FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Conrad Fitzgerald won the slam-dunk contest during last night's Twilight Ohana at the Stan Sheriff Center, where Hawaii unveiled this season's men's and women's basketball teams.
Real work ahead for ’Bows
Since his hiring in April, Bob Nash's focus has been split among the myriad duties inherent with his new job.
If he wasn't out recruiting players or hiring assistants, the Hawaii basketball team's first-year head coach was speaking at a banquet or working to raise funds for the program.
All of that changes today.
"Now it's strictly basketball," Nash said, "trying to get this team put together, and that's what it's all about."
The Rainbow Warriors officially opened practice last night with the annual Twilight Ohana festivities, but the real work starts when they return to the Stan Sheriff Center this afternoon for the first of 21 practices leading up to the Nov. 9 opener against San Diego.
"Tonight was fun, tomorrow's not," said Matt Gibson. "This is kind of the last day of fun and games for us."
Nash is counting on production out of the senior perimeter players Gibson, Bobby Nash and Riley Luettgerodt. The threesome were the top scorers in the 20-minute scrimmage that capped the opening night festivities before a crowd of about 2,000.
Luettgerodt scored a game-high 17 points and Nash added eight in the White team's 38-32 win. Gibson made five of seven 3-point attempts to lead the Green with 15 points.
"I'm going to be looking to get (Luettgerodt and Nash) shots," Gibson said of his point guard duties. "Those two are the ones who have to make sure they bring their A game every night. Those two are where our main points are going to come from."
FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
Bobby Nash of the White tried to get around the Green's Adhar Mayen in last night's scrimmage at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Among the newcomers, sophomore forward Bill Amis led the way with six points and four rebounds for the Green, and freshman guard Kareem Nitoto finished with five points and two assists for the White.
There wasn't much structure to the offenses in the scrimmage, but the teams played most of the 20 minutes at an up-tempo pace their new coach is looking to implement.
"I thought our guys played hard, pushed the ball like we want to push it and I saw a lot of positives," Bob Nash said. "The way Little Matt came out and pushed the ball up the floor, that's the way we want to put pressure on people to have to get back and guard us."
Over the past few years, the Hawaii basketball teams were introduced to the fans under cover of costumes. Last night, they took a more personal approach.
The first hour of Twilight Ohana was devoted to an autograph session, a getting-to-know-you session of sorts for fans as they made their way around the Sheriff Center court to meet this year's Rainbow Warriors and Rainbow Wahine squads.
"I want our fans to have access to our players, to feel like they know Riley and Bobby and Little Matt," Nash said. "When I was a player here that's kind of the way it was, we were out in the community all the time, and I want this team to be that way, too."
After both teams were formally introduced to the crowd:
» Gibson won the 3-point shootout for the men, beating Shannon Nishi 10-4 to break the Wahine winning streak in the annual contest.
» Freshman Conrad Fitzgerald won the slam-dunk contest, beating Luettgerodt and Nitoto in the final.
Luettgerodt actually received the only perfect score of the first round, winning over the judges by lobbing the ball into the air, taking off his jersey, then catching the ball and throwing down a dunk. Fitzgerald's reverse slam and one-handed dunk swooping under the basket were enough to win the final.
» In the 15-minute women's scrimmage, Amy Kotani scored six points to lead the White to a 12-11 win. Allie Patterson had four points. Tanya Smith had five points for the Green.