It’s all good against UH-Hilo
OK, 'Bows fans, here's your Sidelines scouting report of last night's Hawaii exhibition against UH-Hilo, the final tune-up heading into next week's opener against mighty Michigan State:
Julian Sensley still has enormous talent, but still doesn't let you forget that he's a really nice guy. Matt Gibson still has a nonstop motor and interesting hair. Bobby Nash still plays with unbridled passion. Chris Botez is still 7 feet tall.
"We're much better now than where we ended up last year," Riley Wallace would say.
Yes, it looks like the new guys are fitting in. Matt Lojeski. Ahmet Gueye. Matthew Gipson.
Yes, Gipson. The Big Gipper did play here last year, true. But he'd also played for Kelvin Sampson at Oklahoma, a fact he'd rarely reminded us of last season. He does have those skills in him, and if he can bring some of that to the table, Hawaii's chances of having a big year greatly increase.
"It's just about confidence and freedom," he said, after scoring 18 points.
Last night, he did look like a new man.
Lojeski looked like a legitimate contributor. Gueye looked particularly good, particularly against a Division II team. It remains to be seen what a 6-7 center ("In our stuff we don't have a true post," Wallace said) can do against the likes of Michigan State, but last night he was big-time.
Gueye had four blocks in the first half, and all of them were highlights. All of them were adrenaline boosts -- momentum shifters, foot stompers, game changers.
He's been most compared to Tony Akpan, only better. He doesn't even mind Wallace yelling at him.
"I'm grateful for it anyway," Gueye said.
Gibson came off the bench and you can see him in that role. He can still add instant offense, instant attitude, and also, for good or bad, instant insanity. And Deonte Tatum had five assists to just one turnover.
"He orchestrated, he pushed, he played good defense," Wallace would say.
Of course, Wallace also reminded us (and them) that this was a long, long way from Michigan State.
The coach was already in midseason form. "Stop thinking!" he screamed out at the court at one point.
Which is probably good advice for all of us, when it comes to games like these.