Point of Impact
The UH basketball team opens its season Friday. Coach Riley Wallace will spend his 20th season placing his pieces on the board to put the 'Bows in position to improve on last year's 17-11 mark. Today's preview takes a look at the point guards that make up the 2006-07 team.
FIRST OF FIVE PARTS » Sometimes simply watching the game can be a vital part in learning it.
Matt Gibson and Dominic Waters spent a lot of time observing last season and plan to implement those lessons into their games at point guard this fall.
Gibson's 2005-06 season ended with a medical hardship after playing in just two games, while Waters spent much of his freshman season watching Deonte Tatum captain the Rainbows at the point.
This fall, with Gibson back at full strength and Waters more confident entering his sophomore season, the duo has been dueling for the starting job on a daily basis, and both figure to play heavy minutes this season no matter who gets introduced before tipoff.
"You want to be on point every day," Waters said of the tight competition in practice. "You don't want to make mistakes, you don't want to force anything, you want to be on point to where Coach will still have to make that tough decision."
Gibson started Saturday's exhibition game against UH-Hilo and had 10 points, five rebounds and six assists in the Rainbows' 83-50 win. Waters had three points and two assists in 12 minutes of action.
Freshman Todd Lowenthal has shown a knack for the role and also figures to contribute this year. Marquez Jackson, a 5-foot-7 freshman who plans to rejoin the UH football team in the spring, adds quickness and depth to the backcourt.
In the Rainbows' two-guard front, the point guard and shooting guard share many of the same duties. Either can push the ball up the court, trigger the offense and look to score given the opportunity.
Still, UH coach Riley Wallace is looking for a point guard to handle the ball and keep the team organized on the offensive end.
"That's the big question," Wallace said. "Who's going to provide the leadership out there, not get frustrated when you see pressure, and when somebody breaks down in the offense, get them back in it.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hawaii's Dominic Waters earned WAC freshman of the year honors last season.
"They have to take the scoring when they've got it, keep that guy in front of them and play solid defense, and make sure you get the ball where it belongs enough times to win games."
Both Gibson, who led the Rainbows in scoring in 2004-05, and Waters can provide scoring punch at the point. Gibson made 46 3-pointers as a sophomore and isn't shy about attacking the basket, while Waters can also light it up from outside.
But both approach this season intent on distributing the ball and getting the offense flowing.
"It's a mentality," Gibson said. "A shooter is looking to score first and pass second. The point guard ... his responsibility is to find his shooters, to find his players and get the team working together. That's my main focus this year, trying to keep everyone close on and off the court."
Gibson's fiery demeanor became his trademark in his first season at UH. Although he's still among the team's more intense competitors, he's learned to harness his emotions on the court.
"That's another thing I had to work on a lot, controlling just the emotional standpoint of my game," he said, "not the energy so much and intensity, but the emotions. The guys are going to watch what you do, and they're going to feed off that."
Waters, the Western Athletic Conference freshman of the year, started two games last season and scored nine points off the bench in a win over eventual league champion Nevada. He learned by watching Tatum last year and has often sought the advice of the Rainbows' student-coach this fall.
"What I learned is to be more aggressive in the offensive end and everything else will come," he said. "If you're passive, you don't get much out of the offense. But if you're aggressive and you're looking for guys and looking for your shot everything falls into place.
"If you put pressure on the defense, they'll have to help or they'll have to stay on their man. If they help, I'll pass. If they don't, I'll score."
Lowenthal signed with UH in the spring following a heralded career at Poway High School in San Diego. He's gradually adapting to the size and quickness of the college game, and Wallace sees a bright future for the freshman.
"They've been bringing me along fast, helping me out, directing me in certain situations," Lowenthal said.
At 5-7, Jackson, who started for a nationally ranked prep power in Georgia, gives up some size in the backcourt, but has often caused problems in practice with his quickness.
At the point
||Oklahoma City, Okla.
||Redshirt last yr.; scored team-high 13 ppg in '04-'05
||WAC freshman of year, started twice last season
||On scholarship with the UH football team
||Avgeraged 21 ppg, 6.3 apg as a senior at Poway High
Through the years
Coach Riley Wallace is beginning his 20th season as coach of the Warriors. We'll look at each season throughout the week, beginning with his first four:
Record: 4-25, 2-14 WAC
MVP: Reggie Cross
Highlights: Riley Wallace hired as head coach. ... Opens the season with losses at Vanderbilt and Kentucky. ... Upsets No. 18 New Mexico 79-76 on Jan. 16. ... Takes top-seeded BYU to the wire before losing 76-74 in the quarterfinals of the WAC tournament.
Record: 17-13, 9-7 WAC
MVP: Reggie Cross
Highlights: Completes one of the nation's top turnarounds in the program's first winning season in six years. ... Beats Purdue in the Rainbow Classic semifinals before losing to Illinois in the final. ... Earns a bid to the National Invitation Tournament for its first postseason appearance in 15 years. ... Loses at California to end the season. ... Wallace named WAC Coach of the Year.
Record: 25-10, 10-6 WAC
MVPs: Chris Gaines, Terry Houston, Vincent Smalls, Andrew McGuire, Cliff Beaubrun
Highlights: Sets school record for wins. ... Loses to Duke in Rainbow Classic final. ... Advances to first WAC tournament final; loses to UTEP. ... Beats Stanford, Long Beach State in NIT, loses at New Mexico in quarterfinals. ... Chris Gaines becomes UH career scoring leader with 1,734 points.
Record: 16-13, 7-9 WAC
MVP: Troy Bowe
Highlights: Defeats No. 11 Pittsburgh 84-82 for the Rainbow Classic championship. ... Beats New Mexico 68-67 in the quarterfinals of the WAC tournament before losing to BYU in overtime the next day. ... Ray Reed wins the WAC scoring title with 19.6 points per game.