RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
There has been no sophomore slump yet for Dominic Waters, who is putting in solid minutes at the point for Hawaii.
The rivalry between UH's Waters and OSU's Tarver goes way back
KEEPING quiet simply isn't in Dominic Waters' nature, on or off the basketball court.
So with a close buddy coming to town with Oregon State this weekend, the Hawaii guard has been racking up the cell-phone minutes in the days leading up to the Rainbow Warriors' matchup with the Beavers.
Waters and Oregon State point guard Josh Tarver have had a friendly rivalry brewing since their days as prep standouts in Portland, Ore. And after trading phone calls and text messages this week, they'll meet up again on the court tomorrow at the Stan Sheriff Center.
"You know I'm going to talk," Waters said with a wide grin. "It's good fun, it's nothing personal. I'm saying my team is going to win, and he says his team is going to win, so we'll see who has those bragging rights going back home."
Oregon State has become a regular visitor to the islands, making its third trip to Honolulu in the last four years. Hawaii edged the Beavers in overtime in 2003 and Oregon State played in last year's Rainbow Classic, though the teams didn't meet in the tournament.
"I'm excited to see Oregon State come in here," said Waters, part of a trio of Oregon products on the UH roster with juniors Riley Luettgerodt and Alex Veit.
"It adds a little something extra, but it's just another game. We just have to execute our stuff and get the win regardless of who's coming in."
In his second year with the Rainbows, Waters has provided production off the bench in UH's first two games this season and posted a career-high 12 points in last Monday's win over Coppin State. The 6-foot-1 sophomore has also dished out four assists in both of UH's first two games while splitting time at point guard with starter Matt Gibson.
"I'm a backup guy, but I'm still getting my minutes," Waters said. "I'm still going to play hard and help the team win. I just want to come in and do my job, be efficient, and help other guys do their jobs."
"We don't lose much when he comes in," said senior co-captain Matt Lojeski. "He's been playing well, he's getting the team into the sets and he's running the show real well."
Waters spent most of his freshman season watching Deonte Tatum run the point for the Rainbows and continues to seek the insight of the Rainbows' student-coach. He averaged 2.9 points in 20 games, including two starts, and was named the Western Athletic Conference's Freshman of the Year.
With a year in the program, Waters is playing with greater confidence and command of the system and UH head coach Riley Wallace commended Waters' leadership following both games this season.
"He adjusted his game to get his time," Wallace said. "That is play smart, help the team and I'll get my shots."
Said Waters: "I learned a lot about this offense. I know what to look for and get other guys shots as well as myself. ... Once you get used to it, it's a fun offense. I didn't like it last year at all, but when you see where you can find your points and find your assists it can be a lot of fun."
Sociable by nature, Waters carries his outgoing nature to the Rainbows' practices and makes a point of raising the decibel level in the gym during the workouts.
"You have to bring some energy," he said. "When you're dead and down you have to have something to spark you up and I think yelling and screaming can help our team out a little when we make some shots or something. It's just picking guys up and having fun with it.
"I was always the loud, talkative guy, just wanting to crack jokes and have some fun. I'm just trying to have fun as much as I can and get everybody going."
Waters signed with UH in 2005 after a heralded high school career in which he averaged 23.4 points as a senior at Portland's Grant High. He dueled with Tarver, a longtime friend, throughout high school and was named a first-team all-state selection while Tarver was a second-team pick as a senior. Tarver, however, helped Jesuit High eliminate Grant from the state playoffs on the way to winning the Oregon 4A state title that year.
This season, Tarver (11.3 points, 3.8 assists per game) and his younger brother, Seth, are starters for the Beavers, and the result of tomorrow's meeting will only fuel the talk for next year's scheduled rematch at Oregon State's Gill Coliseum in Corvallis.
"That should be a lot of fun," Waters said. "But right now our focus is Sunday and we'll worry about next year, next year."