-89, as Christian Standhardinger poured in 43 points to keep his summer average at 40-plus.

"Shoot, I don't know, I was just feeding off my teammates because they were setting screens and D-Low (Derrick Low) was passing the ball off the screens," Enos said. "I don't know, I was just kind of feeling it."

Dyrbe Enos

Dyrbe Enos

The Kamehameha product got some meaningful playing time as a redshirt freshman last season, as UH's third-string point guard. His shooting ability is what could continue to get him minutes in the future.

"I'm just trying to get better, how I can help the team for the upcoming year of UH basketball," Enos said. "Just become a better point guard and continue to shoot the ball."

Unfortunately, Buscher didn't see any action for Chosen Few on Thursday, though he was among the first to stand and cheer for his teammates.

"I'm on a good team, so we got a lot of guys who can play," Buscher said. "I'll be here, hopefully I get a couple minutes a game and try to contribute."

Zach Buscher

Zach Buscher

Buscher is coming off a state championship at 'Iolani. When he traded the black and red for the green and white, to borrow a line from the classic movie Anchorman — things escalated quickly. They jumped up a notch.

He seemed to realize it.

"Playing high school ball in Hawaii is a hell of a lot different from D-I," Buscher said. "It's going to take some time to get used to it. Being a student-athlete, getting it done in the classroom first, that's what the coaches want us to do over the summer right now. And on top of that, it's putting in the work and getting stronger, getting faster. Getting shots up."

Buscher helped at least one of his new teammates acclimatize themselves so far. He said he took Fleming out to the Kaneohe sandbar on his family's boat and let the East Coast guard tow-surf behind.

"He loved it. Got it on the first try," Buscher said.

 

New contract for Arnold

July 10th, 2014
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This morning's news that Hawaii coach Gib Arnold is about to be given a three-year extension (plus the possibility of one more year) is sure to turn some heads, given its timing.

UH leadership felt it could not wait on it, even with the resolution of the NCAA investigation still pending.

This breakdown is this: Arnold's one rollover season from his previous contract is being honored. Tacking on the three years carries him through 2017-18, and he could push it to 2018-19 if he hits one of six performance benchmarks. What those benchmarks are isn't yet known to us. Neither is the specific contract language that might allow UH to separate itself from its coach if the NCAA sanctions are severe.

In the meantime, this is a big win for the Arnold camp.

What do you think about it? Are you for or against the extension right now?

UH loses Harville to St. Mary's

July 6th, 2014
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What was feared in some corners proved true with Hawaii commit Tyler Harville, who was to be a preferred walk-on with the Rainbow Warriors in the fall.

Harville decided to enroll at Saint Mary's instead. UH won't get to find out — firsthand, anyway — just how deadly the diminutive guard's shooting stroke could be.

"It was a last-minute decision thing. Just a better situation for me, guard-wise," Harville said on Sunday.

Harville played some spot minutes in the College Summer League this Thursday and Saturday while here on vacation with his family. He initially planned to remain here for summer school and the rest of summer league, but he canceled those plans and notified the UH coaching staff.

His choice was made, in part, by who wasn't here rather than who was.

"(Former UH assistant Scott) Fisher got me over here," Harville said. "After Fisher left, nobody ... I didn't hear from any of the coaches for a good month and a half. They didn't show as much love as Saint Mary's did. Just a better situation for me, but no hard feelings or nothing. Just a better opportunity."

Fisher is now the head coach at Ohlone College in Fremont, Calif.

Harville affirmed he worked out with the Gaels recently and hit it off with them.

"And I went and visited and everything a while back. Just kind of fell into place last minute, really," he said.

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Much was made of Harville's commit to UH. Do you think the walk-on would have lived up to the hype?

 

 

Just some spot action

July 6th, 2014
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If anyone was hoping for a concentrated dose of projected Hawaii walk-ons Tyler Harville or Zach Buscher on Saturday, they had to walk out of the Manoa Valley District Park gym with some disappointment.

Both players scored just two points off the bench (Harville for Grantco Pacific in a 108-103 win over Wealth Strategy Partners and Buscher for Chosen Few in an 89-71 win over Clark Hatch Fitness) , and they never really impacted their games on a night most notable for its chippy play.

Two former UH players dominated their games with 37-point nights, those being Bill Amis of Chosen Few and Christian Standhardinger of Grantco. Standhardinger is averaging 40 points in three games.

The diminutive Harville was clearly anxious to make something happen when he checked in for Alan Silva's Grantco team, firing up three quick, errant 3s in the first half before getting pulled. He did connect on an aggressive driving layup through the middle of the paint. He finished 0-for-4 from deep, but he had a couple nice passes for assists.

The wiry Buscher was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made two out of three at the line. He gives up a lot of bulk to opponents. That's something that will likely be a work in progress for him his whole freshman year. In the meantime, he'll have to make the most of limited opportunities on an experienced Chosen squad.

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By the next night of games on Thursday, Isaac Fleming, Brocke Stepteau and Michael Thomas should be in action. That should be it as far as the remaining UH players who will see action in summer league; Roderick Bobbitt will be here but is still rehabbing his broken arm and Sammis Reyes is still trying to figure out a way to get cleared by the NCAA and make it out to the islands.

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Sounds like Wealth Strategy's Julian Sensley will be out the rest of summer league. He had his knee scoped recently and on Saturday didn't sound like he was in a rush to get back in action while he roamed the gym on crutches.

That's unfortunate, as Sensley has been a summer league staple and was going to be key in Wealth Strategy's title defense.