RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Kareem Nitoto, Gary Satterwhite and Matt Gibson are expected to run Bob Nash's new offense for the Rainbows.
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First of Four Parts
Entering his fourth year in the Hawaii basketball program, Matt Gibson is looking forward to the duty of dictating the tempo for the Rainbow Warriors.
Gibson is the only point guard on the Hawaii roster with college experience and will hold much of the responsibility for setting the pace for the Rainbows, whether by triggering the transition attack or getting the offense set up in the halfcourt.
Gibson will continue his role as a perimeter scoring threat after averaging 10.2 points and hitting 44 3-pointers last season, but directing the offense will be the emphasis.
"We need him to step up and be the floor general for us," UH head coach Bob Nash said.
Gibson is joined at the spot by two true freshmen -- Kareem Nitoto and walk-on Gary Satterwhite -- and is second on the team in seniority behind only fifth-year senior Bobby Nash.
"This program's done a lot for me and (Nash)," Gibson said, "and it would be nice for us to be able to represent it in a way we haven't in the past (by reaching the postseason.)"
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In a season of change, blending old and new will be one of Matt Gibson's primary duties over the next four-plus months.
Enters his fourth year in the program. He was granted a medical hardship for the 2005-06 season. ... Started 30 games last year and averaged 10.2 points per game. ... Tied for team lead with 44 3-pointers. ... Earned WAC Player of the Week honors following a 20-point performance against Utah State, the only game he didn't start.
Graduate of San Leandro High School. ... Averaged 10.1 points and 3.6 assists as a senior. ... Also lettered in track and football in high school. ... Originally signed with St. Mary's, but was granted a release and signed with UH last spring.
Invited walk-on from Radford High School. ... Named to the Star-Bulletin's Fab 15 All-State team as a senior. ... Originally from New Jersey, followed his father's military career growing up. His family moved here two years ago after living in Okinawa.
As the only point guard with college experience on the Hawaii roster, Gibson will be counted on to dictate the tempo for the Rainbows in his senior season -- pushing a quick pace preferred by first-year head coach Bob Nash while knowing when to set the Rainbows up in their familiar halfcourt sets.
"We have our offenses that we took from last year ... but we're going to look to attack," Gibson said. "We're going to look to run a lot more this year. The first open shot we get, we're taking a good shot and we're letting our shooters shoot."
Gibson is entering his fourth year in the program, putting him the second in tenure behind fifth-year senior Bobby Nash. He and the other six seniors are well versed in the motion offense they operated under Riley Wallace's watch, and the 'Bows will continue to rely on those plays when the opposing defense slows down the transition attack.
But Gibson's first inclination will be to run.
"I think we have the guys to do it," he said. "With the guards we've got, we're all pretty much the same size and it'll allow us to switch and rotate. Our defensive rotations are a lot faster and we'll be able to get up and down the floor real well."
Early in Gibson's career, choosing his shooters often meant picking himself to score. Now, although the Rainbows are counting on him to continue to provide scoring punch from the perimeter, directing the show is the more pressing priority.
"We had a meeting and we talked about some things that I thought he needed to do to make his teammates better and at the same time would also help him," Nash said. "He's just stepped up and these (recent) practices he's done an excellent job of running the team, getting people where they need to be, and scoring when needed. That's what a good point guard does, he gets you in your offense and makes people around him better."
STAR-BULLETIN FILE / 2007
Matt Gibson, a senior guard for the Rainbows, is the team's floor leader.
That doesn't mean Gibson will turn down an open shot or a free lane to the basket. Gibson led the Rainbows by averaging 13 points as a sophomore and returned from a medical hardship to post 10.2 points per game last season when he tied Matt Lojeski for the team lead with 44 3-pointers.
His scoring output from the point guard spot could also open up the Rainbows' other perimeter scorers, including wings Bobby Nash, Riley Luettgerodt and Jared Dillinger.
"I'm not a shy guy, if they leave me open I'll definitely let it fly," Gibson said with a smile. "But we've got some other guys who can do that just as well. With four shooters, that's really a threat from the perimeter."
Gibson shared point guard duties with Dominic Waters last season. But the team's depth was depleted when Waters and freshman Todd Lowenthal decided to transfer in the offseason.
The Rainbows signed high schooler Kareem Nitoto, a 6-foot-3 standout at San Leandro High School who initially signed with St. Mary's. While Gibson can provide scoring firepower, Nitoto's strength lies in finding his teammates for shots and as a tough on-ball defender.
Nitoto's development will give Nash a chance to give the energetic Gibson a rest when needed and provide greater flexibility with the backcourt combinations.
"Kareem is young and very athletic, we just have to get him up to speed in understanding the offense and how to work with his teammates," Nash said.
Gary Satterwhite joined the program this season as an invited walk-on out of Radford High School and will likely help on the scout team.
"I don't want to be just on the team, I want to help the team," Satterwhite said. "You definitely have to work extra hard and try to prove you deserve to be here."