RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Getting its big men to trigger coach Bob Nash's running game is one of the keys to Hawaii's success this season. Looking to contribute are, front, from left, Alex Veit, Bill Amis and P.J. Owsley; back, Paul Campbell and Stephen Verwers.
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Third of Four Parts
The Hawaii basketball team is counting on its perimeter players to provide the bulk of its scoring this season. But getting production from the posts could be a key to the Rainbow Warriors' success this season.
The Rainbows return three seniors and have added two sophomore transfers to the rotation, making for a varied mix of skills and experience. The returnees -- seniors P.J. Owsley, Alex Veit and Stephen Verwers -- were brought in to run UH's halfcourt-oriented scheme. The newcomers -- Bill Amis and Paul Campbell -- are more suited to the running game and are adjusting to the physical nature of playing down low at the Division I level.
Bobby Nash, usually a small forward, has also been playing in the post with the coaching staff leaning toward using a smaller lineup.
With head coach Bob Nash emphasizing transition, the attack will rely heavily on the big guys doing their part on the boards to trigger the break.
The Rainbows open the season tomorrow against San Diego at the Stan Sheriff Center in a matchup of first-year head coaches in Nash and the Toreros' Bill Grier. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.
Started the final 23 games last season. ... Averaged six points and four rebounds. ... Continued UH's line of forwards from Salt Lake Community College, following Troy Ostler, Jeff Blackett and Ahmet Gueye.
The Rainbows' tallest player. ... Started eight games last season and grabbed a career high 13 rebounds against Idaho. ... Academic All-WAC last year. ... Played two years at Colorado State before transferring to UH.
Saw limited playing time last year, appearing in 10 games. ... Was named MVP of the Oregon 4-A state tournament as a high school senior. ... Transferred to UH from Monterey Peninsula College.
Played one season at Arkansas-Fort Smith, where he averaged 3.4 points and 4.3 rebounds. ... Grew up in Toronto. ... Originally signed with Winthrop, but was granted a release following a coaching change.
Late addition to the roster, signing with the Rainbows in August. ... Averaged 7.4 points and 4.6 rebounds as a freshman at Pratt (Kansas) Community College. ... Graduated from Putnam City High School in Oklahoma City, alma mater of senior guard Matt Gibson.
Will sit out this season due to torn ligament in his right knee. ... UH's first recruit from China.
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Bigs bring it all
Being a Hawaii post player these days is all about adapting.
Those who returned have had to shift gears from the grinding halfcourt offense of last season and adjust to this year's emphasis on transition.
For the newcomers just up from junior college, there's the initiation to the bruising nature of life in the paint in Division I.
While both subsets endure the learning curve, the Rainbow Warriors will need the bigs to fill a substantial role in the paint this season.
If the Rainbows are to execute the running game coach Bob Nash has been advocating, it'll start with the ability of the posts to grab rebounds to trigger the break.
"If the big guys can get a board and outlet to one of our guards, like Matt (Gibson) or Riley (Luettgerodt), that pushes the pace," said senior Stephen Verwers. "Those guys are so fast, they get out there and score those buckets in transition and shooting the threes. We'll be pretty good if we can get running."
The Rainbows were left with a sizable hole in the middle of the lineup when Ahmet Gueye completed his career last March. Gueye led the team in rebounding with 8.4 boards per game and finished second in scoring at 12.1 points per game. A two-time selection to the Western Athletic Conference all-defensive team, Gueye finished his two years in Manoa with 131 blocked shots.
GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
Senior Stephen Verwers returns to the team as the Rainbows' biggest big man.
The 'Bows return Verwers and fellow seniors P.J. Owsley and Alex Veit and add sophomores Paul Campbell and Bill Amis to the rotation.
Bobby Nash, usually a perimeter player, has also been working at power forward lately with the team using a smaller lineup in practice.
"It's probably a coming-home party to go back down to the four and five and seeing the big guys down there," said Nash, an All-State post player at Iolani during his high school career.
Owsley came off the bench early last season, then earned a spot in the starting five for the final 23 games. He's been working through a lower leg issue in practice, but continues to battle down low and has a reliable mid-range jumper.
Verwers is the biggest of the Rainbows' big bodies at 6-foot-11 and 250 pounds, while Veit's athletic ability could boost his playing time if the running game gets going.
Campbell and Amis are learning to hold their ground inside, but both have made considerable strides in practice. The 6-foot-10 Campbell has shown a knack for getting his hands on shots inside, while Amis can score going to the basket or with a soft jumper.
"(Playing Division I) is a lot more physical; I have to put on a lot more weight," said Amis, who checked in at 220 pounds. "Right now I'm just trying to bring energy to the post.
"I just have to get low and play hard. It doesn't matter how strong you are -- you have to play hard."
While the Rainbows look to be a perimeter-oriented team with the return of Gibson, Luettgerodt, Nash and Jared Dillinger, getting contributions from inside figures to create more room for the shooters to operate.
"There's going to be nights when transition's not going to be there and you have to be able to pound it inside," Bob Nash said.
"Our perimeter guys are smart enough to know that our bigs have to get some touches inside to open up the outside. You get Stephen with one-on-one coverage inside and he should be able to get a good shot off. Same thing with Bill and P.J. ... We're not just going to stand out on the perimeter and launch 3's."