[ UH BASKETBALL ]
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM|
The theme of Hawaii basketball's Midnight Ohana had a "Back to the Future" feel. Rainbow newcomer Julian Sensley made his debut with the team in a flashy outfit.
to get to work
The repetitive drills. The tortuous series of lung-burning sprints. The constant hounding of a task master.
This is what Julian Sensley has been waiting for.
After a nomadic post-high school journey, Sensley returned to the islands to join the Hawaii basketball program this season and eagerly anticipated the first of coach Riley Wallace's rigorous practice sessions yesterday afternoon at Gym II.
"I've been waiting a long time for this. To actually get out there and practice, I've been looking forward to it," Sensley said. "I know Riley's going to get under your skin a little bit here and there, but that's what makes us better."
Sensley, a 6-foot-9 sophomore, made his Hawaii debut yesterday morning at Midnight Ohana and announced his arrival by scoring 12 points on 4-for-6 shooting and grabbing five rebounds to help the White squad defeat the Green 39-35 in the annual intrasquad scrimmage.
He was credited with one assist, but drew oohs from the Stan Sheriff Center crowd with nifty passes.
Sensley starred at Kalaheo High School for three years, but finished high school at St. Thomas More Prep School in Connecticut. He initially committed to California, but didn't meet entrance requirements and floated around for a while. He surfaced at Los Angeles City College last year and finally signed with UH in the spring.
"I feel right at home, this is where I should have been in the first place," he said in the early hours of yesterday morning. "It feels good to come out and play in front of friends and family. It's comfortable.
"I felt right back at home, like I was back in Kalaheo days."
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM|
Returner Vaidotas Peciukas went to the hoop with some help from teammate Milos Zivanovic (right).
The early-morning affair at the Sheriff Center was far more festive than what awaited the team in its first real workout of the season.
This year's Midnight Ohana began with a "Back to the Future" feel, as former players from the men's and women's programs were introduced to the crowd.
The "Time to Rock" theme was played out as this year's squads dressed up as rock stars. Jake Sottos, Jeff Blackett and Logan Lee sported a Guns n' Roses look for the men's team. Janevia Taylor did a drop-dead Tina Turner impersonation for the women, while Milia Macfarlane added some glitter as Cher.
Wallace and UH women's coach Vince Goo closed the spectacle by driving onto the court in a Delorean.
The women stole the show in the 3-point shooting contest, claiming a win over the men for the fourth time in five years as senior guard April Atuaia defeated Sottos 21-13.
Jason Carter, who misfired on his attempts in last year's slam-dunk contest, left no doubt this time around. He set the tone by tossing the ball into the air, catching it on a bounce and throwing it down with one hand.
It was enough to hold off Sensley, Blackett and Phil Martin.
"Wallace gave me so much about it. He said, 'You have to hit a dunk, son. If you wanna win, you have to hit a dunk,' " Carter said. "I just made sure I hit my dunks, and once I did that I knew I had it and I tried to do a difficult dunk."
In the intrasquad scrimmage, the big men for the White squad proved to be the difference.
Haim Shimonovich led all scorers with 14 points and posted eight rebounds to complement Sensley. Martin paced the Green with eight points, while Carter dished out four assists.
Although Wallace's biggest goal was to make sure everybody stayed healthy in the game, he was happy with what he saw in the scrimmage.
"It gives you a chance to get a little sneak preview of what it's going to be when they start playing and how they're going to respond, and we're pleased," he said. "Nobody got hurt, they got up and down, they scored, they played together.
"I thought Julian showed what skills he's got and how he can pass the ball. Haim got a lot of baskets on passes from the perimeter and that's what we have to have. If he can average that for the year we'll be in good shape."
But now the real work begins as the Rainbows prepare to face Brigham Young-Hawaii in an exhibition game Nov. 17 and UC-Santa Barbara four days later to open the season.
"It's real exciting to see the talent we have and the potential, and the coaches are going to put it together," said senior guard Michael Kuebler, who returned from the Western Athletic Conference media preview in Dallas just a few hours before Midnight Ohana.
"This is where you get your wins from, so you really need to step it up, go to practice every day and get ready for the season."