Owsley moves into the starting lineup
The Hawaii basketball team's break over the past week has given P.J. Owsley a chance to ease into his new role with the Rainbow Warriors.
Owsley, one of UH's top reserves this season, is slated to make his first start for the Rainbows (4-4) in Saturday's game against Northwestern State (5-4). Tip-off is set for 5:35 p.m. at the Stan Sheriff Center.
"I'm really excited," Owsley said. "Everybody that plays basketball, your goal is to be a starter. It's coming true, so I just have to keep playing my hardest."
The 6-foot-8 transfer from Salt Lake Community College has come off the bench in each of UH's eight games this season, averaging 5.1 points and 3.4 rebounds.
He was shifted from a reserve role into the staring lineup in place of Stephen Verwers following the 'Bows' loss to UNLV last week. Verwers started the first eight games with an average of 2.3 points, and hasn't scored in either of UH's last two contests.
"It's fine with me," Verwers said of coming off the bench. "I'd rather see our team win, and if we're winning it's OK. I'll go into practice every day and work my butt off. Coach is doing what's best for us to win."
Owsley will start alongside another SLCC product in senior Ahmet Gueye, who played center last season and has been playing power forward with Verwers on the court.
"(Gueye) will still play both places, but we're going to try it that way," UH coach Riley Wallace said.
Wallace made the move looking for more production from the posts as the Rainbows try to end a two-game skid.
"I still have to play my hardest and maintain the position, it's not really set in stone," Owsley said. "He's trying to find a good solid base to start the game, so I just have to prove to him that I can start at that position."
Overall, Wallace has been pleased with the team's effort in practice this week as the players grind through final exams while preparing for Saturday's game against the Demons.
"They're working, they're concentrating and staying with it," he said. "During finals week practices are not usually as good as they've been, so hopefully they're doing well there, too."
Former UH coach Larry Little
was at courtside for the Rainbows' practice yesterday at the Sheriff Center.
Little coached the Rainbows for nine seasons from 1976 to 1985, compiling 103 wins over that span. Little said he's known Wallace since their days "playing against each other in the '50s," and helped Wallace break into the coaching profession.
Wallace, now in his 20th season as Hawaii's head coach, worked as an assistant with Little first at Litchfield (Ill.) High School in the 1960s, and again at UH from 1978 to 1984.
"I think the program has been in excellent hands for a lot of years," Little said of Wallace's tenure at UH. "It'll be tough to take it to any higher level on a consistent basis."
Little has lived in Las Vegas for the past 17 years, making his living in the area's booming real-estate market, and will be in town through next week's Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic.
"We just wanted to come out and see the Rainbow Classic and catch as many games as possible in the arena, which I wish we would have had a few years ago when we were here," he said.