RAINBOW BASKETBALL SEASON PREVIEW
Nash and Luettgerodt bring versatility to the UH's '3' spot
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 small forwards that make up the 2006-07 team.
THIRD OF FIVE PARTS
BOBBY NASH makes it his business to know what everybody else is doing on the court.
Sure, he has to concentrate on doing his job first, but making sense of the flurry of movement surrounding him is often vital to executing the small forward's role in the UH system.
THROUGH THE YEARS
Coach Riley Wallace is beginning his 20th season as coach of the 'Bows. A look at the 1995-96 through 1998-99 seasons:
RECORD: 10-18, 7-11 WAC
MVP: Justice Sueing
HIGHLIGHTS: Wins six of last 10 regular-season games after losing 10 of 11. ... Anthony Harris leads the WAC in scoring with 22.4 points per game, setting a school record with 626 points. ... Loses to UTEP in the first round of the WAC tournament, but advances due to the Miners using an ineligible player. Falls to Utah to end the season.
RECORD: 21-8, 12-4 WAC
MVP: Anthony Carter
HIGHLIGHTS: WAC Pacific Division champion. ... Wallace named WAC Pacific Division Coach of the Year. ... Carter named division Player of the Year. ... Loses to New Mexico in the first round of the WAC tournament, but gets invitation to NIT. ... Beats Oregon 71-61 in the first round, loses at UNLV in the second round.
RECORD: 21-9, 8-6 WAC
MVP: Anthony Carter, Alika Smith
HIGHLIGHTS: Opens with an 82-65 win over Indiana. ... Scores a landmark win with a 76-65 upset of No. 2 Kansas in the Rainbow Classic title game. ... Beats Arizona State and Gonzaga in the first two rounds of the NIT before losing to Fresno State 85-83 in the quarterfinals. ... Smith ends his career third on UH's all-time scoring list with 1,415 points.
RECORD: 6-20, 3-11 WAC
MVP: Mike Robinson
HIGHLIGHTS: Second-lowest overall and WAC win totals in Wallace's tenure. ... Loses to California, Oklahoma State and Auburn in early-season games. ... Picks up first WAC win against San Diego State 87-67 on Jan. 23. ... Season ends with an 83-71 loss to Fresno State at home. ... Marquette Alexander leads the 'Bows with 13.4 points per game.
"It's good to know all the spots and at my position you have to know all the spots," said Nash, who is entering his fourth year with the Rainbow Warriors. "You have to know where the cuts are coming from, where guys are, and how to get them open and get the passes to them on time."
The patterns were ingrained in Nash's mind as a youngster growing up around the UH program and his experience has given him the edge at small forward this fall as well as the ability to contribute at other positions.
Nash, a 6-foot-6 junior, returned from a shoulder injury that sidelined him most of last season and started Saturday's exhibition game against UH-Hilo at small forward. He can also slide over to shooting guard, where he started earlier in his career, and fill in at power forward against smaller teams.
"I feel comfortable, if it's not a big guy down there, that he can play the four and wear them out and be a matchup problem for them," UH head coach Riley Wallace said.
Versatility is a common trait among the UH wing players with Nash and newcomer Riley Luettgerodt, a prolific junior-college scorer, able to contribute at both forward and in the backcourt.
Matt Lojeski, the starter at shooting guard, John Wilder and Jared Dillinger can also play forward, giving Wallace flexibility in putting various combinations on the floor.
Julian Sensley played small forward the last three seasons, earning the team's Most Outstanding Player award the last two years. At 6-foot-9, he presented a defensive challenge for most teams and is the only player to rank in the school's top 10 in scoring, rebounds and assists.
With Sensley now pursuing a professional career, Nash and Luettgerodt are eager to make their own marks on the program.
"Julian had his own footsteps and I know that you have to step out of somebody else's footsteps and make your own footsteps," said Nash, the son of associate coach Bob Nash, a member of UH's Fabulous Five of the early 1970s.
"I feel I had huge footsteps from my dad but I'm my own person. The thing my dad passed down to me is you have to have heart, you have to play with desire."
While Nash has three years of experience in the program and watched Rainbows of the past execute the scheme, Luettgerodt is steadily getting the feel for his role in his first season in Manoa.
Luettgerodt averaged 26.7 points last season in Chemeketa (Ore.) Community College's up-tempo system and has a smooth shooting stroke from the perimeter. He's spent the fall learning the halfcourt sets, which often start with the small forward taking a pass on the wing or at the high post.
"It is a tough spot because the three, in a lot of plays, really triggers the offense because that's the first pass," Luettgerodt said. "Now I'm starting to get more on pace, at first my head was spinning. I still mess up but I'm starting to get more comfortable and I'm starting to play better.
"(Nash) has been here four years, he knows the position better than anybody and I can ask him specific things and he always has an answer. And even though we're battling for the same spot he's always willing to help me."
Dillinger redshirted as a transfer from Air Force and practiced with the team last season. The junior was awarded a scholarship just before the start of the fall semester and plays with abandon in practice.
|NO. NAMEHT.WT.CL.HOMETOWN NOTE
||Iolani graduate, started 14 games for UH in 2004-05
||Scored 53 points in a game for Chemeketa C.C. last season
||Transfer from Air Force, sat out last season
Gueye, Lojeski elected captains
On election day, seniors Ahmet Gueye and Matt Lojeski were introduced as the leaders of the Hawaii basketball team.
Gueye and Lojeski were selected team captains by a vote of their teammates, giving them responsibilities beyond their duties on the court.
"They're expected to keep the team together, call meetings, keep them focused and keep that desire out there," UH head coach Riley Wallace said. "And they have a direct line to me."
Gueye and Lojeski transferred from junior colleges last year and were both named to the Western Athletic Conference All-Newcomer team. Lojeski was second on the team in scoring with 13.6 points per game and Gueye led the WAC with 65 blocked shots.
"It's a really great honor. We've been here before and we know what it looks like," Gueye said. "We just have to have good leadership and keep doing what we're doing and lead by example."
As seniors, both were already looking to step up their leadership duties even before being given the titles of captains.
"I'm excited to do that role, me and Ahmet can get everybody through the plays, get on the right page," Lojeski said. "It's not only just basketball stuff, it's getting everybody doing the right things off the court and in the locker room."
Jason Kaneshiro, Star-Bulletin