Hawaii’s big men adjust to quicker offense
For the Hawaii big men accustomed to the Rainbow Warriors' grind-it-out pace of last season, getting up to speed with the new system is taking some getting used to.
"It's a little quicker than last year, definitely," senior forward P.J. Owsley said. "It's kind of tough, but we'll pick it up and just know we need to get up and down the court as fast as we can."
In the Rainbow Warriors' first few practices, the coaching staff installed the basics of the halfcourt sets, which retain elements of the motion offense that was a staple of Riley Wallace's 20-year tenure.
Yesterday, they added the transition phase of the system. The 3-hour practice included a scrimmage period that required guards to push the ball upcourt and the big men to run from one rim to the other to get position under the basket.
"It requires a mind-set, we don't want guys to just walk down the floor and set the ball up," coach Bob Nash said. "If our bigs want quick scoring opportunities they have to be able to run. We want to push the ball down the floor and try to get quick shots. ... It was the first day and for the most part it was a good effort, but we have to be a lot better."
Owsley started 23 games last season and Stephen Verwers eight. They'll be part of a frontcourt that will try to ease the loss of Ahmet Gueye -- the team's leading rebounder -- and trigger the running game off the boards.
"When I was in high school something I really liked to do was run up and down the floor and get those easy baskets," Verwers said. "It's something I enjoy, I just have to get back into the habit of doing it."
The practices will also help Verwers work his way back into shape. He missed much of the team's early conditioning program due to a back injury suffered during the summer league.
Before embarking on their version of basic training, the Rainbows got an up-close look at the real thing.
The team members who remained in town after summer school in August spent four days at Schofield Barracks as a bonding exercise while experiencing a slice of life in the military.
"I've always liked the way they do things as far as discipline and attention to detail," Nash said. "We did everything the soldiers do, it was an awesome experience."
The team conducted clinics for the youths living on the base during their stay and went through some of the regimented daily routines and duties.
"Just the discipline and preparation that they have go into everything, it was just eye-opening," senior Riley Luettgerodt said.
"A lot of those guys are our age, some of them were younger. A lot of them would love to play college sports and it made you thankful for the opportunity we have here."
The experience also influenced the team's look in practice. The Rainbows have been sporting camouflage-print shorts since their debut last Friday at Twilight Ohana.
Senior guard/forward Jared Dillinger
(back) practiced for the first time yesterday. Freshman center Ji Xiang
(knee) remained sidelined.