Rainbows get out and run
After playing close to 50 minutes in steamy Gym II, Matthew Gipson admitted to being a bit winded yesterday.
But after a grueling week of workouts, the Hawaii forward found the Rainbow Warrior basketball team's scrimmage yesterday to be an invigorating way to cap the first full week of practice.
"This is like a fun day, like playing dodgeball in middle school," Gipson said. "It's fun to come out here and compete with your teammates."
UH coach Riley Wallace looked on as the Rainbows played two 20-minute periods, followed by another 10-minute period that included the team's walk-ons.
Senior forward Julian Sensley had 22 points in playing most of the scrimmage for the Black team. Gipson added 18 points for the Black squad, which included guards Bobby Nash, John Wilder and Hiram Thompson and forward Ahmet Gueye.
Junior guard Matt Gibson, UH's leading scorer last season, didn't score in the first period, but hit for 18 points over the next two for the White squad. Center Chris Botez had 14 points on a team that also featured guards Deonte Tatum and Dominic Waters, forward Matt Lojeski and center Milos Zivanovic.
Center Stephen Verwers, a transfer who will sit out this season, helped out on both teams and finished with a total of nine points.
The Black team led 69-59 after the first 40 minutes and 91-85 after the final period.
"Probably in some ways we're ahead of schedule for the newcomers because of being able to work together in the fall, getting up and down and being able to execute as well as we did," Wallace said.
"Still, too many turnovers and too many fouls, that's partially conditioning. But they were very competitive, they got after each other."
With a little less than a month before the season opener against Michigan State, the Rainbows know there's still much to be done, but were encouraged by their progress since Twilight Ohana.
"You can never be satisfied, but I think we're improving daily," Sensley said. "From where we were a week ago, it's a huge improvement. We just need to work on execution -- there's still a lot of wild passes out there."
Wallace said the teams for the scrimmage weren't an indication of possible starting lineups, but were put together to blend experience with youth.
"I've had a different five every day," he said. "I'm trying to keep it mixed up, enough old with new so that they don't get lost."
A year ago, Gipson was playing catch-up in preparing for his season at UH. Offseason surgery had hampered his conditioning as he tried to figure out the Rainbows' system. He ended up averaging 4.9 points in limited minutes.
This year, the 6-foot-9 senior is healthy again and playing with greater confidence. In the second period yesterday, he scored several baskets in transition, tipped in a miss, knocked down a baseline jumper and zipped a bounce pass to Sensley from the top of the key for an easy layup.
"I kind of got in a hole last year, got my head down," Gipson said. "This year I put in a good summer, worked hard and I'm just coming back and having fun. This is my senior year and you have to go all out, you've got to leave it all out there."
Wallace also pointed to Thompson's leadership in running the Black team yesterday as a positive in the scrimmage. The true freshman is among a group of young guards recruited to compete for the point guard spot.
Thompson had seven points and a few nifty assists as he makes the adjustment from high school to college ball.
"It's a lot faster and more physical, so I'm still trying to adjust," Thompson said. "I'm getting the hang of it and I'm getting the offense down pretty good, so it's coming along."