’Bows seek post production
Hawaii entered this season with the potential to score from the perimeter.
Getting production in the paint will be also be a priority as the Rainbow Warriors continue their development this season.
"We can't live and die with jump shots. We've got to have some inside game," UH head coach Bob Nash said. "And our ability to get to the free-throw line is going to be paramount for us to be successful. That's got to do with drives to the basket, getting post-ups and getting fouled."
The Rainbows were able to establish an inside presence early in their win over Coppin State on Tuesday and will try to build on their momentum when they face San Diego on Sunday in their second road game of the season.
UH's scoring so far has come primarily from the outside, with capable shooters in seniors Bobby Nash (18.6 points per game), Jared Dillinger (12.0), Riley Luettgerodt (15.6) and Matt Gibson, who scored 18 points in his season debut Tuesday.
In that victory over Coppin State, 16 of Hawaii's 26 baskets came on jump shots, but the Rainbows established the inside first. Sophomore forward Bill Amis provided UH with its most productive night from a post player this season with a 16-point effort. All five of his field goals came in the paint, and he went 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.
Amis scored 10 points in the game's first 7 minutes, which helped free up the UH shooters.
"Any time you get (the post players) scoring early it gives them confidence, but it also sets up the defense where they have to worry about when we throw the ball in the post and they might have to double," Bobby Nash said. "That puts their guards in scramble mode and that's when the shooters can start lighting it up because we're getting better shots."
Amis and center Stephen Verwers have started all five games in the post and have combined to shoot 63.6 percent. Amis has also made 11 of his 12 attempts from the free-throw line for the Rainbows, who rank second in the Western Athletic Conference at 77 percent as a team.
"We're going to make an effort to get the ball into those guys, and they have to be productive and do something once we get it inside," Bob Nash said.
Senior forward P.J. Owsley was expected to be one of UH's main contributors inside, but he's been hampered early in the season by a sore calf. He said the injury is improving and the coaches are limiting the pounding on his legs early in the season with an eye on having him at full strength for the WAC schedule starting in January.
"It's the most frustrating thing," Owsley said of being limited by the injury. "It's just another trial. I just have to push through it and be positive."
Nash said the plan is to extend Owsley's minutes as he gets healthier and he also wants to get more playing time for sophomores Adhar Mayen and Paul Campbell. Senior forward Alex Veit is recovering from an ankle injury and hasn't practiced this week.
This weekend's road trip to San Diego will be Hawaii's quickest of the season. The team had an early practice scheduled for this morning and departs for California this afternoon. The 'Bows practice tomorrow, play Sunday, and return to Honolulu on Monday afternoon. Sunday's game is scheduled for noon Hawaii time at the Jenny Craig Pavilion.
After playing San Diego, UH will have just one game over the next 16 days. A Dec. 9 date with Long Beach State will be the only contest between Sunday's game and the start of the Outrigger Hotels Rainbow Classic on Dec. 19.