RAINBOW WARRIOR BASKETBALL
Rainbows split up for Twilight Ohana
The teams are set for UH's scrimmage this Friday night
The Hawaii basketball team officially starts practice on Friday with its annual Twilight Ohana festivities, but the fun and gamesmanship started yesterday.
With intra-office bragging rights at stake, UH associate coaches Bob Nash and Jackson Wheeler split up this year's Rainbow Warriors with a lighthearted draft moderated by head coach Riley Wallace.
Where: Stan Sheriff Center
White (Bob Nash)
» Matt Gibson (G), Todd Lowenthal (G), Bobby Nash (G), John Wilder (G), Alex Veit (F), Todd Follmer (C), Stephen Verwers (C).
Green (Jackson Wheeler)
» Marquez Jackson (G), Matt Lojeski (G), Jack Miller (G), Dominic Waters (G), Jared Dillinger (G/F), Riley Luettgerodt (G/F), Ahmet Gueye (F), P.J. Owsley (F).
» Janevia Taylor (G), Pam Tambini (G), Saundra Cariaga (G), Amber Lee (F), Tanya Smith (F), Megan Tinnin (G/F), Shannon Nishi (G).
» Amy Kotani (G), Brittany Grice (C), Dalia Solia (G), Dita Liepkalne (G/F), Iwona Zagrobelna (C), Cassidy Chretien (G), Leilani Galdones (G).
So who does Wallace give the edge to?
"I don't see a big advantage," Wallace said in diplomatic fashion. "In a pickup game like this, whoever has the best guards wins. And I see it as pretty balanced."
Wallace said last night he has asked Duane "Dog" Chapman -- the star of A&E's hit reality show "Dog The Bounty Hunter" -- and his wife, Beth, to be on the sideline as celebrity coaches.
The Rainbows officially open practice at Twilight Ohana, which is annually highlighted by the introductions of the men's and women's teams, and the scrimmages.
The theme for this year's Twilight Ohana is "Freaky Friday the 13th." Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
The teams will be introduced at 8:15 followed by the 3-point shooting and slam-dunk contests. The women then hold their scrimmage at 9:30, followed by the men's game at 9:45.
The Rainbows return nine players, including four who redshirted, from last year's 17-11 team. Five newcomers will make their debuts at the Stan Sheriff Center on Friday.
Nash stayed close to home by taking his son, Bobby, with his first pick for the White team. He then selected guard Matt Gibson and loaded up on big men with centers Stephen Verwers and Todd Follmer, and forward Alex Veit. The White team also added guard depth with freshman Todd Lowenthal and senior John Wilder.
"I thought it was a good choice. Nepotism never played a part in it," Bob Nash said of his top pick.
Bobby Nash is in his fourth year in the program, making him the longest tenured player on the roster. The junior returns after sitting out most of last season due to a shoulder injury.
"I'm excited about being out there in the Stan Sheriff with all the fans," he said. "Last year was a bummer, so I'm just really hungry and I'm excited about this season.
"I love the new guys. They bring a lot of energy to
workouts and the veterans are really excited. I just can't wait."
Wheeler opened with guard Matt Lojeski, UH's top returning scorer, and took newcomer Riley Luettgerodt for the Green team. His roster also includes forward P.J. Owsley, guard Dominic Waters, guard/forward Jared Dillinger, forward Ahmet Gueye, guard Marquez Jackson and guard Jack Miller.
Gueye got some good news yesterday as he was cleared to practice, said Wallace, who wasn't sure whether the senior would play in Friday's scrimmage.
Gueye, the WAC's leading shot blocker last season, suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during a practice in March. After surgery and a summer of rehab, Gueye is working his way back into shape.
"We'll watch him as he goes along," Wallace said.
After Friday's night of fun, the business of preparing for the season begins in earnest Saturday morning. The Rainbows open the 2006-07 campaign Nov. 10 at UNLV.
"I think we've got depth and I think we've got some good overall size," Wallace said. "We've got to get them tougher to play defense and rebound. If we get them playing good defense and rebounding, I think we can score."
Twilight Ohana will also give UH students a chance to win big in the Honolulu Ford Shot for Tuition. The UH student judged with the best Halloween costume wins a trip to the Western Athletic Conference tournament in March in New Mexico. Ten children eighth grade and younger will also receive prizes for their Halloween costumes.