Rainbows get chemistry in order with long season ahead
The Hawaii basketball team's coaching staff has spent the past three weeks integrating the on-court talents of a team split down the middle in Division I experience.
The process of blending the array of personalities started quite a bit earlier.
Seven seniors off last year's 18-13 team were joined by eight freshmen and sophomores brought in by first-year coach Bob Nash. Most of the introductions occurred over a summer spent getting a jump on school work and conditioning as the Rainbow Warriors took the first steps to coming together as a team.
"I think everything from the summer was positive -- we got school out of the way, people got stronger and we were together, we bonded," said senior guard Riley Luettgerodt.
"Everybody's just good guys, there's no bad apples. We tease each other and make fun of each other. We're going to be mad at each other some days, but that's how it is. Once we're here, we're all teammates and friends and have one goal in mind."
The Rainbows, who spent an hour before yesterday's practice posing for photos and conducting interviews during the team's annual media day session, range in age from 17-year-old freshman Beau Albrechtson to 23-year-old seniors Matt Gibson and Bobby Nash. They represent eight states and added players from Canada and China this year.
And they find the differences are part of the fun.
"We're going global with it," Bobby Nash said. "You have a whole bunch of different cultures, and getting to know everybody and learning what they like to do, it's amazing."
The team's bonding process included a four-day retreat at Schofield Barracks in August and continued through Wednesday, when the entire team went into Waikiki for Halloween.
Nash said the seniors drew ample attention as lifeguards, but gave the nod for best costume to sophomore Bill Amis for the Oklahoman's tourist get-up.
While the Rainbows have fun together off the court, it's been business in the gym with the season opener against San Diego now less than a week away.
"I think they're all good teammates with each other on the basketball court," coach Bob Nash said. "Obviously there's a learning curve the young guys have to go through and our older guys have been very good in terms of helping them acclimate. We just hope that carries over and will be a catalyst for the whole season.
"We have a lot of different characters here, but they all want one thing, to be in postseason play."
Back in action
Forward Adhar Mayen returned to practice yesterday after sitting out more than a week while a paperwork issue was cleared up.
Mayen, a 6-foot-8 transfer, is competing primarily at small forward but can play other positions as well. While he said he was a bit winded in his return, he still has a grasp of the system.
"I totally remember everything, I'm just a little bit slow on a couple of plays but I'm catching up," he said.