Gueye covers more ground
Ahmet Gueye's new job is keeping him on the move.
The Hawaii forward emerged as the Western Athletic Conference's top shot blocker while remaining anchored in the post last season. As a senior, he's expanded his range and his role on defense by tracking opponents farther away from the basket.
"I have a different task," Gueye said. "Now I'm guarding people who are able to shoot, able to dribble and get inside.
"It's a little bit tough, but it's all about challenge," he added. "Coach told me about it and I told him I'm going to take the challenge. I want to learn this and it's going to be good for me in the future. I'm still learning."
Hawaii's big men will be tested inside and outside today as the Rainbow Warriors (1-1) face Oregon State (2-2) at the Stan Sheriff Center. Tipoff is 5:05 p.m.
After holding a decided edge in height against their first two opponents this season, the Rainbows will take on a Beavers squad with a tall and experienced starting frontcourt in Sasa Cuic (6-foot-10), Marcel Jones (6-8) and Kyle Jeffers (6-9).
"It should be a good matchup," UH coach Riley Wallace said. "These guys are bigger and more like what we'll be seeing most of the year."
Gueye played center last year and provided an imposing presence near the basket with 65 blocked shots. This year he's adjusting to the task of guarding forwards who might pull him away from the paint while also staying in position to help his teammates.
"(Oregon State's) guards are pretty quick," he said. "So we have to be able to balance being able to help ... or hedge hard on the screens, and at the same time having to guard our guy when they pick, pop out and shoot the threes.
"We've been playing against shorter guys, so it's going to be a good test for us."
Gueye has been the Rainbows' most productive player in their first two games this season with 17.5 points and 11 rebounds per game. Which of the UH big men will join him in the starting five today will be a game-time decision, Wallace said.
Stephen Verwers started against UNLV and Coppin State, but P.J. Owsley worked with the first team in practice this week. Seven-foot center Todd Follmer also figures in the rotation.
The UH posts will keep a close eye on Cuic. He led the Beavers with 13.5 points per game last season and was tabbed by one preseason publication as the best shooter in the Pac-10 after hitting 49 percent of his 3-point attempts last season.
Jones leads Oregon State with 14.8 points and eight rebounds per game, while Cuic is just behind at 12.8 ppg. The duo will look to bounce back from a combined 1-for-19 shooting night in a 75-47 loss to Nevada on Wednesday.
Fifth-year Oregon State coach Jay John is still leaning on the experience of his post players, as a young backcourt, led by freshman siblings Josh and Seth Tarver, develops.
Josh Tarver redshirted last season due to a broken bone in his foot, while Seth was regarded as one of Oregon's top prep players.
"We have young guards, and the quicker we get good game experience against good caliber teams, the better prepared we're going to be for Pac-10 play," John said.
"There's a lot of talent with (the Tarver brothers). They've got good heads on their shoulders and they're smart kids, but experience is something we can't teach without opportunity. They've got opportunity and they need to take it and just keep developing."
After playing the Beavers this afternoon, the Rainbows depart on a 10-day road trip tomorrow morning. They open a three-day run in the Great Alaska Shootout against Hofstra on Thanksgiving night and play at Santa Clara on Nov. 29.
New gear: Gueye, who had offseason knee surgery, tried out a new knee brace yesterday. The new sleeve is lighter than the bulky model he was wearing while still providing support for the knee.
"The other one's pretty heavy and it was bothering me," Gueye said. "I wasn't able to jump as much as I wanted. This one's pretty good, it's pretty light."