Trip home gives UH’s Luettgerodt confidence
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Riley Luettgerodt went back home following his first season with the Hawaii basketball team with his confidence lagging.
After six weeks in Oregon, largely spent working with former UH guards Mark Campbell and Michael Kuebler, he returned to Manoa with a renewed outlook as he prepared for his senior season with the Rainbow Warriors.
Luettgerodt opened practice on Friday by scoring 17 points in the team's scrimmage at Twilight Ohana and will be looked upon to provide scoring from the shooting guard spot.
"For me it was just about getting my confidence back, and I think I did that over the summer," Luettgerodt said. "I went out there (on Friday) was aggressive and played hard, got some easy buckets and some free throws."
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Riley Luettgerodt got some help from two former Hawaii standouts in accomplishing one of his primary goals for the summer.
After scuffling through a confidence-sapping first year with the Rainbow Warriors, Luettgerodt headed home to the Northwest, where he got back in the gym with fellow Oregon products and former UH guards Mark Campbell and Michael Kuebler.
When he returned from his six-week stay, he brought with him a refreshed outlook on the game.
"Basketball was fun again," Luettgerodt said. "We just went at it everyday and I just got that passion back and I got my confidence and swagger back."
Luettgerodt's renewed confidence was evident in a 17-point performance in Friday's Twilight Ohana scrimmage, and the senior will be counted on to provide scoring in the backcourt along with Matt Gibson and Bobby Nash this season.
Luettgerodt, a prolific junior college scorer, floated between shooting guard and small forward most of last season. He begins his senior year by filling the role occupied by Matt Lojeski, the Rainbows' leading scorer last year.
"Lojo was a great player, but I'm not trying to be Matt Lojeski," Luettgerodt said. "I'm trying to come in and play well with Matt and Bobby and show what we can do."
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Hawaii swingman Riley Luettgerodt, seen here scoring on Adhar Mayen during Friday's Twilight Ohana scrimmage, averaged 6.2 points off the bench last year.
Luettgerodt endured an uneven junior year, scoring in double figures in seven games but never appearing to find his rhythm in UH's motion offense. He ended the season averaging 6.2 points per game off the bench, while shooting 38 percent from the floor.
"Playing behind Lojo and sometimes Bobby and not really knowing what his role was or what to expect, he struggled a little bit and lost his confidence," said UH head coach Bob Nash. "But it seems he's rebounded from that."
As he struggled to find his niche, his confidence waned.
"It was tough. ... It was a role I wasn't used to," Luettgerodt said. "I wish I would have done better at it, but it didn't work out. But I learned from it and it'll make me a stronger player."
Along with regaining his confidence, Luettgerodt worked with Campbell and Kuebler on his ball-handling in an effort to create more shots off the dribble or penetrate to the basket.
Luettgerodt started one game last season, posting 17 points and 13 rebounds against Tennessee-Martin, and had a 23-point performance in a road win over Long Beach State, when the 49ers forced the Rainbows into an up-tempo contest.
With Nash looking to speed up the pace of the UH attack this season, Luettgerodt feels the quicker approach better suits his game.
"I don't think I'm as effective in such a structured offense," he said. "If you're playing fast you can get easy buckets, it's going to be an up-tempo game. It's fun to watch, it's fun to play, and people can be more creative."
Freshman center Ji Xiang sat out yesterday's practice after banging knees with a teammate during Friday's scrimmage. He had his knee wrapped and will likely miss some of the team's early practices. Senior guard/forward Jared Dillinger hurt his back last week but expects to be back in practice tomorrow.