[ UH BASKETBALL ]
’Bows feel burn
in first scrimmage
The play was ragged at times, the offense didn't always flow smoothly and there were more turnovers than the coaches would have liked, but overall, Hawaii basketball coach Riley Wallace felt the Rainbows' opening scrimmage of the season was a positive first step.
For the record, the White squad beat the Black 60-51 yesterday at the Stan Sheriff Center. But Wallace used the scrimmage to work with different combinations and test the players' conditioning over the three 10-minute periods.
"After eight practices it was good," Wallace said. "The new ones had some turnovers because they didn't take care of the ball. That'll come around. You could see the experienced guys know how to get open. Once you get up and down the floor it opens things up.
"We have a lot of work to do defensively, cut the turnovers and keep pushing to keep them in shape."
After working in half-court sets with coaches providing detailed instruction over the first week of practice, the scrimmage gave the players a chance to stretch their legs in a full-court setting.
Senior forward Phil Martin scored 21 points and grabbed seven rebounds for the White, and guard Michael Kuebler hit for 17 points while splitting time with both units.
Kuebler scored 12 points in the first two periods, helping the White build a 39-23 lead. He switched over to the Black and played point guard for the final period and was credited with seven assists.
"It felt really good just to get a chance for us to get some game-type situations," Kuebler said. "It's nothing like the games are going to be, but even still it's fun to go through our plays and go up and down."
While the production from the returning starters was expected, the Rainbow coaches have been encouraged by the progress of center Milos Zivanovic. The 6-foot-11 sophomore from Yugoslavia added some muscle as well as attitude in the offseason and finished with nine points and six rebounds.
Zivanovic, still a lanky 235-pounder, struggled to hold his ground in the paint his first two years at UH, but has played with greater confidence over the first week of practice while filling in for senior Haim Shimonovich, who is out with tendinitis in his right achilles.
"Milos was killing today," Kuebler said. "Hopefully that's just a sign of things to come. It seems like some days when he wants to be, he can be a really good player. What he demonstrated today was nothing like what he did last year at all. It's definitely a bonus if we have another big guy like that."
"Milos has made a really concerted effort to be assertive," UH associate coach Bob Nash said earlier in the week. "He's not taking the easy way out and I think he wants to have a great year."
Martin missed a couple of days of practice last week with a hip pointer, but showed that his mid-range jumper is still one of the team's most reliable weapons. Newcomer Julian Sensley had 12 points and seven rebounds. Vaidotas Peciukas led the Black with 17 points, while freshman Bobby Nash finished with 11.
Junior forward Jeff Blackett went down with a sprained ankle during the scrimmage. Wallace said he wasn't sure how long Blackett might be sidelined, but added that the injury did not look serious.
In other Rainbow basketball news, Matt Gipson, a 6-foot-9 forward from North Idaho College, gave a verbal commitment to the UH coaches Thursday and is planning on joining the program for the 2004-05 season.
Gipson can make it official by signing a national letter of intent during the early signing period for basketball (Nov. 12-19). He will have two years of eligibility.
"I knew there wasn't going to be a better school that fit the way I play and the way I am," Gipson said.
Gipson spent two years at Oklahoma. He redshirted his first year and played in 16 games as a freshman last season. He averaged 1.9 points and 5.6 minutes of play for the Sooners before deciding to transfer to NIC this year.
Gipson is originally from Burkburnett, Texas, and became familiar with the Hawaii program when the Rainbows would travel to the Lone Star State to face Texas Christian and Southern Methodist.
He visited UH early in the month and was sold on the school after meeting with the players and coaches and said the Rainbows' style of play fits into his skills.
"I'm very familiar with the system and with the program," he said.