Saturday, November 10, 2001
[ UH BASKETBALL ]
The NCAA has not contacted Hawaii lately regarding the eligibility of basketball players Predrag Savovic and Mindaugas Burneika. By yesterday afternoon, nothing new.
Savo, Burneika will
By Cindy Luis
And that's good enough for UH.
After a meeting yesterday with athletic director Hugh Yoshida, attorney Jan Gouveia, and compliance coordinator Daniel Arakaki, UH has cleared Savovic and Burneika to play in the Rainbows' exhibition game tomorrow against EA Sports West.
The school had provided the NCAA with requested information about the pre-college playing experience of Savovic and Burneika in their native European countries. At issue is whether they played among professionals before coming to the United States. The information UH provided indicated that both players did not violate NCAA rules that would cause them to be suspended for any games.
"They have been eligible all along," Hawaii coach Riley Wallace said.
But forward Luc-Arthur Vebobe, about whom the NCAA also requested information, will be held out, Wallace said.
"Luc-Arthur will not play because we know he has to sit some games," Wallace said. "We're just trying to decide how many."
The Rainbows are expected to start junior Mark Campbell at point guard, senior Savovic at shooting guard, sophomore Carl English at small forward and junior Paul Jesinskis and sophomore Haim Shimonovich at the posts.
Savovic, who made the All-WAC first team last year, said he is glad the eligibility issue finally appears to be near an end.
"I'm happy we're finally going to play. It's been how long, March?," Savovic said.
Expect UH to substitute early and often, as Wallace gets his first chance to see how eight returnees who went to the NCAA Tournament after winning the WAC Tournament last spring blend with the newcomers.
"We hope to get a lot out of tomorrow," Wallace said. "We've got to see what the guys do when you turn on the lights."
With the addition of junior college standouts Vebobe (6-foot-9 forward) and Campbell (6-4), as well as solid freshmen Milos Zivanovic (6-11 forward) and Nkeruwem Akpan (6-8 forward), Hawaii looks very good on paper.
The Rainbows have looked good in practice as well. But Gym II is not a fan-filled Stan Sheriff Center.
One thing the Rainbows need to work on is perimeter defense. Hawaii gave up 174 treys last season, while hitting 177 of their own. Another question is board strength. Can UH replace the rebounding lost with the departure of Troy Ostler (5.9 rpg) and Nerijus Puida (5.8 rpg)?
Hawaii should overpower the All-Stars, who will be playing their 10th game in 12 days and seventh straight. EA Sports is 2-6, having defeated Cal State Fullerton 100-60 and UC Santa Barbara 78-75.
The losses have been ugly, including a 50-point blowout by Western Athletic Conference favorite Fresno State 104-54 on Wednesday and a 109-84 loss on Nov. 1 to San Diego State, a team Hawaii hosts on Dec. 14. Thursday, they lost to UCLA 122-77 and played Cal last night.
The All-Stars face UNLV tonight before flying to Hawaii tomorrow morning.
The constants for EA Sports have been two guards out of Cal State Northridge: 6-1 Brooklyn McClinn and 6-3 Jason Crowe. McClinn had 17 points, including five 3-pointers, in the 106-89 loss at Pepperdine, and Crowe hit a 3-pointer with 10 seconds left to win the game at UCSB.
Neither of the former Matadors played against Hawaii last season but forward Julius Hicks scored two points and had four rebounds for Oregon in the 1999 Rainbow Classic title game won by Hawaii, 66-63.
Guard Brandon Titus played just three minutes for Long Beach State in 1995 when the 49ers downed Hawaii 71-66 at The Pyramid.
Notes: The Rainbows are relatively healthy but will be without sophomore forward Phil Martin, who sprained his ankle two weeks ago. He had his cast removed earlier in the week and is in a walking boot; he is not expected to be ready for Hawaii's opener against Norfolk State on Nov. 16. Akpan, who has a bruised left thigh, is unlikely to play tomorrow. ... Wallace said he plans to redshirt post Joshua Stanhiser. ... Tickets for Hawaii basketball games are on sale at the Stan Sheriff Center Box Office and all Ticket Plus locations, including phone sales hotline 526-4400. Box office hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. weekdays. For Individual games, the prices are: $14 lower level (single-seats only); $10 upper level (adult); $7 upper level (students ages 4-18 and UH students). This is the first time since 1994 that lower-level seats are available following season-ticket sales. Rainbow Classic tournament packages are $68 lower level (single-seats only) and $52 upper level.
Star-Bulletin reporter Dave Reardon contributed to this report.
Ka Leo O Hawaii