Wallace has 1 more scholarship to fill
The Hawaii basketball team hasn't closed the book completely on the recruiting season, but coach Riley Wallace is already happy with the latest chapter.
The Rainbow Warriors signed five players for next season, and are keeping another scholarship open. They have until the start of the fall semester to add another player to the roster.
For now, Wallace is looking forward to combining the talents of UH's incoming recruits with the experience of the players already in the program.
"With the guys we've signed, the three redshirts and the returning guys, it looks good for us," he said.
UH, which went 17-11 last season, filled the gaps left by the departure of five seniors and guard Hiram Thompson (Mormon mission) by adding depth at every position.
Wallace said freshman Todd Lowenthal has the ball-handling and shooting ability to play both guard spots, while 6-foot-5 transfer Riley Luettgerodt, a prolific junior-college scorer, may also contribute at multiple spots.
"That was a big one for us, because he's a highly skilled offensive player," Wallace said. "He has good size, can play the two (shooting guard) or the three (small forward) and compared favorably to (former UH guard Michael Kuebler)."
UH also bolstered the frontcourt with the addition of forwards Todd Follmer (7-feet), P.J. Owsley (6-8) and Alex Veit (6-8).
The newcomers join a roster that includes five players who have started games for the Rainbows. Guard Matt Lojeski finished second on the team in scoring last season and WAC freshman of the year Dominic Waters started two games. Guards Bobby Nash and Matt Gibson are also set to return after sitting out with medical hardship seasons.
Wallace said forward Ahmet Gueye is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a torn ACL in his right knee. Center Stephen Verwers practiced with the team while sitting out as a transfer.
"We have good overall size and depth and we added a couple of guys who can shoot the basketball," Wallace said.
"You've already got Lojeski, Nash, Little Matt, Waters and (John) Wilder, guys who can shoot the ball. You add more to go with them, that helps a lot. And then you have three new guys with size with two returning. So we feel we had as good a recruiting year as we could."
"We just recruited to the University of Hawaii men's basketball program," he said of the staff's approach to attracting players to UH. "I've never recruited to myself or the individuals that are here. You sell the school, sell the program."
Northern exposure?: The UH coaching staff is trying to clear the way for a trip to the 49th state in November.
The Rainbows are looking to free up the week of Thanksgiving to play in the Great Alaska Shootout. Hawaii played in the eight-team tournament hosted by Alaska-Anchorage in 1989 and 1993. The tournament's exempt status -- like the Rainbow Classic -- means it would count as one game on the schedule instead of three.
The Rainbows went 2-1 in their first appearance in Alaska and suffered lopsided losses to Portland (100-47), Wake Forest (87-49) and North Carolina State (83-48) to open the 1993-94 season. But that team, led by guard Trevor Ruffin and center Tony Maroney, ended the year by winning the Western Athletic Conference tournament and playing Syracuse in the NCAA Tournament.
So far, the Rainbows have a home-and-home series with UNLV and a game at Santa Clara set for next season, as well as the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic, which includes Houston, Valparaiso, Nebraska, Creighton, San Francisco, Charlotte and Wyoming.
Tough draw: Memphis is considering making a stop on the Big Island on its way to the EA Sports Maui Invitational, but UH-Hilo coach Jeff Law said the status of a possible matchup with the Tigers remains hazy.
"We don't know how that's going to play out because we don't have a contract," Law said.
Memphis was a top seed in the NCAA Tournament and advanced to the Oakland Regional final before losing to UCLA. The Rainbows had hoped to schedule Memphis, but recent history might have worked against them.
"It's going to be harder for them to get those guys simply because of what they did to Michigan State last year," Law said.
Joining Memphis on Maui on Nov. 20-22 will be DePaul, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Oklahoma, Purdue, UCLA and host Chaminade.